2 December 2011
General Assembly
GA/EF/3330

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-sixth General Assembly

Second Committee

38th Meeting (AM)


Second Committee Approves Text Stressing Need to Reduce Volatility

 

in Food Prices as It Takes Action on Five Draft Resolutions

 


The General Assembly would stress the need for active measures to reduce excessive food-price volatility, while acknowledging the incomplete understanding of its causes and the importance of carrying out more research, according to one of five draft resolutions that the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) approved by consensus today.


By other terms of the draft — titled “Addressing excessive international financial market speculation and extreme price volatility of food and related commodity markets” — the Assembly would stress the need to promote greater transparency and market information at all levels, while also underlining the importance of timely, accurate and transparent information in helping to address the excessive volatility of food prices.


Taking note of the Agricultural Market Information System hosted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the Assembly would, by other terms, urge participating international organizations, private-sector actors and Governments to ensure the public dissemination of timely and quality food-market information products.


Acting on another draft resolution under the cluster on macroeconomic policy questions, the Committee approved a text titled “External debt sustainability and development”, by which the General Assembly would stress the importance of responsible lending and borrowing, emphasizing that creditors and debtors must share responsibility for preventing unsustainable debt situations.  It would encourage Member States, the Bretton Woods institutions, regional development banks and other relevant multilateral financial institutions and stakeholders to continue ongoing discussions on that issue.


The Assembly would stress, by other terms, that debt relief could play a role in liberating resources that should be directed towards activities related to poverty eradication, sustained economic growth, economic development and the internationally agreed development goals.  In that regard, it would urge countries to direct the resources freed through debt relief towards the realization of the Millennium Development Goals, among other related objectives.  It would also stress the need to increase transparency and the sharing of information, and the use of objective criteria in constructing and evaluating debt scenarios.


A text titled “Commodities” would have the General Assembly express concern over the large-scale acquisitions of land in developing countries by transnational corporations, among others, that incurred risk to development.  It would stress the importance of promoting responsible international investment in agriculture, while stressing also the need for technical assistance and capacity-building to improve the commodity-export competitiveness of producers, especially those in Africa.


The Assembly would also stress, by other terms, that the Aid for Trade Initiative should aim to help developing countries, particularly least developed countries, to build the supply-side capacity and trade-related infrastructure they needed to implement and benefit from World Trade Organization agreements and to expand their trade.  It would stress also the importance of managing excessive price volatility, including by developing appropriate non-trade-distorting tools at the international level and improving transparency in the international market.


Under its globalization and development cluster, the Committee approved a draft resolution titled “Science and technology for development”, by which it recommended that the General Assembly reaffirm its commitment to strengthening and enhancing existing mechanisms and support research-and-development initiatives, including through voluntary partnerships between the public and private sectors.  By other terms, the Assembly would recognize that science and technology were vital for achieving internationally agreed development targets, including the Millennium Development Goals, and for full participation by developing countries in the global economy.


By the terms of a draft resolution titled “Agriculture development and food security”, the General Assembly would stress the need to address the root causes of excessive food-price volatility, including its structural causes, and the need to manage the attendant risks, their consequences for global security and nutrition, smallholder farmers and poor urban dwellers.


The Assembly would, by further terms, stress the need to remove restrictions on food exports, as well as extraordinary taxes on food purchased for non-commercial humanitarian purposes by the World Food Programme.  It would also stress the need to strengthen the capacity of smallholder and women farmers as a strategy to enhance agriculture development and food security.  The Assembly would also promote equitable access to land, water, financial resources and technologies, in accordance with national legislation.


The Committee will meet again on 6 December to take action on outstanding draft resolutions.


Background


The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this morning to take action on five draft resolutions relating to its agenda items on macroeconomic policy questions, globalization and interdependence, and agriculture development and food security.


Action on Draft Resolutions


The Committee first took up the draft resolution on Addressing excessive international financial market speculation and extreme price volatility of food and related commodity markets(document A/C.2/66/L.72), waiving the relevant provision of rule 120 of the General Assembly’s Rules of Procedure since the text had only been circulated this morning.


The representative of Luxembourg then proposed oral amendments to the text before the Committee approved it without a vote, as orally amended, withdrawing the draft contained in document A/C.2/66/L.7.


Following that action, the representative of the Dominican Republic said that although the text addressed a potentially controversial issue, good will and cooperation had prevailed.  He thanked all delegations that had taken part in the negotiations, particularly those of Argentina and Morocco.


The representative of the United States expressed appreciation of the Dominican Republic’s approach to the negotiations, and thanked the representative of Morocco for facilitating them.


The Committee then took up the draft on External debt sustainability and development(document A/C.2/66/L.73), waiving the relevant provision of rule 120 before approving the text without a vote, and withdrawing the draft contained in document A/C.2/66/L.9.


Taking up the draft on Commodities(document A/C.2/66/L.70), the Committee waived the relevant provision of rule 120 and approved the text without a vote, withdrawing the draft contained in document A/C.2/66/L.34.


Taking up the draft on Science and technology for development(document A/C.2/66/L.71), the Committee waived the relevant provision of rule 120.


Prior to action, the representative of Argentina asked for confirmation that the draft resolution would continue to be included biennially on the agenda, despite the absence of a specific reference to its inclusion in the General Assembly’s sixty-eighth session.


The Committee Secretary confirmed that General Assembly resolution 55/185 mandated the biennial inclusion of the item “Science and technology for development”, saying that until it decided to remove that mandate, the item would continue to be included.


The Committee then approved the text without a vote.


The representative of Gabon, speaking as facilitator of an “amazing” draft resolution, expressed special appreciation for delegations’ “extreme flexibility” in seeking consensus while thanking the Bureau and the Secretariat for their assistance.


In light of the Committee’s approval of resolution L.71, the draft contained in document A/C.2/66/L.24w was withdrawn.


The Committee then took up the draft on Agriculture development and food security(document A/C.2/66/L.68), waiving the relevant provision of rule 120.


The representative of Liechtenstein made some oral corrections to the draft.


The Committee then approved the text without a vote, as orally corrected.


The representative of the United States said that, while pleased to join the consensus since improving global food security was a key element of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy, he disagreed with the language referring to a global food crisis.  It was inaccurate, despite the existence of a regional food crisis in the Horn of Africa and the volatility of food prices, he said, pointing out that United Nations bodies had confirmed that there was no global food crisis.  The United States was also disappointed that the text did not recognize the impact of poor governance on food insecurity.


The Committee then withdrew the draft contained in document A/C.2/66/L.17.


ABULKALAM ABDUL MOMEN ( Bangladesh), Committee Chair, then said he had requested an additional extension in order to process newly-submitted drafts, especially under the provisions of Rule 153, and to translate them into all six official United Nations languages.


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For information media • not an official record