1 May 2013
General Assembly
GA/11367

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

Sixty-seventh General Assembly

Plenary

75th Meeting (AM)


General Assembly, in Resolution, Sets Dates, Advances Plans for High-level


Meeting on Human Trafficking, to Be Held 13-14 May

 


Meeting in a brief plenary session this morning, the General Assembly adopted, as amended, a consensus resolution on the modalities, format and organization of its upcoming high-level meeting on the appraisal of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, deciding that it would take place on 13 and 14 May.


According to an informal “food for thought” paper of the President of the General Assembly, circulated to delegations on 20 March, the event would provide an opportunity to assess the progress achieved in the implementation of the Global Plan — adopted by the General Assembly in 2010 — as well as remaining gaps and challenges.


In that landmark Plan, Governments resolved to take concrete actions to prevent and combat human trafficking, as well as to protect and assist victims, prosecute related crimes and strengthen partnerships among governmental institutions, intergovernmental organizations, civil society and the private sector, including the media.


By the terms of the resolution adopted today (document A/67/L.62), the Assembly decided that the high-level meeting would consist of a number of plenary sessions, as well as two consecutive panel discussions, to take place on the afternoon of 13 May.  It requested the Assembly President to draw up a list of interested representatives of non-governmental organizations with consultative status with the Economic and Social Council who might participate in the meeting.


In addition, it asked the President to draw up a list of representatives of other relevant non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, the private sector and the media, taking into account the principles of transparency and equitable geographic representation, and to submit the proposed list to Member States for their consideration on a non-objection basis, and to bring the list to the attention of the General Assembly.


That particular provision launched a discussion among Member States following the resolution’s adoption, with a number of delegations stressing their opposition to the non-objection clause.  Several speakers, including the representatives of Israel, Australia, Mexico and Switzerland, who also spoke on behalf of Liechtenstein and Norway, said that, while joining consensus, they were disappointed with the wording of the paragraph on non-governmental participation.


They expressed dismay at the manner in which some delegations had insisted on limiting the participation of such organizations, as well as deep concern that participation would be considered on a non-objection basis.  In that vein, many stressed that non-governmental organizations — even those without consultative status with the United Nations — were crucial players in the fight against the trafficking in persons and should be included in the meeting.


Similarly, the delegate from Canada, expressing his disappointment that the General Assembly was slowly moving away from its established practice of including civil society in its deliberations, said that non-governmental organizations should be invited to participate on the basis of their relevance to the subject matter.  Blocking that participation on any basis other than an organization’s relevance was not in accordance with United Nations principles, he warned.


It was often non-governmental organizations without consultative status “standing on the front lines and providing needed services for victims”, said the United States’ speaker, stressing at the same time that the process to admit such groups must be completely transparent.  She joined others, including the representative of Ireland, who spoke on behalf of the European Union, in indicating that her understanding of the resolution's operative paragraph 9 allowed the General Assembly to consider — and make a decision on — any objections made by Member States.


However, some speakers voiced concern at what they viewed as efforts to interfere with the sovereignty of Member States and their individual efforts to prevent and combat human trafficking.  The representative of Belarus cited a “disturbing trend” in that regard, and worried that it would establish a “dangerous basis” for interference in State sovereignty.


Similarly, China’s delegate stated that some parties had attempted to politicize the participation of non-governmental organizations without consultative status.  However, the principle of non-objection was meant to safeguard the intergovernmental nature of the United Nations and the “sacred sovereign right” of States.  The notion that the principle itself would block the participation of such groups was an erroneous interpretation rejected by China.


The representative of Cameroon, speaking on behalf of the Group of African States, said that, although the resolution was “not perfect in compromise”, it was acceptable to the Group, while Costa Rica’s delegate said she would have preferred a more precise text that better clarified the accreditation process of non-governmental organizations with consultative status, in order to better understand the nature of objections to organizations’ participation.


In other business today, the Assembly took note of a communication of the Secretary-General (document A/67/693/Add.10), in which he stated that Zimbabwe had made the payment necessary to reduce its arrears below the amount specified in Article 19 of the United Nations Charter.


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For information media • not an official record