31 July 2014
General Assembly
GA/11537

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

Sixty-eighth General Assembly

Plenary

105th Meeting (AM)


General Assembly Adopts Text Encouraging States, Organizations

 

to Bolster Mediation Efforts for Peacefully Solving Disputes

 


Delegates Also Agree to Convene 2015 Meeting

Addressing Information, Communications Technology Gaps


Reiterating that all Member States should strictly adhere to their obligations under the United Nations Charter to peacefully settle disputes and prevent and resolve conflicts, the General Assembly today encouraged those States, the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations to bolster mediation as a tool towards that end.


Adopting by consensus a text on the topic (document A/68/L.55), the Assembly encouraged the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations to continue to develop their mediation capacities; use United Nations Guidance for Effective Mediation in their efforts; and increase awareness of the importance of mediation through conferences, seminars and workshops.  In that regard, it welcomed the “Mediation in the Mediterranean Initiative”.


The Assembly, encouraging women’s equal and full participation in all forums and at all levels of the dispute settlement and conflict resolution process, encouraged the Secretary-General to continue to appoint women as chief or lead mediators and as members of teams in United Nations-sponsored peace processes.


Further to the text, the Assembly invited all Member States to consider providing sustained political support, expertise and timely and adequate resources, including through the United Nations, for mediation and, where appropriate, implementation of agreed outcomes of mediation processes.


It also asked the Secretary-General to submit a report during the Assembly’s seventieth session on cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations on mediation, as well as possible ways to enhance such cooperation, and requested regular briefings to promote closer consultation with Member States as well as regional and subregional organizations and to increase transparency.


Turkey’s representative, who introduced the text, said it was no coincidence it was the third on the subject initiated by the Group of Friends of Mediation, which his country co-chaired with Finland.  Mediation was a key Charter instrument and relevant at all stages of the “conflict cycle”.  It helped save lives and resources, and reduced human suffering, thus creating conditions conducive to lasting peace and sustainable development.  The text encouraged strengthening the mediation capacity of regional and subregional organizations, which had led or supported mediation processes in past and present conflicts.  The text did not focus on a specific conflict or mediation process.  Rather its approach was “purely thematic” and aimed to contribute to the normative framework and to promote and optimize the use of the Charter’s Chapters VI and VIII.


Speaking after the action, the delegate of the United States reiterated his country’s “strong commitment” to mediation to settle disputes on all platforms.  He voiced disappointment, however, on language in the text that referenced “foreign occupation” and “self-determination”, which was outside the scope of the matter.  But the text stressed the importance of mediation in peacefully settling disputes around the world, and his delegation would continue to work to ensure that progress continued.


Israel’s representative, while recognizing the essential role of mediation in conflict prevention and resolution, regretted that sections of the text had been “stained” by political interests.  Inflammatory terminology, irrelevant to the topic, had been included and served only to single out a specific Member State.  While his delegation had participated in the consultation process, certain nations had rejected compromise, being “more interested in scoring points” at Israel’s expense than finding solutions and achieving consensus.  While he did not request a vote on the text, he called for such counter-productive terminology not be incorporated into future resolutions or be perceived as agreed language in future negotiations.


Other delegations echoed that stance, with Canada’s representative stressing that such issues should not be included, and Armenia’s representative noting the text lacked the required degree of sensitivity needed in such negotiations and that its preamble took a selective approach to the issue.


The representative of Finland, as co-chair of the Group of Friends of Mediation, stressed that the key element of the text focused on strengthening partnerships between the United Nations and the regional and subregional organizations.  That was achieved through dialogue, the exchange of views and enhanced coordination between all stakeholders.  He emphasized the role of women in peacefully settling disputes, and preventing and resolving conflict.  Political support and adequate resources were vital for mediation to be successful, he said, urging Member States to provide sustained financing and expertise.


The head of the European Union Delegation, noting how the concept of mediation and its use in international politics had “come a long way”, called the adoption a milestone in international relations.  Mediation was at the heart of the European External Action Service and the Union’s comprehensive approach to conflict prevention and management, encompassing early warning, early recovery, peacebuilding and long-term sustainable development.  The Union was also developing its own capacities through its European External Action Service Mediation Support Team, providing operational support and contributing to training and coaching, among other things.


Also today the Assembly decided to convene in December 2015 a high-level meeting to take stock of progress in implementing the outcome of the 2003 World Summit on the Information Society and address potential information and communications technology gaps and areas for continued focus, as well as challenges, including bridging the digital divide and harnessing information and communications technologies for development.


Adopting by consensus a draft resolution on the matter (document A/68/L.54), the Assembly decided the review would be preceded by an intergovernmental preparatory process.  That action would take into account inputs from relevant stakeholders and include informal consultations with relevant stakeholders of the Summit in order to collect their input for the process.


Further, it asked the Assembly President to appoint in June 2015 two co-facilitators to lead, on the basis of, among other relevant inputs, submissions from Member and observer States and observers and the final report of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development, an intergovernmental negotiation process, to include preparatory meetings, resulting in an intergovernmentally agreed outcome document for adoption at the Assembly’s high-level meeting.


After the text’s adoption, several delegates took the floor in explanation of vote.  India’s representative said the draft was a testament to delegates’ success in determining the timing, structure, format, participation and outcome of the overall review.  He looked forward to a forward-looking outcome document.


The representative of the United States said the text provided a mechanism for the Assembly to provide a mandate for implementation of the Tunis Agenda and was pleased that the Summit would include strong, multi-stakeholder participation.  The event would help move past political posturing and ideology to problem-solving to build an inclusive, equitable information society.


Bolivia’s representative, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, affirmed the Group’s participation at the highest possible level and was pleased that addressing the digital divide was a key element of the text.


Brazil’s representative said the targets for information and communications technologies adopted by the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals had created a clear, natural link between the Summit and the post-2015 development agenda.  The international community must bolster efforts to bridge the digital divide and ensure the Internet remained safe for public use, as well as a space where civil liberties and individual freedoms were fully recognized and protected.  He regretted that the Working Group could not agree on recommendations to fully implement the Summit’s mandate on enhanced cooperation of the Tunis Agenda.  The June 2015 deadline set by the current text must be met.


Tunisia’s representative said the text’s adoption showed the common goal of ensuring a successful overall review.  Information and communications technologies were more productive and efficient than ever, but also were accompanied by new threats.  Tunisia had joined Ireland to co-facilitate the preparatory process and stood ready to share its inputs and lessons learned during the 2015 review.


Making a statement after the vote, the European Union’s representative expressed strong commitment to information and communications technologies for development, the Summit’s aims and the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance.  The preparatory process and high-level meeting must ensure meaningful participation and inputs by all stakeholders.  He expressed hope that the 2015 meeting would take full account of the June 2014 Summit review by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the February 2013 event hosted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).


The Assembly will reconvene on 9 September to hold a high-level forum on implementation of the Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace.


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For information media • not an official record