GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTS TEXT ON COOPERATION WITH ECONOMIC COMMUNITY OF CENTRAL AFRICAN STATES

10 November 2000
GA/9817

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTS TEXT ON COOPERATION WITH ECONOMIC COMMUNITY OF CENTRAL AFRICAN STATES

10 November 2000

Press ReleaseGA/9817

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTS TEXT ON COOPERATION WITH ECONOMIC COMMUNITY OF CENTRAL AFRICAN STATES

20001110

Resolution Also Adopted on Global Implications of Year 2000 Date Conversion Problem

Acting without a vote this afternoon, the General Assembly adopted resolutions on cooperation between the United Nations and the Economic Community of Central African States and on the global implications of the year 2000 (Y2K) date conversion problem of computers.

By the first text, the Assembly urged all Member States and the international community to contribute to the efforts of the Economic Community to achieve economic integration and development, promote democracy and human rights and consolidate peace and security in Central Africa. The Assembly requested the Secretary-General to take the appropriate steps to establish cooperation between the United Nations and the Community, to continue supporting the States members of the Community, and to extend that support to all the fields to be covered in the framework of cooperation.

Introducing the resolution, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Equatorial Guinea, who spoke on behalf of the Economic Community of Central African States, said that what globalization demonstrated above all was the world’s growing interdependence and complexity. The cooperation with the United Nations that Central Africa was actively seeking took place at a time at which reforms were being introduced to better adapt to the new exigencies of the world. He believed that the establishment of direct and multisectoral cooperation between the United Nations system and the Community would, as the resolution called for, promote economic development and integration, in addition to the consolidation of peace, stability and democracy in the subregion.

The representative of Gabon noted that as part of their efforts to strengthen peace in Central Africa, the Community’s heads of State and government had established the Council for Peace and Security in Central Africa in order to provide a mechanism for action in the areas of conflict prevention and management. For the same reason, they had decided to establish the Rapid Warning Mechanism of Central Africa. Establishing a subregional parliament and a Centre for Human Rights and Democracy had addressed the same area of concern, which was a priority in the subregion.

General Assembly Plenary - 1a - Press Release GA/9817 58th Meeting (PM) 10 November 2000

The text on the global implications of the Y2K date conversion problem of computers was introduced by the representative of Lesotho.

By that text, the Assembly expressed its satisfaction with the efforts of all Member States to solve the Y2K problem before 31 December 1999, including by working to ensure that the private sector was fully engaged in addressing the problem. The Assembly also commended the unprecedented international cooperation which had contributed to the successful outcome, and the public- private partnerships that had been forged.

Also addressing the Assembly this afternoon were the representatives of Australia, Bulgaria and France.

The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Monday, 13 November to begin its consideration of the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations.

General Assembly Plenary - 2 - Press Release GA/9817 58th Meeting (PM) 10 November 2000

Assembly Work Programme

The General Assembly met this afternoon to take up the global implications of the year 2000 (Y2K) date conversion problem of computers and cooperation between the United Nations and the Economic Community of Central African States.

Before the Assembly was a report of the Secretary-General on the evaluation of the outcome of the steps taken within the United Nations system and with Member States to resolve the year-2000 problem (document A/55/387). It provides information pursuant to General Assembly resolution 54/114 in which the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to evaluate the outcome of the steps taken within the United Nations system and with Member States to resolve the Y2K problem. The report summarizes the submission of the United Nations organizations, funds, programmes, and specialized agencies on their activities relating to Y2K conversion preparations and the results.

Also before the Assembly was a draft resolution on the global implications of the year-2000 date conversion problem of computers (document A/55/L.28). By its terms is sponsored by Lesotho. By the terms of the text, which is sponsored by Lesotho, the Assembly would express its satisfaction with the efforts of all Member States to solve the Y2K problem before the rollover date of 31 December 1999, including by working to ensure that the private sector was fully engaged in addressing the problem.

Further to the text, the Assembly would commend the unprecedented international cooperation that contributed to the successful outcome, and also commend the public-private partnerships that were forged. The Assembly would urge the international community to draw lessons from the experience in dealing with complex global technical problems.

The Assembly also had before it a draft resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Economic Community of Central African States (document A/55/L.6/Rev.1). That text is sponsored by Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Pakistan.

By the text, the Assembly would recognize that the purposes and objectives of the Economic Community of Central African States were in conformity with the principles and ideals enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. It would urge all Member States and the international community to contribute to the efforts of the Economic Community of Central African States to achieve economic integration and development, promote democracy and human rights and consolidate peace and security in Central Africa.

Also by the text, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General: to take the appropriate steps to establish cooperation between the United Nations and the Economic Community of Central African States; to continue supporting the States members of the Economic Community; and to extend that support to all the fields to be covered in the framework of cooperation between the United Nations system and the Economic Community.

Consideration of Global Implications of Year-2000 Date Conversion Problem Of Computers

PERCY M. MANGOAELA (Lesotho), introducing the related draft resolution, said that at the end of the twentieth century, the Y2K problem had threatened computers and digital systems around the world. Left unaddressed, the Y2K problem would have seriously disrupted vital financial, business, health and government services and could have interrupted electricity and telecommunications. While primary responsibility for addressing the problem rested with each organization delivering service, a unique international cooperative effort had been organized to provide mutual assistance among the Member States of the United Nations. The draft resolution before the Assembly noted that unique international initiative’s success.

The Y2K problems could have caused serious social and economic damage through the failure of global financial flow systems, government payrolls and benefits and small business inventories. Public overreaction to Y2K fears -– such as the hoarding of scarce commodities or runs on banks -- could also have caused serious hardships. Furthermore, Y2K failures or panic lasting more than a few days could have caused political instability, and widespread computer problems could have reduced public confidence in information technology.

The Y2K problem presented an opportunity to create and test a new form of organization -– the first virtual international organization -– to address a global problem. The problem had been seen as a common menace that threatened every country. Economic and security interdependence meant that no country was an island. The sharing of information about workable approaches to the problem and about readiness had become paramount, and that environment had fostered the creation of an agile but official mechanism to validate and share quality information around the world. He recommended that the text be adopted by consensus.

He announced that Algeria, Australia, Bahamas, Cape Verde, Colombia, Cyprus, Estonia, Gabon, Indonesia, Jamaica, Jordan, Lebanon, Mali, New Zealand, Philippines, Republic of Moldova, Romania and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had joined as co-sponsors.

DAVID STUART (Australia) said that the Secretary-General’s report contained a lot of good news. As was often the case with the success stories of the United Nations, this good news did not seem to have attracted much attention. He highlighted some of the benefits derived from the concerted and intensive approach, nationally and internationally, to managing Y2K. The Y2K problems had arisen because programmers had entered dates in computer code without reference to the century. This had seemed like a good idea at the time, even though the expediency of reducing the cost of storing computer data had overlooked the longer-term costs of ensuring that programs would run after 31 December 1999.

As far back as 1997, the Australian Government had been convinced that Y2K was a real threat. The potential economic impact, security risks and consequences of inaction called for a pro-active role in countering the Y2K threat by stringent testing, remedial measures and contingency planning. In response, the Australian Government had established the Year 2000 Project Office within the Office of Government Information Technology (OGIT). The Government’s strategy was multi-dimensional. It provided leadership in system preparation and transparent reporting and raised awareness in key industry sectors through the Year 2000 National Steering Committee’s Industry program.

It also monitored preparations in public and key private sectors, such as banking, finance, aviation, telecommunications and electricity. The Y2K problem was the first global challenge attributable to information technology. The problem had induced Australians to review and improve their understanding of society’s reliance on, and hence its potential vulnerability to, computerized systems. It also prompted greater awareness of the redundancy and inefficiency of systems in use. While some countries had been prepared to minimize the Y2K disruption for years, late-starting nations had benefited from the knowledge acquired by the former through information sharing. This demonstrated that a public-private and cross-border transaction and interaction could work positively for common benefit. This was indeed an encouraging start to the new century.

VLADIMIR SOTIROV (Bulgaria) said that as a regional coordinator for Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asian countries, Bulgaria had attached great importance to enhancing cooperation in order to ensure a timely and effective response to the Y2K challenge. Bulgaria’s crisis strategy had gone through a staged process involving the identification of vulnerable sectors, risk assessment, the remediation of critical systems and software, and development of contingency plans. The Group had focused on energy, telecommunications, nuclear power, banking, finance, oil, gas, shipping, and ports and aviation.

As a result of the intensive preparedness on both regional and national levels, the region had managed the smooth transition and no Y2K related problems had been reported. The solution of the Y2K problem for the Bulgarian Government had meant the achievement of pragmatic goals -- protection of the physical integrity of citizens, protection of crucial components of the social and economic infrastructure and minimizing the potential losses to their lowest possible values.

Starting work on the Y2K challenge in 1998, Bulgaria had also made intensive efforts to build real public confidence about the measures taken to resolve the problem. There were many messages to citizens within the public information programme. The transparency, open discussion and public right to information were of critical importance as they raised awareness levels and prevented panic among the population. One of the most remarkable results of the Y2K challenge was the general awareness reached throughout the United Nations system about the importance of the communications revolution and the need to harness its potential to meet its new challenges together.

The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution on the Y2K conversion problem without a vote.

Cooperation between the United Nations and the Economic Community of Central African States

SANTIAGO NSOBEYA EFUMAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Equatorial Guinea, spoke on behalf of the member countries of the Economic Community of Central African States. He announced that the draft resolution before the Assembly had the following additional co-sponsors: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. He expressed his deep gratitude for the historic opportunity of promoting cooperation between the United Nations and the Community.

The Community wished to introduce a constructive dynamic to the debate on cooperation between the two organizations, he said. It recognized that other regional bodies had fruitful relations with the United Nations. What had fundamentally changed was the irreversibility of the phenomenon of globalization that was transforming the world. What globalization demonstrated above all was the world’s growing interdependence and extraordinary complexity. The cooperation with the United Nations that Central Africa was actively seeking took place at a time in which reforms were being introduced to better adapt to the new exigencies of the world.

During the extraordinary summit on 23 June held in Libreville, the chiefs of State had recommended a stronger and sustained presence between the United Nations and the Community. He believed that the establishment of direct and multisectoral cooperation between the United Nations system and the Community would promote economic development and integration, in addition to the consolidation of peace, stability, democracy and respect for human rights in the subregion.

Commenting on the draft resolution, he said the text’s preamble expressed confidence in the United Nations, whose support and experience were indispensable to the achievement of the Community’s objectives of peace, security and development. Further, it requested support from the United Nations to deal with the challenges that instability and globalization posed and expressed its hope with the help of the international community, to develop a climate of peace to promote democratic values and prevent and solve conflicts. In closing, he said the Community looked forward to the sustained support of the United Nations in helping Central Africa play a bigger role in globalization.

YVES DOUTRIAUX (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta and Turkey, said subregional integration was underway in Africa, a development which the United Nations must continue to support since it might make a useful contribution to the realization of the purposes of the Charter. The Union saw regional integration as one of the keys to development and stability in Africa. For the continent as a whole, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) played an irreplaceable role, but sub- regional organizations made additional contributions as places where African solidarity could be expressed.

At the beginning of this year, the Economic Community of Central African States had adopted the following political objectives: the maintenance of peace

and the establishment of a community parliament and of a subregional centre for human rights and democracy. With the creation of the Council for Peace and Security in Africa (COPAX), the Community had provided itself with a body that should allow it to satisfy its legitimate ambitions in the field of the maintenance of peace.

The European Union wished to contribute in a practical way to strengthening the Community and its links with the United Nations. In February, the multinational exercise "Gabon 2000" had brought together 10 Economic Community countries. One of the main purposes was to familiarize States in the subregion with United Nations peacekeeping procedures in order to enable them to participate in peacekeeping operations or in multinational forces authorized by the Security Council.

MOUNGARA MOUSSOTSI (Gabon) said consideration of the agenda-item coincided with the reconstruction of the Economic Community of Central African States as had been decided by the leaders of the subregion during the Malabo Summit in June 1999. His Government was committed to the revitalization of that important institution. Giving it the means to function normally would allow it to be the motor for subregional integration and the best tool for consolidation of peace in Central Africa.

The new dynamic of the Community also aimed to end the contradiction that the potentially richest subregion of Africa was also the least stable, he said. In their efforts to strengthen peace in Central Africa, the heads of State and government had established the Council for Peace and Security in order to give the Community a real capacity for action in the areas of conflict prevention and management. For the same reason, they had decided to establish the Rapid Warning Mechanism of Central Africa (MARAC). Establishing a subregional parliament and a Centre for Human Rights and Democracy had given voice to the same concern which was a constant priority in the subregion.

In 1992, the Permanent Consultative Committee of the United Nations on matters of security in Central Africa had been established. That Committee had been a useful tool in helping to build confidence. In 1996, a non-aggression pact had been signed between the States of the subregion. In 1999, a meeting on small arms had been convened in Chad, and recently one on refugees had been held in Burundi. The Committee's meetings had also been a framework for elaboration of mechanisms such as the Council for Peace and Security, the subregional parliament and others. In the face of globalization, the success of subregional experiments such as this one required sustained attention and support of the international community. The cooperation between the United Nations and the Community should therefore be institutionalized, he said.

The Assembly then adopted the resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Community without a vote.

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For information media. Not an official record.