Fifty-sixth General Assembly
37th Meeting (AM)
GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTS RESOLUTION ON DAY FOR PREVENTING ENVIRONMENTAL
EXPLOITATION IN WAR, DECADE FOR CULTURE OF PEACE FOR CHILDREN
Debates Issue of Global Partnerships
The General Assembly this morning adopted two resolutions, one on the Observance of the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict and a second on the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World, 2001-2010. It also considered the agenda item Towards Global Partnerships.
In a separate recorded vote of 50 in favor with 34 abstentions, the Assembly adopted operative paragraph 1 [“Declares 6 November of each year as the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict”] of the draft resolution on the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict. The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, the resolution as a whole.
Introducing the draft resolution, the representative from Kuwait said the environment on all levels had been impacted by the war in the Gulf States, and he stressed the importance of preserving and protecting the environment during armed conflicts. He reminded delegates that the use of natural resources and destruction of environment for strategic reasons was not only a flagrant violation of nature, but of international law.
Iraq’s representative said that his country supported protection of the environment not just during periods of war but also during peace. Iraq had been the victim of severe pollution due to conflicts. One and a half million people were estimated to have lost their lives due to pollution caused by the use of depleted uranium. This was a real crime of genocide against his country. It was clear that the draft resolution consisted of political objectives of a very narrow nature, he said. The date chosen by Kuwait, 6 November, was a day of celebration in Kuwait, but not in other States.
The representative of the United States and the observer of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) also spoke on the subject. The representative of Belgium, on behalf of the European Union, explained his position after the vote.
Without a vote, the Assembly adopted a resolution on International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World, 2001-2010,
which affirmed that the objective of the said Decade was to strengthen the global movement for a culture of peace, following the observance of the International Year for the Culture of Peace in 2000. Under its terms, the Assembly would call upon relevant United Nations bodies to promote both formal and non-formal education at all levels to foster a culture of peace and non-violence. It also encouraged civil society to adopt a programme of activities to further the Decade’s aim, and the media to become involved in education for a culture of peace, which would include expanding the Culture of Peace News Network.
The representative of Israel explained her country’s position after the vote.
Under the item "Towards global partnerships", the representative of Pakistan said global partnership was needed to evenly distribute the benefits of globalization, which was causing growing economic inequalities among countries and regions. Greater cooperation was needed between the United Nations and other non-State actors such as the Bretton Woods institutions, civil society and the private sector. The private sector in particular could play a pivotal role in achieving objectives in the areas of trade, debt, investment, technology and industrial cooperation.
Egypt’s representative stressed that any global partnership must address inequalities, not deepen them. He warned against a hasty endorsement of any type of cooperation before conclusions had been reached on standards and guidelines. Existing initiatives did not always take into consideration the interests of developing countries. Global partnerships must not be linked to conditions regarding Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Many developing countries had been severely burned by conditions for FDI, including forced changes in their economic and political systems.
The representative from India said that global partnership was based on an arbitrary selection of social and development compacts that Member States had carefully negotiated, which ran the risk of giving greater weight to one set of principles than others. He noted that global partnership did not commit the private sector to promote any economic and development goals, which must be the aim of the partnership. The international community also needed to guard against private sector companies using the global partnership as an alibi for pulling out of countries which were no longer profitable, arguing that local conditions were incompatible with their other aims under the global partnership.
Sergei Ordzhonikidze, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, also spoke on the subject, as did the representatives of Iran (on behalf of the Group of 77 plus China), China, Singapore, Republic of Korea, Ghana, Belgium (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Mexico, Russian Federation, Brazil and Canada
The observer of Switzerland also made a statement.
The Assembly will meet again this afternoon at 3:00 p.m. to consider the Final review and appraisal of the implementation of the United Nations New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s.
The General Assembly met this morning to consider the items Towards Global Partnerships, the Observance of the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict, and Culture of peace.
Under the agenda item entitled "towards global partnerships", the Assembly had before it a report of the Secretary-General on cooperation between the United Nations and all relevant partners, in particular the private sector (document A/56/323), submitted pursuant to Assembly resolution 55/215 which invited the Secretary-General to seek the views of all Member States and all relevant partners, in particular the private sector on the matter.
The report contains the views of 23 Member States, one Observer and
27 United Nations entities. It also gives an overview of a consultation process with representatives of business associations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), existing literature and analysis of existing examples of cooperation.
The report states that despite the strategic risks and operational challenges associated with partnership-building, most respondents to the Secretary-General's request for their views saw potential benefits of cooperation. There was, however, a need for: guidelines and due diligence procedures that did not attempt to micro-manage; increased participation of companies and business associations from developing and transition economies, and from the small and medium sector; more resources for internal capacity-building; greater information-sharing and inter-agency learning; and efforts to ensure that partnerships did not undermine the intergovernmental process.
The "Global Compact" is also described in the report. Launched by the Secretary-General in 1999 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, it is a call to business leaders around the globe to embrace and implement, in their own spheres of influence, a set of nine principles (Appendix I) in the areas of environment, labour and human rights. Through a process of dialogue and consultation, the Global Compact has developed a three-pronged strategy: learning, dialogue and action.
The Secretary-General’s report concludes that the number, diversity and influence of non-State actors has grown dramatically over the past 10 year. The diversity of relationships between the United Nations and non-State actors is such that a “one-size-fits-all” approach is not possible. The potential private sector contribution to development is multifaceted and needs to be harnessed in a focused and effective manner. The greatest contribution that domestic and foreign companies can make to support the goals of the Millennium Declaration is through private investment and through concerted and transparent efforts to ensure that the economic, social and environmental impacts of that investment are positive.
The report also concludes that the growing cooperation with non-State actors does not, and should not, replace the central role and responsibility of governments in national and international policy-making and in ensuring the security and progress of their citizens. Governments must continue to play the leadership role in setting goals and agreeing on global and national frameworks. The resources non-State actors can contribute in terms of expertise, funding and technology, should be a complement to governmental resources, not a substitute.
According to the report, special efforts are needed to ensure that cooperation with the business community and other non-State actors adequately reflects the Organization's membership and pays particular attention to the needs and priorities of developing countries and countries with economies in transition. To that end, increased efforts will be placed on building the partnership capacity of domestic enterprises, business associations, foundations and non-governmental organizations in those countries, and on promoting institutional cooperation between those bodies and their counterparts in developed countries.
The report suggests that Member States may wish to consider measures to encourage partnership arrangements among chambers of commerce and other business organizations in developed and developing countries. Such arrangements could be aimed at spreading good practices, including training in technical skills and know-how, the use of new management tools and the adoption of good corporate citizenship principles in business activities around the globe. Such partnerships have the potential to play an important role in ensuring that the benefits and costs of globalization are more equally shared and that globalization becomes a positive force for all the world's people.
Annex I of the report defines the private sector. Annex II gives examples of cooperation between the United Nations and all relevant partners, in particular the private sector, and Annex III provides guidelines for cooperation between the United Nations and the business community.
International Day Against Exploitation of Environment
The Assembly was also expected this morning to consider a draft resolution concerning the Observance of the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict, (document A/56.L.8).
Under the draft, the Assembly –- recalling the United Nations Millennium Declaration, which emphasized the necessity of safeguarding nature for the sake of future generations and working for the protection of the common environment -- would declare 6 November of each year as the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict. The Assembly would request the Secretary-General to ensure the implementation of the resolution and to promote it in the international community.
The draft is sponsored by Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bhutan, Chile, Comoros, Costa Rica, Djibouti, Ecuador, Gabon, Honduras, India, Kuwait, Maldives, Mali, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Vanuatu.
Culture of Peace
The Assembly also had before it this morning a draft resolution on the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World, 2001-2010, which affirmed that the objective of the said Decade was to further strengthen the global movement for a culture of peace, following the observance of the International Year for the Culture of Peace in 2000 (document A/56/L.5).
By its terms, the Assembly would invite Member States to emphasize activities promoting a culture of peace and non-violence at the national, regional and international levels. It would request that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) continue distributing the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace adopted for the Assembly at its fifty-third session (53/243A) and related materials in various languages.
Also under the terms of the draft, the Assembly would call upon relevant United Nations bodies, particularly UNESCO and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), to continue promoting both formal and non-formal education at all levels to foster a culture of peace and non-violence. It would encourage civil society to adopt a programme of activities to further the objectives of the Decade, and the media to become involved in education for a culture of peace and non-violence, which would include expanding the Culture of Peace News Network as a global network of Internet sites in many languages.
The draft is sponsored by Bangladesh, Benin, Chile, El Salvador and Togo.
NASSROLLAH KAZEMI KAMYAB (Iran), speaking for of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said partnership should be conducive to development and the elimination of poverty. The issue was the role the entire international community should play in that context. In practical terms, the question was how to strengthen the development role of the United Nations system and how to enhance the effectiveness of its development activities.
In a world somewhat fixated on market economics and corporate profitability, he said, legislation and intergovernmental agreements should remain important components of any strategy to promote corporate responsibility and accountability. New initiatives should not lead to further weakening the regulatory role of the state and intergovernmental bodies. He reiterated the importance of the State in providing for the general welfare of its citizens. The cooperation between the United Nations and relevant partners should mainly aim at contributing to the realization of the development goals and programmes of the Organization. He hoped that transnational corporations would join the efforts towards the realization of those goals and take concrete measures to help developing countries.
He said the focus of the United Nations should be on the transfer of knowledge and technology, and the building of necessary domestic capacities with a view to promoting the competitiveness of developing countries. He was concerned that the Organization’s resources for that purpose were inadequate. In the cooperation with relevant partners, the United Nations needed to follow differentiated approaches, in line with the characteristics of the partners as well as the fundamental purpose of making contributions to the implementation of the development goals and programmes.
SHEN GUOFANG (China) said the gap between North and South had become an issue of great urgency. It could be seen that the private sector had at its disposal enormous amounts of financial resources and technology, and was playing a considerable role in the globalizing economy. To ensure that globalization became a positive force for all, and to promote the balanced development of all economies in globalization, the relevant partners, in particular those in the private sector, needed to make contributions to development.
He said cooperation between the United Nations and the relevant partners should be carried out in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter, as well as relevant United Nations rules and procedures, without undermining the inter-governmental nature of the Organization. China hoped the relevant partners could make full use of their own strengths and provide more substantive assistance to developing countries, for example through mobilizing financial resources, transferring technology, investing responsibility, sharing good management experience and reducing the price of HIV/AIDS treatment.
The forms of cooperation between the United Nations and the relevant partners needed to be flexible and diversified, so as to adapt to different situations and achieve better results. Additionally, it should be recognized that the private sector had its own limits. The United Nations should appropriately estimate the role of the relevant partners, including the private sector. The real manifestation of their importance lay in the substantive help they could render, not in empty slogans.
LOW PIT CHEN (Singapore) said there were good reasons why the draft resolution, recognizing the potential contribution of non-State actors towards realizing goals set out in the United Nations Millennium Declaration, was a move in the right direction. The influence of non-State actors had grown tremendously over the last 10 years. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimated that there were now more than 60,000 transnational corporations, compared with 37,000 in 1990. The number of non-governmental organizations had also risen, from 23,600 in 1991 to 44,000 in 1999. Some of those had extensive global outreach with thousands of direct members in different countries.
He said that some non-State actors had agendas directly opposed to the goals of the United Nations, and referred to industries which extracted and exploited natural resources at the expense of developing countries. However, there were also those that sought to be responsible corporate citizens and could share similar objectives. It was better to have non-State actors work with the United Nations than against the United Nations.
He said non-State actors offered a variety of competencies, constituencies, resources and networks that could be better tapped to tackle the complex challenges facing countries and the global community today. Partnerships with non-State actors, and their constructive assimilation into the global architecture, would allow countries as well as the global community to better reap the benefits of globalization and manage its costs.
In order to make global partnerships truly global and effective, they must involve more than just private corporations from the West. There were other global partners with valuable expertise, resources and networks to offer. Global partnerships must be built on shared understanding and clear rules and principles. He said global partnerships provided a collective approach to achieving the goals of the United Nations which remained paramount; they were definitely not, and must never be, an end onto themselves.
SUN JOUN-YUNG (Republic of Korea) said the success of the august body of the United Nations would depend upon how partnerships could be designed with non-State actors. In the areas of policy dialogue and advocacy for United Nations values and activities, initiatives had been consolidated in various forms. However, for the benefit of all participants, the accreditation process for non-State actors in United Nations conferences and preparatory events needed to be streamlined in a more transparent and predictable manner.
He commended the developments in the areas of information-sharing and learning partnerships, and said the mobilization of private funds through philanthropic funds or investment capital was of great importance. He said he applauded the initiative of the Secretary-General on “Global Compact”.
Against the backdrop of overall support for the role of the private sector and civil society, he said, legitimate concerns regarding potential risks such as conflict of interest, unfair advantage and governance risks had to be addressed. Another key challenge for the United Nations was how to ensure adequate involvement of developing countries’ organizations in partnership initiatives. He shared the view that substantial support should be provided for non-State actors from developing countries in the fields of national and regional workshops, exchanges and public-private sector dialogues. However, he stressed the growing cooperation with non-State actors should not supersede the primacy of Governments in national and international policy-making processes.
NANA EFFAH-APENTENG (Ghana) associated his delegation with the statement of Iran on behalf of the Group of 77 and China. There was a need, he said, for a strategic approach to global partnerships. The Assembly’s role should be to define the vision and values, which should guide the partnerships. Those should include determining public interventions which enhanced the development impact of private activity; building understanding on ways of making development activities attractive for the private sector; poverty eradication; addressing volatility, debt crisis and burden sharing; corruption and the equitable implementation of Trade Related Intellectual Property agreements.
The General Assembly would also need to address ways to seek effective partnerships with existing initiatives, such as the World Economic Forum, with a view to encouraging harmonization and adequate coverage worldwide and adding value through their respective comparative advantages. In that connection, there was a need for greater flexibility in the rules of the General Assembly to enhance greater access and participation by private sector bodies. It would also be prudent to aim at a decentralized process where a globally defined vision was mediated at regional and national levels.
He said it was clear that there could not be effective global partnerships without the involvement of NGOs, and the current antagonism and stand-off between the private sector and the NGO community were a major barrier to progress. The United Nations should provide leadership and a platform for building bridges between those two sectors. Ghana supported the proposal for the facilitation of a multi-stakeholder forum. However, given the experiences of the Preparatory Committee of the International Conference on Financing for Development in involving the private sector in its process, the planning and convening of such a forum should be preceded be a serious exercise of reflection and debate.
STEPHANE DE LOECKER (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said it would not be possible to reach the 2015 sustainable development goals without the active participation of all those involved in globalization. The private sector had the technological, industrial and financial strength to influence the world. At times, the private sector’s strength far surpassed State capabilities.
The question of global partnerships was not confined to development financing and the mobilizing of resources, he continued. Viewed in the widest sense, global partnerships were a way to exercise a leverage effect on international action by the public sector. They provided an opportunity to mobilize, assemble and pool the relevant expertise, capabilities and resources of each sector. Some corporations or large foundations made enormous contributions, such as the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, which was a coalition of governments, United Nations bodies, philanthropic bodies such as the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations, the pharmaceuticals industry, public health institutes and research centres. The Global Compact, which established that corporations bore a social responsibility based on fundamental values, was a good example of successful cooperation between the United Nations and the private sector.
For those concerned that partnerships would promote private sector interests and private advantage over the public good, he said profit would remain the primary motivation of the private sector. However, the partnerships could ensure that the independence of the United Nations was not compromised and that it was not prevented from defending the general interest and acting accordingly. Likewise, to ease concerns over the Organization working only with Western multinational corporations, the United Nations should expand its partnerships within the private sector of developing countries, including through capacity-building projects.
Partnerships must be joint commitments made in a spirit of mutual respect and in pursuit of common objectives, he added. The United Nations should enter partnerships with all appropriate flexibility. The partnership foundation should be firm but not rigid. The flexibility and innovation for cooperating with the business world could suffer from an over-centralized, institutionalized approach. Setting too formal a framework could discourage the most generous or innovative initiatives from the private sector. For example, the accreditation process should not be too strict.
The Union would table a draft resolution on the issue during the Assembly’s present session, he concluded. It would be open for informal negotiations and to co-authors. It would aim to work out “good practice” principles without lingering over questions of principle or doctrine.
JORGE EDUARDO NAVARRETE (Mexico) said that in the Millennium Declaration, heads of States and governments had committed to establishing solid cooperation with the private sector and civil society to promote development, eradicate poverty and offer more opportunities to contribute to the goals of the Organization. Those goals had guided the work of his Government internationally and in the domestic area. Statistics showed that the role of civil society and the private sector had increased.
Millions of small enterprises and micro-enterprises existed both in the regulated and non-regulated sectors of the economy and played an increasingly important role, he said. That increase had been accompanied by a qualitative influence on actions by the United Nations and actions at international and local levels. The challenge was to use the creative potential of civil society and the private sector to promote sustainable development, without compromising the multilateral system of the United Nations. Principles and guidelines had to be perfected to govern cooperation between the Organization and the private sector and civil society.
The dynamic nature of the private sector required the United Nations to improve its working methods, he said. It was important to avoid duplication of work and to correct the absence of coordination between organizations. He supported the suggestion of the Republic of Korea’s representative to simplify the process of accrediting non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at the United Nations. He emphasized that recognition of cooperation with private and civil society did not mean replacing the central role of governments in developing policies. The contribution of the private sector to development must be used in an effective way. The greatest contributions the private sector could make was through private investments and adoption of transparent measures guaranteeing that those investments would be positive.
ASITH K. BHATTACHARJEE (India) said global partnership was based on an arbitrary selection of social and development compacts that Member States had carefully negotiated, which ran the risk of giving greater weight to one set of principles than others. The initiative also drew on some principles from Conventions or other legal instruments to which not all Member States were parties. Governments should not be forced to change their local laws or conditions for investment because companies in the global partnership operated in their countries.
He also noted that the global partnership did not commit the private sector to promote any economic and development goals, which must be the aim of the partnership. In the era of globalization and competition for foreign direct investment, the global partnership should not force governments to lower standards for them. The international community also needed to guard against private sector companies using the global partnership as an alibi for pulling out of countries which were no longer profitable, arguing that local conditions were incompatible with their other aims under the global partnership.
The global partnership should mean that cooperation between the United Nations and relevant partners, including the private sector, were in accordance with the United Nations Charter and principles, without compromising the Organization’s independence and neutrality. It should also contribute to development goals and poverty eradication through financial resources, the transfer of technology, capacity-building, social spending and responsible corporate policies. Private corporations must abide by the law of the land, despite involvement with the global partnership. The partnership should have a balanced composition, with businesses in developing countries adequately represented.
SERGEI ORDZHONIKIDZE, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, said the expansion of business relations between the United Nations and the private sector was an imperative, deserving all possible support and encouragement. Globalization had made business one of the leading forces behind the accelerated development of productive forces and the key participant in world economic relations. The main objective of cooperation between the United Nations and non-State actors was enhancing the effectiveness of the Organization. It had to serve the interests of the governments of Member States and to contribute to the strengthening of the Organization’s authority.
Instruments of cooperation included the mobilization of private sector financial resources for United Nations-implemented programmes supporting development and efforts to eradicate poverty and backwardness, he said. The United Nations was playing the leading role in striking an optimal balance of interests between the private sector and the recipient governments. That would require rapid development of guidelines on interaction between the Organization and the private sector, by the Secretariat and their adoption at the intergovernmental level. The development of partnerships with the private sector should by no means undermine the intergovernmental character of the Organization. He supported establishing a working group to consider measures to enhance coherence and capacity.
The eradication of poverty and promotion of economic growth and sustainable development should become the focus of joint efforts by the United Nations and the private sector, he continued. Other promising areas of cooperation, such as peace and security, disarmament, human rights, democracy and good governance, and protection of the vulnerable, could be explored after a comprehensive analysis of experience gained in the field of development promotion.
His country had actively supported the Global Compact. The involvement of Russian business circles in the framework of that Compact had major advantages both in terms of development of a socially responsible national private sector as well as a possible way to strengthen its international positions. Implementation of the Compact was in the interests of all partners participating in world economic relations. A high-level round table on the subject would be held in Moscow on 19 November, he said.
LUIZ TUPY CALDAS DE MOURA (Brazil) said that in Brazil, the search for improved interaction between the State and new forms of organization of the civil society, had resulted in a more transparent dialogue between the State, civil society as a whole and the private sector, towards a fair and balanced distribution of responsibilities. The private sector had been an important partner in Brazil’s development efforts. The efficiency of the public administration had increased and so had social justice, since it had been possible for the government to concentrate its efforts and resources on measures in the interest of those most in need. In the search for a more genuine, inclusive and equitable globalization, the active role of both the public and the private sectors were essential in fostering development.
These developing partnerships occurred at a time when the so-called “good corporate citizenship” had become more relevant for the private sector and the society as a whole. Companies did not only sell their products, they also sold their brand name. In doing so, they tried to associate themselves to a desirable image and a positive behavior. It was debatable whether this attitude reflected genuine concerns or enlightened self-interest. Nevertheless, the fact was that companies were willing to collaborate in partnerships. The United Nations must seize this opportunity to explore new channels of cooperation with the private sector, thereby contributing to turning globalization into a more equitable and inclusive process.
He said the global compact stood out as one important initiative. More than 200 Brazilian companies were taking part in the initiative, thus contributing to the spread and consolidation of sound corporate practices in the country. His Government was pleased with the positive reaction to the compact. Nevertheless, he added, the partnerships were not devoid of risks, one was the “reputation risk” which was translated into a loss of credibility as a result of the selection of inappropriate companies.
It was vital to ensure that private companies lived up to their commitments. Moreover, in order to avoid risks, all partnerships must pursue certain principles and objectives, including mutual purpose, accountability, transparency, balanced representation and respect for the modalities of the United Nations.
GILBERT LAURIN (Canada) said individual States lacked the resources to deal with challenges facing the United Nations, such as development, eradicating poverty, fighting disease, protecting the environment and responding to emergencies. The contribution of civil society was essential to achieve the goals Member States had set for the Organization. Civil society, including non-governmental organizations and the private sector, had a great deal of expertise, experience, and resources, which could be critical in dealing with international challenges.
In the humanitarian field, civil society was needed to provide food, shelter and medical care to people in need because of natural disasters or complex emergencies. In development, the private sector played a key role in providing the trade, investment and resources needed to develop each country’s potential. Civil society was also actively involved in protecting the environment and promoting sustainable development, improving working conditions, promoting human rights and achieving social development goals.
While private sector action was never a substitute for government action, it could be an important partner in sharing information, developing strategies, providing resources and increasing credibility, he said. For both the United Nations and the private sector, increased collaboration could result in better understanding of local conditions, which should help the private sector to contribute positively to sustainable development. Working in partnership with the United Nations could help corporations and businesses ensure that their strategies and projects were consistent with promoting human rights, social development goals, labour standards and environmental protection.
MOHAMMAD HASSAN (Pakistan) said globalization was reshaping economic, social, cultural and political values. It had highlighted the disadvantaged position of vulnerable groups and caused growing economic inequalities among countries and regions. It had negatively affected the overall process of development reflected by the increasing digital divide, rising income inequalities and concentration of economic power through mega mergers. Weak or small economies had been marginalized. Greater cooperation was needed between the United Nations and other non-State actors such as the Bretton Woods institutions, civil society and the private sector.
He acknowledged the positive role partnerships could play in facilitating the flow of financial resources and technical know-how, including research and development, building capacities and sharing experiences in various realms of development. Today’s complex challenges could only be addressed through a collaborative approach involving the United Nations, institutional stake-holders, the private sector and civil society. Global partnership was needed to evenly distribute the benefits of globalization, promote the aims of the United Nations and attain the development goals of the Millennium Declaration. The private sector could play a pivotal role in achieving objectives in the areas of trade, debt, investment, technology and industrial cooperation.
Protracted dialogue was needed between the United Nations and interested negotiating partners on all aspects of cooperation, including responsibilities and obligations. The parameters for building partnerships should be determined by the General Assembly and should be grounded in the principles and aims of the United Nations Charter. Strong partnerships with the private sector should be developed in pursuit of development and poverty eradication. Guidelines should clearly stipulate responsibilities and roles, accountability, transparency and commitment to maintaining the independence, integrity and impartiality of the United Nations.
AHMED DARWISH (Egypt) said the report contained several good ideas on future relations between the United Nations and the private sector. He strongly supported the suggestion of an honest dialogue that would bring together interest groups from the United Nations, the private sector and civil society. That kind of dialogue would be important in the use of the private sector in the fulfillment of United Nations objectives, particularly in the promotion of development. It was essential that work methods be responsive to the rapidly changing political and economic reality. That required addressing the needs of globalization through existing international mechanisms.
He stressed the importance of addressing current inequalities. Any global partnership must address inequalities, and not deepen them. Against that backdrop, deepened cooperation between the United Nations and all interests groups was necessary. He warned against a hasty endorsement of any type of cooperation before conclusions had been reached on standards and guidelines. It was also essential to address and reach a consensus on existing initiatives. Existing initiatives did not always take into consideration the interests of developing countries. Global partnerships must not be linked to conditions regarding Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
Many developing countries had been severely burned by conditions for FDI, including the forced changes in their economic and political system. The promise of being able, trough certain political and economic changes, to attract FDI had not been true in many developing nations. It was therefore important to ensure that any dialogue on the future of global partnership consisted of appropriate representation, so that all sides could be heard. No stressed or hastened decisions could be made regarding the domestic economic situation of developing nations unless there was fair representation. Any conclusions or rules adopted in such a dialogue must be thoroughly examined and agreed to by developing countries.
JENO C. A. STAEHELIN, Observer of Switzerland, said the role of the private sector was crucial because of the enormous volume of private capital flows and their impact on so many lives. Most enterprises did not take into account social or environmental aspects in their activities. Therefore a convincing approach needed to be found to encourage them to modify their perspectives. It must also be underlined that the emergence of the private sector on the international stage had not altered the fundamental role of the State. He was, in fact, convinced that the State, civil society and the private sector complemented each other. The Secretary-General’s report demonstrated perfectly the need to clarify the respective responsibilities of actors on the global stage.
International Day Against Exploitation of the Environment
MUHAMMAD A. ABULHASAN (Kuwait), introducing the draft resolution on the observance of the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict, (document A/56/L.8), said the Millennium Summit had been a turning point in the area of international cooperation to protect the environment. It was agreed by everyone that the environment was impacted by the endeavors of human beings in daily life. Since Kuwait had introduced the item, there had been an understanding among all States vis-à-vis the situation in the Gulf States, because of the war there. The environment at all levels had been impacted because of that war.
He emphasized the importance of the preservation and protection of the environment during armed conflicts. The survival of humanity would not be worthwhile if there were not a proper and healthy environment after the end of wars. Otherwise, he said, people would face another war consisting of a struggle for survival and protection against toxins.
The environment, ecological systems and natural resources in the Gulf had been destroyed on a widespread scale because of the war. It had made the environment extremely fragile. He reminded delegates that the use of natural resources and destruction of environment for strategic reasons was not only a flagrant violation of nature but also of international law.
He announced further co-sponsors of the draft: Bangladesh, Belize, Brazil, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Fiji, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Iran, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Romania, St. Kitts and Nevis, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay and Zambia.
In order to develop private-public partnerships that would efficiently serve the common interest, he continued, a new culture of cooperation was needed. On that point, his delegation found interesting the development of policy dialogue with the private sector and the actions taken regarding the advocacy of United Nations objectives. The many and varied efforts taken by the United Nations were promising, such as those of UNICEF, which had mobilized tremendous energies and financial volume to help it fulfill its mandate. The Global Compact was also important and had tremendous potential to catalyze innovative forms of partnership and mobilize financial resources.
He also noted with satisfaction that the number of companies endorsing the Global Compact continued to increase. However, it was still in its development phase, and he encouraged a constructive but critical approach to the Compact. It was crucial to avoid reducing it to a merely cosmetic action leading to no positive change of attitude. The Global Compact had to respect simple and effective rules. It needed to safeguard the integrity and independence of the United Nations and function with transparency, and its partners had to contribute to carrying out United Nations objectives.
WILLIAM J. HYBL (United States) said that the United States was taking this occasion to reaffirm its long friendship with Kuwait, and his country’s steadfast commitment to ensuring the security of the Gulf Region.
He noted that 6 November marked the anniversary of extinguishing the last of 732 oil well fires set by the armies of Saddam Hussein as they retreated from Kuwait. The environmental impact of those fires and marine oil spills was still being felt more than ten years later. The United States, he said, supported Kuwait’s leadership in the areas of conservation and marine environmental restoration.
He said the United States had joined in consensus of this item, with the clear understanding that its approval did nothing to restrict the rights of the United States or any other nation to take necessary actions under international law and all international agreements, and also that the item respected the 1977 Convention on the Prohibition of Military and Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques.
JOHN WAUGH, of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, said that armed conflict may lead to the overuse or misuse of natural resources, environmental degradation and loss of species. It often took place in areas of critical biodiversity that were particularly sensitive. The situation was compounded when the exploitation of natural resources was the objective of conflict, or was a means to finance it. Exploitation of the environment in times of armed conflict foreclosed options for sustainable livelihoods. The identification of a day to reflect on this phenomenon provided a useful means to focus attention on the steps necessary to address it.
The International Union, he said, recognized the need for a greater understanding of the underlying causes of conflict, and particularly how conflict affected the conservation of biodiversity. It had urged its members to identify those conflict situations that related to the control of natural resources, and to bring those situations to the attention of the United Nations Security Council, or other appropriate entities, with proposals for measures to deter those who would sustain such conflicts. The Union sought to work with the international community to identify approaches that could help limit environmental degradation in situations of conflict.
He said that just as exploitation of natural resources could exacerbate and fuel conflict, international cooperation to manage resources at regional levels could be a tool to promote peace. In 2003, this organization and the government of South Africa would host the fifth World Parks Congress in Durban, South Africa. Prominent on the programme for this Congress was a review of the application of the Peace Park concept and the development of transboundary protected areas.
MOHAMMED A. ALDOURI (Iraq) said that interests in the environment and the protection thereof had grown greatly in the last 50 years. Iraq was one of those States who supported the idea of protecting the environment, not just during periods of war but also during peace. Iraq had been the victim of severe pollution due to conflicts, and its water was and would remain seriously polluted. That pollution had started in 1991 and had led to the spread of serious diseases, the victims of which were women, children and the elderly. One and a half million people were estimated to have lost their lives due to the pollution of the environment caused by the use of depleted uranium. That was a real crime of genocide against his country, he said.
Iraq had read and supported the Kuwaiti resolution in good faith. He had believed that the draft resolution would be dealt with in the General Assembly on behalf of United Nations, aiming to unite international efforts every year to defend the concept and the interests of all humanity. Regretfully, it had become clear that the draft resolution introduced by Kuwait consisted of political objectives of a very narrow nature. He felt the need to address the Assembly to highlight to the co-sponsors of the draft resolution that this was very serious in nature. The date chosen by Kuwait, 6 November, was a day of celebration in Kuwait, but not in other States. An international Day could not be held to the detriment of other States, he said. The Kuwaiti resolution contained the narrow political interests of one State. He stressed that co-sponsors consider this matter in depth and act accordingly. Such narrow political objectives would set a dangerous precedent in the work of the United Nations.
The choice of that date would diminish the United Nations’ credibility and universality, he said. That day could not be transformed into an International Day. He suggested that other days of more significant environmental value be chosen instead, such as the day of the Rio Earth Summit, or the date of the establishment of the United Nations Environmental Programme. He cautioned the Assembly not to fall into the trap of narrow self-interested policies which exploited the environment to bring about short-sighted and limited political gains. He called for a vote on operative paragraph one, since it was not compatible with the protection of nature and because of its inappropriate nature.
Action on Draft Resolution A/56/L.8
The Assembly was informed that a separate vote had been requested on operative paragraph 1 of the draft [“Declares 6 November of each year as the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict”].
Action on Operative Paragraph 1 of Draft Resolution
In a recorded vote of 50 in favour, none against and 34 abstentions, the Assembly adopted the first operative paragraph of the draft.
Action on Draft Resolutions as Whole
The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, the draft resolution as a whole.
Explanation of Vote after Vote
JEAN-PAUL CHARLIER (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union, in explanation of the vote, said he recognized the importance of preventing the exploitation of the environment in war and armed conflict. However, he was not in favour of the establishment of new United Nations days and, therefore, had abstained in the vote.
Culture of Peace
Action on Draft Resolution A/56/L.5
The Assembly was informed that Argentina, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Egypt, Eritrea, Gabon, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Madagascar, Malawi, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, Nigeria, Philippines, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Senegal, Suriname, Tajikistan, Thailand and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had become co-sponsors of the draft.
The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, the draft resolution on the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World, 2001-2010.
Explanation of Vote after Vote
ZINA KLEITMAN (Israel) registered her country’s reservation to preambular paragraph eight [“Taking note also of Commission on Human Rights resolution 2000/66 of 26 April 2000, entitled “Towards a culture of peace”].
Vote on Operative Paragraph One/Day For Preventing Environmental Exploitation
The first operative paragraph of the draft resolution on the declaration of 6 November of each year as the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict (document A/56/L.8) was approved by a recorded vote of 50 in favour to none against, with 34 abstentions, as follows:
In favour: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Iran, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malawi, Maldives, Mauritania, Mexico, Mozambique, Namibia, New Zealand, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Syria, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, United States, Uruguay.
Abstain: Andorra, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, Russian Federation, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Venezuela, Yugoslavia, Zambia.
Absent: Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, Comoros, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lesotho, Libya, Lithuania, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Federated States of Micronesia, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Tajikistan the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.
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