GENERAL ASSEMBLY, CONSIDERING SIXTH COMMITTEE REPORTS, ADOPTS TEXT ON CRIMINAL ACCOUNTABILITY OF UNITED NATIONS OFFICIALS, EXPERTS ON MISSION
GENERAL ASSEMBLY, CONSIDERING SIXTH COMMITTEE REPORTS, ADOPTS TEXT ON CRIMINAL ACCOUNTABILITY OF UNITED NATIONS OFFICIALS, EXPERTS ON MISSION
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-first General Assembly
64th & 65th Meetings (AM & PM)
GENERAL ASSEMBLY, CONSIDERING SIXTH COMMITTEE REPORTS, ADOPTS TEXT ON CRIMINAL
ACCOUNTABILITY OF UNITED NATIONS OFFICIALS, EXPERTS ON MISSION
Delegates also Take Action on Drafts Dealing
With Conflict Diamonds, Culture of Peace, Cultural Property, HIV/AIDS
By one of more than 15 resolutions and decisions adopted today as it took up the reports of its Sixth Committee (Legal), the General Assembly decided to establish an Ad Hoc Committee to consider criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission.
In a day-long meeting, the Assembly also adopted resolutions on matters ranging from diamonds that fuel conflict, to cooperative arrangements between the United Nations and regional and other organizations, the culture of peace, return or restitution of cultural property and HIV/AIDS. All but one of those actions took place without a vote.
As it took action on the reports of the Sixth Committee, the Assembly authorized the Ad Hoc Committee to meet from 9 to 13 April 2007 to examine the legal aspects of a report by a five-member Group of Experts appointed by the Secretary-General to provide advice on how best to ensure, in accordance with due process, that United Nations staff and experts on mission would neither be effectively exempt from the consequences of their criminal acts, nor unjustly penalized. By the draft resolution on that subject, the Ad Hoc Committee would report to the Assembly at its sixty-second session.
The Assembly also took note of a Sixth Committee decision to hold a resumed session in March 2007 to consider the legal aspects of the report of the Redesign Panel on the administration of justice in the United Nations. Finding the current system outmoded, dysfunctional and ineffective, the Panel, established by the Secretary-General in January 2006, proposed a new internal justice system that would be professional, independent, decentralized and fully consistent with international human rights standards, suggesting that it should become operational on 1 January 2008, subject to the Assembly’s approval.
By another text, the Assembly strongly condemned all acts of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable, and reminded States to ensure that perpetrators were brought to justice. It decided that its Ad Hoc Committee on terrorism should reconvene next February to expedite the elaboration of a comprehensive international convention on terrorism, and to discuss the convening of a high-level international conference, under United Nations auspices, to consider international terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
Again acting unanimously, the Assembly strongly condemned violent acts against diplomatic and consular missions and their representatives, urging States strictly to enforce laws to protect them and to cooperate closely on practical measures to enhance such protection.
Adopting a text based on the recommendations of its Committee on Relations with the Host Country, the Assembly urged the United States to remove travel restrictions on the personnel of some diplomatic missions and Secretariat staff of certain nationalities. It also noted the vehicle parking problems experienced by some permanent missions to the United Nations and said it would continue to ensure the proper implementation of the Parking Programme for Diplomatic Vehicles in a fair, non-discriminatory and effective manner.
The Assembly adopted three draft resolutions relating to the work of the International Law Commission at its fifty-eighth session this year, including a text that welcomed the enhanced dialogue between the Commission and the Sixth Committee. In another draft, the Assembly took note of draft articles on diplomatic protection drawn up by the Commission and invited Governments to submit comments on the Commission’s recommendation that they be elaborated as a convention. By the third text on the Commission’s work, the Assembly took note of its eight new principles on prevention of transboundary harm from hazardous activities, and the allocation of loss in the event of such harm.
By a draft resolution on Additional Protocols to the 1949 Geneva Convention relating to the protection of victims of armed conflicts, the Assembly welcomed their universal acceptance, and reaffirmed the necessity of making the implementation of international humanitarian law more effective.
The Assembly also adopted two draft resolutions on the 2006 session of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), one of which commended UNCITRAL for adopting revised articles of the Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration on the form of the arbitration agreement and interim measures. The second text dealt with revisions in specified provisions of the 1958 New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.
Similarly, the Assembly adopted two texts on the 2006 session of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization. They covered the commemoration of the sixtieth anniversary of the International Court of Justice and the 2007 session of the Special Committee, in which the Assembly urged that body to consider, on a priority basis, Charter provisions on assistance to third States affected by United Nations sanctions.
Other Sixth Committee resolutions and decisions adopted by the Assembly today covered matters such as the rule of law at the national and international levels; the Sixth Committee’s provisional programme for the sixty-second General Assembly session; and the granting of observer status in the General Assembly to the OPEC Fund for International Development, the Indian Ocean Commission and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Prior to the Assembly’s unanimous adoption of a draft resolution on the role of diamonds in fuelling conflicts, President Festus Mogae of Botswana introduced a report on the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, a unique tripartite partnership involving Governments, non-governmental organizations and the diamond industry established to regulate the international trade in rough diamonds so as to exclude “conflict diamonds” from the legitimate diamond trade.
President Mogae, the 2006 Chair of the Kimberley Process, said the review held this past year showed it was working better than expected, partly because of a unique peer review element and technical assistance provided by the United States and the World Diamond Council. Progress had been seen even in the two trouble areas of Sierra Leone and Liberia. Next year’s Chair would be the European Commission, representing more than 20 States, with the vice-chairmanship going to India.
The observer for the European Commission, noting that less than 0.2 per cent of the world trade in rough diamonds was now composed of conflict diamonds, said the imminent lifting of sanctions against Liberia and its admission into the Kimberley Process would reduce that proportion even further, to 0.1 per cent of the total world trade, which was a tiny fraction of the approximately 4 per cent seen in the 1990’s. That remarkable improvement was best measured by its effect on people’s lives. By deterring rebels, the Kimberley process was contributing to a more stable environment in the countries concerned.
On cooperation between the United Nations and other organizations, the representative of Ukraine introduced a draft resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, saying recent developments in the non-proliferation field had presented a tough challenge for the Preparatory Committee.
That text, the only one submitted to a recorded vote, was adopted by 133 votes in favour to 1 against ( United States), with no abstentions.
The Assembly also adopted a series of draft resolutions on cooperation between the Untied Nations and, respectively, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), introduced by the representative of the Philippines; the Pacific Islands Forum, introduced by the representative of Fiji; the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), introduced by the representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), introduced by the representative of Lesotho.
Assembly Vice-President Mirjana Mladeneo introduced drafts on the culture of peace and on the return or restitution of cultural property, as well as a draft decision on follow-up to the outcome of the twenty-sixth special session: implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS.
The representatives of the Russian Federation and Greece spoke in explanation of position after the Assembly’s action on the cultural property text. Speaking in explanation of position following action on the HIV/AIDS resolution were the representatives of Brazil, who spoke on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), India and Australia, who spoke also on behalf of Canada, Japan and Norway.
Others speaking on the issue of conflict diamonds were the representatives of Canada (speaking also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand), Namibia, United States, Russian Federation, Liberia, United Republic of Tanzania, Sierra Leone and Angola.
Speaking in explanation of position following action on the texts relating to United Nations cooperation with other organizations were the representatives of Finland (on behalf of the European Union and associated States) and the Solomon Islands.
The General Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 6 December, when it is expected to begin considering the follow-up to summits and conferences, as well as to take up the reports of its First Committee (Disarmament and International Security).
The General Assembly met this morning to consider the 13 reports of its Sixth Committee (Legal), including one containing a decision that the body hold a resumed session, in March 2007, to consider a proposal by a group of legal experts on reform of the administration of justice in the United Nations.
Other reports before the Assembly contain draft resolutions relating to such matters as terrorism, establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee to examine proposals on measures to deal with criminal acts by United Nations officials and experts on missions; the 2006 sessions of the International Law Commission, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law and the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Organization.
Also, this morning, the Assembly was expected to take up the role of diamonds in fuelling conflict, along with a range of draft resolutions related to its own agenda items on cultural property, the culture of peace, HIV/AIDS, as well as cooperation arrangements between the United Nations and regional and other organizations.
Sixth Committee Reports
The Committee’s report on the Comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects (document A/61/450) contains one resolution entitled “Criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission”, by which the Assembly would establish an Ad Hoc Committee to meet from 9 to 13 April 2007 to consider the report of the Group of Legal Experts, in particular its legal aspects, which include a draft international convention. The five-member Group was appointed by the Secretary-General to provide advice on how best to ensure, in accordance with due process, that United Nations staff and experts on mission will never be effectively exempt from the consequences of their criminal acts at their duty station, nor unjustly penalized. The Ad Hoc Committee will report to the Assembly at its sixty-second session. The Sixth Committee approved the measure without a vote on 9 November.
The report on the Status of Protocols Additional to the 1949 Geneva Convention (document A/61/451), relating to the protection of victims of armed conflicts, contains one resolution which was also approved without a vote on 9 November. By the text, the Assembly would welcome the universal acceptance of the Additional Protocols, and would also note the trend towards a similarly wide acceptance of the instrument’s two Additional Protocols of 1977. It would reaffirm the necessity of making the implementation of international humanitarian law more effective.
The report on Consideration of effective measures to enhance the protection, security and safety of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives (document A/61/452) contains a draft resolution by which the Assembly would strongly condemn violent acts against such persons and facilities, and urge States to strictly enforce laws that protect them. The Assembly would recommend that States cooperate closely on practical measures, including exchange of information, to enhance the protection, security and safety of those persons and facilities. States would also be urged to take all appropriate measures to prevent such violent acts and to report promptly to the Secretary-General on measures to prosecute offenders. The Sixth Committee approved the text without a vote on 6 November.
The report on the Work of the thirty-ninth session of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (document A/61/453), held in New York from 19 June to 7 July, contains two draft resolutions.
Draft resolution I, on the Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) on the work of its thirty-ninth session, would have the Assembly take note of the report with appreciation, and commend the Commission for adopting revised articles of the Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration on the form of the arbitration agreement and interim measures. The Assembly would also commend UNCITRAL for its approval of the substance of the recommendations of the draft legislative guide on secured transactions, designed to facilitate secured financing, thus promoting increased access to low-cost credit and enhancing national and international trade. It would also welcome the Commission’s decision to hold, in the context of its fortieth session in 2007, a congress on international trade law in Vienna, to review the results of its past work, as well as the related work of other organizations active in international trade law.
Draft resolution II is entitled “Revised articles of the Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, and the recommendation regarding the interpretation of article 2, paragraph 2, and article 7, paragraph 1, of the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, done at New York, 10 June 1958”. By its terms, the Assembly would express appreciation to the Commission for formulating and adopting the revised articles (the text of which are contained in the Commission’s report as annex I). The Assembly would recommend that all States give favourable consideration to the enactment of the revised articles of the Model Law, or the revised Model Law, in view of the desirability of uniformity of the law of arbitral procedures and the specific needs of international commercial arbitration practice. The Secretary-General would be requested to ensure that the revised articles of the Model Law and the recommendation become generally known and available. The Sixth Committee approved the two UNCITRAL texts without a vote on 30 October.
Also before the Assembly were three draft resolutions on the work of the International Law Commission at its fifty-eighth session ( Geneva, 1 May-9 June and 3 July-11 August 2006). Contained in the Committee’s report (document A/61/454), they were approved without a vote on 9 November.
Draft resolution I, entitled “Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its fifty-eighth session”, would have the Assembly welcome the enhanced dialogue between the Commission and the Sixth Committee that took place during the current Assembly session, and encourage its continued practice. By other terms, the Assembly would draw the attention of Governments to the importance of the Commission receiving their views on various aspects of topics on its agenda, particularly the draft articles on transboundary aquifers, and also information on legislation and practice, regarding the topic of “the obligation to extradite and prosecute”.
Draft resolution II, on Diplomatic protection, would have the Assembly take note of the draft articles on that topic, and invite Governments to submit comments on the Commission’s recommendation to elaborate a convention on it. The draft articles, which are connected to the Commission’s study on State responsibility, set out the rules relating to the conditions that must be met in bringing a claim for diplomatic protection.
Draft resolution III, on Allocation of loss in the case of transboundary harm arising out of hazardous activities, would have the Assembly take note of the eight principles elaborated by the Commission on the question of prevention of such harm. Noting the importance of the issue in the relations of States, the Assembly would commend to them, the guiding principles -- annexed to the draft resolution.
The report on the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization (document A/61/455) contains two draft resolutions.
By draft resolution I on Commemoration of the sixtieth anniversary of the International Court of Justice, the Assembly would call upon States to consider the means of strengthening the Court’s work, and also, to consider recourse to it for dispute settlement. States that have not yet done so would be called upon to accept the Court’s jurisdiction in accordance with its Statute. The Assembly would stress the importance of the promotion of the Court’s work and urge that efforts be continued to encourage public awareness in the teaching, study and wider dissemination of the activities of the Court in the peaceful settlement of disputes. The draft resolution was approved by acclamation on 27 October, in the presence of the President of the International Court of Justice, Judge Rosalyn Higgins.
Draft resolution II, on the Special Committee’s report, would have the Assembly authorize its 2007 session from 7 to 14 and 16 February. Approved without a vote on 16 November, the measure would have the Special Committee consider, on a priority basis, at that session, the implementation of Charter provisions on assistance to third States affected by United Nations sanctions. It would be requested to keep on its agenda the question of the maintenance of international peace and security, as well as the peaceful settlement of disputes between States, and to consider, on a priority basis, means to improve its working methods and enhance its efficiency. By other provisions, the Assembly would ask the Special Committee to consider any proposal concerning the Charter and its amendments referred to it. It would commend the Secretary-General for the progress made in updating the two publications -– Repertory of the Practice of United Nations Organs and the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council.
The Committee’s report on the Rule of law at the national and international levels (document A/61/456) contains a draft decision by which the General Assembly would request the Secretary-General to seek the views of Member States on matters pertaining to the issues addressed in the present resolution and to submit a report at the Assembly’s sixty-second session in 2007. The Secretary-General would be requested, as a matter of priority, to submit a report on the establishment of a Rule of Law Assistance Unit within the Secretariat, in conformity with resolution A/60/1 paragraph 134 (e) on the 2005 World Summit Outcome. He would also be requested to prepare an inventory of the current activities of the various organs, bodies, offices, departments, funds and programmes within the United Nations system devoted to the promotion of the rule of law and to submit an interim report on it. Furthermore, he would be asked to submit another report to the Assembly’s sixty-third session on how the activities of those entities could be strengthened and coordinated. The Committee approved the draft decision without a vote on 16 November.
The Committee’s report on “Measures to eliminate international terrorism” (document A/61/457) contains one draft resolution -- approved without a vote on 21 November -- by which the Assembly would strongly condemn all acts of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable. It would decide that its Ad Hoc Committee on Terrorism will reconvene on 5, 6 and 15 February 2007, to expedite its elaboration of a comprehensive international convention on terrorism. The Ad Hoc Committee would also continue to discuss the convening of a high-level conference on international terrorism, under United Nations auspices. Also, by the draft, the Assembly, deeply disturbed by the persistence of terrorist acts worldwide, would reiterate its call upon all States to adopt further measures to strengthen international cooperation in combating terrorism and to remind them of their obligations to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice. Under other provisions of the text, the Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on Terrorism would be asked to report to the Assembly, at its current session, in the event of the completion of the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism.
The Committee’s report on “Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly” (document A/61/458) contains a draft decision by which the Assembly would note the Committee’s approval of its provisional programme of work for the sixty-second session of the General Assembly. Under that programme, the Committee would consider 13 agenda items, starting on 8 October. Topics listed for debate would include the report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL); measures to eliminate international terrorism; diplomatic protection; rule of law at the national and international levels; report of the International Law Commission; and administration of justice at the United Nations. The Committee is scheduled to conclude its work on 16 November 2007. The Committee approved the draft decision without a vote on 21 November.
The Committee’s report on “Programme planning” (document A/61/459) states that the Committee, at a meeting on 9 November, decided that no action was required on that topic
By a draft decision contained in the Committee’s report on “Administration of justice at the United Nations” (document A/61/460), and approved without a vote on 16 November, the Assembly would take note of the Committee’s decision to hold a resumed session, in March 2007, to consider the legal aspects of the report of the Redesign Panel on the administration of justice in the United Nations. The Panel, established by the Secretary-General in January 2006, found the current system outmoded, dysfunctional and ineffective, and proposed the introduction of a new one that was professional, independent, decentralized and fully consistent with international human rights standards. The Panel suggested that the new internal justice system should become operational on 1 January 2008, subject to its approval by the General Assembly. It observed that an effective reform of the United Nations could not happen without an efficient, independent and well-resourced internal justice system that safeguarded the rights of staff members and ensured the effective accountability of managers and staff.
The Committee’s report on the Report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country (document A/61/461) contains a draft resolution by which the Assembly would endorse the Committee’s recommendations and conclusions. By other terms, the Assembly would note the vehicle parking problems, experienced by some permanent missions, and continue to ensure the proper implementation of the Parking Programme for Diplomatic Vehicles -- introduced in 2002 -- in a fair, non-discriminatory and effective manner. On another issue, the host country would be asked to consider removing the remaining travel restrictions imposed on personnel of certain missions and United Nations Secretariat staff of certain nationalities. The Assembly would note that the Host Country Committee anticipated that the host country would enhance its efforts to ensure the issuance, in a timely manner, of entry visas to representatives of Member States to travel to New York on United Nations business. The Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote on 9 November.
A report on Requests for observer status in the General Assembly (document A/61/462) contains three draft resolutions which were approved without a vote on 25 October.
Draft resolution I would have the Assembly invite the OPEC Fund for International Development to participate in its sessions and work as an observer.
Draft resolution II would have the Assembly invite the Indian Ocean Commission to participate in its sessions and work as an observer.
Draft resolution III would have the Assembly invite the Association of South-east Asian Nations also to participate in its sessions and work as an observer.
Plenary Documents on Role of Diamonds in Conflict
For its consideration of the role diamonds play in fuelling conflict, the Assembly had before it a report of the Secretary-General transmitting a letter from the Permanent Mission of Botswana in its capacity as Chair of the Kimberley Process, which details activities related to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme as of November 2006 (document A/61/589). The report recalls that the unique tripartite partnership between Governments, non-governmental organizations and the diamond industry was established to regulate the international trade in rough diamonds to exclude conflict diamonds.
The report states that the geopolitical factors that necessitated the establishment of the Kimberley Process have changed, noting that many of the conflicts that had led to the international outcry against “conflict diamonds” had died down, including those in Angola, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. An improvement in the security environment and the internal controls necessary to guarantee the conflict-free origin of all internationally-traded diamonds has led to remarkable success, as found by the first three-year review. New Zealand and Bangladesh joined the scheme last year and a number of other countries have expressed interest in joining. The Process is an excellent example of global cooperation and multilateralism.
The report summarizes the work of the four standing working groups of the Kimberley Process on: monitoring, statistics, participation and diamond experts. It also describes the technical assistance exchanged among members. A major achievement was the first three-year review, which looked at the impact of the process, the scheme’s technical provisions and its operations, in terms of effectiveness and efficiency.
Also before the Assembly is a draft resolution on the Role of diamonds in fuelling conflict: breaking the link between the illicit transaction of rough diamonds and armed conflict as a contribution to prevention and settlement of conflicts (document A/61/L.27). That text would have the Assembly congratulate all who made the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme a success. The Assembly would note with satisfaction, the development of “footprints” for diamond producers and welcome the establishment of a new Working Group on Artesanal Alluvial Production to contribute to the implementation of the existing Declaration on improving internal controls over alluvial diamond production, encouraging donors to provide capacity-building assistance to further implement the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.
Further, by the draft, the Assembly would note with appreciation, the conclusions of the three-year review of the scheme and the recommendations adopted at the Kimberley Process meeting held in Gaborone from 6-9 November. It would recognize the peer review mechanism and welcome the important progress in implementing it, also welcoming the collection and submission of statistical reports on the production and trade in rough diamonds. Assistance and capacity-building efforts of donors would be noted with appreciation, while the Chair of the Kimberley Process would be requested to submit a report on implementation of the Process at the Assembly’s next session.
Culture of Peace
Also before the Assembly was a draft on the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World, 2001-2010 (document A/61/L.16), by which the Assembly would reiterate that the Decade’s objective is to strengthen the global movement for a culture of peace following the 2000 International Year. It would commend the United Nations system for its work in that area, including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and encourage the Peacebuilding Commission to promote the culture of peace in its activities. Civil society and the mass media would be encouraged to strengthen efforts to further the Decade’s objectives, and States would be invited to observe 21 September as the International Day of Peace, on which a global ceasefire and dedication to non-violence would be observed.
Cooperation with Other Organizations
A draft resolution on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Association of South-east Asian Nations (document A/61/L.13) would have the Assembly acknowledge the commitment of the leaders of the Association and the Secretary-General to further broaden cooperation between the two bodies. Further, the Assembly would welcome the Association as an observer in the General Assembly and encourage the United Nations and the Association to convene summits regularly.
A text on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Preparatory Commission of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (document A/61/L.18) would have the Assembly decide to include a sub-item on cooperation in the provisional agenda of its sixty-third session.
By a draft resolution on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Pacific Islands Forum (document 61/L.20/Rev.1), the Assembly would urge Governments and all relevant international and regional organizations, including the Economic and Social Council, United Nations funds, programmes and regional economic commissions and specialized agencies, to support Pacific island countries in their efforts to ensure the effective implementation of and follow-up to the Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development; the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation; and the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for Sustainable Development of Small Islands Developing States.
The Assembly would, by other terms, call upon the international community to provide technical and financial support to Pacific Island countries in combating the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons by implementing the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. In other provisions, the Assembly would urge the United Nations to support Pacific Island countries in pursuing initiatives for enhancing South-South cooperation among themselves and with other developing countries.
The Assembly also had before it a text on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (document A/61/L.26), by which the Assembly would, among others, encourage the specialized agencies and other organs of the United Nations to continue to expand their cooperation with the subsidiary organs and agencies associated with the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and urge the United Nations system, especially its lead agencies, to provide that entity and its affiliated institutions with increased technical and other forms of assistance.
A draft resolution on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Caribbean Community (document A/61/L.29) would have the Assembly call upon the Secretary-General of the United Nations, in association with the Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the relevant regional organizations, to continue to assist in the development and maintenance of peace and security in the Caribbean region. The Assembly would also call upon the United Nations, the specialized agencies and other organizations and programmes, to assist the countries of the Caribbean, in addressing the social and economic consequences of their economies’ vulnerability, and further, the challenges that those posed in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
By a draft on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Southern African Development Community (document A/61/L.37), the Assembly would welcome the progress made by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) on gender and development, towards achieving the target of 30 per cent of women representatives in decision-making, and its commitment to the new target of 50 per cent. The text would also have the Assembly appeal to the international community and the United Nations system to continue providing financial, technical and material assistance to SADC, in support of its efforts to fully implement the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), as well as other globally-agreed development goals, such as the Millennium Development Goals.
The Assembly also had before it a draft resolution on Return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin (document 61/L.15/Rev.1), which would have the Assembly call upon all relevant bodies, including agencies, funds and programmes of the United Nations system, to work with UNESCO, within their mandates, and in cooperation with Member States, to continue to address the issue of return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin and provide appropriate support accordingly.
Further by the draft, the Assembly would urge Member States to introduce effective national and international measures to prevent and combat illicit trafficking in cultural property, including special training for police, customs and border services.
The Assembly has before it a draft resolution on the International Voluntary HIV Counselling and Testing Day (document A/61/L.40), by which it would call on Member States to designate an International Day in 2007 -– possibly 1 December (World AIDS Day), or any other day or days in 2007 they may decide individually. The Assembly would also encourage, in that context, Member States, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and other relevant international and national organizations to take measures to observe the Day.
FESTUS MOGAE, President of Botswana and 2006 Chair of the Kimberley Process, said about 65 per cent of the world’s diamonds were sourced from Africa, representing about $8 billion per year. More than 28,000 people in southern Africa were employed by the diamond industry, which supported about 20 million people, either directly or indirectly. In Botswana, advances in exploitation of minerals had enabled the development of trade to the point where diamonds accounted for about 33 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP), about 75 per cent of export earnings and 50 per cent of Government revenues. All mineral rights were vested in the State. Revenue earned through taxes, royalties and dividends from the Government’s shareholding in the mining company accrued to the national coffers for use in the development of schools, health facilities and physical infrastructure.
That was the context in which Botswana supported the Kimberley Process and the legitimate diamond trade, he said, urging the widest possible participation. At present, 47 participants represented 71 countries since the European Union States were represented by the European Commission as a single participant. Cape Verde, the Congo, Gabon, Kazakhstan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Liberia, Mali, Mexico, Swaziland, Tunisia and Turkey had expressed a desire to join the Process. At the end of November, 34 participants had received peer review visits, compared to 19 a year before. In all, 43 of the 47 participants had received or invited review visits to ensure the largest number of participants was monitored under the mechanism.
Reviewing the findings and recommendations contained in the report, he said the problem of diamonds from Côte d’Ivoire continued to plague the Kimberley Process. The introduction of rough diamonds into the legitimate diamond trade not only threatened the integrity and credibility of the Process but was also of grave concern to the international community. The Security Council sanctions on exports of Ivorian diamonds had effectively prohibited States from dealing in them regardless of whether they were Kimberley Process participants. Liberia’s determination to meet the Certification Scheme was commendable and a 2006 expert mission to that country had reported considerable progress in implementing recommendations despite post-conflict difficulties.
Noting the long-standing assistance programme of the United States in Sierra Leone and the technical assistance of the World Diamond Council, he said assistance would continue to be needed to ensure the diamond industry made a positive difference in the lives of people around the world. The European Commission would be assuming the chairmanship in 2007, with India as Vice-Chair.
JOHN MCNEE ( Canada), speaking also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, said the Certification Scheme had already made a major impact on the global diamond trade. It deprived criminals and non-State armed groups of easy capital and improved the revenue-generating capacity of Governments formerly affected by conflict diamonds. The shift in resource flows had already made a significant impact on the international community’s conflict prevention and resolution efforts.
He said the constructive spirit prevailing among Kimberley Process Governments, industry and civil partners was demonstrated by a recent situation in which Ivorian diamonds had been passing through third countries, including Kimberley Process members. A mission to Ghana had led to an action plan intended to remedy that situation on the basis of the identification of weaknesses in Ghana’s internal controls. With numerous offers of technical assistance to implement the plan coming from Process participants and observers, Ghana and the Process were working together to implement the plan.
Concluding by welcoming the adoption of the third year review and the elevation of the Group on Alluvial Production to a full-fledged Working Group, he said the Kimberley Process was making a major contribution to the breaking of the link between natural resources and armed conflict. That was a living testament to what could be accomplished through partnership and was an essential tool in preventing conflict.
KAIRE MBUENDE ( Namibia) stressed his country’s commitment to protecting the integrity of its diamond industry by ensuring that its diamonds were not blood diamonds and that there was no “whitewashing” of blood diamonds. Namibia had joined the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme because its diamond industry was all too important for development. It was, therefore, vital to ensure its integrity and long-term sustainability. The Kimberley Process -– a “moral marketing cartel of the diamond-producing countries” -- guaranteed transparency in the marketing of Namibia’s diamonds, while also providing a unique opportunity for cooperation among diamond-producing countries.
Noting both that the cartel had been growing and that most of the rough diamonds traded internationally today were of conflict-free origin, he said there had been positive developments in a number of diamond-producing countries that had previously been at war. For example, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone were engaged in peacebuilding and had either already taken measures to ensure or were in the process of ensuring that diamonds were not being used to fuel conflicts. However, while that did not mean those countries were fully compliant with the Kimberly Process, an environment had been created that could eventually lead to full compliance.
BARBARA M. BARRETT ( United States) said her country was pleased to co-sponsor the draft resolution on the role of diamonds in fuelling conflict. Great strides had been made to control the flow of conflict diamonds since the late 1990s, with Governments joining forces -- through the Kimberly Process -- with the diamond industry and civil society to control and monitor the international trade in rough diamonds. The United States joined others in commending the Process for dramatically reducing the flow of conflict diamonds, thus contributing to regional security, peace and stability. Indeed, under the leadership of the Government of Botswana, participants in the Kimberly Process had called for increased Government oversight of the industry. They had also been generous with technical assistance to help diamond-producing countries to implement controls. Other donors were encouraged to step forward to help diamond producers build the capacity to monitor the diamond trade from mine to export.
She said the cooperation of the diamond industry and its commitment to a zero-tolerance policy towards conflict diamonds had been essential to Kimberly Process efforts. It had been made stronger by the efforts of civil society to identify emerging problems and promote constructive solutions. But the Kimberly Process should not rest on its laurels for the trade in conflict diamonds remained a threat to some of the most fragile States around the globe. The Process would need to remain vigilant and respond quickly whenever evidence emerged that diamonds might be financing conflict or threatening regional stability. The European Commission’s willingness to take over as Chair of the Kimberly Process in 2007 was appreciated and the United States looked forward to a year of close continued cooperation.
NIKOLAY CHULKOV ( Russian Federation) said the Kimberly Process had made substantial progress and had managed to strengthen its authority. Taking into account the number of armed conflicts around the world, however, it was imperative to further increase international efforts, especially with respect to the monitoring and mining of conflict diamonds. The universality of membership in the Kimberley Process and the harmonization of its working groups were paramount. Given the importance of the diamond business, it was vital to expand the numbers of both participants and observers in the Process, including banks, insurance companies and diamond-shipping companies.
While the draft resolution reflected the substantial progress made in 2006, much remained to be done to increase the effectiveness of the Process, he said. For one thing, there was a need to strengthen further the use of the Certification Scheme in providing feedback between importers and exporters. The Russian Federation called on other Member States, particularly those who had not yet joined the Process, to continue to make every possible effort to prevent the use of diamonds in fuelling conflicts.
NATHANIEL BARNES (Liberia) said that, while the United Nations had succeeded in averting the occurrence of a third global war, the international community had not been successful in preventing inter-State or civil conflicts. Liberia, itself just emerging from a devastating conflict, knew all too well the destabilizing consequences of precious commodities such as diamonds and its people were grateful to Member States, particularly, the African Union, the United States and the European Union, for their overwhelming support during and after the conflict.
In just three years, he said, the Kimberly Process had been recognized by the Security Council and the General Assembly as an effective mechanism in eliminating conflict diamonds from the legal trade in rough diamonds and had paid considerable dividends in conflict resolution around the world. Liberia’s co-sponsorship of the draft resolution spoke to its determination and commitment.
Furthermore, the Liberian Government had undertaken several concrete measures relating to compliance with the Kimberly Process, he said. They included revising mineral and mining regulations; the training of mineral inspectors and mining agents; enhancing cooperation and partnership with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL); and developing a strict control mechanism to track diamonds from mining site to exportation. In addition, the Government had identified four priority areas in the peacebuilding and recovery process -– security, the rule of law and good governance, economic revitalization and basic services and infrastructure development.
AUGUSTINE P. MAHIGA (United Republic of Tanzania) said the Kimberly Process was the right framework for combating the trade in blood diamonds. Its Certification Scheme, which produced an internationally recognized certification system for rough diamonds, as well as national import/export standards, represented a good start and deserved support. Meanwhile, the third year review should be commended for producing a balanced and objective report.
Calling for a strengthening of collaboration among Governments, industry and civil society, he said, technical assistance to enhance capacity-building for the Process and to plug any loopholes in its Certification Scheme would also be welcome. Initiatives to promote public-private partnerships in the diamond sector -- such as the DeBeers Community Development Programme, which worked in partnership with the Tanzanian Government -- were commendable. Such partnerships must be broadened and reinforced as a way to build greater public confidence.
The 2006 Report of the Kimberly Process had not glossed over the mechanism’s deficiencies, he said, pointing out that conflict diamonds continued to be traded, despite a United Nations embargo. The Certification Scheme could be strengthened by promoting a rigorous monitoring and standards programme. Combating illegal diamond trafficking by rebel groups and non-State entities and their networks required special strategies by enforcement agencies. The people of Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Angola had suffered immensely as a result of diamond-financed conflicts. A stronger regulatory and monitoring regime would better serve the objectives of the Kimberly Process.
JOE R. PEMAGBI (Sierra Leone) said his country had been used, and even overused, as a typical example of a place where the illicit trade in rough diamonds was linked with the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, the prolonging of armed conflicts and systematic violations of human rights associated with such conflicts. Sierra Leone, however, had faithfully participated in the Kimberly Certification Scheme since its inception. Furthermore, as a member of the sub-group on Alluvial Mining, and its coordinator for West Africa, the country had been exchanging best practices on alluvial production. In addition, three years before the Kimberly Process had been established, and conscious of the role that diamonds had played in fuelling the country’s rebel war, the Government had suspended the export of rough diamonds for nearly three months, during which it had sought to establish a certification regime for them.
He said that, with the help of the Security Council, the diamond industry and non-governmental experts, the Certification of Origin regime for trade in diamonds had led to the adoption of a Council resolution, calling on all States to take action to prohibit the direct or indirect import of all rough diamonds from Sierra Leone, other than that controlled by the Government under the Certification of Origin Scheme. That certification regime had been a model of successful national and international efforts to curb the flow of conflict diamonds. By 2003, the Security Council had terminated the prohibition, as an acknowledgment of Sierra Leone’s progress.
Efforts were currently being made, he said, to create a Diamond Area Community Development Fund, whereby a quarter of the money derived from all export duty -- of which 3 per cent came from the export of rough and uncut diamonds -- would be used to rebuild schools and clinics. The Fund had disbursed more than $2.5 million in the past five years, and also served as a means to combat illicit mining and smuggling. Meanwhile, a “Diamonds for Development” Conference, held in Monrovia, Liberia, last June, had been convened to address the cross-border illicit trade involving Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. After Sierra Leone’s national Certificate of Origin regime had become operational in 2000, the value of its rough diamonds exports had risen from $10 million in 2000 to about $142 million in 2005. The legitimate trade in diamonds was international in character, as was the illicit trade in rough diamonds and conflict diamonds. Indeed, the efficacy of the Kimberly Certification Process would depend on cooperation among producing, exporting and importing States around the world.
ISMAEL ABRAAO GASPAR MARTINS ( Angola) recalled that efforts to address conflict diamonds had first begun at a meeting of Southern African Development Community (SADC) mining ministers, held in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2000. It had been felt that international action was imperative to address the problem, which had had negative effects on the trade in legitimate diamonds. During the Assembly’s last debate on the role of diamonds in fuelling conflict, there had been an overwhelming sense that progress was being made in addressing the illicit trade through the Kimberly Process. Indeed, Angola welcomed the peer review process to ensure that the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme was being implemented by all participants.
The Kimberley Process had given Governments a sense of control over their diamond resources, he said, adding that related General Assembly resolutions had played a crucial role in breaking the links between illicit transactions in rough diamonds and armed conflict. Only through the widest possible participation in the Certification Scheme would the world achieve the results it sought. Hopefully, the United Nations would continue to support the implementation of the Kimberly Process through the effective implementation of relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions. Meanwhile, a recent initiative, by the President of Angola, to establish the African Countries Diamond Producers Association was expected to harmonize legislation among African producer countries and encourage foreign investment in the industry. Nearly 60 per cent of world diamond production took place in Africa, but low market value meant that their earnings were far below the expected figures.
ANGEL CARRO CASTILLO, observer for the European Commission, said less than 0.2 per cent of the world trade in rough diamonds was now composed of conflict diamonds, meaning diamonds of Ivorian or Liberian production. The imminent lifting of sanctions against Liberia and its admission into the Kimberley Process would reduce that proportion even further, to 0.1 per cent of the total world trade, a tiny fraction of the approximately 4 per cent of the 1990s. That remarkable improvement was best measured, not in terms of carats, but by its effect on people’s lives. The Kimberley Process deterred rebels, by making it necessary for them to take deep discounts in price by operating in wholly illegal markets.
He said that, in combination with other mechanisms such as sanctions, Kimberley targeted those who financed rebel movements through the illegal exploitation of, and trade in, conflict diamonds, thus contributing to a more stable environment in the countries concerned. The three-year review had found that the flexible structure of the Process worked well in allowing the focus to remain on the issues, rather than on institutional questions. The mechanism had been established relatively quickly and focused on practical and pragmatic solutions, drawing strength from its legitimacy, inclusiveness and peer pressure, in addition to the access it offered to the international rough diamond trade. Perhaps the model could be applied to other conflict situations and made into a resource by recognizing the specificities of each context.
The situation in the northern, rebel-held part of Cote d’Ivoire would continue to prove a challenge to the Process and to the peace and security of West Africa, he said. However, the Kimberley Process had come up with an innovative way to respond to the finding by the United Nations Group of Experts, regarding the possible export of Ivorian diamonds out of Ghana. The solution protected the credibility of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, by providing a temporary mechanism to ensure that only stones of Ghanaian origin were exported with Ghanaian Kimberley certificates, while protecting Ghana’s legitimate miners. Implementation of the temporary mechanism would be assessed, in three months, by a peer review mission.
Expressing approval for the innovative peer review system, he said the maturing Process was starting to take on greater confidence, as demonstrated by the decision to publish self-generated statistics on the international diamond trade. It was to be hoped that individuals would analyse the data and report any implementation issues. Finally, the Process had made greater progress through the coordination of the United States in ensuring that proper technical assistance was made available to identified needs, including in the area of training and geological assessments.
Action on Draft Resolution
The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution on the role of diamonds in fuelling conflict (document A/61/L.27) without a vote.
Action on Sixth Committee Drafts
MAMADOU MOUSTAPHA LOUM ( Senegal), Rapporteur of the Sixth Committee, introduced that body’s reports.
The Assembly then took up the report on the Comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects (document A/61/450), adopting, without a vote, the draft resolution entitled “Criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission”.
Taking up the report on Status of the Protocols Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and relating to the protection of victims of armed conflicts (document A/61/451), the Assembly then adopted the related draft resolution without a vote.
It then adopted, without a vote, a draft resolution contained in the report on Consideration of effective measures to enhance the protection, security and safety of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives (document A/61/452).
The Assembly then took up the report on the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law on the work of its thirty-ninth session (document A/61/453), containing two draft resolutions, and adopted the text entitled “Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law on the work of its thirty-ninth session” without a vote. Also without a vote, it adopted draft resolution II, entitled “Revised articles of the Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law”, and the recommendation regarding the interpretation of article 2, paragraph 2, and article 7, paragraph 1, of the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, done at New York (10 June 1958).
The Assembly next considered the Report on the International Law Commission on the work of its fifty-eighth session Committee (document A/61/454), containing three draft resolutions. It adopted draft resolution I, bearing the same title, without a vote. It also adopted draft resolution II, on “Diplomatic protection”, and draft resolution III, entitled “Allocation of loss in the case of transboundary harm arising out of hazardous activities”, without a vote.
Taking up the report on the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization (document A/61/455), the Assembly adopted both texts contained therein without a vote. The first was entitled “Commemoration of the sixtieth anniversary of the International Court of Justice” and the other “Report of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Organization”.
The Assembly next adopted, without a vote, a draft resolution entitled “The rule of law at the national and international levels” and contained in the report of the same title (document A/61/456).
It went on to take action on a draft resolution contained in the report on Measures to eliminate international terrorism (document A/61/457), adopting that text without a vote.
The representative of Venezuela said that, while his delegation had gone along with the consensus, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) should not have been included in the list, mentioned in the preambular part of the text, of regional and subregional groups that had taken recent actions to combat terrorism.
Taking up the report on Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly (document A/61/458), the Assembly adopted the text entitled “Provisional programme of work of the Sixth Committee for the sixty-second session of the General Assembly” without a vote.
The Assembly next took note of the report of the Sixth Committee entitled “Programme planning” (document A/61/459).
It then adopted, without a vote, a draft decision titled “Administration of justice at the United Nations” (document A/61/460).
The Assembly next took up the report on the 2006 session of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country (document A/61/461), adopting the draft resolution contained therein without a vote.
Taking up the report entitled “Requests for observer status in the General Assembly” (document A/61/462), which contained three draft resolutions, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, draft resolution I, entitled “Observer status for the OPEC Fund for International Development”; draft resolution II, entitled “Observer status for the Indian Ocean Commission in the General Assembly”, and draft resolution III, entitled “Observer status for the Association of South-east Asian Nations”.
Action on Plenary Drafts
MIRJANA MLADINEO (Croatia), Assembly Vice-President, introduced the draft on the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World, 2001-2010 (document A/61/L.16), which the Assembly adopted without a vote.
She said a related text, on the promotion of inter-religious and intercultural dialogue, would be taken up later.
The representative of the (Philippines), speaking on behalf of the co-sponsors, introduced the draft resolution on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (document A/61/L.13), saying the region was home to 500 million people, with a combined gross domestic product of almost $900 billion and total trade of more than $1 trillion. The Association had been founded on principles similar to those of the United Nations, including those relating to the peaceful settlement of differences and disputes, and the renouncement of the threat or use of force while undertaking cooperative measures between member nations.
He said the relationship between the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the United Nations had begun with the establishment in Bangkok of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 1967. Since then, an ASEAN-United Nations Summit had been held, in 2000, and two Assembly resolutions on cooperation between the two entities had been passed in 2002 and 2004. Their relationship had been advanced further during the Second ASEAN-United Nations Summit in 2005, whereby agreement had been reached on development, energy security, health, disaster management and peace and security. In 2006, ASEAN had been granted observer status in the General Assembly. The Philippines thanked Member States that had co-sponsored the draft resolution for their support.
The representative of Ukraine introduced the draft on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (document A/61/L.18), saying recent developments in the field of non-proliferation had presented a tough challenge for the organization’s Preparatory Committee. World attention had turned to the role of the Test Ban Treaty in nuclear disarmament and in preventing proliferation, which were among the most important challenges presently facing humanity.
Ukraine had been among the first to sign and ratify the treaty and to implement obligations and commitments to the global non-proliferation regime, he continued. As such, the country felt a special responsibility to support partners in promoting the treaty. Ukraine welcomed recent ratifications and called on other States to follow that lead.
The representative of Fiji introduced the draft resolution on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Pacific Island Forum (document A/61/L.20/Rev.1), noting that it was no exaggeration that the biggest problems on the road to development were found in sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania, where, based on current trends, none of the Millennium Development Goals were likely to be met. For its own part, the Forum had undertaken efforts to address the region’s peace and security concerns, such as restoring peace on the island of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea. There were also regional mechanisms to address issues relating to the environment, sustainable development, economic growth and governance.
However, in the face of challenges facing Pacific island countries, United Nations support would be greatly valued, he said. The Secretary-General’s efforts to bring about regular consultations with regional organizations were vital to fostering a closer partnership with the Organization.
MARGARET HUGHES FERRARI (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), speaking on behalf of CARICOM, introduced the draft on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Caribbean Community (document A/61/L.29), saying that two initiatives were of particular interest to the Community; adoption of an integrated management approach to the Caribbean Sea in the context of sustainable development, and implementing the Barbados Programme of Action on Small Island Developing States. She said that the draft resolution would, among other things, invite the United Nations and its Member States to increase financial assistance and other assistance to help implement the priorities of the Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework, particularly with regard to HIV/AIDS. It would also touch on the economic vulnerability to various shocks, including those brought on by climate change, as well as to reaffirm the strengthening of the Mauritius Strategy. It would recommend a fourth general meeting between representatives of the United Nations and the Caribbean Community in early 2007.
LEBOHANG F. MAEMA (Lesotho), speaking on behalf of the SADC, introduced the draft resolution on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Southern African Development Community (document A/61/L.37), saying that the text took note of the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS and its socio-economic impacts, the issue of landmines and the vulnerability of the SADC region to natural disasters. It would welcome an SADC conference on poverty and development and take note of the Community’s commitment to launch a free trade area by 2008.
In addition to asking member States to support the draft, he appealed to the international community to continue helping to promote peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where elections had recently been held, as well as to provide that country with increased humanitarian assistance.
Action on Cooperation drafts
The Assembly took up the draft on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (document A/61/L.13), adopting it without a vote.
Taking up the draft resolution on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (document A/61/L.18), the Assembly adopted that text by a recorded vote of 133 in favour to 1 against (United States), with no abstentions.
Next, it took up the draft on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Pacific Islands Forum (document A/61/L.20/Rev.1), approving it without a vote.
The Assembly then approved, also without a vote, the draft resolutions on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Caribbean Community (document A/61/L.29).
Similarly, it approved the text on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Southern African Development Community (document A/61/L.37) without a vote.
Explanations of Vote
The representative of Finland, speaking in explanation of vote on the behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that, despite having joined the consensus, the European Union was nevertheless opposed to the inclusion in United Nations resolutions of references to documents expressing political commitments, or other matters of a purely internal nature, that had been agreed upon within other organizations. Only members of those organizations had subscribed to such commitments, which were not subject to intergovernmental negotiation within the United Nations.
He said that the primary objective of resolutions, such as the one on cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conferences was the reaffirmation by the wider United Nations membership of its willingness to pursue cooperation. Such cooperation would take place in full adherence to the Charter and it was on the basis of that understanding that the European Union had been able to join the consensus at present. The content of the resolution would not create a precedent for the future.
The representative of the Solomon Islands said the text could be broadened to conform to existing regional frameworks and development realities in the region. In the context of operative paragraph 3, for example, the United Nations should be flexible enough to deal with regional bodies beyond the secretariat of the Pacific Island Forum, including the Pacific island States themselves and other institutions, like the Forum’s Fisheries Agency.
Paragraph 4 on development should contain strong, development-oriented language, he continued, adding that the emphasis on governance and security should not exclude development. It was regrettable that paragraph 10 of the text made no mention of regional cooperation or regional assistance to the Solomon Islands mission, which had been taken up at the October meeting of Pacific leaders.
Finally, the United Nations should not restrict itself to joint assessment missions on such issues as peacebuilding and social challenges, he said. Rather, it should conduct its own missions in response to requests and resolve problems, rather than let them grow, especially if the matter reached beyond the region.
Action on Cultural Property Draft
Assembly Vice-President MLADINEO ( Croatia) introduced the draft resolution on Return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin (document A/61/L.15/Rev.1), which was then adopted without a vote.
The representative of the Russian Federation, while highlighting UNESCO’s role in the field, said a specific reference, in operative paragraph 16, neither judged nor predetermined the final outcome of the agency’s work. The Russian Federation called upon UNESCO’s organs to go into further detail and to proceed to make the best possible decision.
GEORGE VOULGARAKIS, Minister of Culture of Greece, thanked Member States for the unanimous adoption of the resolution on the return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin and noted that illegal trading in antiquities was a type of organized crime along the lines of illegal arms trading and trafficking in drugs or human beings. It was directly associated with money laundering and corruption. The destruction of monuments also meant the loss of vital information and cutting off artworks from their historical context so that they ceased to be integral elements of cultural unity.
He noted that, in the meantime, museums were increasingly recognizing the need for ethical acquisition policies. Voices were being raised in the scientific community and among archaeologists about the need to protect the world’s cultural heritage. Others were demanding an end to the looting of archaeological sites and illicit trafficking in antiquities, leading countries like Switzerland and Great Britain to consider passing strict laws to that end. The destruction of monuments and archaeological sites in Afghanistan and Iraq had also been highlighted by the international media, fuelled by public support.
Greece had taken it upon itself to propose the resolution just passed, so as to raise awareness about the important need to protect cultural heritage, he said. The text promoted cooperation between nations and UNESCO, with the aim of preserving the world’s cultural heritage and the timeless values it represented. It also provided for the return and restitution of cultural treasures illegally removed from their places of origin. Greece, in cooperation with other nations and institutions, had been successful this year in retrieving a number of antiquities from abroad. Two important antiquities from the J.P. Getty Museum in Los Angeles had been repatriated, while negotiations for the return of two more items from the same museum were making progress. Also, two important fragments from the Acropolis, as well as one from the Parthenon frieze, had been returned.
However, the Parthenon Sculptures remained dislodged and divided, he said. It was expected that the disputed sculptures would be returned to Greece by the British Museum, to be displayed at the New Acropolis Museum in Athens, which was now nearing completion. The reunification and restitution of antiquities completed a cultural mosaic that had been disturbed. Only through the repatriation of illegally removed antiquities could the world build a solid foundation for future generations. Since the cultural heritage of each nation was the cultural heritage of all humanity, it was the responsibility of all to protect that shared legacy.
Introduction of HIV/AIDS Draft
General Assembly Vice-President MLADINEO (Croatia) then introduced the draft decision on Follow-up to the outcome of the twenty-sixth special session: implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS (document A/61/L.40), which was adopted without a vote.
Explanations of Position
The representative of Brazil, speaking in explanation of position on behalf of Southern Common Market, said it provided the international community with an important opportunity to engage in a discussion on national strategies of counselling and testing, which should encompass full respect for the human rights of those submitting to testing and be integrated into plans to combat the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS, with particular attention to stigmatized vulnerable groups. Moreover, all efforts must be made to ensure that the population did not confuse testing with prevention. The success of national testing campaigns would be evaluated according to the capacity of countries to ensure universal access to treatment and especially to medicines for all people living with HIV/AIDS.
The representative of India said that, while her delegation had joined the consensus, it was her understanding that the decision left open the option of whether or not to designate a testing day in 2007.
The representative of Australia, speaking also on behalf of Canada, Japan and Norway, said her interpretation of the decision was that it invited consideration of a day in 2007 to be designated for counselling and voluntary testing. The Australian delegation remained fully committed to a comprehensive HIV/AIDS response.
Vote on Cooperation with Preparatory Committee
The draft resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Preparatory Committee of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (document A/61/L.18) was adopted by a recorded vote of 133 in favour to 1 against, with no abstentions, as follows:
In favour: Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guinea, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Micronesia (Federated States of), Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Against: United States.
Absent: Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Liberia, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Mongolia, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Nicaragua, Norway, Palau, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan.
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