STRENGTHENING HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE, SUPPORT FOR NON-SELF-GOVERNING TERRITORIES AMONG ISSUES ADDRESSED, AS ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL ADOPTS 23 TEXTS
STRENGTHENING HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE, SUPPORT FOR NON-SELF-GOVERNING TERRITORIES AMONG ISSUES ADDRESSED, AS ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL ADOPTS 23 TEXTS
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Economic and Social Council
2008 Substantive Session
42nd & 43rd Meetings (AM & PM)
STRENGTHENING HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE, SUPPORT FOR NON-SELF-GOVERNING TERRITORIES
AMONG ISSUES ADDRESSED, AS ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL ADOPTS 23 TEXTS
Consensus Reached on 2007 Ministerial Declaration Resolution
The Economic and Social Council today concluded the work of its general segment, adopting 15 resolutions and 8 decisions, including on strengthening the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance, United Nations support to non-self-governing territories, and promoting full employment and decent work for all.
On the penultimate day of its 2008 substantive session, the Council also concluded its coordination segment, which ran from 7 to 9 July, with the consensus adoption of a resolution on the United Nations role in implementing the Council’s 2007 Ministerial Declaration on “Strengthening the efforts to eradicate poverty and hunger, including through the global partnership for development”.
Recognizing that the challenge of eradicating poverty and hunger required a comprehensive and multidimensional response by the entire United Nations system, the resolution requested the world body’s funds, programmes and agencies, acting within their mandates, “to make further progress towards more comprehensive, coherent and multidimensional approaches in the formulation of their policies, programmes and operations supporting the eradication of poverty and hunger”.
The Council adopted without a vote a second text in connection with the work of its coordination segment, dealing with its own role in the integrated and coordinated implementation of the outcomes of, and follow-up to, major United Nations conferences and summits. The resolution reaffirms the need to continue to strengthen the Council as the central mechanism for system-wide coordination, and recalls that it should increase its role in overseeing system-wide coordination and the balanced integration of economic, social and environmental aspects of United Nations policies and programmes aimed at promoting sustainable development.
Welcoming the holding this year of the first Development Cooperation Forum and second Annual Ministerial Review as “steps forward in strengthening of the Council”, the resolution stresses that preparation for the Review should be fully supported by the United Nations system, especially the funds, programmes and specialized agencies, in coordination with national Governments. It also welcomes strengthened cooperation between the Council and the Bretton Woods institutions, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and emphasizes that interaction should be further improved.
By a text on strengthening the coordination of United Nations emergency humanitarian assistance, the Council expressed grave concern about the increase in the number of people affected by humanitarian emergencies. It also expressed its deep concern at the increasing challenges to Member States and United Nations humanitarian response capacity posed by the consequences of natural disasters, including the impact of climate change and the humanitarian implications of the current global food crisis.
Further by that resolution, the Council condemned the increasing number of attacks and other violent acts against relief workers, expressing deep concern about the implications for the provision of humanitarian assistance to populations in need. It stressed that the United Nations should make efforts to enhance existing humanitarian capacities, knowledge and institutions, including, as appropriate, through the transfer of technology and expertise to developing countries. It also encouraged the wider global community to support Member States’ efforts to strengthen their capacity to prepare for and respond to disasters.
In a roll-call vote of 27 in favour, with 20 abstentions, the Council adopted a resolution on support to Non-Self-Governing Territories by the specialized agencies and international institutions associated with the United Nations. It requested the respective administering Powers to facilitate, when appropriate, the participation of appointed and elected representatives of Non-Self-Governing Territories in the relevant meetings and conferences of the specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system, in accordance with relevant United Nations resolutions and decisions, so that they may benefit from the related activities of those agencies and organizations.
Ahead of action on that resolution, while several delegations supported all efforts to bolster Non-Self-Governing Territories, especially through wider participation in the international community’s developing work, others were very concerned that by dealing with such a politically sensitive matter, the Council was overstepping its primary mandate, which was coordinating the economic, social, and related work of the 14 United Nations specialized agencies, functional commissions and five regional commissions.
Taking up the report of the forty-sixth session of the Commission for Social Development, the Council adopted without a vote five draft resolutions and one draft decision, including on full employment; the social dimensions of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD); future organization and methods of work of the Commission; further promotion of equalization of opportunities by, for and with persons with disabilities and protection of their human rights; and mainstreaming disability into the development agenda. The decision took note of the Commission’s report, as well as the provisional agenda and documentation of its upcoming forty-seventh session, which will focus on “social integration”.
The text on promoting full employment and decent work for all recognized that some 1.5 billion people, or about one third of the world’s working-age population, were either unemployed or under-employed, and reaffirmed that the goal of full and productive employment was crucial to poverty eradication and should be made a central objective of relevant national and international policies, as well as national development strategies. It stressed that such policies should include specific measures to promote gender equality and foster social integration for, among others, youths, persons with disabilities, older persons, migrants and indigenous peoples.
Also today, the Council took up the report of the seventeenth session of the Vienna-based Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, adopting resolutions on protection against trafficking in cultural property; strengthening prevention of urban crime; and international cooperation in preventing and combating illicit international trafficking in forest products, including timber, wildlife and other forest biological resources.
It also adopted two decisions, one taking note of the Commission’s seventeenth session and the provisional agenda and documentation of its upcoming eighteenth session; and the other endorsing the reappointment of Pedro R. David (Argentina) and the appointment of Eduardo Fungairino (Spain) to the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute.
In a related action, the Council approved, and forwarded to the General Assembly for action a resolution on preparations for the twelfth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, which will be held in Salvador, Brazil, from 12 to 19 April 2010.
Acting on recommendations in the report of the fifty-first session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the Council adopted resolutions on promoting sustainable alternative development as an important part of drug control strategies in States where illicit crops are grown to produce drugs; and on the provision of international assistance to the most affected States neighbouring Afghanistan.
In other action, the Council adopted two decisions contained in the report of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues: on the international expert meeting on the implementation of article 42 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People; and the venue and dates of the Permanent Forum’s eighth session, set to be held at Headquarters from 18 to 29 May 2009.
It also adopted without a vote a resolution on the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters, which, among other things, recognized the call made in the 2002 Monterrey Consensus on International Financing for Development for the strengthening of international tax cooperation.
Adopting a resolution on the follow-up to the International Conference on Financing for Development, the Council welcomed ongoing preparatory process for the Conference, to be held in Doha, Qatar, in late November 2008. It also requested its President, with the support of the Financing for Development Office of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, to undertake consultations, including with all major institutional stakeholders, on the Council’s role in implementing the Monterrey Consensus and outcome of the Doha Review Conference, and to report thereon to the Council at its organizational session for 2009.
Texts were introduced today by representatives of Brazil, Barbados, Moldova (also on behalf of Djibouti) and Algeria.
Also speaking were representatives of Syria, Russian Federation, Bolivia, France (on behalf of the European Union), United States, New Zealand, Iraq, Colombia, China, Republic of Korea, Belarus, Afghanistan, Cuba, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Mauritania and Iceland.
Other presentations were made by representatives of the International Narcotics Control Board; the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in New York; the New York Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The Economic and Social Council will meet again at 10 a.m. Friday, 25 July, to take action on outstanding draft texts, and conclude its 2008 substantive session.
The Economic and Social Council met today to take action on draft resolutions concerning humanitarian and disaster relief assistance, follow-up to the International Conference on Financing for Development and support for Non-Self-Governing Territories.
It also had before it today a number of reports covering several agenda items, including a report on consultations held with the Chairman of the Special Committee on the situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (document E/2008/47).
Under its agenda item on “Social and human rights questions”, the Council had several reports: the Secretary-General’s report on the role of the Economic and Social Council in the integrated and coordinated implementation of the outcomes of and follow-up to the major United Nations conferences and summits, in the light of General Assembly resolutions 50/227, 52/12 B, 57/270 B and 60/265 (document A/62/89–E/2007/76); the report of the Commission for Social Development on its forty-sixth session (document E/2008/26, Supp. No. 6); the report of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice on its seventeenth session (E/2008/30, Supp. No. 10); the report of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs on its fifty-first session (document E/2008/28, Supp. No. 8); and the Report of the International Narcotics Control Board for 2007 (document E/INCB/2007/1);
The Council was also expected to take up the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees containing a letter dated 29 February 2008 from the Permanent Representative of Djibouti to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General (document E/2008/63) and a letter dated 30 May 2008 from the Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. of the Permanent Mission of Moldova to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General (document E/2008/84); the report of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on its thirty-eighth and thirty-ninth sessions (document E/2008/22, Supp. No. 2); the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (document E/2008/76); the report of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on its seventh session (document E/2008/43, Supp. No. 23); and the report of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia on the economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem , and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan (document A/63/74-E/2008/13).
General Discussion and Action on Texts
As the Council’s work got under way, RODRIGO ANDRADE CARDOSO ( Brazil) introduced the draft resolution on strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations (document E/2008/L.28). He said that draft was the outcome of the Council’s humanitarian affairs segment. Unfortunately, unlike past years, the negotiations leading up to the tabling of the text had not yielded a consensus document that could be presented by the Chair of the segment, as was the Council’s tradition. At the same time, while disagreements over parts of the text had forced a suspension of the humanitarian affairs segment while negotiations were wrapped up, the resolution represented a compromise reflecting the views of all those that had participated in the negotiations.
By the resolution, on which the Council will act tomorrow morning, the Council would express grave concern about the increase in the number of people affected by humanitarian emergencies, including those associated with natural hazards and complex emergencies.
The Council then adopted without a vote the draft resolution on follow-up to the International Conference on Financing for Development (document E/2008/L.16), by which it welcomed the ongoing preparatory process for the Conference, to be held in Doha, Qatar, in late November 2008. The text also requests the Council’s President, with the support of the Financing for Development Office of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, to undertake consultations, including with all major institutional stakeholders, on the Council’s role in the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus and outcome of the Doha Review Conference, and to report thereon to the Council at its organizational session for 2009.
The Council then turned to the draft resolution on support to Non-Self-Governing Territories by the specialized agencies and international institutions associated with the United Nations (document E/2008/L.17).
Speaking before the vote, the representative of Syria said that the resolution dealt with a very important subject and it highlighted the importance of the assistance provided by United Nations specialized agencies to people living in vulnerable situations that could be affected by natural disasters.
The representative of the Russian Federation said that his delegation’s fundamental approach to decolonization remained unchanged. At the same time, the Council’s decision to deal with this very political issue took energy away from its mandated duty, namely coordinating the social, economic and humanitarian work of the United Nations. Therefore, delegations should consider removing it from the Council’s agenda. With that in mind, Russia would abstain from the vote on the text.
Bolivia’s representative said that some of the United Nations agencies had been contributing to the overall work carried out in various non-self-governing territories, especially in small island developing States. That global approach meant that broader efforts were not duplicated. He said that his delegation supported all efforts to eliminate colonialism and called on all Council members to support the text.
The representative of France, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the draft did not fall within the scope of ECOSOC’s work. The members of the Council that were also members of the European Union would abstain in the vote.
The representative of the United States said that his delegation would abstain, rather than vote against the resolution. It agreed in principle that specialized agencies of the United Nations could provide support to territories that were not United Nations Members, so long as their internal governing policies allowed for such support. But the United States objected to the participation of such territories in the work and processes of the United Nations. It was the duty of the respective administering Powers -- not ECOSOC and not the General Assembly -- to decide on such participation. The proposed language of the text infringed on the relationship of the United States and its territories, as well as the Constitution of the United States.
New Zealand’s representative said that the his delegation came to the table today as both an administering Power and as a Member State that had first-hand experience of the work of the specialized agencies and international institutions associated with the United Nations as related to non-self-governing territories that fell under the authority of the Special Committee.
This past year, Tokelau had been able to exercise freely its right to self-determination. In a referendum overseen by United Nations officials, the people of Tokelau had decided to continue their status as a dependency of New Zealand. He said that Tokelau was one of the smallest and most fragile members of the international community and what the United Nations did to support and encourage it mattered. Accordingly, New Zealand would vote in favour of the resolution.
The Council then adopted the text, in a roll-call vote of 27 in favour, with 20 abstentions. By the resolution, the Council recommended that all States intensify their efforts, within the specialized agencies and other organizations of which they are members, to ensure the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and peoples. It also requested the United Nations specialized agencies and other international institutions to examine and review conditions in each Non-Self-Governing Territory, so that they might take appropriate measures to accelerate progress in the economic sectors of those territories.
The Council then took up the draft resolution entitled “Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters” (document E/2008/L.27), introduced by SELWIN HART (Barbados), who noted that the text had been agreed to in informal consultations.
The Council adopted without a vote, as orally revised, the draft resolution, by which the Council, recognizing the call made in the Monterrey Consensus of the International Conference on Financing for Development for the strengthening of international tax cooperation, would take note of the report of the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters on its third session. It would also take note of the Secretary-General’s report on financing of the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters, and recognize that the Committee agreed to create ad hoc subcommittees composed of experts who would work to prepare and determine the supporting documentation for the agenda items.
Further by the text, the Council would note that five subcommittees on substantive matters had been created. It would also note the importance of adequate representation from developing countries in the meetings of the subcommittees and working groups, as well as the establishment of the trust fund by the Secretary-General to supplement regular budget resources. It would invite the Committee to work with the Secretariat on organizing training workshops, and decide that the fourth session of the Committee shall be convened in Geneva from 20 to 24 October 2008. It would approve the provisional agenda for the fourth session of the Committee, as contained in its report on its third session.
The Council then took note of the report contained in document A/63/75-E/2008/52.
Turning next to the agenda items on “Social and human rights questions”, HAMID GHODSE, President of the International Narcotics Control Board, presented the annual report of the Board for 2007, saying that the first chapter reviewed the principle of proportionality. The Board stressed that due respect for universal human rights and the rule of law was important for effective implementation of the international drug control conventions. The Board continued to monitor the difficult drug control situation in Afghanistan, he said, noting that an unprecedented 193,000 hectares had been devoted to the illicit cultivation of opium poppy in 2007. Another concern was the trafficking of chemicals, and the Board welcomed Security Council resolution 1817 (2008), which called on States to increase cooperation in monitoring the international chemicals trade.
Continuing, he said West Africa had rapidly developed into a major smuggling route for cocaine from Latin America through and into Europe, adding that some African countries reported an increase in cocaine abuse, and the Board urged Governments to help African countries in forestalling that development. Country missions were an important part of the dialogue between Governments and the Board. Noting that 2009 marked 100 years of drug-related multilateralism, he highlighted China’s valiant efforts to curb opium availability, and called on States to commemorate 100 years of international drug control on 26 February 2009, which also marked 100 years after the conclusion of the International Opium Commission.
Following that presentation, NGONLARDJE MBAIDJOL, Director of the New York Office of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), introduced the report of the High Commissioner (document E/2008/76), which focused on economic, social and cultural rights, and the principles of equality and non-discrimination against women. Underscoring the centrality of this year’s theme, he said discrimination was an “all too apparent scourge” in women’s lives. Though some advances had been made, laws and policies did not adequately address the multi-layered character of discrimination against women. The report elaborated on how understanding of inequality -- and its manifestations -- had evolved through the United Nations’ work, and concluded that realization of women’s economic, social and cultural rights was an indispensable precondition for peace.
Moving next to the report on 2007 activities by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which monitors the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (document E/2008/22, Supp. 2), he said that report presented the Committee’s work from its thirty-eighth and thirty-ninth sessions, as well as two accompanying meetings of the Committee’s pre-sessional Working Group and inter-sessional period. In those sessions, the Committee clarified how it would address the question of resources to address complaints when the Optional Protocol to the Covenant entered into force. The biennial report of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (document A/63/42) had two parts, the first of which covered the Committee’s experience gained through monitoring the implementation of the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. The second part dealt with working methods of the Committee.
WEI MENG LIM-KABAA, Deputy Director of the New York Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) presented an oral report on the coordination aspects of UNHCR’s work from mid-2007 to mid-2008, on behalf of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres. Highlighting the Office’s “wealth of partnerships”, she focused first on the Office’s cooperation with the United Nations system and the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), saying UNHCR continued to support the United Nations reform agenda. It remained engaged in key coordination bodies, including the Chief Executives Board for Coordination and its high-level committees, and participated in the “Delivering as One” initiative. Under its revised policy framework, the Office was committed to establishing early and strategic cooperation with key partners. In coping with climate change, the most important challenge was in addressing the humanitarian consequence.
She said the Office maintained important bilateral partnerships with the World Food Programme (WFP) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on a range of issues, and the World Health Organization (WHO) on health matters. It also continued longstanding partnerships with development organizations, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) among them. Also, the Office cooperated with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and contributed to the work of the Human Rights Council. Addressing sexual exploitation and abuse against refugees was among the highest priorities. Regarding coordination with non-governmental organizations, which were “indispensable allies” to protecting persons of concern, she noted UNHCR’s commitment to the Global Humanitarian Platform, among others. In closing, she said the cooperation of Governments was fundamental to ensuring the international protection of refugees and others in need of protection.
Mr. KHOSHNAN ( Iraq) said that his Government was striving to ensure genuine social development and equality for all its citizens. It was trying to restore the balance that had been lost during so many years of war, which had led to a devastating “brain drain” and migration of qualified Iraqis from the country. The Government was attempting to implement special programmes to help its citizens keep up with social progress and new employment trends. Critical in improving Iraq’s social situation was implementing health programmes, education and training.
He said that Iraq had also built 700 new schools in the past two years and looked to bring that number to some 2,000 by the end of the year. He said that increasing oil production -- and the spiralling price of oil -- had injected the Iraqi economy with precious resources that could help all the people of the country. Iraq, nevertheless, looked forward to the continued help of the United Nations and the wider international community, so that it could rebuild its war-devastated country and press ahead with its sustainable development.
CLAUDIA BLUM ( Colombia) said that her delegation reaffirmed that the drug problem was multidimensional and affected the entire international community. It was, therefore, critical for all States to reaffirm their commitment to the principle of shared responsibility and to continue to strengthen international cooperation to deal with the problem in a systematic and comprehensive manner. Few countries had suffered as much from the devastating impact of illegal drugs as Colombia. Her Government had invested enormous amounts of human and financial resources to cope with that serious problem. Last year, some 153,000 hectares of coca crops had been eradicated by aerial spraying, with another 66,000 eradicated manually. She added that this year, 20 per cent of the world’s cocaine seizures ‑- a record number -- had occurred in Colombia.
She went on to say that, in addition to the eradication of crops, alternative development was a fundamental pillar of the Colombian Government’s anti-drug strategy. The President’s programme against illicit crops included two initiatives: “The Family Rangers Programme”, which involved peasant communities, indigenous peoples and Afro-Colombians located in environmentally strategic ecosystems affected by illicit crops; and the “Productive Projects Program”, which benefited communities that had agreed to willingly eradicate crops, in order to replace them with legal alternatives that were sustainable and financially viable.
She said that Colombia was concerned that the UNODC had observed that the stabilization of the world drug market was being undercut by a surge in opium and coca cultivation and higher drug use. The statements ignored the laws of supply and demand that governed the illicit drug market and parted from the recognized principles in the global fight against drugs adopted by the United Nations in 1998. Colombia believed it was essential to follow-up the Assembly’s twentieth special session, which would allow Member States an opportunity to reaffirm the validity of the principle of shared responsibility and their commitment to an integral and balanced treatment of the world drug problem. She added that Colombia would continue to support efforts to promote and protect the rights of indigenous peoples.
YAO WENGLONG ( China) drew the Council’s attention to a resolution that had been adopted by the fifty-first session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs on marking the centennial of the convening of the International Opium Commission. That 1909 meeting, which had been held in Shanghai, should remind all that almost a century ago, western colonists had imposed opium on China. That act had plunged the country into a long spiral of retarded growth and development. The early twentieth century meeting marked the earliest campaign against drugs, and the beginning of the Chinese people’s long struggle against the scourge.
It subsequently led the international community to adopt a host of anti-drug instruments, including on psychotropic and other narcotic drugs, which today made up a comprehensive international anti-drug regime. In addition, the UNODC had been established to help States cope with the world drug problem. Further, regional and international cooperation had increased and, among others, poppy cultivation in the Golden Triangle was on the downswing, and civic action to curb drug use and treat drug abusers was now commonplace.
At the same time, however, the world faced new and emerging challenges, with rising drug production and use emerging in new areas and regions. In addition, drug-related crimes were becoming more prominent. The centennial anniversary of the Opium Commission gave the international community a chance to take stock of the current situation and look ahead to future action. For its part, China planned to host, in Shanghai, a centennial celebration. It hoped that, with a series of meetings and events, the entire international community could consolidate hard-won achievements in the combat against drugs, and identify new strategies to ensure a drug-free world.
WILLIAM A. HEIDT ( United States) reaffirmed his Government’s support for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and also acknowledged the critical work of local and national non-governmental organizations. Indeed, human rights defenders often acted at great risk, and he was deeply concerned by what appeared to be a coordinated effort by some States to use the United Nations to regulate the conduct of individuals, rather than hold Governments to account.
Troubling actions had taken place in the Human Rights Council, and he was also concerned by an idea that the cure for intolerance was a restriction on freedom of expression. The United States was associated with 63 other States that had signed a declaration on prisoners of conscience, which recalled the language of the Universal Declaration, and urged making their release a priority. His Government stood by that commitment and called on others to join such efforts.
YURI PARK ( Republic of Korea) spoke on items 13 (b), (e) and (g), saying that the world was witnessing abject poverty and severe violation of human rights, which were serious challenges that should be addressed in more systematic ways. National development strategies should focus on addressing low levels of economic growth, but also fair employment opportunities for all. As underprivileged and vulnerable groups were the main victims of poverty, the international community should place priority on ensuring the fundamental human rights of such people. Mainstreaming disability in the development agenda was of great importance.
Continuing, she said women should enjoy full economic, social and cultural rights, on the basis of the principle of equality and non-discrimination. As women living with HIV/AIDS, women refugees and older women were among the poorest populations, the United Nations had a duty to rise to such challenges. Commending the work of the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, she also said refugee issues presented another global challenge. The importance of human security must not be overlooked and, in that regard, the principle of non-refoulement of refugees should be upheld. Noting this year’s sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, she conveyed her country’s firm commitment to supporting the United Nations’ noble mandate to protect and promote human rights.
ANDREY TARANDA ( Belarus) said that the Economic and Social Council could be an important body in effectively combating human trafficking. Citing yesterday’s adoption of a draft resolution to counter human trafficking, he expressed his appreciation to all delegations for their constructive approach to adopting a consensus text. Belarus had consistently advocated countering the drug threat, notably through multilateral cooperation. Belarus faced a sharp increase in flows of drugs, grown as crops and produced as synthetic substances. Nationally, Belarus was taking robust measures to combat that problem, and was party to all treaties to combat the spread of psychotropic drugs. He called on the international community to help control chemical precursors, including through creation of a monitoring mechanism. He also welcomed cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Continuing, he said Belarus advocated the elimination of xenophobia, and supported the Durban Declaration. It was important to pay attention to economic and social rights, and the right to development. He advocated cooperation in law enforcement, and urged equitable and respectable dialogue on human rights issues. Noting that the Human Rights Council had adopted resolutions that ran counter to the principles of the United Nations Charter, he said the Economic and Social Council must not overlook that problem.
HUGO SILES ALVARADO ( Bolivia) said that Bolivia had adopted a policy of eradication of surplus cocoa crops, and a continuing dialogue with producers. It was seeking out alternatives for the surplus production of the cocoa leaf, and had requested support from other States to open markets for alternative cocoa products. There was still a “distorted view” that prevailed, however, that to combat narcotics the raw material needed to be eliminated. The report of the Narcotics Board, in paragraphs 216 and 217, noted the ancestral tradition of chewing the cocoa leaf. Indigenous peoples had been doing that for many years. For that reason, Bolivia had a reservation on being included in the record. He stressed the report of the International Narcotics Control Board ran counter to the United Nations Convention on Illicit Trafficking of Drugs (1988), and did not allow Bolivia’s participation in drawing up the report.
To recommend the prohibition of cocoa leaf chewing also ran counter to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, whose article 11 noted indigenous peoples’ right to revive their cultural rights and traditions. Bolivia had reservations about the Narcotics Control Board report, and was awaiting an invitation from the Board to analyse and discuss the difference between the traditional use of the cocoa leaf, and the use of cocaine in narcotics production. Further, drug-consuming countries should have more effective commitment to reducing demand.
WAHIDULLAH AMIN ( Afghanistan) wondered who would help his country tackle the drug threat. He welcomed all measures taken to prevent the illicit drug trade, and his country had taken measures to prevent poppy cultivation and bring to justice drug smugglers. Illegal chemical precursors were a huge challenge to his country, and must be dealt with at national, regional and international levels.
YURI GALA (Cuba), drawing attention to topics under agenda items 14 (b), (c) and (d), said it was important that the Economic and Social Council examine the report of the Commission on Social Development, among others, and reiterated Cuba’s support for the Council’s functional Commissions. Human rights principles were universal, indivisible and interrelated, and in the context of item 14 (g), he said there had been a flagrant violation of Cuba’s right to self-determination by the United States, marked by the “murky” relationships between Cubans in Miami, and mercenary groups carrying out activities in Cuba. Such people had been presented as “peaceful defenders of human rights” or even “prisoners of conscience” by the United States, when they had actually committed crimes.
Cuba also denounced the diplomatic personnel accredited to the United States who were acting as facilitators in the transfer of funds to mercenary groups in Cuba, he said. Such behaviour added to the large file of other illegal United States activities, which included the trade embargo. He went on to describe the mercenary character of dissident groups, saying that that ran counter to international legal norms. The United States Government must respond when faced with a new “axis”, which included terrorists of Cuban origin, North American diplomats and mercenary groups in Cuba. Cuba expected an exhaustive investigation of those serious facts, and he hoped the results would be made public.
ROCHELLE ROCA-HACHEM, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said that this coming September, the agency would host the Inter-Agency Support Group’s annual meeting and welcome an official visit of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. That would provide unique opportunities to further assess and advance the joint work of the United Nations on promoting indigenous peoples’ quest for “development with culture and identity”, in the light of the recent approval of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Among its other activities, UNESCO had intensified its partnership with organizations representing or defending the rights of indigenous peoples, notably with the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordination Committee (IPACC), among others. UNESCO also advocated the role of indigenous and endangered languages in development, traditional knowledge, education, and economic and democratic participation, she said.
ALEXANDRU CUJBA (Moldova), also on behalf of Djibouti, introduced a draft resolution on the enlargement of the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (document E/2008/L.11), taking note of the requests to enlarge the membership of the panel from 76 to 78 States, and recommending that the General Assembly take a decision on the issue at its upcoming sixty-third session. Moldova’s representative said that both States wanted to become members of an expanded Executive Committee and hoped to use their experience with refugees to improve the situation of those persons worldwide.
Action on Drafts/Commission for Social Development
Taking up the report on the forty-sixth session Commission for Social Development (document E/2008/26), the Council adopted draft resolution I, entitled “Social dimensions of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development”, by which it welcomed the progress made by the African countries in fulfilling their commitments in the implementation of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, as well as the progress made in implementing the African Peer Review Mechanism.
By the text, the Council also urged continuous support of measures to address the challenges of poverty eradication and sustainable development in Africa and further requested the United Nations system to continue to provide assistance to the African Union and the New Partnership Secretariat and to African countries in developing projects and programmes within the scope of the priorities of the New Partnership. It also requested the Secretary-General to continue to take measures to strengthen the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa and requested that he submit a report on the social dimensions of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, to be tabled during the forty-seventh session of the Commission for Social Development.
Next, the Council adopted draft resolution II, entitled “Promoting full employment and decent work for all”, by which it reaffirmed the central importance of full and productive employment and decent work to poverty eradication and social integration and called upon the international community to enhance its efforts to create an enabling environment for social development and poverty eradication through increasing market access for developing countries, technology transfer on mutually agreed terms, financial aid and a comprehensive solution to the external debt problem.
By that text, it further urged Governments, with the cooperation of relevant entities, to develop systems of social protection and to extend or broaden, as appropriate, their effectiveness and coverage, including for workers in the informal economy, recognizing the need for social protection systems to provide social security and support labour-market participation. It invited the International Labour Organization (ILO) to strengthen its social protection strategies and policies on extending social security coverage and also urged Governments, while taking account of national circumstances, to focus on the needs of those living in, or vulnerable to, poverty and give particular consideration to universal access to basic social security systems.
It also called upon the public sector to continue to play its important role in developing an environment that enabled the effective generation of full and productive employment and decent work for all and called upon the private sector to continue its vital role in generating new investments, employment and financing for development and in advancing efforts towards full employment and decent work. The Council also called for increased national investment in, and international development funding and investment flows to, developing countries and countries with economies in transition to generate productive employment and decent work for all and strongly encouraged multilateral and bilateral donor and inter-agency cooperation in the pursuit of these goals.
Also without a vote, the Council adopted draft resolution III, entitled “Future organization and methods of work of the Commission for Social Development”, by which it decided that the priority theme for the 2009-2010 review and policy cycle should be “social integration”, taking into account its relationship with poverty eradication and full employment and decent work for all. Noting the usefulness of identifying the theme for the 2011-2012 review and policy cycle during the forty-eighth session of the Commission, it further decided that the Commission should maintain the two-year review and policy cycle until its fiftieth session and that it should continue to keep its methods of work under review.
The Council then adopted without a vote, draft resolution IV, entitled “Further promotion of equalization of opportunities by, for and with persons with disabilities and protection of their human rights”, by which it decided to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur until 31 December 2011 in accordance with the provisions of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities to further their promotion and monitoring, including the human rights dimensions of disability.
By that text, the Council requested the Special Rapporteur to further advocate the equalization of opportunities for the full enjoyment of all human rights, and the well-being of persons with disabilities in all respects; to increase awareness of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; to act as a catalyst to promote international and technical cooperation on disability issues; and to collaborate, in the fulfilment of the above tasks, with all relevant stakeholders, including organizations of persons with disabilities. It also called upon all Governments to continue to cooperate and engage in direct dialogue with the Special Rapporteur and to provide him or her with all the relevant information needed to effectively fulfil this mandate.
Acting without a vote, the Council then adopted draft resolution V, entitled “Mainstreaming disability in the development agenda”, by which it called upon those States that not yet done so to consider signing and ratifying the Convention and the Optional Protocol as a matter of priority and urged all States, international and regional organizations and civil society, in particular organizations of persons with disabilities, to ensure that international cooperation, including international development programmes, was inclusive of and accessible to persons with disabilities. It also urged the United Nations system and its Member States to take concrete measures to incorporate issues related to persons with disabilities into development cooperation and development finance activities.
The Council then adopted the draft decision contained in section B of the Report on the forty-sixth session of the Commission for Social Development (document E/2008/26), by which it took note of the report of the Commission on its session and approved the provisional agenda and documentation for the forty-seventh session.
The representative of Cuba said his delegation reiterated its support for the Commission’s work, especially its work on behalf of developing countries. It was a forum open to all for discussion of important issues and should continue to focus on the priority issues highlighted at Copenhagen Summit on Social development: full employment; social integration; and poverty eradication. Adopting the conclusions of priority themes from the Commission’s annual work allowed delegations to study that work in greater detail.
He went on to draw the Council’s attention to attempts by developed countries to change the Commission’s working methods and push to the background issues related to social development. Those countries were not complying with their commitments, he said.
Action on Drafts/Commission on Narcotic Drugs
Taking up the Report of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs on its fifty-first session (document E/2008/28), the Council adopted without a vote draft resolution I entitled “Promoting sustainability and integrality in alternative development as an important part of drug control strategy in States where illicit crops are grown to produce drugs”.
By that text, the Council urged donor Governments, as well as multilateral, international and regional financial institutions, in conformity with the principle of shared responsibility and as a sign of their commitment to fighting illicit drugs in a comprehensive and balanced manner, to redouble their efforts to enhance international cooperation, especially trilateral cooperation aimed at utilizing the expertise of developing countries and the financial support of developed countries in assisting other developing countries, in reducing illicit drug crops through alternative development and preventive alternative development, as appropriate.
It further urged Member States and relevant international organizations to consider measures to enable products of alternative development to have easier access to markets, taking into account applicable multilateral trade rules. It also encouraged Member States to consider developing a set of international guiding principles on alternative development.
Thailand’s representative welcomed the adoption of the text and was particularly pleased that one of its national projects had been cited in the report as a key effort in combating drugs and promoting development. Indeed, Thailand believed that combating and controlling narcotics should address root causes of drug use, including extreme poverty and underdevelopment. He stressed that initiatives such as those in Thailand had launched required sustained international support, particularly to help affected developing countries achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
Next, the Council adopted draft resolution II, entitled “Provision of international assistance to the most affected States neighbouring Afghanistan”, by which it called upon the Government of Afghanistan to intensify, with the support of the international community, its efforts to continue implementing the eight pillars of the Afghan National Drug Control Strategy, to identify and dismantle laboratories illicitly manufacturing heroin and morphine and to trace and curb the illicit supply of precursors.
By that text, the Council also called upon all Member States and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to provide the technical assistance and support needed for strengthening the initiatives and efforts of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan to fight drug trafficking. It further called upon Afghanistan to mainstream, with the assistance of the international community, the counter-narcotics programme in the forthcoming Afghan national development strategy.
The Council also adopted without a vote two draft decisions contained in Section B of the Report of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs on its fifty-first session (document E/2008/28). By draft decision I, the Council took note of the report of the Commission on its fifty-first session and approved the provisional agenda and documentation for the fifty-second session. By draft decision II, it took note of the report of the International Narcotics Control Board for 2007.
The representative of Cuba said that his delegation supported the work of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and noted that the body needed greater support from Member States. If its budget were increased, it could carry out its mandate more effectively.
Action on Drafts/Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice
Turning to the Report of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice on its seventeenth session (document E/2008/30), the Council agreed to send for adoption by the General Assembly the draft resolution entitled “Preparations for the Twelfth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice” contained in Section A of the report.
By that text, the Assembly would decide to hold the Twelfth Congress in Salvador, Brazil, from 12 to 19 April 2010, with pre-Congress consultations to be held on 11 April 2010 under the general theme of “Comprehensive strategies for global challenges: crime prevention and criminal justice systems and their development in a changing world”.
The Council also adopted draft resolution I, entitled “Protection against trafficking in cultural property” contained in Section B of the report. By that text, the Council urged Member States and relevant institutions to: strengthen and fully implement mechanisms to strengthen international cooperation, including mutual legal assistance; combat trafficking in cultural property, including trafficking committed through the use of the Internet; and facilitate the recovery, return or restitution of cultural property. It further urged Member States to protect cultural property and prevent trafficking in such property by introducing appropriate legislation.
Next, the Council adopted draft resolution II, “Strengthening prevention of urban crime: an integrated approach”, also in Section Bof the report. The Council, thereby, requested the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to explicitly address the crime prevention component in its programme of work and reporting, including good practices that integrate crime prevention and criminal justice. Member States and other donors were invited to provide extrabudgetary contributions to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to support technical assistance activities in that area.
The Council also adopted draft resolution III in Section B on “International cooperation in preventing and combating illicit international trafficking in forest products, including timber, wildlife and other forest biological resources,” by which it noted that illicit international trafficking in forest products constituted a major source of concern because such activities have an adverse environmental, social and economic impact on many countries. It encouraged Member States to continue to provide the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime with information on measures taken pursuant to resolution 16/1 of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.
Taking up the draft decisions contained in Section C of the Report of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice on its seventeenth session (document E/2008/30), the Council next adopted draft decision I, entitled “Report of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice on its seventeenth session and provisional agenda and documentation for its eighteenth session”.
By that text, it took note of the report of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice on its seventeenth session and decided that the thematic discussion at the eighteenth session of the Commission would be on “Economic fraud and identity-related crime” and “Penal reform and the reduction of prison overcrowding, including the provision of legal aid in criminal justice systems”. The Council also decided that a one-day discussion would be held on each theme and approved the provisional agenda and documentation for the eighteenth session.
The representative of Cuba reiterated support for the Commission, and the need to allocate to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crimemore resources from the United Nations’ regular budget. At the same time, he urged States to support that additional allocation.
The Council then adopted draft decision II on the “Appointment of members of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute”, by which it endorsed the reappointment of Pedro R. David of Argentina and the appointment of Eduardo Fungairiño of Spain by the Commission to the Board.
Action on Drafts/Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Turning to the Report of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on its seventh session (document E/2008/43), the Council took up three draft decisions contained therein.
Prior to adoption, the representative of Saudi Arabia asked for a clarification on the programme budgetary implications on which the Council would vote.
The representative of the United States said his delegation would disassociate itself from consensus to adopt draft decision I. His Government had always favoured a strong statement on the rights of indigenous peoples and, over the course of 11 years, had worked towards a consensus decision that would make a difference. The document that emerged from that process, however, was confusing, as evidenced by the various interpretations by States at the time of its adoption. The provisions in that document were flawed, and the concerns expressed by his Government at the time of its adoption remained.
Acting without a vote, the Council then adopted draft decision I, entitled “International expert group meeting on the implementation of article 42 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”, by which it decided to authorize a three-day international expert group meeting on the implementation of article 42 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and requested that the results of the meeting be reported to the Permanent Forum at its eighth session.
The Council then adopted draft decision II, entitled “Venue and dates of the eighth session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues”, by which it decided that the eighth session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues shall be held at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 18 to 29 May 2009.
The representative of the United States said his delegation must disassociate from consensus on draft decision III, which had repeated language in draft decision I. He reiterated the points his delegation had made at time of the declaration’s adoption. The United States had concerns with the language in the body of the report of the Permanent Forum of Indigenous Peoples on the issue of climate change. While the United States recognized the unique perspective of indigenous peoples and agreed with the importance of consulting with them in forming decisions on climate change, it found the report to be inappropriate in its demands. His Government would continue to work for the improvement of indigenous peoples’ lives and valued their input in multilateral forums.
The Council then adopted the draft decision III on the “Provisional agenda and documentation for the eighth session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues”, thereby approving the provisional agenda and documentation for the eighth session of the Permanent Forum.
Taking the floor after adoption, the representative of Canada said his Government continued to be strongly committed to indigenous peoples’ rights, and commented on his Government’s understanding of the word “implement”. The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples did not enjoy universal support, and he reiterated Canada’s understanding that it was not a legally-binding instrument. Canada would continue to take effective action to promote indigenous peoples’ rights based on its existing human rights commitments.
The representative of Mauritania said his delegation had been absent during the vote on resolution E/2008/L.17, and had it been present, it would have voted in favour of that resolution.
At the afternoon meeting, the representative of Belarus, speaking on item 9 and saying that for technical reasons her delegation had not been present at the time of voting on the resolution, welcomed the adoption of that resolution and would have voted in favour of it.
Action on Draft Texts under Coordination Segment
Taking up the remaining draft texts under its coordination segment, the Council then adopted without a vote a draft resolution, as orally revised, on “The role of the United Nations system in implementing the ministerial declaration on strengthening efforts to eradicate poverty and hunger, including through the global partnership for development, adopted at the high-level segment of the substantive session of 2007 of the Economic and Social Council” contained in document E/2008/L.22.
By that text, the Council requested the funds, programmes and agencies of the United Nations to make further progress towards more comprehensive, coherent and multidimensional approaches in the formulation of their policies, programmes and operations supporting the eradication of poverty and hunger. It further requested those entities to strengthen their efforts to provide policy support to developing countries and assist them upon request to build their capacity to analyse the impact of a broad range of policy areas on the eradication of poverty and hunger, including through the promotion of interdisciplinary research and studies.
The Council also requested all member organizations of the Chief Executives Board to approach rural and urban development in an integrated manner and to consider ways to support countries’ strategies for reducing urban poverty. Further, it encouraged Organization’s funds, programmes and agencies to promote policy coherence and cooperation on science and technology for poverty reduction and promote the development of national institutional capacities in science and technology to that end.
The representative of France, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the resolution reaffirmed States’ commitment to put poverty and hunger eradication at the heart of the United Nations’ actions. Not wishing to break with consensus on the text, he drew attention to the point that the Millennium Development Goals were interdependent. As such, they required an integrated and coherent approach by the United Nations at the country level.
He emphasized the multidimensional character of the action the United Nations must undertake to address poverty and hunger, especially vis-à-vis sustained economic growth; the three dimensions of sustainable development; the promotion of full employment and decent work; and women’s empowerment. The resolution only emphasized cooperation in science and technology, and he regretted that those other areas had not been mentioned. He recalled that the implementation of the global partnership for development was first and foremost within the full commitment of all States. As such, they must take appropriate measures, in partnership with civil society, non-Governmental organizations and the private sector.
The Council then adopted without a vote a draft resolution contained in document E/2008/L.29 by which it reaffirmed the need to continue to strengthen itself as the central mechanism for system-wide coordination and thus promote the integrated and coordinated implementation of, and follow-up to, the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences in the economic, social and related fields, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and relevant General Assembly resolutions, in particular resolutions 50/227, 57/270 B and 61/16.
To that end, it welcomed the holding of the first Development Cooperation Forum and the second Annual Ministerial Review and stressed that the preparation of the annual review should be fully supported by the United Nations system, especially the funds, programmes and specialized agencies, in accordance with the respective mandates, as appropriate, in coordination with national Governments.
HARALD ASPELUND ( Iceland), who served as facilitator for the draft texts, thanked his colleagues for their work over the last several weeks in reaching consensus on them. He also thanked the Secretariat for its work.
In an oral decision, the Council decided to take note of the report of the Secretary-General on the role of the United Nations system in implementing the Ministerial Declaration of the high-level segment of the 2007 substantive session of the Economic and Social Council (document E/2008/21), thus concluding its coordination segment.
The representative of Algeria introduced draft resolution E/2008/L.26, saying that the word “mother” should be included before the word “homeland”. The Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territory and Syrian Golan, including East Jerusalem, continued to deepen the hardships of Palestinian and Syrian peoples. High unemployment and rampant poverty persisted, especially in the Gaza Strip. Those and other conditions provided deplorable confirmation of the repercussions that illegal Israeli settlements continued to have on the living conditions of the Palestinians. The report documented the negative affects that Israeli settlements in the occupied Syrian Golan had on Syrian people’s access to natural resources and social services.
While most of the 21 preambular paragraphs were similar to those in last year’s resolution, additional paragraphs had been added, notably on the continuation of illegal settlement activities. Also added was a paragraph calling on Israel to comply with the Fourth Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilians in Times of War. The resolution affirmed the principle of the permanent sovereignty of peoples under foreign occupation over their natural resources, and called on Israel to restore and replace properties and land. He looked forward to the adoption of the draft by consensus, with a strong hope that it would contribute to alleviating the suffering of Palestinians.
Malaysia, Mauritania and Indonesia joined the list of co-sponsors for the draft resolution, which will be acted on tomorrow.
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