Criminal Accountability of UN Officials, Terrorism Convention, UN Internal Justice Among Issues, as General Assembly Adopts 17 Texts Recommended by Legal Committee

16 December 2009
GA/10904

Criminal Accountability of UN Officials, Terrorism Convention, UN Internal Justice Among Issues, as General Assembly Adopts 17 Texts Recommended by Legal Committee

16 December 2009
General Assembly
GA/10904
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fourth General Assembly

Plenary

64th Meeting (AM)

Criminal Accountability of UN Officials, Terrorism Convention, UN Internal Justice

Among Issues, as General Assembly Adopts 17 Texts Recommended by Legal Committee

Also Adopts Text on Assistance to Palestinian People,

Defers Resolution on Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force

Acting without a vote on the recommendations of its Sixth (Legal) Committee, the General Assembly this morning adopted 15 resolutions and two decisions on issues ranging from international terrorism to the rule of law, as it also adopted a text on assistance to the Palestinian people and continued its consideration of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

The recommendations of the Legal Committee were contained in 15 reports.  The Assembly also took note of two others, one on programme planning and another on observer status in its work for the Council of the Presidents of the General Assembly.

 Of the others, a report on the rule of law at the national and international levels contained a resolution by which the Assembly stressed the importance of adhering to the rule of law and the need to strengthen support to States toward that end.  It called on the United Nations system to address rule of law issues and expressed full support for the year-old Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group supported by the Rule of Law Unit.  Calling for high priority to be accorded to rule of law activities, the Assembly invited the International Court of Justice, United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) and the International Law Commission to comment on their activities.

Another report on the new two-tiered administration of justice system in the United Nations contained a resolution and a decision.  By the resolution, the Assembly adopted the rules of procedure of both the United Nations Dispute Tribunal and the United Nations Appeals Tribunal.  By adopting the decision, it approved of the Legal Committee continuing to consider outstanding legal aspects of the system, in collaboration with the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).

Further dealing with rule of law at the United Nations, the Assembly adopted a resolution in a report on criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission.  With that, the Assembly called on States to establish jurisdiction in existing domestic criminal law over crimes of a serious nature committed by their nationals while serving as United Nations personnel.  It also requested the Secretary-General to report on allegations and the actions taken in response.

By another resolution, the Assembly called on States to contribute to regional activities of the United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law, noting that the year-old Audiovisual Library on International Law had received the 2009 Best Website Award from the International Association of Law Librarians in October.  The Assembly also encouraged the use of the internship programme and authorized the Secretary-General to award a minimum of one scholarship each year in both 2010 and 2011 under the Hamilton Shirley Amerisinghe Fellowship on the Law of the Sea, subject to the availability of contributions.

By a resolution on the principle of universal jurisdiction, the Secretary-General was requested to report on State practice with regard to scope and application.  By a resolution on measures to eliminate international terrorism, the Ad Hoc Committee would continue elaborating a comprehensive convention at its next meeting from 12 to 16 April 2010.

By resolutions on reports under the Committee’s consideration, the Assembly requested the Host Country, through the Host Country Committee, to continue its training of security, border and custom officials so that diplomatic privileges and immunities would be upheld.  The Charter Special Committee was called on to continue considering questions related to third States affected by sanctions. States were called upon to contribute to the trust fund enabling electronic publication of the repertoire and repertory of United Nations organs.

Further, the Assembly took note of the report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) by one resolution, welcoming the continued revisions of texts and endorsing the Commission’s decision to work in areas such as electronic commerce, transport law and commercial fraud.  By another resolution on the Commission’s report, the Assembly adopted the Commission’s Practice Guide on Cross-Border Insolvency Cooperation.

By a resolution on the International Law Commission’s report, the Assembly urged Governments to offer their views on matters related to the Commission’s agenda, including responsibility of international organizations, expulsion of aliens and shared natural resources.  Governments were also urged to send legal advisors when the Commission’s report was considered in Committee during International Law Week, so that high-level discussions on international law could be held.

Finally, by adoption of a resolution of each organization, the Assembly granted observer status in its work to the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region of Africa and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean.

Turning to other matters on its agenda, the Assembly resumed its consideration of the item on “Assistance to the Palestinian People” and adopted a consensus plenary text of the same name.  By it, the Assembly expressed grave concern at the deterioration in living conditions of the Palestinian people and welcomed the development of projects, notably on infrastructure, to revive the Palestinian economy. It further expressed its grave concern at the humanitarian situation in Gaza and underlined the importance of the International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Economy for the Reconstruction of Gaza, held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt on 2 March, in addressing that situation.By other terms, the Assembly welcomed the work of the Palestinian Authority to implement the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan for 2008-2010, as well as action by the Special Representative of the Quartet, charged with developing a multi-year agenda to strengthen institutions, promote economic development and mobilize international funds. It urged Member States, international financial institutions of the United Nations system, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to extend, as rapidly as possible, economic and social assistance to the Palestinian people. In that regard, it called on donors that had not yet converted their budget support pledges into disbursements to transfer funds as soon as possible, and encouraged all donors to increase their direct assistance to the Palestinian Authority.

Speaking in explanation of position after action, Israel’s delegate said his Government joined consensus on the text, as it was “constructive” and sought to assist Palestinians in increasing their economic and development capacity. Due in part to Israeli measures, economic growth stood at an “impressive” 8 per cent in the West Bank, while construction projects moved forward at an exceptional pace. Israel had reservations about particular aspects of the resolution, notably vis-à-vis the policy of assistance to the Gaza Strip. Such provisions must reflect Israel’s security needs with regard to delivering assistance.

Speaking in general statement after action, the Observer of Palestine said assistance had become a “virtual lifeline” for the Palestinian people, particularly families in the Gaza Strip who continued to suffer as a direct result of Israel’s illegal blockade. While the resolution had been adopted by consensus, her delegation could not ignore Israel’s continued obstruction of assistance. International pledges made at Sharm el-Sheikh had yet to be received by the Palestinian people. Illegal Israeli policies undermined donor support and that required serious redress.

The Assembly decided to defer action on a draft resolution entitled “Institutionalization of the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force”, which would have it request the Secretary-General to provide resources to finalize the institutionalization of the Task Force without delay in order to ensure overall coordination and coherence in the counter-terrorism efforts of the United Nations system.

Speaking in general statement on that topic were the representatives of Austria, Pakistan, Burkina Faso and Croatia.

Also today, the Assembly adopted, as orally revised, the report of the Credentials Committee entitled “Credentials of representatives to the sixty-fourth session of the General Assembly”, which contained a draft resolution recommending the Assembly’s approval of the report.

Speaking in explanation of position after action were the representatives of Iran and Madagascar.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m., 18 December, to take up the reports of its Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural).

Background

The General Assembly met today to consider the reports of its Sixth Committee (Legal), as well as to consider matters related to the Palestinian People, the Counter-Terrorism Strategy and a report of the Credentials Committee.

Background on Legal Committee Reports

The Assembly has before it the Legal Committee’s report on criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission (document A/64/446).  It contains one resolution approved in Committee on 12 November.  By it, the Assembly would strongly urge States to ensure that crimes committed by their nationals while on mission with the United Nations did not go unpunished and to establish jurisdiction over such crimes in existing domestic criminal law.   It would encourage States to cooperate with each other and the United Nations in information exchange and investigations, as well as to afford each other assistance in such activities.  States would also be encouraged to adopt measures to protect victims and prevent retaliation for the reporting of crimes, while the United Nations would be requested to assist States in those areas.

Further by the text, the Secretary-General would be urged to take measures to strengthen training on standards of conduct, including through pre-deployment and in-mission induction training.   He would be requested to report to the Assembly at its next session on the number and types of credible allegations that had been entered against such officials and on actions taken in response, either by the United Nations or by States.

The Committee’s report on the report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL)(document A/64/447) contains two draft resolutions approved in Committee on 12 November.  By the first, the Assembly would take note of the Commission’s report on its forty-second session and would commend the adoption of the Practice Guide on Cross-Border Insolvency Cooperation.  It would welcome progress made on revision of the Model Law on Procurement of Goods, Construction and Services and on the Arbitration Rules.  Also welcome would be the Commission’s decision to hold two international colloquiums, one on electronic commerce and another on security interests.  The Commission’s work in the areas of harmonizing legal practice and promoting the rule of law within its field would be endorsed and its technical assistance activities reaffirmed, including those coordinated with the new Rule of Law Unit.

Further by the draft, States would be asked to contribute to the trust fund for participation of developing country experts in the Commission’s work.  Toward that end, funds would also be requested through the United Nations system.   Additional support would also be requested for technical assistance activities outlined in the Commission’s 2010-2011 strategic framework and biennial programme plan focused on progressive harmonization of international trade law.  The importance of bringing the Commission’s conventions into effect would be stressed and the decision endorsed for the Commission to undertake further work in the areas of arbitration, electronic commerce, transport law and commercial fraud, as well as in the area of insolvency and security interests. 

The second draft on the Commission’s report relates to the UNCITRAL Practice Guide on Cross-Border Insolvency Cooperation.  By that, the Assembly would call for publication of the Practice Guide for consideration by judges, insolvency practitioners and other relevant stakeholders.  A recommendation would be made for States to continue implementation of the Model Law already published. 

A single resolution in the report on the United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law (document A/64/448) was also approved on 12 November.  It would have the Assembly approve the Secretary-General’s guidelines for administering the Programme and would authorize him to carry out the recommended activities, including the awarding of a minimum of one scholarship each year in both 2010 and 2011 under the Hamilton Shirley Amerasinghe Memorial Fellowship on the Law of the Sea, subject to the availability of new voluntary contributions.

Further by the draft Assembly would recognize the importance of activities carried out by the Legal Affairs Office and by the Codification Division in the promotion of the Programme’s aims.  In particular, it would commend the Audiovisual Library of International Law for receipt of the 2009 Best Website Award from the International Association of Law Librarians.  It would encourage the use of the internship programme in preparing materials for the Audiovisual Library and would welcome all training and technical assistance activities.  Appreciation would be expressed also for activities of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), as well as those of The Hague Academy of International Law.  Finally, the Assembly would urge Governments to make voluntary contributions to regional activities related to international law.

Also approved in Committee on 12 November is a single resolution in the Committee’s report on the International Law Commission (document A/64/449).  It would have the Assembly take note of the Commission’s report on the work of its sixty-first session and express appreciation for completion on a first reading of draft articles on responsibility of international organizations.  The Assembly would reiterate that Governments were requested to offer views on issues, in particular on responsibility of international organizations, expulsions of aliens and shared natural resources.  Information regarding State practice in relation to expulsions would also be requested.  The Assembly would take note of the Secretary-General’s report on assistance to the special rapporteurs and would also take note of the decision for the Commission’s next session to be held in Geneva from 3 May to 4 June and from 5 July to 6 August 2010.

Further, the draft would encourage the Commission to continue enhancing its efficiency while cutting costs, and the Assembly would welcome enhanced dialogue between the Commission and its own Legal Committee and would encourage further contacts with other relevant legal bodies.  Governments would be encouraged to have legal advisers present during for the Legal Committee’s consideration of the Commission’s report during International Law Week, so as to enable high-level discussions on international law to take place.  Reaffirming the importance of the assistance provided by the Codification Division to the Commission’s work, the Assembly would welcome improvements to the Commission’s website and would express hope for improvements in the conducting of the annual International Law Seminar.  Further procedural provisions regarding the Commission’s activities and documentation processes would also be set out.

By a draft resolution approved on 12 November regarding the report of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization (document A/64/450), the Assembly would decide that the next session of the Special Committee would be held from 1 to 9 March 2010.  The Assembly would request the Special Committee to continue considering proposals for strengthening the Organization’s role in maintaining international peace and security as well as to consider, on a priority basis, the question of applying the Charter’s provisions to the situation of third States affected by the application of sanctions.

Further, the Assembly would recognize the important role played by the International Court of justice in the peaceful settlement of disputes and would request the Special Committee to keep the topic of such settlements on its agenda.  The Assembly would invite the Special Committee to identify new subjects for consideration with a view to contributing to the revitalization of the United Nations.  Finally, it would encourage Member States to contribute to the trust fund for updating the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council, eliminating the backlog with the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs, and making both publications available electronically in all respective languages. 

An annex to the resolution contains information on the introduction and implementation of United Nations-imposed sanctions.  It covers general issues such as the importance of sanctions as tools in maintaining international peace and security without recourse to the use of force.  It also covers unintended side effects of sanctions, including adverse humanitarian effects and unintended consequences.  Finally covered are implementation principles.

By the text of a single resolution approved on 12 November and contained in the report on the rule of law at the national and international levels (document A/64/451), the Assembly would stress the importance of adherence to the rule of law and the need to strengthen support to States towards that end.  It would call on the United Nations system to address aspects of the rule of law in relevant activities and would express full support for the Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group supported by the Rule of Law Unit.  It would encourage the accordance of high priority to rule of law activities and would invite the International Court of Justice, UNCITRAL and the International Law Commission to continue to comment on their activities in the field.

A draft resolution approved in Committee on 12 November is contained in the Committee’s report on the scope and application of universal jurisdiction (document A/64/452).  It would have the Assembly request the Secretary-General to invite Member States to submit information and observations relevant to the principle by 30 April 2010.  Among the resources to be used as a basis for consideration are provisions of international treaties, domestic legal rules and judicial practices.  The Secretary-General would report on the responses at the Assembly’s next session and the Legal Committee would continue to consider the scope and application of the principle without prejudice to the consideration of related issues in other United Nations forums.

A resolution on measures to eliminate international terrorism (document A/64/453) was also approved on 12 November.  It would have the Assembly strongly condemn all manifestations of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable and would call upon Member States, the United Nations and other international, regional and subregional organizations to implement the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.  The Assembly would urge States to ensure full prosecution of nationals or persons in their territories who funded or financially supported terrorist acts.  States would be called upon to become party to the relevant international conventions and protocols, to implement such conventions through national legislation, and to cooperate and support other States in prosecuting perpetrators of terrorist acts.

Further by the resolution, the Assembly would call on States to share relevant information, to avoid disseminating inaccurate information and to refrain from supporting terrorist actions in any way.  The Assembly would urge States to make the best use of existing United Nations institutions in fighting international terrorism.  It would note the progress made by the Working Group in elaborating a comprehensive convention on terrorism during the current Assembly session and would decide that the Ad Hoc Committee shall meet from 12 to 16 April 2010 to continue the elaboration.   

The Committee’s report on the administration of justice within the United Nations (document A/64/454) contains one draft resolution and one decision, both approved by the Committee on 20 October.  By the resolution, the Assembly would adopt the rules of procedure of both the United Nations Dispute Tribunal and the United Nations Appeals Tribunal.  By the decision, it would approve of the Committee’s continued consideration of outstanding legal aspects of the issue in collaboration with the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).  Annexes to the resolution contain the texts of the rules of procedure for both tribunals.

The Committee’s report on the Committee on Relations with the Host Country (document A/64/455) contains a single resolution approved by the Committee on 12 November.  By it, the Assembly would endorse the recommendations and conclusions in the host country committee’s report.  Those were centred on the reaffirmation of principles enshrined in the Headquarters Agreement, the 1946 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations and the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.  Security and safety issues were addressed in the recommendations, as were issues related to the smooth functioning of diplomatic facilities and operations.   

Further by the text, the Assembly would request the host country to continue its efforts towards the training of security, border and custom officials so that diplomatic privileges and immunities would be respected and upheld.  It would also urge the host country to continue implementation of the Diplomatic Parking Programme in a fair, non-discriminatory manner consistent with international law.  The Host Country would be requested to remove travel restrictions on staff of certain Missions, as well as to improve the issuance of entry visas to State representatives.  Finally, the Assembly would affirm the importance of the Committee being in a position to fulfil its mandate and meet on short notice to deal with urgent matters.  It would request the United Nations system to meet the host committee’s meeting needs on a priority basis.

A General Assembly resolution (document A/RES/64/3) was adopted on 22 October to grant observer status for the International Olympic Committee in the work of the General Assembly.  That action on behalf of the Swiss-based 115-member committee dedicated to putting sport at the service of humanity was taken on the recommendation in the Legal Committee’s report (document A/64/458 and Corr.1) containing a single resolution approved in Committee on 15 October. 

Three more reports on observer status contain one resolution each.  All were approved in Committee on 23 October.  One concerns the International Humanitarian Fact-finding Commission (document A/64/456), an international organization based in Switzerland whose main purpose is to ensure that international humanitarian law is respected during times of armed conflict.  Another concerns the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (document A/64/457), representing a partnership between Governments, civil society and the private sector that had given $16 million to programmes in 137 countries to fight those diseases.  The final one concerns the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region of Africa (document A/64/459), an 11-member regional group promoting peace and development in the sub-region.

A report on observer status for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (document A/64/567), a 25-member regional group, contains one resolution approved in Committee on 14 December.  Another report on the Council of Presidents of the General Assembly (document A/64/568), states that the Committee concluded its deliberations on the matter on 14 December.

The Committee’s report on the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly (document A/64/461) contains a single draft decision approved in Committee on 12 November.  By it, the Assembly would decide to adopt the Committee’s work programme for the sixty-fifth Assembly session.  Items to be taken up in addition to those covered during the current session include responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts, diplomatic protection, and prevention of transboundary harm from hazardous activities.

The Committee’s report on programme planning (document A/64/462) states that the Committee considered the item on 12 November and concluded its consideration without taking action.

Plenary

The General Assembly was also set to take action on two plenary-generated draft resolutions relating to the Palestinian People, and the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, as well as consider a report of the Credentials Committee.

By a draft resolution on Assistance to the Palestinian people (A/64/L.35), the Assembly would express its grave concern at the deterioration in living conditions of the Palestinian people and welcome, in that context, the development of projects, notably on infrastructure, to revive the Palestinian economy.  It would further express its grave concern at the humanitarian situation in Gaza and underline the importance of the International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Economy for the Reconstruction of Gaza, held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt on 2 March, to in addressing that situation.

By other terms, it would welcome the work of the Palestinian Authority to implement the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan for 2008-2010, as well as action by the Special Representative of the Quartet, charged with developing a multi-year agenda to strengthen institutions, promote economic development and mobilize international funds.  Stressing the urgency of reaching a durable solution to the Gaza crisis through full implementation of Security Council resolution 1860 (2009), it would  also note the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and parts of the northern West Bank as a step towards implementing the road map.

Further, the Assembly would urge Member States, international financial institutions of the United Nations system, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to extend, as rapidly as possible, economic and social assistance to the Palestinian people.  In that regard, it would call on donors that had not yet converted their budget support pledges into disbursements to transfer funds as soon as possible, encourage all donors to increase their direct assistance to the Palestinian Authority, and call on the international community to provide urgently needed assistance and services to alleviate the dire humanitarian situation of Palestinian women, children and their families.

Also by the text, the Assembly would stress the role that all funding instruments had played in directly assisting Palestinians and urge Member States to open their markets to exports of Palestinian products on the most favourable terms.  It would stress in that context the importance of ensuring free humanitarian access to the Palestinian people and the free movement of persons and goods and further, stress the need for the safety and security of humanitarian personnel, premises, facilities and equipment.

Finally by the text, the Assembly would stress the need for continued implementation of the Paris Protocol on Economic Relations (1994), fifth annex to the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (1995), including with regard to the full transfer of Palestinian indirect tax revenues. It would request the Secretary-General to submit a report to the Assembly’s sixty-fifth session, through the Economic and Social Council, containing an assessment of assistance actually received by the Palestinian people, as well as one on the needs still unmet.  It would decide to include a sub-item on “Assistance to the Palestinian people” in the provisional agenda of its sixty-fifth session.

By a draft resolution on the Institutionalization of the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (A/64/L.27), the General Assembly would request the Secretary-General to provide the necessary resources to finalize the institutionalization of the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force without delay in order to ensure overall coordination and coherence in the counter-terrorism efforts of the United Nations system.

The Assembly also had before it the report of the Credentials Committee on Credentials of representatives to the sixty-fourth session of the General Assembly (A/64/571), which would have the Assembly approve a resolution contained therein.

Action on Legal Committee Reports

The Rapporteur of the Sixth Committee (Legal), Jean-Cedric Janssens de Bisthoven (Belgium) introduced the Committee’s reports.

Then the Assembly took up the Committee’s report on criminal accountability of United Nations official and experts on mission (document A/64/446).  The single resolution within it was adopted without a vote.

The Committee’s report on the report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) (document A/64/447) was taken up.  Draft resolution I on the report itself was adopted without a vote, as was draft resolution II on the Commission’s UNCITRAL Practice Guide on Cross-Border Insolvency Cooperation.

The resolution contained in the report on the United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law (document A/64/448) was taken up.  It was adopted without a vote.

The resolution in the Committee’s report on the report of the International Law Commission (document A/64/449) was also adopted without a vote.

Next to be taken up was the Committee’s report on the report of the Special Committee on the Charter (document A/64/450).

In explanation of position before action, the representative of Iran said he would join consensus on the resolution.  However, in relation to the annex on   sanctions, it should be noted that sanctions, as a coercive measure, may only be introduced within strict limits and only when peaceful measures have been exhausted.  The Security Council must act in strict conformity with the Charter and it must avoid exceeding its authority.  It should be held accountable for the consequences of unlawful sanctions applied for illegitimate purposes or under pressure of certain permanent Members.

Therefore, he said, paragraph one could be regarded as a chapeau to the resolution.  As such, it was a welcome assertion that sanctions should be in support of legitimate objectives and that the Council could not deprive countries of their internationally recognized rights by arbitrarily imposing sanctions and thereby undermining the legitimacy of its decisions.  States that exploited the Council must also be held accountable.  The report under consideration could be viewed as an initiative to highlight concern about improper use of sanctions by the Council and to provide the Council with guidance.

The resolution in the report was then adopted without a vote.

Taken up next was the Committee’s report on the rule of law at the national and international levels (document A/64/451).  The resolution contained in it was adopted without a vote.

The report on the scope and application of the principle of universal jurisdiction (document A/65/452) was taken up and the resolution in it was adopted without a vote.

The report on measures to eliminate international terrorism (document A/64/453) was taken up.  The single resolution contained in it was adopted without a vote.

The report on the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly (document A/64/461) was taken up.  The decision contained in it was adopted without a vote.

The Assembly then took note of the Committee’s report on programme planning (document A/64/462).

The Assembly took up the Committee’s report on the administration of justice at the United Nations (document A/64/454).  The resolution contained in it was adopted without a vote, as was the decision.

The Assembly took up the draft resolution in the Committee’s report on the report of the Host Country Committee (document A/64/455).  The draft was approved without a vote.

Turning to reports on observer status in its work, the Assembly took up four reports, each containing one resolution.  Adopted without a vote were resolutions granting observer status in the Assembly’s work for the International Humanitarian Fact-finding Commission (document A/64/456), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (document A/64/457), the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region of Africa (document A/64/459) and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (document A/64/567).

The Assembly then took note of the Committee’s report on the Council of Presidents of the General Assembly (document A/64/568).

Action on Plenary Texts

The General Assembly then resumed its consideration of agenda item 70, adopting by consensus a draft resolution entitled Assistance to the Palestinian people (A/64/L.35), by which it expressed its grave concern at the deterioration in living conditions of the Palestinian people and welcomed, in that context, the development of projects, notably on infrastructure, to revive the Palestinian economy. It further expressed its grave concern at the humanitarian situation in Gaza and underlined the importance of the International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Economy for the Reconstruction of Gaza, held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt on 2 March, in addressing that situation.

By other terms, the Assembly welcomed the work of the Palestinian Authority to implement the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan for 2008-2010, as well as action by the Special Representative of the Quartet, charged with developing a multi-year agenda to strengthen institutions, promote economic development and mobilize international funds.  It urged Member States, international financial institutions of the United Nations system, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to extend, as rapidly as possible, economic and social assistance to the Palestinian people.  In that regard, it called on donors that had not yet converted their budget support pledges into disbursements to transfer funds as soon as possible, and encouraged all donors to increase their direct assistance to the Palestinian Authority.

Speaking in explanation of position after action, Israel’s delegate said his Government joined consensus on resolution A/64/L.35. The text was “constructive”, as it sought to assist Palestinians in increasing their economic and development capacity. Israel had supported several issues for years, and, due in part to Israeli measures, economic growth stood at an “impressive” 8 per cent in the West Bank, while construction projects that improved the lives of countless Palestinians moved forward at an exceptional pace.  The Allenby Bridge operated until midnight and various checkpoints had been removed or had expanded their hours of operation to promote the freedom of movement and economic growth.  Israel was exploring additional measures to augment that progress, while ensuring that its serious and legitimate security concerns were not compromised.

He said Israel had reservations about particular aspects of the resolution, notably vis-à-vis the policy of assistance to the Gaza Strip.  Such provisions must reflect Israel’s security needs with regard to delivering assistance. Israel joined consensus on the resolution in order to support the broader principles of assistance and development for Palestinians.  Further, he called on Palestinians to return to negotiations to reach a peace agreement. Only through bilateral negotiations could a vision of two states living side by side in peace and security be achieved.

Speaking in general statement after action, the Observer of Palestine expressed Palestine’s gratitude for the Assembly’s unanimous support for assistance to the Palestinian people, and especially to the Presidency of the European Union for drafting and promoting the text.  International assistance was vital to the steadfastness of Palestinians -– both those living under Israel’s occupation and the millions living in exile in the region. Assistance had taken on heightened importance, in light of the severe economic difficulties prevailing in the occupied Territories in recent years.  It had become a “virtual lifeline”, particularly for families in the Gaza Strip, who continued to suffer as a direct result of Israel’s illegal blockade. Direct assistance from the donor community also had helped to alleviate suffering and was central to the development of Palestinians’ “boundless” human potential.  Various development projects supported by donors had greatly enhanced Palestinian efforts to rebuild national institutions.

While the resolution had been adopted by consensus, her delegation could not ignore Israel’s continued obstruction of assistance, she said.  Nine months later, international pledges made at Sharm el-Sheikh had yet to be received by the Palestinian people.  Illegal Israeli policies undermined donor support and that required serious redress.  Although it joined consensus, Israel should not be absolved from its responsibilities and its negative role in obstructing assistance, whether by its blockade or construction of the illegal wall.  Israel had clear obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law. She looked forward to the day when the occupation, begun in 1967, had come to an end and an independent viable, contiguous Palestinian State, with Jerusalem as its capital, was established.

The Assembly next turned to a draft resolution on Institutionalization of the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (A/64/L.27), which would have the General Assembly request the Secretary-General to provide the necessary resources to finalize the institutionalization of the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force without delay in order to ensure overall coordination and coherence in the counter-terrorism efforts of the United Nations system.

Speaking before action, KONRAD BÜHLER (Austria) said the adoption by consensus of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy marked an historic milestone in the fight against terrorism.  States welcomed the Secretary-General’s intention to institutionalize the Counter-Terrorism Task force to ensure overall coordination of the United Nations system.  In the past three years, it had become clear that the Task Force’s potential to ensure coordination could not be achieved under the current budgetary arrangements.

To ensure it was in a position to fulfil its mandate effectively, it was essential to finalise the institutionalization of the Task Force and provide it resources from the regular budget, he said.  The resolution set the necessary framework for the Task Force to fulfil its mandate.  It reflected the high priority assigned to the implementation of the Global Strategy and he invited all Member States to join the endeavour to finalize its implementation.

AMJAD HUSSAIN B. SIAL ( Pakistan) recalled that States had adopted the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, which covered conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, like unresolved conflicts, ethnic, national and religious discrimination and socio-economic marginalization.  It also covered operational, capacity building and human rights measures, and envisaged the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force to ensure coordination within the United Nations system. Its adoption had helped bridge the gulf among regional groups.  The resolution aimed to institutionalize the Task Force through the regular budget.  Its adoption by consensus would end uncertainties about the future of the Assembly’s mandated counter-terrorism entity and cement the consensus achieved through adoption of resolution 60/288.

He said the balanced implementation of the four pillars of the Strategy would be the most important objective, adding that the Task Force might face difficulties at this stage to ensure a balanced implementation of the Strategy. However, the Task Force’s predictable nature would allow it flexibility in preparing suitable plans to achieve that objective.  The decision-making process of the Task Force should benefit from frequent interaction with Member States. States, through their ownership of the Strategy implementation process could ensure tangible results in achieving the consensus objectives and enhance the legitimacy of the process itself.  Regular briefings to States by the Task Force might also become a permanent feature of the Task Force Programme.  Pakistan strongly supported institutionalization of the Task Force through the regular budget on a long-term basis and asked States to support the text.

SIFANA IBSEN KONE (Burkina Faso), endorsing Argentina’s statement made earlier this month, said there was no doubt that a safer world was a major concern.  He condemned terrorism in all its forms and reaffirmed the urgency of it finalizing the draft convention that would allow for new momentum.  Harmonized actions of United Nations bodies also must continue and be placed in the context of close cooperation with States, as well as regional and subregional organizations.  The Task Force was the appropriate body for coordinating actions, particularly in providing technical assistance to countries in need, and he expressed hope that the text would be adopted by consensus.

RANKO VILOVIĆ (Croatia) expressed support for the draft resolution, explaining that the United Nations should play a central role in the fight against terrorism.  The Global Strategy was a framework for United Nations agencies and bodies and the Task Force had been established to coordinate all parts of the United Nations system in that regard.  Croatia had chaired the Counter-Terrorism Committee on the Security Council, which had cooperated with the Task Force. Throughout that period, he had noticed a paradox in that the Task Force had the least amount of administrative and expert support.  That body could not continue to carry out its functions without funding from the regular budget.  He highlighted a cross-regional group that aimed to complete the institutionalization of the Task Force, a process begun more than three years ago.  He expressed hope that the draft resolution would receive widespread support.

The General Assembly then deferred action on the draft resolution entitled “Institutionalization of the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force” until a later date.

Next, the Assembly turned to the report of the Credentials Committee entitled “Credentials of representatives to the sixty-fourth session of the General Assembly” (A/64/571).

Taking the floor before action, HILARIO G. DAVIDE ( Philippines), Chair of the Credentials Committee, said a revision had been adopted on paragraph 11 of the report.  It had been agreed to add the following words at the end of the first sentence: “until such a time that the Credentials Committee reviews the matter and makes a final recommendation to the General Assembly”.  He then read the revised first sentence of that paragraph.

The General Assembly then adopted by consensus the report of the Credentials Committee entitled “Credentials of representatives to the sixty-fourth session of the General Assembly” as orally revised.

Speaking in explanation of position after action, Iran’s representative said his delegation had joined in the adoption of report A/64/571, but expressed reservations on any part of the report which might be construed as recognition of the Israeli regime.

Madagascar’s representative thanked States for their cooperation, given the difficult situation of his country.  He hoped for a successful outcome to that situation shortly.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.