Second Committee Approves Text Urging Elimination of Unilateral Economic, Political Coercion against Developing Countries

9 December 2009
GA/EF/3274

Second Committee Approves Text Urging Elimination of Unilateral Economic, Political Coercion against Developing Countries

9 December 2009
General Assembly
GA/EF/3274
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fourth General Assembly

Second Committee

41st Meeting (PM)

Second Committee Approves Text Urging Elimination of Unilateral Economic,

Political Coercion against Developing Countries

 

First-of-its-kind Draft on Agriculture Development

Stresses Need for Comprehensive Twin-track approach to Food Security

Taking action on a wide range of issues today, the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) approved 15 draft resolutions -- 14 by consensus -– including a text by which the General Assembly would urge the international community to adopt urgent, effective steps to eliminate the use of unilateral measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries.

By other terms of that text -- approved by a recorded vote of 108 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 53 abstentions -- the Assembly would call upon the international community to condemn and reject the application of such measures, which were not authorized by relevant United Nations organs or were inconsistent with the principles of international law, the United Nations Charter and the multilateral trading system.  (See annex for details of the voting)

Explaining his position before the vote, the representative of the United States said each Member State had the sovereign right to decide how to conduct trade with other countries and to protect national interests by restricting trade when necessary.  He said the text sought to limit the international community’s ability to respond to situations in a non-violent manner, including through sanctions, which were a legitimate alternative to the use of force.

Also speaking after the vote, on behalf of the European Union, Sweden’s representative said the bloc had abstained in accordance with its view that unilateral economic measures should respect international law.  However, such measures were admissible in certain circumstances, particularly in fighting terrorism and upholding democracy and human rights, among other things.

The Committee approved two other texts on macroeconomic policy questions.  The first, on follow-up to and implementation of the Monterrey Consensus and the outcome of the 2008 Review Conference (Doha Declaration on Financing for Development) would have the Assembly stress each country’s primary responsibility for its own economic and social development, as well as the role of national policies, domestic resources and development strategies, which could not be overemphasized.

Furthermore, the Assembly would call on developed countries to continue to devise source-country measures to encourage and facilitate the flow of foreign direct investment (FDI).  It would also call on developing countries and those with economies in transition to continue their efforts to create domestic environments conducive to attracting investments, and stress the essential role of official development assistance (ODA) in complementing, leveraging and sustaining financing for development in developing countries, as well as efforts to achieve development objectives.

Nicaragua’s representative expressed disappointment that the text did not include a mandate to follow up on the financing for development process, including the creation of an intergovernmental body for that purpose, a position also supported by Chile’s delegate.  However, the representative of the United States stressed that the review of modalities for financing for development follow-up had taken place just 12 months ago, and it was too early to conduct another such exercise.

By the terms of the second text, on external debt sustainability and development, the Assembly would call for continued concessionary and grant-based financing for low-income countries so as to enable them to respond to the global economic and financial crisis, in addition to measures aimed at ensuring long-term debt sustainability through more concessionary financing, full cancellation of official multilateral and bilateral debt for eligible countries under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Debt Initiative, and, on a case-by-case basis, significant debt relief or restructuring for non-HIPC countries with unsustainable debt burdens.

Also by that text, the Assembly would express concern that some countries had yet to reach the HIPC completion point and call continued support to eligible countries to do so.  It would encourage donors to ensure that their commitments to the HIPC and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiatives did not detract from existing ODA commitments.  The Assembly would call for enhanced approaches to sovereign debt mechanisms based on existing frameworks and principles, with the broad participation of creditors and debtors, and call upon countries to contribute to ongoing discussions in the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and other forums on the need for and feasibility of a more structured framework for international cooperation in those areas.

By other terms, the Assembly would urge multilateral development banks to move forward on flexible, concessionary, fast-disbursing and front-loaded assistance that would quickly and substantially help developing countries facing financing gaps in their efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, and urge countries to direct resources freed from debt relief into efforts to achieve the goals.  It would also call for enhancing existing mechanisms for debt crisis prevention and management, and for strong oversight over credit-rating agencies, consistent with an agreed and strengthened international code of conduct.

A text on the legal empowerment of the poor and the eradication of poverty would have the Assembly call upon the international community to continue to give priority to poverty eradication and to promote legal empowerment of the poor through adequate, predictable financial resources or technical assistance.  It would emphasize the need to accord the highest priority to poverty eradication within the United Nations development agenda while stressing the importance of addressing the causes and challenges of poverty through coordinated and coherent national, intergovernmental and inter-agency strategies.

The Assembly would also, by further terms, call for action to improve and expand literacy, emphasizing that education and training are critical to empowering the poor, and emphasize the importance of access to justice for all, encouraging stronger, improved administration of justice, identity and birth registration systems, as well as awareness-raising concerning existing legal rights.  It would encourage entrepreneurship and other business formation, recognizing the importance of appropriate national policy and regulatory frameworks for generating economic growth and reducing poverty.

The representatives of Bolivia and Nicaragua called for the broadening of the concept of legal empowerment, which should be applicable to all, including vulnerable groups, particularly migrant workers and indigenous workers who for years had faced huge obstacles to enforcement of their rights.  Moreover, the legal empowerment of the poor should not be separated from the empowerment of workers and social movements.  It should include a multidimensional approach that recognized inequality in, among other things, the distribution of land and trade.

Cuba’s representative said Governments must show the political will to assign resources for the legal and social protection of the poor, including from the predatory activities of transnational corporations.  A narrow approach to legal empowerment would be a useful public relations tool, but it would not really improve the lot of the poor, a situation that the Committee should consider during its next session.

By a draft resolution on women in development, the Assembly would call upon Member States, the United Nations and other regional and international organizations to intensify efforts to implement the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, as well as the outcome of the Assembly’s twenty-third special session.  It would call on stakeholders to expedite steps to increase the number of women in decision-making, build their capacity as agents of change, and empower them to participate actively and effectively in national policies for development and poverty eradication.

Also by that text, the Assembly would stress the importance of adopting appropriate measures to identify and address the negative impact of the global economic and financial crisis on women and girls, and of maintaining adequate levels of funding for gender equality and women’s empowerment.  It would stress the importance of undertaking and disseminating a gender analysis of policies and programmes related to macroeconomic stability, structural reform, taxation, investments, including FDI, and all relevant sectors of the economy.

Also by the text, the Assembly would urge Governments to adopt and review legislation and policies to ensure women’s equal access to and control over land, housing and other property.  Expressing deep concern that maternal health was one of the largest health inequities in the world, and that there had been uneven progress in improving child and maternal health, the Assembly would call on States to renew their commitment to prevent and eliminate child and maternal mortality and morbidity.

A draft on agriculture development and food security –- the first of its kind -- would have the Assembly stress the need for a comprehensive twin-track approach to food security, comprising direct action to immediately tackle hunger for the most vulnerable, as well as medium- and long-term sustainable agricultural, food security, nutrition, and rural development programmes to eliminate the root causes of hunger and poverty.  It would further stress that achieving food security for all had as its core element the strengthening and revitalizing of developing-world agricultural sectors.

By other terms of that text, the Assembly would call for new financial resources from all sources to achieve sustainable agricultural development and food security.  It would stress the urgent need to increase the share of ODA devoted to agriculture and food security, on the basis of country-led requests, and encourage international financial institutions and regional development banks to do likewise.  It would also call for national, regional and international actions to intensify public and private investments.

Also by the text, the Assembly would urge States and international organizations to pursue policies and strategies to improve the functioning of domestic, regional and international markets while ensuring equitable access for all, noting in that regard the importance of non-trade-distorting special measures consistent with the World Trade Organization aimed at creating incentives for smallholder farmers in developing countries to increase their productivity and compete on a more equal footing on world markets.

Sudan’s representative, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said any successful strategy to defeat hunger and achieve food security should ensure stronger institutions, the elimination of subsidies and sustainable investment in agriculture.  Food insecurity was among the major development challenges, and due in part to incoherent policies that encouraged a move away from domestically produced food and resulted in higher food prices.

Brazil’s representative expressed regret that, during informal negotiations, the wording on the preambular paragraph on the right to food had been reversed and the draft no longer had an overarching reference to that right.  It was also regrettable that Member States were not ready to affirm the right to safe, nutritious and sufficient food in the context of national food security, as set forth in the Declaration of the World Summit on Food Security, recently adopted in Rome.

The Committee also approved five texts on sustainable development.  A draft on the midterm comprehensive review of the implementation of the International Decade for Action, “Water for Life”, 2005-2015, would have the Assembly welcome the offer by the Government of Tajikistan to host a high-level international conference on that review in June 2010, and invite the Assembly President to convene a high-level interactive dialogue during the Assembly’s sixty-fourth session in New York on 22 March 2010 -- World Water Day -- on implementing the International Decade.

By other provisions, the Assembly would stress the importance of full involvement by all relevant stakeholders, including women, children, older persons, persons with disabilities, indigenous people and other local communities, in implementing the International Decade at all levels, including its midterm comprehensive review.

A text on the United Nations Decade for Deserts and the Fight againstDesertification (2010-2020) would have the Assembly recall its decision to declare the Decade, designate the secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa, as the Decade’s focal point, in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and other relevant United Nations bodies.

Furthermore, it would encourage Member States and multilateral agencies in a position to do so to financially and technically support the Convention secretariat, with a view to supporting special initiatives in observance of the Decade as well as other observance events and activities worldwide.  It would also invite States parties to the Convention, observers and other relevant stakeholders to organize activities to observe the Decade with the aim of raising awareness of the causes of and solutions to ongoing land degradation and desertification in the framework of the 10-year strategic plan and framework to enhance the Convention’s implementation (2008-2018).

A text on the Convention on Biological Diversity would have the Assembly urge all Member States to fulfil their commitments to significantly reduce the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010, and emphasize that that would require an appropriate focus on relevant policies and programmes, as well as new financial and technical resources for developing countries, including through the Global Environment Facility.  It would also urge parties to the Convention to transfer technology to effectively implement it, and encourage all stakeholders to support the International Year of Biodiversity in 2010 while taking advantage of it to increase awareness of biodiversity’s importance for achieving sustainable development.

By other terms, the Assembly would decide to convene a one-day high-level event on 20 September 2010, and encourage all Member States to be represented at the highest possible level and participate actively in the event.  It would invite heads of the United Nations funds and programmes, specialized agencies and intergovernmental organizations and entities enjoying observer status in the Assembly to participate in the event.

A draft resolution on the Report of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme on its twenty-fifth session would have the Assembly underline the need to further advance and fully implement the Bali Strategic Plan for Technology Support and Capacity-building with a view to achieving its objectives in the areas of capacity-building and technology support for developing countries, as well as those with economies in transition.  Governments and other stakeholders in a position to do so would be called upon to provide the necessary funding and technical assistance to advance and fully implement that strategic plan.

The Assembly would, by other terms, also stress the importance of implementing the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management, particularly through its Quick Start Programme, and invite Governments, regional economic integration organizations, and other organizations to engage actively and cooperate closely to support UNEP’s implementation activities, including by providing adequate resources.

A draft on the promotion of new and renewable sources of energy would have the Assembly call upon Governments, relevant international organizations and other stakeholders to combine the increased use of new and renewable energy sources, more efficient energy use, greater reliance on advanced energy technologies and the sustainable use of traditional energy resources to meet the growing need for energy services in the longer term.

Furthermore, the Assembly would call upon Governments to further mobilize financial resources, technology transfer, capacity-building and environmentally sound technologies for developing countries and those with economies in transition, as set forth in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, as well as encourage Member States to make greater use of effective policy tools such as voluntary, national, subnational or regional goals, programmes and targets to increase access to energy, energy efficiency and renewable energies.

The Assembly would, by further terms of the text, call upon the international community to support the efforts of African nations, least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States to develop and use renewable energy.  It would reiterate its call for all relevant fund institutions, bilateral and multilateral donors, regional funding institutions and non-governmental organizations to also support the developing world’s energy sector, stressing the urgent need to significantly increase the share of new and renewable energy in the global energy supply matrix.

A draft on the implementation of the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) and strengthening of the United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat) would have the Assembly stress the need for Member States, taking into account the current global crisis, to assess the adequacy of their respective housing and related infrastructure policies so as to meet the needs of their growing urban populations and those of the poor and other groups.  It would also stress that housing affordability was a major issues that must be addressed by mobilizing resources for those groups.

Further to by that text, the Assembly would stress the need for the international community to support South-South cooperation, and reiterate its call for continued financial support to UN-Habitat through increased voluntary contributions.  It would request that the Secretary-General keep UN-Habitat’s resource needs under review to support the poverty-eradication, gender-equality, water and sanitation and slum upgrading targets of the United Nations Millennium Declaration, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation and the 2005 World Summit Outcome.  It would emphasize the importance of the Nairobi headquarters of UN-Habitat, and request that the Secretary-General keep their resource needs under review to allow for timely and necessary services

A text on development cooperation with middle-income countries would have the Assembly call on the international community to continue to further undertake timely, targeted measures to address the new and added challenges brought about by the current economic and financial crisis on middle-income countries based on each country’s special needs and priorities.  The Assembly would underline the importance of international support to address the development needs of middle-income countries, and the need for sustained efforts to help them achieve debt sustainability.

Further to that text, the Assembly would invite the United Nations development system to enhance its support of middle-income countries and improve its coordination with other international organizations in this field, and invite the international community –- to include international financial institutions –- to enhance support of development efforts of middle-income countries through targeted technical assistance, resources, technology transfer and capacity-building.

By a draft resolution on the role of the United Nations in promoting development in the context of globalization and interdependence, the General Assembly would recognize that some countries had successfully adapted to and benefited from globalization, but many others, particularly least developed countries, had remained marginalized.  Its benefits and costs had been unevenly distributed.  The Assembly would also note with concern the unprecedented rise in unemployment due to the economic crisis and invite donor countries, multilateral organizations and other development partners to help developing countries implement the Global Jobs Pact of the International Labour Organization (ILO) through funding.

Further by that text, the Assembly would reaffirm the need for the United Nations to play a fundamental role in promoting international cooperation for development, and resolve to strengthen coordination with other multilateral financial, trade and development institutions in order to support sustained economic growth, poverty eradication and sustainable development.  It would recognize that policies linking economic and social development could help reduce inequities within and among countries, with a view to guaranteeing that poor, vulnerable groups maximized their benefits from economic growth and development.

A text on information and communication technologies for development would have the Assembly request the Secretary-General to submit at its sixty-fifth session, through the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), a specific report reviewing progress in the last five years towards implementing the outcome of the World Summit on the Information Society.  It would request the Commission on Science and Technology for Development to organize, during its thirteenth session, a substantive discussion on progress, including modalities of implementation and follow-up.

Also by that text, the Assembly would encourage stakeholders to consider strengthening the secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum, including by giving more funds to the Trust Fund, so it could better carry out its programme of activities in accordance with its mandate.

The Assembly would, by other terms, stress the important role of Governments in designing public policies and public services responsive to national needs and priorities by making effective use of information and communication technologies in supporting national development efforts.

Committee Chairperson Park In-Kook (Republic of Korea) said in closing remarks that to fortify the United Nations, States should cast aside their differences and work together in responding to pressing global challenges like climate change, the financial and food crises, reaching the Millennium Development Goals, and concluding the Doha Trade Round.

Other speakers addressing the Committee were representatives of Tajikistan, Antigua and Barbuda, Guatemala, Venezuela, Colombia and Iran.

Also speaking today was the Director of Economic and Social Council Support and Coordination in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

The Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Friday, 11 December, to take action on all remaining draft resolutions and conclude its session.

Background

The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this afternoon to take action on outstanding draft resolutions relating to items on its agenda.

Before the Committee were texts on  information and communication technologies for development; macroeconomic policy questions; follow-up to and implementation of the outcome of the 2002 International Conference on Financing for Development and the 2008 Review Conference; sustainable development; implementation of the outcome of the United Nations Human Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) and strengthening of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat); globalization and interdependence: role of the United Nations in promoting development in the context of globalization and interdependence; eradication of poverty and other development issues; and agriculture development and food security.

Action on Draft Resolutions

PARK IN-KOOK (Republic of Korea), Chairperson, opened the meeting by informing members that the Committee would be taking action on several draft resolutions.

The Committee then approved the draft resolution on information and communication technologies for development (document A/C.2/64/L.62) by consensus, as orally revised.

Following that action, the representative of Sudan, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, took issue with some of the wording in operative paragraphs 8 and 17 of that text, concerning the Internet Governance Forum.

The Committee then took up the draft resolution on unilateral economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries (document A/C.2/64/L.50), introduced by the representative of Sudan, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.

Speaking in explanation of position before the vote, the representative of the United States said each Member State had the sovereign right to decide how to conduct trade with other countries.  Protecting national interests was also a sovereign right that included restricting trade when necessary.

Emphasizing that his country considered its sanctions carefully, he said that, in some cases, the United States used them to restrict nuclear trade, among other things, and considered itself to be within its rights in doing so.  By passing the draft resolution, the General Assembly sought to limit the ability of the international community to respond to situations in a non-violent manner.  In light of its belief in sanctions as a legitimate alternative to the use of force, the United States had called for a recorded vote, he said.

The Committee then approved the draft resolution by a vote of 108 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 53 abstentions. (See Annex I)

Speaking in explanation of position after the vote, on behalf of the European Union, the representative of Sweden said the bloc had abstained in accordance with its view that unilateral economic measures should respect international law.  It considered that such unilateral economic measures were admissible in certain circumstances, particularly in fighting terrorism and upholding democracy and human rights, among other things.  The European Union was committed to the use of sanctions as part of an integrated policy approach, he added.

Making a general statement in light of the fact that the Committee was still taking action under the agenda item on international trade and development, the representative of Sudan said that on draft resolution A/C.2/64/L.40, on international trade and development, the Group of 77 and China had indicated, following yesterday’s negotiations, its intention to submit that text in the hope that it would be approved by consensus.

Committee Chairperson PARK (Republic of Korea) said that, with respect to this request for action and as far as he knew, the Bureau was not ready to take action due to technical issues.

The Committee Secretary said the Secretariat had made arrangements on the basis of the guidance provided in the Journal.

Chairperson Park said there were five outstanding drafts, and the Committee’s final plenary meeting would be held on 11 December.  It would have a chance to take action at that time on all outstanding draft resolutions.

Taking up the draft resolutions on, respectively, external debt sustainability and development (document A/C.2/64/L.69), and follow-up to and implementation of the Monterrey Consensus and the outcome of the 2008 Review Conference ( Doha Declaration) on Financing for Development (document A/C.2/64/L.66), the Committee approved them without a vote, as orally revised.

The representative of Nicaragua, speaking before action on the latter text, expressed disappointment that it did not include a mandate to follow up on the financing for development process, including the creation of an intergovernmental body for that purpose.  Financing for development was the only United Nations process that did not have appropriate follow-up mechanisms, he said, stressing his concern, particularly in light of the current financial crisis.  Developing countries were not responsible for the crisis, but they bore the brunt of it while lacking the resources to address it, he added.

The Committee then approved the latter text by consensus.

Following that action, the representative of the United States pointed out that a review of the modalities for financing for development follow-up had been reviewed just 12 months ago, and in July, the Economic and Social Council had negotiated refinements concerning follow-up.  Adequate time had not been given to put existing follow-up modalities into action and it was premature to review them again.  Concerning double taxation, he said it was difficult to treat that subject matter fairly in one small part of the draft resolution.  The issue was relevant only in the case of significant double taxation between jurisdictions.

The representative of Sweden, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Monterrey Consensus was today the most comprehensive reference for development funding, and it had set the world on a path of development partnerships to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  Welcoming the substantive draft resolution for promoting that path, he said that only through a genuine spirit of partnership, cross-sectoral approaches and.

Chile’s representative supported the resolution and its commitment to the Monterrey Consensus - the most comprehensive framework for international follow up for global economic issues.  That process, however, must be strengthened, he said, and supported the representative of Nicaragua’s proposal to create an intergovernmental body for that purpose.

The Committee then took up the draft resolution on midterm comprehensive review of the implementation of the International Decade for Action, “Water for Life”, 2005-2015 (document A/C.2/64/L.22/Rev.1).

The Secretary informed the Committee that, should the Assembly adopt the resolution, no financial implications would arise under the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011.

DENISE MCQUADE (Ireland) Rapporteur, proposed deleting the word “also” from operative paragraph 6 so that it would read: “invites the President of the General Assembly to convene”.

The representative of Tajikistan, speaking on behalf of the co-sponsors, said there was new, practical substance in the draft, and it would capitalize on the momentum of recent months in the preparations for next year’s event on water.  Water should be one of the key areas in which sustainable development was achieved and it was to be hoped that the text would be adopted by consensus.

The representative of Cuba, referring to the Secretariat’s oral statement on the draft resolution’s financial implications, wondered whether the Second Committee had the capacity to take a decision or whether the text should be forwarded to the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).

The Secretary then pointed out that, prior action by the General Assembly plenary, all reports of the Second Committee would go to the Fifth Committee for action.

Committee Chairperson PARK then invited the Director of the Office for ECOSOC Support and Coordination, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, to take the floor.

NIKHIL SETH, Director of ECOSOC Support and Coordination, said that, in accordance with rule 53, if any draft carried programme budget implications, the Secretary was obliged to make that known.  The Committee was not voting on the statement of programme budget implications, he added.

The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote, as orally corrected.

As it took up the draft resolution on Implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the Outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (document A/C.2/64/L.59), the Secretary informed the Committee that information on its programme budget implications would not be ready as expected during the present session.  Making apologies for the Secretariat, she proposed postponing action on draft L.59 until the next meeting.

The Committee then took up the draft resolution on the United Nations Decade for Deserts and the Fight against Desertification (2010-2020), approving it without a vote, as the Chairperson said that the text (document A/C.2/64/L.67) had no programme budget implications.

As the Committee took up the draft resolution on the Convention on Biological Diversity (document A/C.2/64/L.57), the Secretary informed the Committee about the scheduling parameters for holding the high-level event proposed in the text.  Should the Assembly adopt the draft, no financial implications would arise under the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011.

Ms. McQuade, proposed deleting the phrase “by States parties” in the first line of preambular paragraph 9 and inserting it in the second line.  In the first line of operative paragraph 23, “a” should be changed to “the”, so that the text would read:  “Decides, in follow-up to its resolution 63/219, to convene the high-level meeting as close as possible to the opening of the general debate of the sixty-fifth session of the General Assembly.”

She went on to propose that the word “also”, at the start of sub-item (d) in operative paragraph 23, should be deleted so that the sub-item would then read: “Decides also that the meeting will be structured around an opening plenary meeting followed by thematic panels in the morning and the afternoon, organized within existing resources, and will address in a balanced manner the three objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity.”

The representative of Cuba, referring to that sub-item (d), asked whether the phrase “within existing resources” had been accepted in the negotiation process or if it had had to be inserted now.

The Secretary pointed out that, as indicated, anything that had a financial aspect would go to the ACABQ (Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions) and the Fifth Committee.  The latter’s action would be on substance, while the financial implications would be viewed at the other level.

The representative of Cuba said there had been no translation and she had had to follow the text in English, thanks to the interpreters.  Cuba was concerned that the decision approved by the Committee was subsequently binding on the Fifth Committee and the ACABQ.  So if the phrase “within existing resources” was inserted, it would imply that new resources would not be allocated, even though they were needed.  Cuba hoped that a decision would not be taken in the Second Committee that would be subsequently binding on the Fifth Committee and the ACABQ.

Mr. Seth recalled that the phrase “within existing resources” had been used for many years in negotiating many resolutions.  While the Rapporteur had made no reference to the phrase in correcting the text, whenever that phrase was used in any text, the Secretariat was obliged to remind Member States that, as per their own decision, the ACABQ and the Fifth Committee were the only arenas in which those issues would be considered.  That was why the Secretary referred to that phrase and reminded the Member States of their decisions in that regard.

The representative of Antigua and Barbuda, a facilitator of the text, said the language in operative paragraph 23, sub-item (d) was exactly what had been negotiated by delegations and Member States.  All Member States were aware of the implications of the phrase “within existing resources”.

The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote, as orally corrected.

The Committee then took up the draft on the Report of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on its twenty-fifth session (document A/C.2/64/L.65), as the Secretary read out an oral statement on programme budget implications.

The Committee then approved the text by consensus.

Acting again by consensus, the Committee approved, as orally corrected, drafts on, respectively, promotion of new and renewable sources of energy (document A/C.2/64/L.60); implementation of the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) and strengthening of the United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat) (document A/C.2.64/L.70); development cooperation with middle-income countries (document A/C.2/64/L.63); and on the role of the United Nations in promoting development in the context of globalization and interdependence (document A/C.2/64/L.61).

Following the action on the latter draft, the representative of Nicaragua turned to its operative paragraph 4, which referred to the joint crisis initiative by the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) to improve coordination on social protection floors, saying that initiative was outside the CEB’s initial mandate, and that Member States were responsible for coordinating such policies.

As the Committee then took up the draft on the legal empowerment of the poor and eradication of poverty (document A/C.2/64/L.4/Rev.2), the representative of Nicaragua said the concept of legal empowerment had not been agreed upon on the intergovernmental level and the process was in its early stages.  The Committee’s report on legal empowerment of the poor was merely a reference point for countries using it on a voluntary basis; it was not a global reference.

In no way had Member States given a mandate to include the concept in a formal way, he said, adding that the concept should be applicable to all, including vulnerable groups, and particularly migrant workers and indigenous workers who for years had faced huge obstacles to enforcement of their rights.  For those reasons, among others, she asked the Secretariat to take into account document A/C.2/64/L.47, which contained amendments to the text, when preparing the next report.

The representative of Guatemala encouraged all Member States to share their views and contribute to the next report on that matter.

The representative of Cuba said she supported the draft because it dealt with an extremely important topic.  It was unfortunate that, after 60 years, two thirds of the world’s poor continued to live in poverty.  Hopefully justice, including legal justice, would be made accessible to all people in order to eradicate poverty.  People needed access to social and legal protections.

She said poverty could not be eradicated without the deliberate political will on the part of Government to assign resources in order to ensure those protections and take measures to protect the poor from the predatory activities of transnational corporations.  The current approach was very narrow and represented the views of only a few countries.  It did not cover the full range of injustices.  Approving that narrow approach would be useful for public relations, but it would not really eradicate poverty.  Hopefully, the Committee would take those considerations into account during the next session.

The representative of Bolivia said she would join the consensus given its commitment to combating poverty, but she was gravely concerned about the way in which the negotiations had been conducted.  The subject of poverty deserved broad discussion, yet the negotiations had been delayed until last week -– a speed that did not aid mutual understanding.  Bolivia also disagreed with the text’s failure to address the situation of migrants and indigenous peoples.  One of the main problems faced by both groups was that they did not enjoy legal protections, and yet they were not minority groups as had been stated during the negotiations.

She further stressed that it was inconsistent to talk, on the one hand, about legal frameworks that created a long list of rights, while reinforcing unfair economic models on the other.  What was the point of recognizing the rights of workers if economic models that destroyed the source of jobs were simultaneously pursued? She said the private sector, however dynamic, could not make good the gaps created by the current economic models.

Moreover, the legal empowerment of the poor should not be separated from the empowerment of workers and social movements, she continued, noting that the concept of political empowerment offered concrete but only partial empowerment.  Indeed, eradicating poverty called for a multi-dimensional approach that recognized inequality in, among other things, the unequal distribution of land and trade.  For Bolivia, the concept of legal empowerment of the poor and its four pillars should enjoy ongoing discussions undertaken in a broadly participatory manner.

The representative of Venezuela said his country was pursuing reform of the State and was making major progress in the area of human rights.  Venezuela encouraged the participation of all people in public life and was moving from a representative democracy with limited political and social objectives towards a participatory democracy with broad political and social mobilization.  It was dealing with social difficulties, but did not see them in terms of charity and assistance as did the neoliberal model.  It was working to implement social policies to remedy ills such as those addressed in the Millennium Development Goals.

He said it was essential for all countries to achieve the full integration of all sectors, including indigenous and migrant sectors, he said.  The developed countries must also meet their official development assistance (ODA) commitments in efforts to eradicate poverty.  Power should be given to the poor in all dimensions of life, including public life.  For that reason, the delegation of Venezuela, while joining the consensus, wished to emphasize the need to review development models that had been imposed for decades.

The Committee then approved draft resolution L.4/Rev.2 without a vote.

Speaking in explanation of position, the representative of Chile endorsed the comments made by Guatemala’s delegate and commended the inclusion of legal empowerment in the Committee’s work, in light of its strong belief in the links between development, the rights of the poor and the eradication of poverty.  However, Chile emphatically rejected the actions of certain delegations during the negotiation process, which should always be open, transparent and democratic.

The representative of Colombia said he supported the draft, taking into consideration the efforts of the facilitators and co-sponsors to address the different views of delegations during the negotiations.  Given that the issue’s wide relevance within the United Nations called for joint work, Colombia hoped future discussions would extend the possibility for all States to pool their interpretations and experiences.

He went to say that his country was a pluralistic State in terms of rights and opportunities.  Its legal order made no distinction on the basis of economic conditions.  Thus, the resolution should be interpreted in light of the specific situation of each country.  Moreover, all citizens should be able to participate without distinction in development processes.

The representative of Sweden, speaking on behalf of the European Union, expressed satisfaction that the text had been adopted by consensus following intense negotiations.  Those discussions showed the importance of legal empowerment and the eradication of poverty in the work of the United Nations.

The substantive resolution provided a strong foundation for further elaboration and building on the legal empowerment of the poor, she continued.  The European Union was interested in a constructive debate on coordinating support for the poor, and eager to hear national experiences on the legal empowerment of the poor, which was among its priorities.

The representative of Iran said his delegation had joined consensus but wished to place on record its concern about the habit of putting non-intergovernmental negotiations into texts.  Noting the division of labour among the Assembly’s main committees, as well as the fact that the Second Committee was overburdened, he nevertheless welcomed the inclusion of the issue on the Assembly’s agenda.  The provisions of the text should be understood in the context of each State’s individual laws, he added.

The Committee then approved by consensus the draft on women in development (document A/C.2/64/L.58) and, as orally corrected, the text on agriculture development and food security (document A/C.2.64/L.68).

The representative of Sudan, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, welcomed the approval of that draft resolution, the first of its kind, saying that any successful strategy to defeat hunger and achieve food security should ensure stronger institutions, the elimination of subsidies and sustainable investment in agriculture.  Food security was among the major development challenges, and in that context, the big problem was incoherent policies, which pushed for a move away from domestically produced food and resulted in higher food prices.  The text was part of efforts to strengthen the global response to that.

The representative of Brazil said the draft presented important elements such as the recognition of global food security, but she expressed regret that, during informal negotiations, the wording of the preambular paragraph on the right to food had been reversed and the draft no longer had an overarching reference to that right.  It was also regrettable that Member States were not ready to affirm the right to safe, nutritious and sufficient food in the context of national food security, as set forth in the Declaration of the World Summit on Food Security recently adopted in Rome.  Brazil would continue to promote the right to food in future Committee negotiations.

The representative of Cuba said the new draft resolution and agenda item should take into account that in the United Nations, work on food security was carried out in the context of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which had a mandate in that regard.  It was not feasible for the Committee to duplicate that work.  The right to food should be more appropriately reflected, given that a few weeks ago, the Assembly’s Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) had approved a text on the right to development.

In closing remarks, the Committee Chairperson said that one way to fortify the United Nations was to cast aside differences and work together in responding to global challenges such as climate changes, the financial crisis, achieving of the Millennium Development Goals, the food crisis and concluding the Doha Trade Round.

ANNEX

Vote on Unilateral Economic Measures

The draft resolution on unilateral economic measures as a means of political or economic coercion against developing countries (document A/C.2/64/L.50) was approved by a recorded vote of 108 in favour to 2 against, with 53 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Bhutan, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Fiji, Gabon, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against:  Israel, United States.

Abstain:  Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Marshall Islands, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom.

Absent:  Azerbaijan, Botswana, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Kenya, Kiribati, Liberia, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, Nigeria, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Somalia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Tuvalu, United Republic of Tanzania, Vanuatu.

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