Second Committee Approves Text Demanding Israel End Depletion, Endangerment of Natural Resources in Arab Lands Under Its Occupation

18 November 2010
GA/EF/3298

Second Committee Approves Text Demanding Israel End Depletion, Endangerment of Natural Resources in Arab Lands Under Its Occupation

18 November 2010
Press Release
GA/EF/3298
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fifth General Assembly

Second Committee

29th Meeting (PM)


Second Committee Approves Text Demanding Israel End Depletion, Endangerment

 

of Natural Resources in Arab Lands Under Its Occupation

 


Members Also Pass Draft Resolutions Relating

To Globalization, International Trade, Sustainable Development


The General Assembly would demand that Israel stop exploiting, damaging, depleting or endangering natural resources in occupied Arab lands, by the terms of one of five draft resolutions approved today by its Second Committee (Economic and Financial).


By other terms of that text, titled “Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources” the General Assembly would recognize the right of the Palestinian and other Arab peoples to claim restitution for such illegal actions.


Further by the draft, the Assembly would call upon Israel to cease all actions that harmed the environment in all the territories under its occupation, as well as the destruction of their vital infrastructure, including water pipelines and sewage networks.  The Committee approved the text by a recorded vote of 162 in favour to 7 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, United States), with 3 abstentions (Cote d’Ivoire, Panama, Papua New Guinea).


Prior to the vote, Israel’s representative said the Committee’s annual text on the subject continued deliberately to omit key facts, notably his country’s interest in preserving and protecting the natural environment, and in addressing, with its regional neighbours, their mutual concerns through existing mechanisms, joint working groups and capacity-development programmes focusing on agriculture and food security, forestry, desalination and water management.  He added that the text also conveniently ignored numerous agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, opting instead to advance the political agenda of condemning his country.


A representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine retorted, in a general statement after the vote, that holding workshops on water and oil issues did not give Israel it the right to violate the right of the Palestinian people right to sovereignty over their natural resources.  He thanked all those who had voted in favour of the text, saying the Committee’s broad support for it illustrated once again the international community’s rejection of Israel’s colonial occupation of Palestine, including East Jerusalem.


The Committee also approved — by a recorded vote of 159 in favour to 7 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, United States), with 3 abstentions (Colombia, Congo, Panama) – a draft on the oil slick on Lebanese shores.  By its terms, the Assembly would reiterate its deep concern, for the fifth consecutive year, over the destruction by the Israeli Air Force of oil storage tanks near Lebanon’s El-Jiyeh electric power plant due to its adverse implications for sustainable development in that country.  By other terms, the Assembly would request that Israel assume responsibility for prompt and adequate compensation to Lebanon and Syria, whose shores had been partially polluted.  The compensation should pay for the cost of restoring the marine environment and repairing environmental damage.


Speaking before the vote, Israel’s representative expressed disappointment with the text, saying it exploited the Committee’s professional nature in order to advance the political agenda of specific parties, and aimed at “institutionalizing an anti-Israel narrative within the United Nations”.  The draft “cherry-picked” certain information and failed to provide relevant context, thereby disregarding the Committee’s fundamental obligation to remain objective and impartial.


Lebanon’s representative responded by emphasizing that the Committee was indeed the right forum to address that issue, adding that the overwhelming support for the text illustrated the international community’s view that the issue was a just cause for his country.  He called on Lebanon’s friends to step up assistance as since the country was still engaged in treating waste-water, rehabilitating its shores and restoring its ecosystem.


The Committee also approved a text on international trade and development — by a recorded vote of 114 in favour to 48 against, with 6 abstentions (Marshall Islands, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Serbia, Turkey) – by which the Assembly would note with deep concern the severe impact of the ongoing world financial and economic crisis on international trade, particularly on developing countries.


By further terms, the Assembly would express serious concern over the lack of progress in the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations, and call on all its members, especially developed countries, to show the necessary flexibility and political will to break the long-standing impasse in the talks.  It would stress that negotiations should strengthen rules and disciplines in agriculture, eliminate subsidies for agricultural exports, substantially reduce developing countries’ domestic support measures, and promote enhanced market access to developed-world markets.


The Assembly would also express deep concern over laws, unilateral sanctions against developing countries and other forms of coercive measures that undermined international law as well as World Trade Organization rules, and threatened free trade and investment.  It would call for the facilitation of accession to the World Trade Organization for all countries seeking membership, particularly least developed countries, and for faithful application of the guidelines on accession for those countries.


However, some delegates expressed disappointment with the text, with the representative of the United States saying it failed to provide a constructive basis upon which to build a fair and inclusive dialogue on trade.  Belgium’s representative,speaking on behalf of the European Union, stressed that in light of the current global financial and economic crisis, he could not agree with a draft resolution that described trade as part of the problem rather than part of the solution.


But Costa Rica’s representative pointed out that the text highlighted the need for all World Trade Organization member countries to show the flexibility and political will to break the deadlock on the Doha Round.  On the global crisis, he said there were indications of recovery in trade and production, which could be attributed to a relaxation of restrictive measures implemented by Governments in response to the downturn.


Australia’s representative, speaking also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand (CANZ), said he looked forward to supporting a modified version of the text next year.  CANZ members agreed on the need for greater ambition with regard to the Doha Round, he said, urging all countries to contribute more as the talks moved towards the end game.


A draft resolution titled “Towards a New International Economic Order” would have the Assembly reaffirm the need to continue working toward a new international economic order based on the principles of equity, sovereign equality, interdependence, common interest, cooperation and solidarity among all States.  It would decide to continue considering, during its sixty-seventh session, the international economic situation and its impact on development.  It would also request the Secretary-General to include in his next report an updated overview of the major international economic and policy challenges for equitable and inclusive sustained economic growth and sustainable development, as well as the role of the United Nations role in addressing them and possible ways to overcome them.


That text — approved by a recorded vote of 118 in favour to 52 against, with no abstentions — drew mixed reviews, with the representative of the United States describing it as “dated and counterproductive”, and noting that it failed to acknowledge any progress made in the last 30 years.  Canada’s representative said it directed Member States to “look backwards to the 1970s”, failed to complement various ongoing multilateral efforts and confused Member States by presenting conflicting messages about United Nations efforts to tackle global challenges.  Belgium’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the text did not provide a useful framework for addressing the multiple challenges of today’s globalized world.


On the other hand, Cuba’s representative objected to “thin arguments” by developed countries against the supposed obsolescence of the draft, which ran counter to their own economic desires.  What was obsolete, and had failed, was the model that developed nations tried to impose on other countries, he said, reiterating the call for a new international economic order.


Chile’s representative said that the text, unlike those submitted in 2008 and 2009, explicitly recognized the importance of the outcomes emanating from summits and conferences on economic affairs, particularly the Monterrey Consensus and the Doha Declaration.  It recognized for the first time that those outcomes had paved the way for a fairer, more inclusive global economic system.  Colombia’s representative agreed, stressing the importance of consideration by the Secretary-General of progress towards the common aim of creating a new global order.


The Committee went on to approve, without a vote, a text on the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.  By its terms, the Assembly would recognize that only uneven progress had been made in raising awareness of the significance of education for sustainable development.  The Assembly would encourage Governments to continue implementing the Decade.


Earlier in the meeting, Yemen’s representative, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, presented draft resolutions on the report of the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Governing Council on its eleventh special session.  Australia’s representative submitted a text on the protection of coral reefs for sustainable livelihoods and development.


Also speaking today were representatives of Peru, Netherlands, Nigeria and Mauritania.


The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Monday, 22 November, to take action on outstanding draft resolutions.


Background


The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this afternoon to take action on draft resolutions relating to the following agenda items:  international trade and development; sustainable development, including the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development; globalization and interdependence; and permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources.  It was also expected to hear a number of draft resolutions introduced for its consideration.


Introduction of Draft Resolutions


As the Committee took up macroeconomic policy questions, the representative of Yemen introduced, on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, a draft resolution on international trade and development (document A/C.2/65/L.44).


With the Committee turning next to sustainable development, he introduced two more drafts, one on the International Year for Sustainable Energy for All (document A/C.2/65/L.42), and the other relating to the report of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme on its eleventh special session (document A/C.2/65/L.43).


The representative of Australia then introduced a text on protection of coral reefs for sustainable livelihoods and development (document A/C.2/65/L.28).


Action on Drafts


ENKHTSETSEG OCHIR ( Mongolia), Committee Chair, then called attention to the draft titled “International trade and development” (document A/C.2/65/L.44), saying it held no programme budget implications.


The representative of the United States, speaking in explanation of position, said that, while opening markets across the globe to trade could play a key role in attaining shared goals, her country had requested a recorded vote and would vote against the text because it did not provide a constructive basis upon which to build a fair and inclusive dialogue on trade.


The representative of Belgium, speaking on behalf of the European Union, stressed that, while trade was a route towards rebounding from the current global crisis, the regional bloc could not agree with a draft resolution that trade as part of the problem rather than part of the solution.  The European Union would therefore vote against it.


The Committee then approved the text by a recorded vote of 114 in favour to 48 against with 6 abstentions ( Marshall Islands, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Serbia and Turkey).


Following the action, the representative of Costa Rica said the result highlighted the need for all member countries of the World Trade Organization to demonstrate the flexibility and political will to break the deadlock on the Doha Round of trade negotiations.  On the global financial and economic crisis, he said there were indications of recovery in trade and production, which could be attributed to a relaxation of restrictive measures implemented by Governments in response to the downturn.


The representative of Chile said his country condemned protectionist trends and barriers, including tariff and non-tariff barriers, that hampered free access for goods and services, and encouraged both developed and developing countries to refrain from adopting such measures.


The representative of Australia, speaking on behalf of CANZ (also including Canada and New Zealand), said the Group looked forward to supporting a modified version of the text next year.  Its members agreed on the need for greater ambition with regard to the Doha Round, he said, urging all countries to contribute more as it moved towards end-game negotiations.  CANZ also shared the desire to reform agricultural markets, he added.


The Committee then took up a text headed “Oil slick on Lebanese shores” (document A/C.2/65/L.17/Rev.1).


Prior to action, the representative of Israel expressed disappointment with the text, saying it “once again exploits the professional nature of this Committee in order to advance the political agenda of specific parties”, and aimed at “institutionalizing an anti-Israel narrative within the United Nations”.  It “cherry-picked” certain information and failed to provide relevant context concerning events discussed, thereby disregarding the Committee’s fundamental obligation to remain objective and impartial, she said.


The draft excluded references to the armed attacks launched by Hezbollah across an internationally recognized border and the significant environmental damage suffered by Israel due to those attacks, she continued.  It also failed to acknowledge Israel’s extensive cooperation with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), other agencies of the world body and non-governmental organizations working to assess and address the environmental situation along the Lebanese coast.


The Committee then approved the text by a recorded vote of 159 in favour to 7 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, United States), with 3 abstentions (Colombia, Congo, Panama).


Speaking in explanation of position, the representative of the Netherlands said she had voted in favour of the text, adding that her country deeply regretted the pollution in Lebanon and commended all parties involved in the clean-up operation.  However, she expressed objections to the part of the text that requested the Secretary-General to further consider examining the potential role of the Compensation Commission, saying that should be dealt with through negotiations between the two parties concerned, Israel and Lebanon, while the Committee’s deliberation focused on ending the conflict between them.  Some of the text’s wording did not entirely contribute to that goal, she noted.


The representative of Lebanon made a general statement thanking all who had voted in favour, and noting that the overwhelming support for the text expressed once again the international community’s view of his country’s just cause.  He called on Lebanon’s friends to step up assistance because the country was still engaged in treating waste, rehabilitating its shores and restoring the ecosystem to its previous condition.


The Committee was the right forum to deal with the text, he emphasized, noting that under international law, all States that committed wrongful acts against other States were obliged to compensate those affected by their actions.  Israel was therefore responsible for the damage caused by its attack, which had resulted in the pollution of Lebanese waters, he added.


As the Committee took up a draft on the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (document A/C.2/65/L.41), Vice-Chair Csilla Würtz (Hungary) pointed out that its title should include the actual time period 2005-2014 in brackets at the end.


Acting without a vote, the Committee then approved the text, as orally corrected.


It then took up a draft titled “Towards a New International Economic Order” (document A/C.2/65/L.20).


The representative of the United States said the text did not acknowledge any progress made in last 30 years.  Describing its substance as “dated and counter-productive”, she said her delegation would vote against it.


Speaking on behalf of the European Union, the representative of Belgium said she would abstain because General Assembly resolutions 3201 and 3202 (S-VI, adopted during the 1974 sixth special session on the New International Economic Order) were outdated and did not provide a useful framework for addressing the multiple challenges of today’s globalized world.


The Committee then approved that text by a recorded vote of 118 in favour to none against with 52 abstentions.


The representative of Peru said any international economic scheme must encourage the opening of markets and avoidance of protectionist measures.  It was imperative that the international community bear in mind the Monterrey Consensus and the outcome document of the recent High-Level Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals when scrutinizing current global economic situation.


The representative of Chile said the draft was unlike those submitted in 2008 and 2009 as it contained explicit recognition of the importance of the outcomes of summits and conferences on economic affairs, particularly the Monterrey Consensus and the Doha Declaration.  Furthermore, it recognized for the first time that the principles emanating from those summits and conferences had paved the way for a fairer and more inclusive global economic system.


The representative of Colombia said the search for a new international economic order must be viewed as a lasting goal and take into account the changing global economic environment.  The current text did make more mention of recent summits and conferences, he said, adding that he trusted the Secretariat’s next report would reflect current conditions and future forecasts.  Moreover, the Secretary-General’s consideration of the headway made and common goals would be important to consider.


The representative of Canada expressed disappointment to see the draft back on the agenda as it directed Member States to “look backwards to the 1970s”.  It did not complement various ongoing multilateral efforts and confused Member States by presenting conflicting messages about United Nations efforts to tackle global challenges, she said.


In a general statement, the representative of Cuba said developed countries had once again rolled out “thin arguments” against the draft’s supposed obsolescence.  Their arguments were groundless since it was obvious that they would not welcome any economic order that ran counter to their own economic desires.  What had met with obsolescence and failure, however, was the model that developed nations had tried to impose on other countries, he said, reiterating the call for a new international economic order.


The representative of Nigeria then went on record to say that had he been in the room, he would have voted in favour of the following draft resolutions:  “Oil slick on Lebanese shores” (document A/C.2/65/L.17/Rev.1), “Towards a New International Economic Order” (document A/C.2/65/L.20), and “International trade and development” (document A/C.2/65/L.44).


The Committee then took up a draft headed “Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources” (document A/C.2/65/L.31).


Prior to action, the representative of Mauritania said that, had he been present, he would have voted in favour of the drafts on international trade and development (document A/C.2/65/L.44) and the oil slick on Lebanese shores (document A/C.2/65/L.17/Rev.1), as well as the text titled “Towards a New International Economic Order” (document A/C.2/65/L.20).


Speaking in explanation of position, the representative of Israel said the Committee continued to engage in an “unfortunate annual ritual” of discussing a politicized draft resolution that deliberately omitted key facts.  In reality, Israel shared the vital interest of its neighbours in preserving and protecting the natural environment and addressing mutual concerns through existing mechanisms, joint working groups and joint capacity-development programmes focusing on agriculture and food security, forestry, desalination, and water management.  The text conveniently ignored numerous agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, opting instead to advance the political agenda of condemning Israel.  The Committee’s annual exercise clearly did not improve the lives of Palestinians in any way.


The Committee then approved the text by a recorded vote of 162 in favour to 7 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, United States), with 3 abstentions (Cote d’Ivoire, Panama, Papua New Guinea).


Making a general statement, a representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine, noted that most Committee members had voted in favour of the text, illustrating once again that the international community rejected Israel’s continuing colonial occupation of Palestine, including East Jerusalem.  Merely holding workshops on water and oil issues, did not give Israel the right to violate the Palestinian people’s right to sovereignty over their natural resources, he said, thanking all those who had voted in favour.


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