Aligning with Fourth Committee, General Assembly Adopts 28 Texts across Sweeping Political, Decolonization Agenda, with Several Requiring Recorded Votes

5 December 2014
GA/11597

Aligning with Fourth Committee, General Assembly Adopts 28 Texts across Sweeping Political, Decolonization Agenda, with Several Requiring Recorded Votes

Sixty-ninth session,
64th Meeting (AM)

The General Assembly, acting on the recommendation of the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization), today adopted 25 resolutions — 14 requiring recorded votes — and four decisions on an array of subjects spanning information, decolonization, the Middle East, special political missions, atomic radiation, and outer space.

By the terms of a wide-ranging text on information, adopted without a vote, the Assembly underlined the responsibility of the Secretariat in mainstreaming multilingualism into all its communication and information activities, within existing resources and on an equitable basis.  It also emphasized the importance of making use of all the official languages of the United Nations, ensuring their full and equitable treatment in all the activities of all divisions and offices of the Department of Public Information with the aim of eliminating disparity between the use of English and the use of the five other official languages.

The Assembly also approved a resolution on information in the service of humanity, and a related draft decision on increasing membership of the Committee on Information, both without a vote.

Nine resolutions on the Middle East required recorded votes.  Among them was a text on Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.  By a vote of 158 in favour to 8 against (Australia, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 11 abstentions, the Assembly condemned all acts of violence, including the excessive use of force by the Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians, particularly in the Gaza Strip, which had caused extensive loss of life and vast numbers of injuries, including among thousands of children and women, massive damage and destruction to homes, economic, industrial and agricultural properties, and vital infrastructure — including water, sanitation and electricity.

According to a related text, adopted by a recorded vote of 159 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 12 abstentions, the Assembly reaffirmed that the Israeli settlements were illegal and an obstacle to peace and economic and social development, and reiterated its demand for the immediate and complete cessation of all such activities there, stressing that that was essential for salvaging the two-State solution on the basis of the pre-1967 borders.

Also requiring recorded votes were texts on the work of the Special Committee; the applicability of the Geneva Convention to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the other occupied Arab territories; Israeli settlements; and the occupied Syrian Golan.

Four resolutions on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) also required recorded votes, including the text on the Agency’s operations.  By that resolution, adopted by a recorded vote of 166 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau, United States), with 6 abstentions (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Madagascar, Paraguay, South Sudan, Vanuatu.), the Assembly called for a full and transparent investigation into all of the incidents affecting the Agency’s facilities during the conflict in the Gaza Strip in July and August, with a view to ensuring accountability for all international law violations.  It urged the Government of Israel to expeditiously reimburse the Agency for all transit charges incurred and other financial losses sustained as a result of delays and restrictions on movement and access.

Related resolutions also requiring recorded votes were on assistance to Palestine refugees; persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities; and Palestine refugees’ properties and revenues.

Of the 12 draft texts on decolonization, five took recorded votes, including one on information from Non-Self-Governing Territories, adopted by 174 in favour to none against, with 4 abstentions (France, Israel, United Kingdom, United States).  By its terms, the Assembly requested the administering Powers concerned to transmit regularly to the Secretary-General information on economic, social and educational conditions, as well as political and constitutional developments in the Territories.

By a recorded vote of 175 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 2 abstentions (France, United Kingdom), the Assembly adopted a resolution on economic and other activities which affect the interests of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, by which it urged the administering Powers concerned to take effective measures to safeguard and guarantee the inalienable right of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories to their natural resources and to establish and maintain control over the future development of those resources.

A text on dissemination of information on decolonization was adopted by a recorded vote of 173 in favour to 3 against (Israel, United Kingdom, United States), with 1 abstention (France) while the resolution on economic and other activities affecting the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories was adopted by a recorded vote of 175 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 2 abstentions (France, United Kingdom).

The draft resolution on the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations was adopted by a recorded vote of 125 in favour to none against, with 53 abstentions.  A related text on the Declaration’s implementation was adopted by a recorded vote of 173 in favour to 3 against (Israel, United Kingdom, United States), with 1 abstention (France).

The Assembly continued its tradition of consensus on the omnibus resolution on questions of American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands.  It also acted without a vote on the passage of draft resolutions on French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Tokelau, Western Sahara and a decision on Gibraltar.  A text on study and training facilities for inhabitants of Non-Self-Governing Territories was also adopted without a vote.

The draft resolution on special political missions garnered universal support with the Assembly acknowledging the significant increase in the missions’ number and complexity and requesting the Secretary-General to hold regular, inclusive and interactive dialogue on the overall policy matters pertaining to them.  Draft resolutions on the effects of atomic radiation and on the peaceful uses of outer space also drew consensus.

Also adopted without a vote were decisions on rotation of the post of Rapporteur of the Fourth Committee for the seventieth to seventy-third sessions of the General Assembly, and the Committee’s programme of work and timetable for the seventieth session.

The President of the Assembly also appointed today as members of the Committee on Conferences (document A/69/107) the Central African Republic, Namibia, Paraguay and the Russian Federation.  Reminding Members that two seats from Asia-Pacific states and one seat from Western European and other States remained vacant, he urged those groups to submit their candidatures.

Consideration of Fourth Committee Reports

GABRIEL ORELLANA ZABALZA (Guatemala), Rapporteur of the Fourth Committee, introduced the reports and the draft texts contained therein in one intervention.

The General Assembly first took up the draft resolution on Effects of atomic radiation (document A/C.4/69/L.6) contained in the report by the same name (A/69/451), adopting it without a vote.

By the text, the Assembly took note of the report of United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) on its sixty-first session, and requested it to continue its work and report thereon during the seventieth session.  It endorsed the Committee’s plans for a review, including its next Global Survey of Medical Radiation Usage and Exposure, and asked it to submit those plans at its seventieth session.  States were encouraged to make voluntary contributions to the general trust fund, as well as in-kind contributions to support the Scientific Committee.

Also without a vote, the Assembly adopted a resolution on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space (A/C.4/69/L.2/Rev.1), contained in document A/69/452.  In doing so, the Assembly endorsed the report of the Outer Space Committee on the work of its fifty-seventh session and requested it to continue to consider, as a matter of priority, ways and means of maintaining use of outer space for peaceful purposes.  The Assembly urged States that had not yet become parties to the international treaties governing the uses of outer space to consider ratifying or acceding to them, as well as incorporating them into their national legislation.

In a related provision, the Assembly urged all States, in particular those with major space capabilities, to contribute actively to the goal of preventing an arms race in outer space, as an essential condition for the promotion of international cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.

The Assembly next considered document A/69/453, which contained four resolutions.  Draft I, on Assistance to Palestine refugees (L.9) was adopted by a recorded vote of 163 in favour to 1 against (Israel), with 10 abstentions (Cameroon, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Madagascar, Marshall Islands, Palau, Paraguay, South Sudan, United States, Vanuatu).  By its provisions, the Assembly affirmed the need for the continuation of the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the importance of its unimpeded provision of services for the well-being, protection and human development of the refugees, and for the stability of the region, pending the just resolution of the question of the Palestine refugees. It also called on donors to strengthen their efforts to meet the Agency’s anticipated needs.

Thereafter, the Assembly adopted Draft II, on Persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities (L.10) by a recorded vote of 165 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 6 abstentions (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Madagascar, Paraguay, South Sudan, Vanuatu).  By its terms, the Assembly endorsed the efforts of the UNRWA Commissioner General to provide humanitarian assistance to persons displaced and in serious need of continued help as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities.  It strongly appealed for generous contributions to the Agency and to other intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations concerned.

Next, by a recorded vote of 166 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau, United States), with 6 abstentions (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Madagascar, Paraguay, South Sudan, Vanuatu), the Assembly adopted Draft III on the operations of UNRWA (L.14), which called on Israel, the occupying Power, to comply fully with the provisions of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949; and to abide by Articles 100, 104 and 105 of the United Nations Charter as well as the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations in order to ensure, at all times, the safety of Agency personnel, the protection of its institutions and facilities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.

The Assembly also called for a full and transparent investigation into all of the incidents affecting the Agency’s facilities during the conflict in the Gaza Strip in July and August 2014, with a view to ensuring accountability for all international law violations.  It urged the Government of Israel to expeditiously reimburse the Agency for all transit charges incurred and other financial losses sustained as a result of delays and restrictions on movement and access.  It also called on Israel to, among others, cease obstructing the movement and access of Agency staff, vehicles and supplies and to cease the levying of taxes, extra fees and charges, which impeded the Agency’s operations.

Draft IV on Palestine refugees’ properties and their revenues (A/C.4/69/L.12) was adopted by a recorded vote of 165 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 6 abstentions (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Madagascar, Paraguay, South Sudan, Vanuatu).  By that text, the Assembly urged the Palestinian and Israeli sides, as agreed between them, to deal with the important issue of Palestine refugees’ properties and their revenues within the framework of the final status peace negotiations.

The Assembly then turned to the five resolutions contained in its report, A/69/454.  It first considered Draft I (L.13) on the Work of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, which it adopted by a recorded vote of 88 in favour to 9 against (Australia, Federated States of Micronesia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Panama, United States), with 79 abstentions.  By that resolution, the Assembly deplored Israeli policies and practices that violated the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories.  It requested the Special Committee to continue to investigate those violations, especially those of the Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949, and to consult, as appropriate, with the International Committee of the Red Cross in order to ensure that the welfare and human rights of the peoples of the occupied territories were safeguarded, as well as to report to the Secretary-General as soon as possible and whenever the need arose.

Next, the Assembly took up Draft II on the Applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the other occupied Arab territories (L.14), adopting it by a recorded vote of 163 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 9 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Côte D’Ivoire, Madagascar, Paraguay, Rwanda, South Sudan, Togo, Vanuatu).

Through that text, the Assembly demanded that Israel accept the de jure applicability of the Geneva Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, and that it comply scrupulously with the Convention’s provisions.  It called on all High Contracting Parties to the Convention, in accordance with article 1, common to the four Geneva Conventions and as mentioned in the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice of 9 July 2004, to exert all efforts to ensure respect for its provisions by Israel.

Moving forward, the Assembly took up Draft III on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan (L.15), adopting it by a recorded vote of 159 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall islands, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 12 abstentions.  Through that resolution, the Assembly, reaffirming that the Israeli settlements were illegal and an obstacle to peace and economic and social development, reiterated its demand for the immediate and complete cessation of all such activities there, stressing that a complete cessation of settlement activities was essential for salvaging the two-State solution on the basis of the pre-1967 borders.

The Assembly then adopted Draft IV regarding Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem (L.16) by a recorded vote of 158 in favour to 8 against (Australia, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands,  Nauru, Palau, United States), with 11 abstentions.  By that text, the Assembly condemned all acts of violence, including the excessive use of force by the Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians, particularly in the Gaza Strip, which had caused extensive loss of life and vast numbers of injuries, including among thousands of children and women, massive damage and destruction to homes, economic, industrial and agricultural properties, vital infrastructure — including water, sanitation and electricity.  It demanded that Israel cease all activities and measures aimed at altering the character, status and demographic composition of the occupied territories, including in and around East Jerusalem, which gravely and detrimentally affected the Palestinian people’s human rights.

Draft V on the Occupied Syrian Golan (L.17), adopted by a recorded vote of 162 in favour to 1 against (Israel), with 15 abstentions, had the Assembly call on Israel, the occupying Power, to comply with the relevant resolutions on the occupied Syrian Golan, in particular, Security Council resolution 497 (1981), in which the Council decided that Israel’s imposition of its laws, jurisdiction and administration were null and void and without international legal effect.  It also called on Israel to desist from changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan.

Speaking in explanation of vote, the representative of Iran said he had voted in favour of all draft resolutions under agenda 51, to show its solidarity with the Palestinian people.  His country continued to emphasise the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people who had suffered from the occupation for over six decades.  He believed that resolving the question of Palestine and establishing lasting peace would only be possible by putting an end to the occupation, allowing Palestinian refugees to come back to their homeland.

The representative of Spain, on a point of order regarding his vote on the Assistance to Palestinians, said the delegation had voted in favour of the resolution and asked the Secretariat to record that correction.

The Assembly then decided to take note of the Committee’s report on the comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects (A/69/455).

Next, it adopted, without a vote, a resolution on a comprehensive review of special political missions (L.19) contained in document A/69/456.  By that text, the Assembly asked the Secretary-General to submit a report on the overall policy matters pertaining to special political missions, including efforts towards improving transparency, accountability, geographical representation, gender participation, and expertise and effectiveness.  It also requested the Secretary-General to hold regular, inclusive and interactive dialogues on policy pertaining to the missions and encouraged the Secretariat to reach out to Member States to ensure wider and meaningful participation in the discussions.

The Assembly then turned to report A/69/457, which contained two draft resolutions.  Draft A, on information in the service of humanity, was adopted without a vote.  By its terms, the Assembly, recognizing the call for “a new world information and communication order”, urged all countries and organizations of the United Nations system to enhance regional efforts and cooperation among developing countries, as well as cooperation between developed and developing countries, to strengthen communications capacities and to improve the media infrastructure and communications technology in developing countries.

The Assembly then adopted Draft B, on United Nations public information policies and activities, also without a vote.  By its terms, the Assembly underlined the responsibility of the Secretariat in mainstreaming multilingualism into all its communication and information activities, within existing resources and on an equitable basis.  It also emphasized the importance of making use of all official languages of the United Nations, ensuring their full and equitable treatment in all the activities of all divisions and offices of the Department of Public Information, with the aim of eliminating the disparity between the use of English and the use of the five other official languages.

Also according to the text, the Assembly requested the Department to contribute to raising the awareness of the international community on the importance of the implementation of the World Summit on the Information Society outcome documents; also, of the possibilities that Internet use and other information and communications technologies could bring to societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide, including by commemorating World Telecommunication and Information Society Day on 17 May.

The Assembly recognized that the network of United Nations Information Centres, especially in developing countries, should continue to enhance its impact and activities, including through strategic communications support.  The Assembly also called upon the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of that approach to the Committee on Information at its successive sessions.

Further to the text, the Assembly asked the Department of Public Information to raise awareness of and disseminate information on the seventieth anniversary of the founding of the United Nations and the end of the Second World War, and to ensure that multilingualism was mainstreamed into those activities, in a cost-neutral manner.  The Assembly also requested the Department and those of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support to continue their cooperation in raising awareness of the new realities, far-reaching successes and challenges faced by peacekeeping operations, especially multidimensional and complex ones, and the recent surge in United Nations peacekeeping activities.

Additionally, the Assembly asked the Department to continue to provide the support necessary for the dissemination of information pertaining to dialogue among civilizations and the culture of peace, as well as the initiative on the Alliance of Civilizations, while ensuring the pertinence and relevance of subjects for promotional campaigns on that issue.  The Assembly asked it as well to take due steps in fostering the culture of dialogue among civilizations, promoting a world against violence and violent extremism.

In a related provision, the Assembly stressed that the central objective of the news services implemented by the Department was the timely delivery of accurate, objective and balanced news and information emanating from the United Nations system in all four media — print, radio, television and the Internet — to the media and other audiences worldwide, with overall emphasis on multilingualism from the planning stage, and reiterated its request to the Department to ensure that all breaking news stories and news alerts be accurate, impartial and free of bias.

The Assembly also adopted without a vote draft decision A/69/21 on increase in the membership of the Committee on Information, by which it appointed Iraq as a member, thereby increasing the membership from 114 to 115.

It next considered a draft resolution on information from Non-Self-Governing Territories, transmitted under Article 73 e of the Charter of the United Nations contained in a report of the same name (document A/69/458), adopting it by a recorded vote of 174 in favour to none against, with 4 abstentions (France, Israel, United Kingdom, United States).  Among the terms of that draft, the Assembly requested the administering Powers concerned to transmit regularly to the Secretary-General information on economic, social and educational conditions, as well as political and constitutional developments in the Territories.

The Assembly then took up a draft resolution on economic and other activities which affect the interests of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories contained in document A/69/459, adopting it by a recorded vote of 175 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 2 abstentions (France, United Kingdom).  By that text, the Assembly urged the administering Powers concerned to take effective measures to safeguard and guarantee the inalienable right of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories to their natural resources and to establish and maintain control over the future development of those resources.

By a recorded vote of 125 in favour to none against, with 53 abstentions, the Assembly adopted a draft resolution on the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations contained in report A/69/460.  Under that text, the Assembly urged those and other organizations of the United Nations system that have not yet provided assistance to Non-Self-Governing Territories to do so as soon as possible.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted resolution (L.3) on offers by Member States of study and training facilities for inhabitants of Non-Self-Governing Territories (A/C.4/68/L.4) contained in report A/69/461.  By that text, the Assembly urged the administering Powers to take effective measures to ensure widespread and continuous dissemination in the Territories of information relating to offers of study and training facilities made by States, and to provide all necessary facilities to enable students to avail themselves of such offers.

The Assembly next turned to the seven resolutions contained in document A/69/462, the first five of which did not require recorded votes.  By Draft Resolution I on the question of Western Sahara (L.4), the Assembly welcomed the commitment of the parties to continue to show political will and work in an atmosphere propitious for dialogue, in order to enter into a more intensive phase of negotiations.  It called on the parties to cooperate with the International Committee of the Red Cross and to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law.

Draft Resolution II on the question of New Caledonia (A/69/23, chapter XIII) had the Assembly urge all parties involved, in the interest of all the people of New Caledonia and within the framework of the Noumea Accord, to maintain their dialogue in the spirit of harmony.

Through Draft Resolution III on the question of French Polynesia (A/69/23, chapter XIII), the Assembly called upon the Government of France to intensify its dialogue with that Territory in order to facilitate rapid progress towards a fair and effective self-determination process, under which the terms and timelines would be agreed.  The Assembly requested the Secretary-General, in cooperation with relevant specialized agencies of the United Nations, to compile a report on the environmental, ecological, health and other impacts as a consequence of the 30-year period of nuclear testing in the Territory.

Draft Resolution IV on the question of Tokelau (A/69/23, chapter XIII) had the Assembly welcome the commitment of both the Territory and New Zealand to work together in the interests of Tokelau and its people and call on the administering Power and United Nations agencies to provide assistance to Tokelau as it further developed.

By the terms of omnibus Draft Resolution V on the questions of American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands (A/69/23, chap. XIII), the Assembly reaffirmed that it was ultimately for the peoples of the Territories themselves to determine freely their future political status.  The Assembly also urged Member States to contribute to the efforts of the United Nations to usher in a world free of colonialism.

Draft Resolution VI, on the dissemination of information on decolonization (A/69/23, chapter XIII), was adopted by a recorded vote of 173 in favour to 3 against (Israel, United Kingdom, United States), with 1 abstention (France).  By its terms, the Assembly considered it important to expand its efforts to ensure the widest possible dissemination of information on decolonization, with particular emphasis on the options for self-determination available for the peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories.  To that end, it asked the Department of Public Information, through the United Nations Information Centres, to actively seek new and innovative ways to disseminate material to the Territories.

Draft Resolution VII on the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (A/69/23, chapter XIII) was adopted by recorded vote of 173 in favour to 3 against (Israel, United Kingdom, United States), with 1 abstention (France).  By that resolution, the Assembly affirmed its support for the aspirations of the peoples under colonial rule to exercise their right to self-determination, including independence.  The Assembly requested the Special Committee to, among other things, formulate specific proposals to bring about an end to colonialism and to report thereon to it at its next session.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted draft decision L.5 on the question of Gibraltar, by which it urged the Governments of Spain and the United Kingdom — while listening to the interests and aspirations of Gibraltar that are legitimate under international law — to reach, in the spirit of the Brussels Declaration of 27 November 1984, a definitive solution to the question of Gibraltar, in the light of the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and applicable principles, and in the spirit of the Charter of the United Nations.  The Assembly took note of the desire of the United Kingdom to continue with the trilateral Forum of Dialogue on Gibraltar.  It also took note of the position of Spain that the Forum did not exist any longer, and should be replaced with a new mechanism for local cooperation, in the interest of the social well-being and regional economic development, in which the people of the Campo de Gibraltar and Gibraltar were represented.

The Assembly then adopted, also without a vote, draft decision L.7, on the rotation of the post of Rapporteur of the Fourth Committee for the seventieth to seventy-third sessions of the General Assembly, and draft decision L.8, on the proposed programme of work and timetable of the Committee for the seventieth session, both contained in report A/69/463.

The Assembly also took note of the report on programme planning (A/69/464).

For information media. Not an official record.