Concluding Session, Second Committee Passes 14 Draft Resolutions, Including Texts on Macroeconomic Policy, Trade Liberalization

GA/EF/3491
30 November 2017
Seventy-second Session, 27th Meeting (AM)

Concluding Session, Second Committee Passes 14 Draft Resolutions, Including Texts on Macroeconomic Policy, Trade Liberalization

The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) today concluded its work for the main part of the General Assembly’s seventy‑second session, approving 14 draft resolutions including texts on macroeconomic policy questions.

A draft on “international trade and development” (document A/C.2/72/L.17/Rev.1) would have the Assembly promote a universal, rules-based, open, transparent, predictable, inclusive, non‑discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organization (WTO), as well as promote meaningful trade liberalization.

By further terms, the text would have the Assembly urge the international community to support measures to eliminate the use of unilateral economic, financial or trade measures.

The representative of the United States said his country was unable to join consensus, as such trade measures would be inconsistent with the basic principles of the WTO.  Each State reserved the sovereign right to determine how to conduct trade with other countries and by passing the resolution, he said the Assembly would limit the ability of States to respond effectively to threats against democracy, human rights, peace and security.

The draft was approved by a recorded vote of 167 in favour to 1 against (United States), with no abstentions.

Switzerland’s delegate, who supported the resolution, expressed regret that a vote was needed as his country believed in strengthening the multilateral system on consensus.

Similarly, a text on “international financial system and development” (document A/C.2/72/L.19/Rev.1) would have the Assembly resolve to strengthen the coherence and consistency of multilateral financial, investment, trade and development policy and environment institutions and platforms.

By further terms, it would have the Assembly call for the completion of the fifteenth general review of quotas of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), including a new quota formula.

The representative of the United States said he did not join consensus on the resolution.  He stated that limited concessional resources should be allocated with reference to income and credit worthiness.  Regarding unilateral economic measures, he said economic sanctions could be considered appropriate and useful alternatives to use of force.

The draft was then approved by a recorded vote of 173 in favour to 1 against (United States), with no abstentions.

The Committee also took action on the draft “commodities” (document A/C.2/72/L.9/Rev.1) which would have the international community address the factors that created structural barriers to international trade, impeded diversification and limited access to financial services, particularly for developing countries.

Similarly, it would also call upon all relevant stakeholders to address the issue of the low industrialization and diversification of the economies of some commodity-dependent developing countries.

The representative of the United States said the resolution inappropriately called on international institutions to take actions beyond their scope.  Similarly, he was unable to support language which would commit to reduce food imports and promoted a “blanket” call to address trade and market mispricing.

The Committee then adopted the resolution by a recorded vote of 177 in favour to 1 against (United States), with no abstentions.

Speaking on behalf of the European Union, Bulgaria’s representative said she voted in favour of those three drafts, as she supported coherence among global trade policies and regional and bilateral initiatives that promoted a progressive trade agenda and economic development, especially in developing countries.

Also speaking today were representatives of the Russian Federation, Canada, Norway and Venezuela, as well as the Holy See.

Other texts the Committee approved focused on information and communications technologies for development; sustainable development; implementation of the outcomes of the United Nations Conferences on Human Settlements and on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development; globalization and interdependence; countries in special situations; eradication of poverty; South‑South cooperation; and the programme of work of the Second Committee for the seventy‑third session of the General Assembly.

Action on Draft Resolutions

The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) first took up a draft on “information and communications technologies for development” (document A/C.2/72/L.66).

ABDELLAH LARHMAID (Morocco) presented the text as orally revised.  The Committee then approved the draft without a vote.

After the approval, the representative of the United States expressed concern about language on technology transfer which could undermine intellectual property rights.

The Committee then withdrew a text on the same topic.

Next, it turned to a text on “international trade and development” (document A/C.2/72/L.17/Rev.1).

The representative of the United States said much of the trade-related language in the outcome document of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development had been overtaken by ongoing work and negotiations.  Such language contained in the draft text was therefore immaterial.

Furthermore, he said his country would be unable to join consensus, as matters on international trade and development were the responsibility of the World Trade Organization (WTO).  As such, he would not accept the General Assembly’s statement on economic, financial or trade measures.  Noting that such measures were inconsistent with the basic principles of the WTO, he said each State reserved the sovereign right to determine how to conduct trade with other countries.  By passing the resolution, the Assembly would limit the ability of States to respond effectively to threats against democracy, human rights, peace and security.

The draft was approved by a recorded vote of 167 in favour to 1 against (United States), with no abstentions.

The delegate of Bulgaria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said she voted in favour of the draft, as it supported coherence among global trade policies and regional and bilateral initiatives that would promote a progressive trade agenda and economic development, especially in developing countries.

The representative of Switzerland said his country supported the draft, however he expressed regret that a vote was needed, as his State believed in strengthening the multilateral system on consensus.

The Committee then took up a draft on “international financial system and development” (document A/C.2/72/L.19/Rev.1).

The representative of the United States, speaking in explanation of vote, highlighted his concerns regarding references to scaling up international cooperation on tax matters and attempts to prescribe appropriate characteristics of international systems that were independent of the United Nations system.

Regarding concessions, he said following through on recommendations in the text would not be financially sustainable and limited concessional resources should be allocated with references to income and credit worthiness.  On illicit financial flows, he opposed its inclusion as a term with no agreed-upon international definition.  Concerning unilateral economic measures, he said sanctions could be considered appropriate and useful alternatives to use of force.

The draft was then approved by a recorded vote of 173 in favour to 1 against (United States), with no abstentions.

The delegate of Bulgaria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said she voted in favour of the resolution, as it fostered coherence in trade policies for the advancement of economic development, particularly in developing countries.

The Committee next took up a text on “commodities” (document A/C.2/72/L.9/Rev.1), putting it to a recorded vote.

Speaking before the vote, the representative of the United States said the resolution made obsolete references to the world’s economic and financial crisis.  The text also inappropriately called on international institutions to take actions beyond the scope of what it should address.  His country was concerned by language in the draft committing to reduce food imports and hoped to hold further discussions with the African Union on that issue.  Adding that it was also unable to support a “blanket” call regarding trade and mispricing, he said the resolution should include the effects of exchange rates and unfavourable business practices.  His country was also unable to join consensus with language that undermined the work of the WTO or attempted to shape its agenda.

The Committee then adopted the resolution by a recorded vote of 177 in favour to 1 against (United States), with no abstentions.

Speaking after the vote, the delegate of Bulgaria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said her group had voted in favour of the resolution, as it attached great importance to strengthening the multilateral trading system.  Only such a system fostered coherence across the globe as well as the independence of its members.

Next, it turned to a draft on “follow-up to and implementation of the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway and the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States” (document A/C.2/72/L.48).

The representative of Barbados thanked delegations for their work on the text.

The Committee then approved the resolution as orally revised without a vote, withdrawing a previous text.

It then took up a text on “protection of global climate for present and future generations of humankind” (document A/C.2/72/L.69).

The Committee approved the draft without a vote, withdrawing a previous text.

The representative of the United States said it had joined consensus, but was continuing to develop policies on climate change.  The United States had communicated to the United Nations that it planned to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change.  International agreements regarding climate change did not change that decision, although his country was continuing to work with others on that important issue.

The Committee then turned to a draft on “implementation of the outcomes of the United Nations Conferences on Human Settlements and on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development and strengthening of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN‑Habitat)” (document A/C.2/72/L.67).

The delegate of Zambia made amendments to the draft.

The Committee then approved the draft as orally revised without a vote, withdrawing a previous text.

The Committee next took up a text on “role of the United Nations in promoting development in the context of globalization and interdependence” (document A/C.2/72/L.11/Rev.1).

Speaking before the vote, the representative of the United States expressed her concern around references to the WTO and the need to strengthen cooperation between that organization and others, both of which were outside the responsibility of the United Nations.  She also objected to language that would unfairly promote State ownership or the deprivation of resources without compensation.  Her country supported efforts to fight unfair trade practices, such as forced technology transfers and other distortions of markets.  Therefore, the United States would not join in consensus.

Furthermore, she expressed disappointment that such efforts would promote “stale” commitments against protectionism.  She said the United Nations was not a forum for regional trade agreements or negotiations.  She additionally opposed language which would undermine intellectual property rights.

The Committee then approved the draft by a recorded vote of 179 in favour to 1 against (United States), with no abstentions.

The delegate of Bulgaria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said it voted in favour of the resolution, as it supported a progressive trade agenda and economic development, especially for developing countries.  As such, she agreed with the language contained in the resolution.

The Committee then turned to a draft on “culture and sustainable development” (document A/C.2/72/L.13/Rev.1).

The representative of the United States expressed concern around references on the repatriation of cultural property without clarifications on the rights of indigenous peoples.  Similarly, her country was unable to join consensus on references to cultural appropriation and support to consolidate cultures and cultural industries.  It also opposed any language which would undermine intellectual property rights.

The Committee then approved the draft by a recorded vote of 181 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions.

Following that, it took up a text on “follow-up to the second United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries” (document A/C.2/72/L.62).

The Committee adopted the draft as revised without a vote.

Speaking after the approval, the representative of the United States expressed concern around language on climate change.  He said he remained “confused” by references on technical and capacity-building assistance.  In reviewing the demand for assistance, he said he was not aware of any needs to enhance technical or capacity-building assistance.

Similarly, he said his country opposed any language which undermined intellectual property rights.  Noting the Aid for Trade initiative, he said development partners had not effectively implemented that outcome and that his country did not agree that the special needs listed in the text were considered necessary for its effective implementation.  Similarly, he expressed concern that measures by the General Assembly were unnecessary as such matters were the responsibility of WTO.

The delegate of the Russian Federation said the language in the resolution did not adequately reflect the agreements between States.

The Committee then turned to a draft on “women in development” (document A/C.2/72/L.65).

The representative of the United Arab Emirates made amendments to the text.

The Committee then approved the draft as orally revised without a vote, withdrawing a previous text.

The observer of the Holy See stressed that women’s dignity must be respected without diverting attention from their development.  He welcomed the intention of the resolution, but expressed concern about the attempt to shift its focus from the integral development of women to other issues.  Sexual and reproductive health applied to a holistic concept of health, which did not include abortion.  Access to sexual and reproductive health should be age-appropriate in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child.

The representative of the United States said his country was committed to advancing the status of women and had joined consensus on the resolution.  However, he disagreed with language in the text referring to the global economic crisis, when the world was not currently in that state.  Such language detracted attention from relevant challenges facing global stability.  While agreeing that women should have equal access to health care, he stressed that his country did not recognize abortion as a method of family planning.

The representative of Bulgaria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said gender equality would remain at the forefront of the bloc’s efforts to ensure the rights of all women and girls.  Gender equality was of central importance in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the text of the resolution now in certain aspects better reflected that agreement.  However, the draft did not reflect the Agenda in terms of women having full power over their sexual and reproductive health.

The delegate of Canada, also speaking on behalf of New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland and Lichtenstein, noted that the resolution addressed women and development but some key issues had been left out.  Sexual and reproductive health had not been properly addressed on the grounds that it should be dealt with in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian & Cultural).  She disagreed with that notion, as the resolution should reflect the 2030 Agenda.  The specific commitment to gender equality made in that document now seemed to be forgotten, although women still faced violence and discriminatory practices.

The representative of Norway said the promotion of women’s rights led to their empowerment.  If the international community was to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, gender equality must be at the heart of any efforts.  Progress had been made in the resolution with the inclusion of equal pay for equal value.  However, it was still necessary to heed remaining barriers to women’s equality.  The resolution did not adequately reflect sexual and reproductive rights.

The Committee then approved the draft as orally revised without a vote, withdrawing a previous text.

The Committee then took up a text on “human resources development” (document A/C.2/72/L.64), approving the draft as revised and without a vote.

The representative of Bulgaria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, expressed concern around amendments to the text which did not reflect the agreements reached by States.  She called for future sessions to ensure that draft texts would be reflective of agreements reached during negotiations.

The delegate of the United States said each State had an interest in boosting its economic performance and should always be done in a manner consistent with international rules and regulations.  He expressed concern around language which would undermine intellectual property rights.  He also concurred with the European Union’s statement concerning the language in the draft text.

The representative of Canada also expressed concern around amendments to the text.  She said there was no clear rationale for such changes and she would not consider the amendments to be the basis for future negotiations.

The delegate of Israel joined consensus on the resolution, but expressed disappointment that the zero draft contained politicized text and undermined the rights and obligations of States.  She expressed objection to the inclusion of such language.

The Committee then withdrew a previous text on the same topic.

Following that, it turned to a text on “South‑South cooperation for development” (document A/C.2/72/L.68).

The Committee approved the draft without a vote.

The representative of the United States joined consensus on the resolution.  He said his country had supported South‑South cooperation and voiced concerns around wrongdoings.  Accordingly, he called upon the Secretary-General and senior managers to remedy and strengthen management oversight.  He noted steps were taken, but some States’ resistance to address issues in a forthright way undermined collective oversight responsibility.  He therefore called for a comprehensive review of entities involved in South‑South cooperation work.  Additionally, he opposed language that would promote technology transfer that was not voluntary or on agreed-upon terms.

The Committee withdrew a previous text on the same topic.

The representative of Venezuela said her country presented its misgivings, reservations and points of clarification in the document “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.  Regarding all the resolutions which were approved, she once again expressed her reservations to those references.

The Committee next took up a text titled “revitalization of the work of the General Assembly” (document A/C.2/72/L.70).

SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia), Committee Chair, said that of the 42 proposals approved, 12 were agreed upon by a recorded vote and that a large majority of the drafts were approved by consensus.

The Committee then approved the draft programme of work without a vote.

THOMAS GASS, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter‑Agency Affairs, noted remaining challenges on global financial, economic and sustainable development.  He said the United Nations was mobilizing resources to guarantee that the mandates which emanated from the session would be fulfilled.  He also highlighted the successes of the side events of the Committee and the annual joint meeting with the Economic and Social Council.

In closing, the Committee Chair said that, for the first time since 2000, the Committee concluded its substantive work in November.  He expressed gratitude to the delegates and extended congratulations to all States on the conclusion of the session.

For information media. Not an official record.