|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-eighth General Assembly
69th Meeting (AM)
General Assembly Adopts 5 Draft Resolutions, Including Texts on Combating
Extremism, Diamonds-Fuelled Conflict, Aid for Rwanda Genocide Survivors
Bosnia and Herzegovina , Guatemala Elected to Peacebuilding Commission Body
Spotlighting global cooperation to combat violent extremism, the scourge of “conflict diamonds” and assistance to Rwandan genocide survivors, the General Assembly adopted five resolutions today that focused, among other things, on building a culture of peace to reduce tensions around the world. It also elected two members to the Peacebuilding Commission’s Organizational Committee.
Three resolutions under the culture of peace umbrella covered a range of issues, some of which delegates underlined as critical reminders of the strong connection between peace and development.
Iran’s representative introduced a draft on a world against violence and extremism, saying the latter must be dealt with through a collective approach. More than ever before, it was imperative today that the international community agreed on ways to combat violent extremism and the wide-ranging problems it created.
Pakistan’s representative agreed with that concept as he presented a related draft on the promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace. “The world around us is still afflicted with extremist ideologies, mutual suspicions and mistrusts,” he said. “There is a continuing need for engaging in constructive, genuine and sincere interreligious and intercultural dialogues at all levels.”
The representative of Bangladesh, submitting a draft resolution on follow-up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, echoed that view, saying the text included provisions on age-appropriate education for children and weaving peace into the post-2105 development agenda.
Morocco’s representative emphasized the strong links between peace and mutual understanding on the one hand, and the realization of development goals on the other, cautioning that the goals of peace could not be realized unless a global partnership was established to help all countries achieve the Millennium Goals.
El Salvador’s representative said he spoke from the perspective of a State that had suffered armed conflict, pointing out that regional and global efforts had already achieved enormous gains for his country’s people, including through the Management for Social Transformations Programme of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Turning its focus on the role of diamonds in fuelling conflict, the Assembly adopted a related resolution tabled by a representative of South Africa. Among new elements of the text was expanded participation in the Process, which currently included 55 members representing more than 80 States, he added.
The Russian Federation’s representative commended the Kimberley Process, saying that its tripartite nature was its unique quality and its work must be based on international cooperation and rooted in international law. However, it was highly counterproductive to impose sanctions that disproportionately led to grey areas in trade.
Israel’s representative said that since the establishment of the Kimberley Process in 2003, “conflict diamonds” had fallen from 15 per cent of the global trade in rough diamonds to less than 1 per cent. Legally mined diamonds could contribute to Africa’s growth and prosperity, but only if the industry was responsibly regulated, he cautioned.
In other business, the Assembly elected Bosnia and Herzegovina and Guatemala — respectively nominated by the Eastern European States and the Latin American and Caribbean States — to the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission for two-year terms beginning on 1 January 2014.
Also delivering statements today were representatives of the Philippines, Brunei Darussalam (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), European Union Delegation, Malaysia, Kuwait, Qatar, Thailand, Lithuania (on behalf of the European Union), United States, Canada and Rwanda, as well as an observer for the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Representatives of Iran and Israel spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 3 p.m. today, Wednesday, 18 December, to consider reports recommended by its Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural).
The General Assembly met this morning to elect two members of the Peacebuilding Commission’s Organizational Committee. It was also expected to consider the report of the Secretary-General “Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace” (document A/68/286) and a note on “Follow-up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace” (document A/68/216).
For its consideration of the role of diamonds in fuelling conflict, the Assembly was expected to take up a letter (document A/68/649) from the Permanent Mission of South Africa addressed to the Secretary-General and transmitting the report of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme to the General Assembly for 2013. The Assembly was expected to take action on a related draft resolution titled “The role of diamonds in fuelling conflict: breaking the link between the illicit transaction of rough diamonds and armed conflict as a contribution to prevention and settlement of conflicts” (document A/68/L.29).
The Assembly was also expected to take action on a draft resolution titled “Assistance to survivors of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, particularly orphans, widows and victims of sexual violence” (document A/68/L.32).
The General Assembly then elected Bosnia and Herzegovina (Eastern European States) and Guatemala (Latin American and Caribbean States) as members of the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission for a two-year term beginning on 1 January 2014.
Culture of Peace
The representative of Bangladesh introduced a draft resolution titled “Follow-up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace” (document A/68/L.28), saying the world faced too many divisive problems that were obstacles to peace and stability. Building a culture of peace was the answer, he said, noting that discrimination was generating new types of tension around the globe. The text had been technically updated and contained several new elements, including the Secretary-General’s remarks on the role that peace should play in the post-2015 agenda. Also by its terms, the Assembly would, among other things, urge age-appropriate education in children’s schools with a view to building a culture of peace, including lessons on mutual understanding, tolerance, active citizenship and human rights.
The representative of Iran then submitted a draft resolution titled “A world against violence and violence extremism” (document A/68/L.31) by which the General Assembly would urge all Member States to unite against violent extremism in all its forms and manifestations, as well as sectarian violence. It would encourage efforts by leaders to discuss within their communities the causes of violent extremism and discrimination, and evolve strategies to address them. It would also recommend the promotion of community engagement in countering violent extremism, including by strengthening ties between communities and emphasizing common bonds and interests.
He went on to emphasize that, more than ever before, it was imperative that the international community agree on ways to combat violent extremism and the wide-ranging problems it created. Iran hoped the text would provide a solid basis for such a process. The Assembly’s action could play a significant role in those endeavours and in breaking the cycle of violence while looking to the future with hope. By adopting the draft, all nations would concur that when dealing with threats, cooperation was essential.
A representative of Pakistan then tabled a draft resolution on “Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace” (document A/68/L.30). By its terms, the General Assembly would encourage Member States to consider initiatives identifying areas for practical action in all sectors and levels of society for the promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, tolerance, understanding and cooperation, including the ideas suggested during the High-Level Dialogue on Interreligious and Intercultural Understanding and Cooperation for Peace, held in New York in October 2007. “The world around us is still afflicted with extremist ideologies, mutual suspicions and mistrusts,” he said. “There is a continuing need for engaging in constructive, genuine and sincere interreligious and intercultural dialogues at all levels.”
Eduardo Jose Atienza De Vega( Philippines ), co-sponsor of the draft on the promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, said the current text built upon nearly one decade of experience and contained a more inclusive perspective that would allow the international community to more widely and sustainably address common challenges. It promoted interfaith dialogue and the deepening engagement of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, he said. The text referred to belief, in addition to culture, religion and faith, and would reach a broader audience, engendering wider ownership of the dialogue. It also acknowledged the positive contributions of individuals to the promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, he said.
NORAZLIANAH IBRAHIM (Brunei Darussalam), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the real divide in the world today stemmed from the fault line that lay between moderates and extremists of all religions and beliefs. It was imperative to educate people, especially the youth, to respect those from different religious and cultural backgrounds. That could be done through the use of information and communications technology, such as the Interfaith Dialogue e-Portal established by the Special Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement. ASEAN’s Young Professional Volunteer Corps provided assistance on various projects in the region such as rural development, poverty eradication, education, agriculture, health and environmental matters. That programme promoted dialogue and interaction among young people by strengthening cultural and religious understanding. Another ASEAN project aimed to harness the benefits of migration through interfaith and intercultural dialogue.
IOANNIS VRAILAS, Head of the European Union Delegation, commenting on the draft resolution on violent extremism, thanked Iran for its constructive and open spirit during consultations and emphasized the need to fight violent extremism. Respecting human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law was essential in countering terrorism and violent extremism. All States must reinforce efforts in countering violent extremism and ensure respect for all persons. “Words should become reality,” he stressed.
HUSSEIN HANIFF ( Malaysia) said that together, the three reports under consideration chronicled the United Nations system’s important efforts to promote a global culture of peace and non-violence within and beyond national borders. Highlighting the contribution of the concept of moderation, he said the Prime Minister of Malaysia had in 2010 called on a silent majority of moderates to join in a global movement to reclaim centre stage from those trumpeting hatred and extremism. The three-year-old Global Movement of Moderates had been a sincere effort to channel the courage and spirit of role models such as Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousufzai. Indeed, it could complement the United Nations system’s mission, he said, emphasizing that “the obstacles that prevent a culture of peace from taking root are many, but they are not insurmountable.”
Farah T A S H AlGharabally ( Kuwait), referring to the draft on interreligious dialogue, said respect for cultural differences was critical to preventing conflict and especially crucial as waves of extremism and hatred led to further violations of human rights and contempt of “the other”. Dialogue among civilizations did not mean a crucible between different peoples. Rather, the objective was to consider differences, deal with them, learn from them and stand humbly before them, she said. Kuwait had established a plan aimed at entrenching a culture of tolerance and moderation while confronting the culture of extremism and violence, she said, adding that its constitution guaranteed freedom of religion and expression.
HUDA AL-JEFAIRI ( Qatar) emphasized that promoting dialogue among different peoples was more critical than ever before. The international community must resolve conflicts through mediation, not violence, she stressed, reiterating that a culture of peace was an extension of democracy. Combating poverty, closing the inequality gap and ensuring a wider role for educators in promoting a culture of peace was crucial. Qatar had mainstreamed a culture of peace into its educational curricula at all levels, she said, adding that it had also helped to establish similar programmes in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
LOUISMONGKOL SAPKUL ( Thailand) said that since Asia and the Pacific region contained the world’s most diverse religious communities, there was a need for ongoing regional interfaith dialogue. Cultivating peace among youth was essential, as was acknowledgement that women contributed significantly to conflict resolution. Thailand also recognized the increasingly important potential role of media in eliminating hatred and prejudices while promoting better understanding among peoples. While agreeing with the Secretary-General, he suggested that streamlining the contents of related peace activities into one comprehensive report, rather than several separate ones, would be more cost-effective for the Organization.
MOHAMMED LOULICHKI ( Morocco) said there was an increasingly urgent need to develop a cooperative approach to combating extremism. To that end, the Alliance of Civilizations had, since its inception in 2005, worked to promote dialogue and better understanding among peoples. However, its goals could not be realized unless a global partnership was established for attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. It was important to remember the intimate link between peace and mutual understanding, and the realization of development goals, he said.
Rubén Armando Escalante Hasbún ( El Salvador) said the theme of peace had great relevance for his country, which had suffered greatly from armed conflict. El Salvador had participated in a number of regional efforts and processes with a view to consolidating peace and democracy. For those and other reasons, it was considered a model for peace by the United Nations. Strongly supporting efforts including the Management for Social Transformations Programme of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), he said such initiatives allowed his country to benefit from best practices, lessons learned and challenges recognized.
A representative of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said the organization was deeply committed to fostering a global culture of respect for peace, intercultural dialogue and social inclusion. The world could not turn a blind eye to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, whether those actions were perpetuated against women, girls, boys or men. It was critical to promote the social inclusion and human value of persons with disabilities, as they often faced barriers to economic development. They were particularly vulnerable in situations of risk, including armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and natural disasters. On migration, he cited a recent study that found a correlation between violence and overpopulation, lack of policing and security, lack of safe sanitation facilities and high levels of alcohol use, among other things. Migrant women were particularly vulnerable to labour exploitation, sexual violence, forced marriage and slavery. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, with its network of 189 national societies, worked along migratory trails to prevent risks of human trafficking and other forms of exploitation.
The Assembly then adopted the following resolutions, by consensus as orally revised: “Follow-up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace” (document A/68/L.28); “Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace” (document A/68/L.30) and “A world against violence and violent extremism” (document A/68/L.31).
Explanation of Position
Raimonda Murmokaitė ( Lithuania), speaking for the European Union regarding the resolution on promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, commended the main sponsors’ willingness to strengthen language on the role of civil society. She said the work of UNESCO was very important in promoting intercultural dialogue, as were initiatives such as the Alliance of Civilizations and the Anna Lindh Foundation.
RON PROSOR ( Israel) said Iran had presented a resolution riddled with hypocrisy, and its aspirations would not drown out the cries of its people, victims of a regime that pretended to be progressive but was really regressive. While the resolution implored nations to ensure a life free of violence for their people, Iran remained among the world’s worst human rights abusers, he said. “This is a regime that hangs gays, stones women, imprisons journalists and executes political opponents.” Iran was also a sponsor of terrorism, responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent civilians worldwide. It supplied weapons in the Middle East and supported murderous groups like Hezbollah and Hamas. The resolution set the bar high, and now it was up to the international community to ensure that Iran measured up, he stressed.
Richard Erdman ( United States) said it was important to reject violence and address the root causes of conflict. As a multi‑ethnic, multicultural and multi-religious country, the United States understood that dialogue and understanding were important to the development of a peaceful and harmonious society. The exercise of the freedom of expression must be afforded the highest possible protection, he reaffirmed. Turning to the text on fighting extremism, he said it reinforced the need to shift from conflict and violence to mediation and dialogue. In recent years, there had been a clear resurgence of Iran’s State-sponsored terrorism, which posed a threat to regional stability and used violence to support national aims. Urging Iran to underscore its commitment to lay out its priority of prudent moderation and help restore peace and stability in the Middle East, he said it must halt its support of terrorist organizations that perpetuated violence against innocent people. Noting that President Hassan Rouhani had outlined his peaceful aims during the recent general debate, he expressed hope that his vision would soon be reflected in practical steps. It was important that Iran align its activities with its own stated ideals and those ideals of the international community, he stressed.
Caterina Ventura ( Canada) said her country had joined the consensus with respect to the resolution on a world against violence and violent extremism. Such a world would require concrete action by all, she said, urging all States to comply with international human rights obligations, including the text’s sponsor, who should translate words into action.
Welile Nhlapo ( South Africa), introducing the draft titled “The role of diamond in fuelling conflict” (document A/68/L.29), thanked delegations for the global support shown after the passing of Nelson Mandela.
Highlighting developments since the resolution’s adoption, he reported progress in some areas, notably the fact that there were now 55 participants in the Kimberley Process, representing more than 80 countries. A new addition was the acceptance of Mali as part of the Kimberley Process. Over the last year, the Process had adopted new norms and streamlined procedures, which had led to enhanced effectiveness in pursuing its mandate.
JOHN BUSUTTIL, representative of the European Union Delegation, said the Kimberley Process continued to improve transparency and promote the publication of annual and review visit reports. The joint European Union-India Kimberly Process Certification Scheme data-sharing platform contributed to enhanced information sharing on implementation of the Process, he said. The number of fake certificates detected and illegal shipments blocked in 2013 attested to the effectiveness of the Process in deterring conflict diamonds. Recalling several Security Council resolutions on engagement by the Kimberly Process in Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia, he also welcomed efforts by the Central African Republic to develop a work plan for strengthening its internal control system, noting, however, that security conditions in the country did not currently provide guarantees for preserving the integrity of the diamonds’ chain of custody. He strongly supported the need to further strengthen and adapt the Kimberly Process to meet future challenges in the global diamond supply chain and to provide assurances to consumers that diamonds were not tainted by violence. One of the unique features of the Kimberly Process was its tripartite structure, he said.
Dmitry I. Maksimychev ( Russian Federation), commending the role of the Kimberly Process, stated that it was highly counterproductive to impose sanctions that disproportionately led to grey areas in trade. The Russian Federation would hardly call the proposed reform of the Process timely when there was a lack of consensus on such issues among participating States, he said, rejecting the inclusion of issues in the Kimberly Process that did not meet its competencies. He also rejected moving some concerns to other forums that did not have a United Nations connection. Particularly noteworthy was the unbreakable link connecting the Kimberly Process to the United Nations. The tripartite nature of the Kimberly Process was its unique quality, and its work must be based on international cooperation as well as rooted in international law, he stressed, adding that civil society should aim to help States combat the trade in blood diamonds.
Mr. PROSOR ( Israel) said that since the establishment of the Kimberley Process in 2003, the share of conflict diamonds had fallen from 15 per cent of the global trade in rough diamonds to less than 1 per cent. As the world’s leading exporter and third largest trading centre for diamonds, Israel was committed to demonstrating that a sustainable economy could be sustained by values like integrity, honesty and trust. For that reason, it had been among the first countries to play a part in establishing the Kimberly Process and the first country to issue a certificate when the Kimberly Process had entered into effect. Noting that diamonds were assessed by four Cs — cut, colour, clarity, and carat, — he proposed that the international community address a different group of Cs: conscience, conviction, credibility and confidence. Legally mined diamonds could contribute to Africa’s growth and prosperity, but only if the industry was responsibly regulated.
The General Assembly then adopted, by consensus, the draft resolution entitled “The role of diamonds in fuelling conflict: breaking the link between the illicit transaction of rough diamonds and armed conflict as a contribution to prevention and settlement of conflicts” (document A/68/L.29).
Assistance to Survivors of 1994 Rwandan Genocide
The representative of Rwanda presented the draft on “Assistance to survivors of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, particularly orphans, widows and victims of sexual violence” (document A/68/L.32), saying that since the genocide, survivors had made strides forward, but recovery was an ongoing process. The Government faced enormous challenges of rebuilding survivors’ shattered lives. The tabled resolution recognized the survivors’ needs, she said.
The Assembly then adopted the text without a vote, as orally revised.
Rights of Reply
The representative of Iran, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, saidthe statement by Israel’s delegate had been hateful. Israel had occupied lands putting people in harsh conditions and had flouted norms and international law. He rejected any accusations of extremism made against Iran. Iran had suffered much at the hands of extremism and had encouraged and supported moderation in the Middle East, he said, adding that the President of Iran aimed to improve relations among the States.
The representative of Israel said his country hoped the resolution’s words would be a torchlight that Iran could follow, adding that its failure to recognize Israel contradicted those words. Israel refused to accept lectures from Iran, a primary sponsor of terror that denied women basic rights and where elections were a sham. Israel was committed to the Middle East peace process, he added.
* *** *For information media • not an official record