29 June 2011

General Assembly Resolution Stresses Need to Ensure that ‘Graduation’ from List of Least Developed Countries Does Not Disrupt Development Progress

29 June 2011
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fifth General Assembly


105th Meeting* (AM)

General Assembly Resolution Stresses Need to Ensure that ‘Graduation’ from List

of Least Developed Countries Does Not Disrupt Development Progress


Travel Benefit Extends to Recent Graduates Cape Verde, Maldives;

Text on Protracted Conflicts in GUAM Area Passes 57 to 13, with 74 Abstentions

Recalling that Member States committed to assisting the world’s 48 least developed countries with an overarching goal of enabling half of them to meet the criteria for graduation from that status by 2020, the General Assembly today adopted a consensus resolution reiterating that graduation not disrupt development progress already achieved.

The text — entitled “Implementing the smooth transition strategy for countries graduating from the list of least developed countries” — was one of three adopted today in a spurt of activity to address four distinct agenda items:  the implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of major United Nations conferences; organizational matters and groups of countries in special situations; appointments; and protracted conflicts in the GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Republic of Moldova) area and their implications for international peace, security and development.

By the terms of the text on least developed countries (document A/65/L.66/Rev.1), the Assembly recalled the Istanbul Declaration and Programme of Action for 2011-2020, adopted in May 2011 at the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Istanbul, Turkey.  It also urged graduating countries, and all bilateral and multilateral development and trading partners, to pursue or intensify their efforts, consistent with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, to contribute to the full implementation of Assembly resolution 59/209 (2005).

Also by the resolution, the Assembly decided that the long-standing benefit of travel-related support the United Nations made available to the least developed countries would be extended, if requested, within existing resources, to Cape Verde and the Maldives for a period appropriate to the development situation of the country and for a maximum of three years.  It further decided that the same benefit would be granted, on request and within existing resources, to any other country that would have graduated from least developed country status for a period appropriate to its development situation and up to three years.

Introducing the draft on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, Natalia Handrujovicz (Argentina) said that even with graduation, least developed countries faced unique challenges, making the support of development partners — in the form of trade preferences, official development assistance (ODA) and technical cooperation — integral to their progress.  A sudden withdrawal of support could interrupt or reverse development progress already achieved.

While a smooth transition would depend on the cooperation between the least developed countries and their partners, the graduated country should play a central role in the formulation and implementation of strategies, she said, noting that graduation should not cause a disruption in development status.  Urging the full and timely implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action, she expressed hope that today’s text would be adopted by consensus.

Explaining his position after action, the representative of the Maldives called the text a step forward in furthering the commitment to the Istanbul Programme of Action.  Recalling that the Assembly, in 2004, had recognized that that transition could be difficult, he said graduation did not mean that structural handicaps would be resolved, and reiterated the importance that graduation not disrupt development.

There must be a period appropriate to countries’ development situations to allow them to prepare for the loss of support, he said.  The extension of travel-related benefits would “go long way” in allowing countries to participate in various activities.  There was still work to be done to ensure that the 2004 intentions were realized, and his country, having recently graduated, would continue to share its experience as it progressed through the transition period.

In other business today, the Assembly, by a vote of 57 in favour to 13 against, with 74 abstentions, adopted a resolution on the status of internally displaced persons and refugees from Abkhazia, Georgia, and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, Georgia, recognizing the right of return of all those persons and their descendants — regardless of ethnicity — to their homes throughout Georgia, including in Abkhazia and South Ossetia (document A/65/L.74).  (See annex.)

By other terms, it stressed the need to respect the property rights of all internally displaced persons and refugees affected by the conflicts in Georgia and the need to refrain from obtaining property in violation of those rights.  Reaffirming the unacceptability of forced demographic changes, it also underlined the urgent need for unimpeded access for humanitarian activities to all internally displaced persons, refugees and other persons residing in all conflict-affected areas throughout Georgia.

All participants in the Geneva discussion — started on 15 October 2008 — were called on to intensify efforts to establish a durable peace, commit to enhanced confidence-building measures, take immediate steps to ensure respect for human rights and create security conditions favourable to the voluntary, safe, dignified and unhindered return of all internally displaced persons and refugees to their places of origin.  It also underlined the need for a timetable to ensure such returns and requested the Secretary-General to submit a report on the implementation of the present resolution at the Assembly’s sixty-sixth session.

Introducing the text, Alexander Lomaia (Georgia) said “unfortunately, the right to return had been subverted by politically motivated obstructionism”, pointing to a letter circulated earlier this month by a Member State that sought to legitimize a so-called “new reality”, declaring that citizens of varied backgrounds in his country would never be able to “exist within a single country”.  By presenting today’s resolution, “we leave politics aside, focusing exclusively on the humanitarian dimension of the problem”, he asserted.

Maintaining the issue of Georgia’s internally displaced persons on the agenda significantly contributed to their eventual return, he said.  Stressing that annual reporting by the Secretary-General to the Assembly was key, he said that most important was that the text resonated with the Assembly’s humanitarian mission, sending a powerful signal to all displaced persons that the international community stood by them.

Speaking before the vote, the Russian Federation’s delegate said it was the fourth year in which such a text had been presented and, as in years past, it had nothing to do with the lofty humanitarian purposes declared by its co-sponsor.  The counterproductive nature of Georgia’s presentation left no room for doubt that the text had been prepared outside the region’s current political realities.

By presenting this text, Georgia was “floating the notion” that Abkhazia and South Ossetia somehow belonged to it, he said, adding that the text, which allegedly aimed at resolving the status of displaced persons, in fact only complicated an already unstable process in the Geneva negotiations.  Moreover, the text’s appeal to all participants in the Geneva discussions to agree to more effective measures to build trust sounded like “blatant demagoguery”.

Also speaking before the vote was the representative of Belarus, who said he would abstain due to the “confrontational” nature of the text.   Switzerland’s representative, speaking after action, said he, too, had abstained in the vote, although he supported all efforts to find a consensual solution on the specific situation of internally displaced persons and refugees.

Turkey’s representative, also speaking after action, urged all parties to work towards a comprehensive and sustainable peace that would also provide for the return of displaced persons and refugees.  He emphasized the sovereignty, independence and integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders in that context.

Also today, the Assembly adopted a consensus resolution on the review of the implementation of General Assembly resolution 61/16 on the strengthening of the Economic and Social Council (document A/65/L.81), taking note of the report of its President and encouraging Member States, the Economic and Social Council, the regional commissions and other entities of the United Nations system to consider that report’s recommendations.

Explaining his position after action, Chile’s representative said he hoped it now would be possible to strengthen one of the United Nations most important pillars.  A number of recommendations could be implemented by the Council, while others would require mandates by the General Assembly.

The European Union’s representative welcomed the text, saying areas had been identified where consensus existed and it was now up to the Council and its secretariat to follow through on the recommendations.  Efforts must continue to identify comparative advantage, avoid duplication and promote synergies in its work.  He also urged the Council to carry out a more focused substantive session.

Argentina’s representative, on behalf of the Group of 77, stressed the relevance of ensuring high-level participation in the Council’s spring meeting and a closer relationship with United Nations funds and programmes.  She highlighted the importance of the Chief Executives Board (CEB) as the authority for promoting coherence within the United Nations system, drawing attention also to the idea of establishing a follow-up mechanism for the topics discussed in the Development Cooperation Forum (DCF).

In final business, the Assembly, acting on the recommendation of the Internal Justice Council, extended the terms of office of two ad litem judges on the United Nations Dispute Tribunal — Jean-François Cousin (France) and Nkemdilim Amelia Izuako (Nigeria) — for an additional six months beginning on 1 July 2011.

(annex follows)


Vote on Internally Displaced Persons from Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Georgia

The draft resolution on Status of internally displaced persons and refugees from Abkhazia, Georgia, and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, Georgia (document A/65/L.74) was adopted by a recorded vote of 57 in favour to 13 against, with 74 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Tuvalu, United Kingdom, United States, Vanuatu.

Against:  Armenia, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, Viet Nam.

Abstain:  Argentina, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bhutan, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chile, China, Colombia, Cyprus, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Gabon, Gambia, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Yemen, Zambia.

Absent:  Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Botswana, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Ghana, Iran, Iraq, Kiribati, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Niger, Nigeria, Palau, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Suriname, Swaziland, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Zimbabwe.

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*     The 104th Meeting was covered in Press Release GA/11105 of 22 June 2011.

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