Concluding its sixty-ninth session, the General Assembly this afternoon adopted one resolution and heard closing remarks that highlighted the unique vision of the 2030 agenda and the year’s other major accomplishments.
The “crowning accomplishment” of the session, said Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, was the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Lauding delegates for seizing the historic opportunity with a constructive and committed attitude, he recalled that the design of 17 goals and 169 targets was accomplished, not overnight, but through intensive consultations and by opening the policy-making process in unprecedented ways to an unprecedented range of voices.
Looking back at the session, he reminded the Assembly how it had begun with “bold and effective” measures to combat Ebola. While the disease continued to decline, the international community must keep strengthening “collective global health security”, he stated. It was also necessary to check the violent extremism around the world. Urging the international community to bring the 2030 agenda to life, he called on all Member States to demonstrate the flexibility they had brought to Addis Ababa to the climate agreement in December.
“When we gathered in this Hall a little more than a year ago,” Assembly President Sam Kutesa (Uganda) said, it was the beginning of a journey towards a more prosperous, sustainable future. Putting people at the centre of the Assembly’s work had yielded many important outcomes on that journey, including the landmark agreement on the 2030 development agenda and the new Addis Ababa Action Agenda, which was the “cornerstone” of the world’s renewed global partnership for development.
Looking forward, he urged the international community to reach a bold and ambitious agreement in Paris to promote sustainable development and protection of the planet. Security Council reform remained a priority, he added, calling on the Assembly to “muster the resolve” to reform the Council in accordance with current geo-political realities.
The Assembly also adopted, without a vote, the draft resolution on “Promoting inclusive and accountable public services for sustainable development” (document A/69/L.81/Rev.1). By its text, the Assembly reaffirmed that the United Nations had a central role to play in promoting international cooperation in strengthening public institutions and public services for sustainable development. It also encouraged all countries that had not yet done so to ratify and accede to the United Nations Convention against Corruption, and encouraged the international community to develop good practices on asset return, while supporting the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative of the United Nations and the World Bank, among other institutions.
In other business, co-sponsors withdrew the draft decision titled “Report of the Human Rights Council” (contained in document A/69/L.93).
The Assembly also deferred 10 agenda items for consideration in the seventieth session of the General Assembly. Further, several agenda items were included in the draft agenda of the seventieth session.
The meeting concluded with a moment of silent meditation and the handover of the gavel to the President-elect of the seventieth session, Mogens Lykketoft (Denmark).
Also speaking today were representatives of Bolivia (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), United States, South Africa and Senegal, as well as the European Union.
The delegate from Bolivia, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, introduced a draft resolution on “Promoting inclusive and accountable public services for sustainable development” (document A/69/L.81/Rev.1).
“This is the right time to submit a relevant resolution on public services and development,” he said. Sustainable development stressed an integral and forward-looking approach at all levels. The text focused on intra- and intergenerational equity. As the world transitioned from the Millennium Development Goals to the sustainable development goals, Governments must adopt innovative approaches to promote policy change and participatory decision-making.
The adoption of the resolution sent a strong signal on the importance of public administration. It promoted development that was transparent, professional, ethical, responsible and properly equipped with information and communications technologies. It was key to achieving sustainable development goal 16 on promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. Likewise, the resolution would have the Assembly call on the Secretary-General to continue to provide assistance to developing countries, in particular on development and good governance.
Taking the floor following the introduction, the representative of the United States, also speaking on behalf of Israel, said that promoting good governance, combating corruption and developing accountable public institutions were essential parts of development. The resolution would help to facilitate sustainable development goal 16. However, in his view, it was unhelpful to make distinction between “members” and “observer States”. In addition, the language on policy space must be read in line with States’ responsibilities under international law. Finally, while the participation of indigenous people was vital, the United States did not endorse any such practices as honour killings or discrimination against women.
The draft text was then adopted as orally revised.
In explanation of position after the vote, the representative of South Africa said sustainable development emphasized a holistic approach in decision-making and intergenerational equity. The adoption of the resolution would send a strong signal to the United Nations system and would encourage the international community to support capacity development. The Group believed in promoting inclusive public services, providing them in a transparent manner and unblocking bottlenecks. The United Nations system had a central role to play in strengthening public institutions and in creating an enabling environment for States to achieve the sustainable development goals. Member States should be encouraged to use information technologies to support development efforts and the North must provide more support to developing countries. Further, his Group also recognized the important contributions of indigenous peoples and local communities in sustainable development.
The representative of the European Union Delegation said inclusive and accountable public services required institutions that respected human rights and actively fought corruption. The State had the primary responsibility to establish such services and institutions. The Union emphasized the limited value added by the text of the resolution just adopted. There was a pressing need to streamline the work of the General Assembly and avoid duplication of existing resolutions. Further, the time pressure had not allowed for an effective negotiation process and it was regrettable that the Member States could not achieve consensus on the text through informal consultations. Turning to operative paragraph 11, he added that the Union, reiterating its respect for the positive contribution of indigenous peoples, believed that the list of principles in this paragraph was incomplete. Further, it was the duty of the State to protect and promote all human rights.
Turning to a draft decision on the “Report of the Human Rights Council” (document A/69/L.93), by which it would have decided to defer consideration of Human Rights Council resolution 24/24 of 27 September 2013 until its seventieth session, the representative of Senegal, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the Group had decided to withdraw the text.
The reasons for that decision stemmed from the conviction that the President of the General Assembly was mandated to facilitate the process of consultation on resolution 24/24 on “Cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of Human Rights”, consistent with Assembly resolution 68/144 and decision 69/668. General Assembly resolution 60/251 had determined the mandate of the Human Rights Council to promote respect for all human rights in a fair and equitable manner.
However, the designation of a United Nations-wide focal point to promote the prevention of, protection against and accountability for reprisals and intimidation related to cooperation with the United Nations, as recommended in Human Rights Council resolution 24/24, would have a system-wide impact. The Group had concerns that resolution 24/24 would have serious potential ramifications for the mandate of the Human Rights Council vis-à-vis the General Assembly and other United Nations bodies. The language in that resolution remained ambiguous, he said.
In addition, while one facilitator had been appointed on the issue, no other co-facilitator had been appointed to help States to begin consultations on the matter. Since no consultations had taken place, resolution 24/24 could not move forward, he said.
The draft decision was then withdrawn.
BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that the crowning accomplishment of the sixty-ninth session was the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The design of the 17 goals and 169 targets had not been accomplished overnight. Several rounds of intensive consultations had been needed to close the gaps and reach common ground. The articulation of the new Agenda had also seen the Assembly open the policy-making process in unprecedented ways to an unprecedented range of voices. That was a legacy of consequence, he said, commending Member States for seizing that historic opportunity with such a constructive and committed attitude.
The Addis Ababa Action Agenda had pointed the way for a stronger global partnership for development, he added. Praising the President of the General Assembly and the two co-facilitators, he called on all Member States to show the same vision and flexibility in reaching a climate agreement in December and in bringing the new sustainable development goals to life in the years ahead.
Last fall, the first resolution of the sixty-ninth session had paved the way for bold and effective measures to combat Ebola. The United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), the first ever system-wide health field operation, had accomplished its unique mandate. Cases had declined dramatically and Liberia had been declared Ebola-free. But, the outbreak in West Africa was not over. The international community must continue to exercise heightened vigilance and work together to strengthen “our collective global health security”.
In early 2015, he recalled, the Assembly had convened an important debate on promoting tolerance and countering extremism. “We continue to see shocking acts of violence and the systematic enslavement of women and girls,” he stated. In November, he would present to the Assembly a comprehensive plan for preventing violent extremism. The sixty-ninth session had also seen the Assembly commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War and the founding of the Organization. “Let us now get off to a good start on implementing the 2030 Agenda,” he concluded.
General Assembly President SAM KUTESA (Uganda) highlighted many of the landmark accomplishments of the sixty-ninth session. “When we gathered in this Hall a little more than a year ago, we set out on a journey, seeking to put humanity on a path towards a more prosperous, sustainable future,” he said.
The shared vision of putting people at the centre of the Assembly’s work had yielded many important outcomes on that journey. For example, the landmark agreement on the 2030 development agenda was without question one of the major highlights of the session, with Member States and other stakeholders working tirelessly to formulate an inclusive and transformative future development framework. That agenda would guide development efforts for the next 15 years, he said, and would take into account the needs of all people around the world.
Other highlights of the session had included the high-level thematic debates on the means of implementation for the future development framework, held in February, and on the new Addis Ababa Action Agenda, which was the “cornerstone” of the world’s renewed global partnership for development. Yet, those endeavours would be moot if the international community did not address one of the defining challenges of our time — climate change. “Supporting efforts to reach a new, universally binding climate change agreement was another vitally important area of focus during the sixty-ninth session,” he said.
To keep that momentum in the lead-up to the Conference of the Parties on Climate Change in Paris, he had convened a high-level event on climate change in June. Reaching a bold and ambitious agreement in Paris that promoted the achievement of sustainable development, while protecting the planet, was critical.
In addition, the session had marked the twentieth anniversary of the Beijing Conference on Women, held a high-level thematic debate on strengthening cooperation with regional and subregional organizations and had unveiled the Permanent Memorial to Honour the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The world body had also made reform of the Security Council one of its priorities, he said, stressing that, going forward, “we should muster the resolve to reform the Council in a way that reflects the geo-political realities of our current world”.