Committee Also Begins Discussion on Macroeconomic Policy, Implementing Outcomes of International Conferences on Financing for Development
Israel continued to strangulate the development aspirations of Palestinian people through myriad systematic campaigns to extract and exploit natural resources in the occupied Palestinian territories and the Golan, the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) was told today.
Resources of Palestinian people had been plundered for more than half a century, the representative of the State of Palestine said this morning as the Committee met to consider its agenda on the sovereignty of the Palestinian people before moving on to macroeconomic policy questions in the afternoon.
While Israeli settlers exported agricultural products worth $285 million annually, Palestinians exported just $19 million of agricultural products, the delegate from the State of Palestine continued. “Terrorist settlers” targeted fruit and olive trees, many of which were older than Israel itself. Meanwhile, Palestinian farmers were forced to acquire permits from the Israeli army. Calling Israeli settlements a war crime and anyone who encouraged them accomplices, he urged the international community to boycott settlers by not allowing them access to international markets.
Israel’s delegate said that today’s discussion was yet another repetitive episode in “one-sided Israel-bashing” based on selective and unreliable data. All the speakers who took to the floor failed to mention that Hamas administered the Gaza Strip, misusing its economic and financial resources. It was Hamas that had initiated the 2014 conflict and repeatedly broke ceasefires.
It was surreal to hear allegations of human rights violations by Israel made by some of the world’s most infamous human rights violators, including Syria, Qatar and Iran, he said. Following the 2014 conflict, $2 billion had been pledged by Arab countries for the reconstruction of Gaza, and yet less than $200 million had been disbursed. That was “10 per cent walk and 90 per cent talk”, he said, and welcomed Palestinians to return to the negotiating table.
The representative of Syria said Israel deprived Syrians living in the occupied Golan of their right to land and basic rights, including water. The suffering of Palestinians and Syrians would seize if the international community held Israel accountable for its crimes.
The representative of Oman, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said the Israeli occupation had undermined Palestinians’ right to jobs, transport of merchandise and access to humanitarian aid. In addition to the settlement policies and restrictions, the illegal encirclement of Gaza had worsened the plight of the Palestinian people. He urged that the status quo at holy sites be maintained, pointing out that, since the first day of the 1967 occupation, systematic policies had been pursued with the “Judea-ism” of East Jerusalem.
Echoing that sentiment, the representative of Saudi Arabia said, “Jews have no right to Haram al-Sharif,” urging the preservation of the status quo at the site.
Before this morning’s discussion, the Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) introduced the note by the Secretary-General on the “economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan”.
Also taking to the floor to speak on the agenda item on the sovereignty of the Palestinian people were the representatives of South Africa (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Nicaragua, Malaysia, Iraq, Venezuela, Qatar, Egypt, Maldives, Costa Rica, Iran, Kuwait, Zimbabwe, Libya, Jordan, Indonesia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Namibia and Zambia.
The representatives of Qatar, Iran, Israel, Syria and the State of Palestine exercised their right of reply.
Moving on to macroeconomic policy, the Second Committee heard several reports introduced by Alfredo Suescum, Vice-President of the Trade and Development Board of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD); Guillermo Valles, Director of International Trade in Goods, Services and Commodities at UNCTAD; Alexander Trepelkov, Director of the Financing for Development Office, Department of Economic and Social Affairs; Dusan Zivkovic of the Debt and Development Finance Branch of UNCTAD; and Namsuk Kim of the Development Policy and Analysis Division at the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
Also speaking were representatives of South Africa (on behalf of the Group of 77), Malaysia (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Jamaica (on behalf of Caribbean Community), Bangladesh (on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries), Maldives (on behalf of Alliance of Small Island States), Zambia (on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries), Ecuador (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Papua New Guinea (on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States) and New Zealand (on behalf of his State, Canada and Australia), as well as a representative of the European Union.
The Second Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 27 October, to continue its discussion of macroeconomic policy.
Introduction of Report on Palestinian Sovereignty
RIMA KHALAF, Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and current coordinator of the Regional Commissions, introduced the note by the Secretary-General on the “economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan” (document A/70/82). She said Israeli policies continued to violate international law and undermine the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination. Israel continued to implement two legal systems in the West Bank affecting every stage of legal proceedings and rights. Israel applied a number of discriminatory policies and the situation in East Jerusalem had become progressively worse.
The summer of 2014 had witnessed Israel’s fierce offensive on Gaza, which caused more deaths and injuries since the beginning of the occupation, with some 2,220 Palestinians killed. In the West Bank, patterns of the excessive use of force against Palestinians continued. In August of 2015 alone, Israel demolished the homes of 228 people. Israel restricted the movement of everyone in the West Bank, negatively affecting all aspects of social and economic life. Before the 2014 offensive, the environmental and water situation there had already been disastrous. Conditions in Gaza had never been worse, she said, emphasizing that the destruction of infrastructure during the 2014 conflict had exacerbated unemployment.
ABDULLAH ABU SHAWESH, State of Palestine, said the report showed the “quantity and quality” of Israel’s attacks on Palestine’s natural resources through the activities of its military as well as terrorist settlers. In addition to confiscating land, Israel had issued military orders relating to water. Although Israel’s policies were strangulating Palestinian agriculture, Israeli settlers had unrestricted access to water resources. Palestine’s natural resources had been plundered for more than half a century and, while Israeli settlers exported agricultural products worth $285 million annually, Palestinians exported $19 million of agricultural product.
The settlers especially targeted fruit and olive trees, he added, many of which were older than the State of Israel. Palestinian farmers were also forced to acquire permits from Israel’s military. While the reports clearly condemned Israel, it was crucial that the international community apply the United Nations Charter and various resolutions to resolve the issue. Israeli settlement was a war crime perpetrated by the occupying Power and those who encouraged the Israelis were accomplices. Stressing that it was necessary to take punitive steps under international law to bring Israel to account, he called on the global community to boycott settlers by not allowing them access to international markets.
PINKIE MOLEKO (South Africa), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the impact of Israel’s discriminatory policies and practices in the occupied territory, which included the excessive use of force, settlement expansion, property destruction and exploitation of natural resources, violated the rights of the population and exacerbated their social and economic conditions. Israel also retained nearly full control over water resources in the West Bank and utilized discriminatory planning and zoning policies.
Further, she added, mobility restrictions in the West Bank had rendered an estimated 50 per cent of agricultural land there inaccessible, and fuel was scarce, which affected the delivery of basic services. Given the deteriorating economic situation, food insecurity in Palestine remained at very high levels in 2013, with one third of households considered food insecure. The report of the Secretary-General showed that not only would the Palestinian people be left behind, but would “never enjoy any fruit from the recently planted seeds” of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
MOHAMED AHMED SALIM AL-SHANFARI (Oman), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group and associating himself with the Group of 77, said the Israeli occupation had undermined Palestinian people’s right to jobs, transport of merchandise and access to humanitarian aid. In addition to the settlement policies and restrictions, the illegal encirclement of Gaza had worsened the plight of the Palestinian people. Israel continued to exploit resources that belonged to those people, he said, adding that there was a direct correlation between poverty and Israeli isolationist policy. In 2015, the occupying authority had confiscated more land. Israel’s persistent practice of building the separation wall and confiscating land behind that partition constituted a major obstacle to freedom of movement. That was in direct violation of the International Court of Justice and provisions of international law.
In the Golan, he said the situation remained dire as well. Israel continued to confiscate the land and resources of Syrians. Since the first day of the 1967 occupation, systematic policies had been pursued with the “Judea-ism” of East Jerusalem. In the Golan, Israel sold water to Syrians at much higher prices than to Israeli citizens. Israel had to respect international law and United Nations resolutions in order to lend justice to the Palestinian and Syrian people in the occupied Golan. Israel was committing a war crime by evicting Palestinians and building settlements. He called upon the international community to adopt sanctions against Israel to compel it to withdraw from occupied territories.
MOUNZER MOUNZER (Syria), associating himself with the Group of 77, said Israel had persisted in entrenching its occupation, exploitation, settlement activities and policy of sieged starvation. Israel had deprived Syrians of their right to land, resources and universities in the Golan. Further, Israel had tried to expand settlement occupation, drill for oil in the Golan and deny Syrian citizens of their rights. Israeli plundering of natural resources of the Golan continued and citizens there were subjected to a systemic campaign to extract them. Syrians and the Golan were deprived of any just distribution of water compared to water given to Israeli citizens. The suffering of Palestinians and Syrians would seize if the international community held Israel accountable for their crimes. It was unacceptable that the international community would condone the illegitimate occupation of the Golan as well as the Palestinian territories.
PATRICIA BAJAÑA (Nicaragua) said the Palestinian people had suffered from a criminal blockade for many decades, while living in subhuman conditions. The Palestinian economy was one of occupation, especially in the Gaza Strip. The inhabitants of the Occupied Palestinian Territories could not focus on economic development, as their primary concern was survival. It was pointless to speak of sustainable development when a people didn’t have control over their land, water or natural resources. Food insecurity in Palestine was growing, with 80 per cent of the population depending on assistance and 90 per cent of the water unfit for human consumption. Stressing that Israel must comply with the resolutions that condemned the current state of affairs, she added that occupied people also had a right to development.
RAJA REZA BIN RAJA ZAIB SHAH (Malaysia), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the 2014 Palestinian civilian death toll was the highest recorded since 1967 and the level of destruction was unprecedented. The “apartheid wall” would further destroy important agricultural land and destabilize the delicate ecosystem of the surrounding area. His delegation was especially concerned about the gross violations of children’s rights, “the most vulnerable group in the occupied territories”, as incidents involving schools had almost tripled in the West Bank. The reclaiming of the permanent sovereignty of the Palestinians over their natural resources would be crucial to reversing the current crisis.
HASSAN JAMIL (Iraq), associating himself with the Group of 77, pointed to private sector paralysis, overwhelming debt and financial crisis in Gaza. Israel continued to confiscate Arab territories belonging to farmers. In Gaza, unemployment had increased considerably, as two out of three people were unemployed. That accelerated poverty and, therefore, a lack of income for the Palestinian Authority. Israeli violations were numerous throughout history, he said, condemning Israeli occupation and its racist policy to change the demographic character of Al-Quds. There had to be a just and lasting solution through relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, and the implementation of a road map that would put an end to the occupation “once and for all”, based on pre-1967 borders and with Al-Quds as its capital.
ALESSANDRO PINTO DAMIANI (Venezuela) said the discriminatory action and continued aggression by Israel against the Palestinians directly affected the socioeconomic sustainable development of the Palestinian State. He demanded the sovereign management of resources and said the illegal exploitation by Israel of resources continued to push Palestinian people further into poverty and despair. The Committee had debated at length the use of natural resources in achieving sustainable development. He cited the United Nations Charter and several resolutions that stipulated the sovereign use of natural resources for the development and prosperity of its people.
AHMAD SAIF AL-KUWARI (Qatar), associating himself with the Arab Group and the Group of 77, stated the report had highlighted the extent of suffering of the Palestinians in the occupied territories, including the infringement of their rights to development and self-determination. Noting the destruction of 26 schools in the recent conflict, he regretted that the large number of incidents had affected children and stressed the need to protect their right to education, consistent with international human rights laws. Further, there could be no sustainable development as long as food insecurity, the confiscation of Palestinian property and the settlement policy continued. Israel’s practices had also posed an obstacle to the establishment of peace in the region.
MOHAMED OMAR GAD (Egypt), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Arab Group, said the disastrous consequences of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian lands had reached an unprecedented level. While Israel continued to practice excessive use of force, destroying property and homes and confiscating land, its forces and settlers enjoyed impunity. Such violations ran counter to international human rights laws. Condemning the increase in settlement activities and violence by settlers, he added that the economic growth in the occupied territories was unsustainable. Further, Israel’s policy of two separate legal systems had amounted to apartheid.
AHMED SAREER (Maldives), addressing the question of why a so-called “political” issue was being discussed in a Committee that primarily dealt with development, said that, without sovereignty over their land and natural resources, the Palestinians would not be able to determine policies for development. There could be no development without peace, and no peace without development. His country condemned Israeli policies, which included illegal settlement enterprise, collective punishment and disregard for human life and dignity. Those policies affected all aspects of Palestinian society and economy. The 2014 offensive in Gaza had exacerbated the environmental conditions in the occupied territories. Regular offensives had resulted in the territory being in a perpetual state of destruction, with severe environmental impacts, such as lack of water and risks to public health. He called on Israel to end all actions harming the environment in the territories under its occupation, as well as its destruction of infrastructure, including water pipelines and sewage and electricity networks. His delegation remained firm in its condemnation of such illegal actions, constant provocations and human rights violations by Israel.
AMANDA STEWART (Costa Rica) expressed concern over the environmental, social and economic state of the Palestinian people. With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, human rights must be analysed now through the lens of the 2030 Agenda. The Secretary-General’s report had provided details of the plight and suffering of the Palestinian people and outlined in detail how their legitimate rights were undermined. She reiterated that both parties must reactivate and strengthen mechanisms in a transparent way to find a just and lasting solution for the benefit of people. A settlement must be based on obligations agreed upon previously in General Assembly and Security Council resolutions. The eradication of poverty was of great importance to sustainable development, which the Palestinian people, like everyone, had an inalienable right to.
TOFIGH SEDIGH MOSTAHKAM (Iran), associating himself with the Group of 77, said Economic and Social Council resolution 2014/26, as well as General Assembly resolution 69/241, found the practices of the occupying Power in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the Syrian Golan in violation of international humanitarian law. Furthermore, the Secretary-General’s note A/70/82 of March 2014 alerted the international community to serious concerns. Food insecurity in Palestine remained at high levels, with 1.6 million people and 16 per cent of households considered food insecure. After the 2014 Gaza conflict, numerous hospitals and clinics had incurred heavy damage, with only two thirds regaining functionality. Restrictions on the rehabilitation and repair of water and sanitation infrastructure impeded the Palestinians’ access to adequate water and hygiene services. Lastly, Israeli mobility restrictions had diminished women’s ability to work. The continuation of Israeli practices remained the major obstacle to the sustainable development of Palestine and its implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Any economic growth required the termination of the occupation and restoration of the inalienable rights of Palestinians to self-determination.
ABRAR JERAK (Kuwait) said the Secretary-General’s report clearly outlined how the occupation systematically violated the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. The Palestinians could not achieve sustainable development without first living in peace. The separation wall was in violation of the International Court of Justice, as was Israel’s excessive use of force, settlements in the West Bank and the destruction of Palestinian homes. Israel had confiscated all water resources, meaning that all Palestinian citizens had access to one sixth of the water that an Israeli had. She also pointed to Gaza’s high food insecurity and an unprecedented shortage of medical supplies. Israel had continued to defy Security Council resolutions, the Geneva Convention and obligations stemming from international law. “We are also witnessing acts of terrorism against women and children,” she said, recalling the 2014 “siege of Gaza”. Kuwait was making a $200 million contribution over the next few years to rebuild Gaza.
FREDERICK SHAVA (Zimbabwe), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the 2030 Agenda called for measures to remove obstacles to the full realization of the rights of people living under colonial or foreign occupation. The situation in Palestine presented the most glaring need for those measures. The denial of economic opportunities to Palestinians was only part of a long list of illegal policies perpetrated by the occupying Power, which included the “wall of oppression and shame”, the illegal Gaza blockade, illegal settlements and the plundering of natural resources. Palestine’s ability to exploit its energy resources, such as in the Meged oil fields, had been hindered by Israel. The naval blockade of Gaza also had prohibited development of the Gaza Marine Zone. In both instances, the Palestinian economy had been deprived of potential revenue, forcing it to depend on Israel for energy. It was time to allow Palestine to exploit its economic potential and realize its independence.
OMAR A. A. ANNAKOU (Libya), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Arab Group, said the Secretary-General’s report documented the practices and policies of the Israeli occupation, including the continued building of the separation wall despite the fact that the International Court of Justice considered its construction illegal. His delegation noted with concern that the highest number of Palestinian civilians had been killed in 2014, with hundreds of homes demolished and their inhabitants displaced. The continued siege of Gaza since 2007 and Israel’s control over underground water resources exacerbated the situation. While the 2030 Agenda revolved around 17 Sustainable Development Goals, it was impossible to translate those words into actions while Palestinians were deprived of water and land.
NOUR MAMDOUH KASEB ALJAZI (Jordan), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Arab Group, said the Israeli occupation continued to violate the rights of the Palestinian people through the confiscation of land and natural resources. Due to the restrictions on movement and goods, the Palestinian economy continued to be faced with a financial deficit, which slowed economic development and increased poverty. Development was synonymous with security and justice, and, in order to obtain sustainable development, it was vital to put an end to Israel’s expansionist policies in the occupied territories. Jordan appealed to the international community to show responsibility and place pressure on Israel to resolve the problem so that Palestine could establish an independent State with Al-Quds as its capital.
MUHAMMAD ANSHOR (Indonesia), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the occupying Power had long trampled on the rights and dignity of the Palestinian people. The blockades and “barrier zones” imposed by Israel hindered the movement and trade of the Palestinians. Furthermore, those obstacles undermined the potential of the Palestinian economy and made the State dependent on foreign aid. Of great concern was the onset of the first recession since 2006, as real gross domestic product (GDP) per capita remained below 2005 levels and unemployment stood at 43 per cent in the Gaza Strip and 17 per cent in the West Bank. The Palestinian situation certainly “was against our most heralded commitment of ‘leaving no one behind’ in the attainment of the 2030 Agenda.” The problem of economic development in the Occupied Palestinian Territory pointed to the need for a political solution as a prerequisite for sustainable development. The United Nations must honour its Charter mandate and work towards starting a meaningful and reliable peace process, with a view towards ending Israeli occupation.
KHALID M. OSMAN SID AHMED MOHAMMED ALI (Sudan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Arab States, said the occupying Power continued to violate international humanitarian law. Such discriminatory practices by Israel included the disproportionate use of force and the exploitation of Palestinian resources. The 2030 Agenda had pledged to leave no one behind, and to keep that promise, that meant the Palestinian people could not be deprived of their right to self-determination. The blockade of Gaza was the imprisonment of 1.8 million people, whose socioeconomic conditions worsened with the passing of time. Mobility restrictions on Palestinian women were grave, in particular, he said. In the occupied Syrian Golan, Syrian citizens suffered from mobility restrictions while Israel continued to exploit their natural resources. The international community had a duty to expedite the liberation of the Palestinian people.
KHALID SAEED MOHAMED AL SHUAIBI (Oman), now taking the floor in his national capacity, said the Palestinian people suffered terribly and sustainable development could not come to fruition as long as Israel continued its restrictions on freedom of movement. Israelis had profited from their illegal practices of expansionism. He noted Israeli control over natural resources and said Palestinians were forced to buy products at very high prices without making any profit from their own resources. Oman reaffirmed the sovereignty of the Palestinian and Syrian people over their territories and natural resources, which they should be able to exploit to rebuild their land. He urged Israel to cease all practices hampering development and lift the blockade against the Palestinian people.
NIZAR AMER (Israel) said the report of the Secretary-General represented another repetitive episode in “one-sided Israel-bashing”. Based on selective and unreliable data, it was everything a United Nations report should not be. The Executive Secretary of the ESCWA had overstepped her mandate and her remarks were in violation of her position as an impartial international civil servant. The report had not mentioned that Hamas administered the Gaza Strip, misusing its economic and financial resources. That group had initiated the 2014 conflict and had repeatedly broken the ceasefires. Thousands of children in Israel were undergoing therapy because of 14 years of missile attacks.
Further, he added, the report had chosen to ignore the activities undertaken by Israel under the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism. Since the 2014 conflict, several of the Mechanism’s projects had been authorized, with over 63 per cent under construction. Further, it was surreal to hear allegations of human rights violations by Israel made by some of the world’s most infamous human rights violators. The Syrian delegate had attempted to distract attention from his regime’s shameless killings. Qatar served as the chief financial sponsor of some of the most brutal terrorist groups in the Middle East while Iran had a special talent for repressing its own people. Of the $2 billion pledged by Arab countries for the reconstruction of Gaza, less than $200 million had been disbursed. That was “10 per cent walk and 90 per cent talk”, he said, calling on the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table.
Ms. AL ATEIBI (United Arab Emirates), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Arab States, said that it was critical to meet commitments of the 2030 Agenda. The Secretary-General in the report today had outlined how the economic and social situation had deteriorated for the Palestinian people. Israel’s violation of international law had severely hindered development efforts. Despite General Assembly and Security Council resolutions requesting Israel to stop establishing illegitimate settlements since 2007, Israel had continued to build more in 2014 and 2015. The blockade and the limitation of movement had caused extreme poverty to flourish in Gaza. She called for an end to the Israeli occupation in the context of the Arab Peace Agreement. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) played an important role in rebuilding Gaza, she added, urging donors to pledge funds so that UNRWA could continue to meet its obligations and responsibilities.
WILFRIED I. EMVULA (Namibia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said the situation in the occupied territories constituted a humanitarian disaster and a human rights crisis. The economic situation had been exacerbated by the continued divide between the West Bank and Gaza, stagnant economic growth, persistent fiscal crises, higher unemployment and food insecurity. His country called for a stop to the construction of settlements and stressed that Israel must cease building the wall and comply with its legal obligations as per the 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice. The plight of the Palestinian people could only be solved with the end of the occupation and the recognition of the State of Palestine.
ELIPHAS CHINYONGA (Zambia), associating himself with the Group of 77, congratulating the Palestinian people on their well-deserved right to fly their national flag alongside those of other Member States, said the impasse in the conflict was a drawback to social and economic development, not only for the two States but for the Middle East region as a whole. Reaffirming his country’s recognition of the Palestinian Authority as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people’s struggle to self-determination, he added that generations of refugees who had been displaced by the conflict had been living in refugee camps across the region for almost 70 years now. For the Palestinian State to be stable, it was imperative that the economic blockade and other restrictions, including the withholding of finances, be lifted without any preconditions.
ABDULLAH MOHAMMED A. ALGHUNIM (Saudi Arabia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Arab Group, said Israel imposed a strangulating economic blockade on the movement of Palestinians and commodities. That led to increased poverty and continued financial crisis. “Jews have no right to Al-Haram al‑Sharif,” he said, urging the preservation of the status quo at the site. All Arab States, with no exception, pledged to terminate conflict and enter into a peace agreement on the basis that Israel pulled out from Palestinian territories and the Golan. He condemned Israel for “stealing land” and urged an end to its illegal occupation and reaffirmed the need for the United Nations and international community to support the Palestinians so that they could realize their inalienable right to their own natural resources.
Right of Reply
In an exercise of right of reply, the representative of Qatar said Israel had made unsubstantiated allegations against his country. Israel continued to violate international law, yet tried to deviate from the facts by making accusations “left and right”. He warned that violations of the status quo at the holy mosque and other sites could exacerbate violence and extremism. He denounced all accusations by Israel and condemned all terrorism, regardless of the perpetrators.
The representative of Iran said “Iranophobia” and Islamophobia were being used as a “smokescreen” by the occupying Power in order to maintain the occupation. Iran had always been a law-abiding member of the international community. Harmony, regular elections and respect for the rights of all communities had always prevailed in Iran. The occupation of Arab land was at the heart of all tension and conflict in the Middle East. The occupying Power persisted in its criminal acts as it continued to occupy Palestinian territories.
The representative of Syria said he was not surprised by the hypocrisy of the occupying Power. Houses belonging to Syrians in the Golan and to Palestinians in their territories were being destroyed. Israel was an occupying Power, he said, urging that country to end its occupation. Regarding Israel’s support for Da’esh and other terrorist organizations, he said that more than 1,600 terrorists had been received in Israeli hospitals.
The representative of Israel said the Syrian delegate appeared to believe there was an international conspiracy against his country. On Qatar, he said 1,200 people had died while building the facilities for the Olympic Games due to a lack of preservation of human rights. He said the Iranian delegate had made accusations, but had not denied what the representative of Israel had said.
The representative of the State of Palestine said delegates of the occupying forces were putting forward many lies. The State of Palestine did not incite violence against Jews. The national liberation movement of Palestine had twice elected an Israeli Jew as a member of the organization. “Our problem is not a problem with Jews”; it was with occupation, he stressed.
The representative of Syria said the treatment of the injured in Israeli hospitals was clear proof that Israel was treating those terrorists in plain sight and in defiance of international organizations. That was a clear indication of the conspiracy against his country.
Introduction of Reports on Macroeconomic Policy, Financing for Development
ALFREDO SUESCUM (Panama), Vice-President of the Trade and Development Board of UNCTAD, presenting the report of the Board (documents A/70/15 (Part I), (Part II) and (Part III)), said its high-level segment had addressed development strategies in a globalized world. The first part of the report had examined multilateral processes for managing sovereign external debt and improving existing debt restructuring processes. A multilateral approach was needed for restructuring to prevent the action of vulture funds. The second part concerned the role of women as a catalyst for trade and development. There had been general agreement that women’s economic empowerment paid high dividends in all societies and that their education was critical. However, for trade policies to be socially inclusive, complementary policies were needed.
Deliberations on interdependence had focused on the growing size and influence of financial institutions and macroeconomic fragility in the global economy, he continued. In a globally interdependent world, national economic policies needed to be consistent internationally and short-term measures needed to be consistent with long-term objectives. UNCTAD was encouraged to intensify its efforts with least developed countries towards the further implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action. Furthermore, the Board emphasized that UNCTAD should strengthen its support to small island developing States and was invited to mainstream the Vienna Programme of Action for landlocked developing countries into its work programme. The Board had also encouraged Governments of least developed countries to put forward comprehensive policies and strategies to address the socioeconomic challenges, marginalization and underdevelopment of those countries.
Among many other issues, he said that discussion of economic development in Africa had focused on unlocking the potential of the continent’s services trade. The Board had also looked at the evolution of the international trading system in terms of the connection between trade and trade policy with the Sustainable Development Goals, and the role of smallholder farmers and sustainable commodity production. There was consensus that the evolving multilateral trading system and trade policies should be more inclusive and actively address the Sustainable Development Goals. The Board also had deliberated on reform of the international investment agreement regime, and, in that regard, had welcomed UNCTAD’s updated Investment Policy Framework for Sustainable Development, which had provided valuable guidance to Governments.
UNCTAD also had been commended for building international consensus on Palestinian economic development and support for building its capacities, he said, highlighting as well the unanimous decision at the seventh United Nations Conference to Review All Aspects of the Set of Multilaterally Agreed Equitable Principles and Rules for the Control of Restrictive Business Practices to invite the General Assembly to consider adopting a resolution on consumer protection, which could be a landmark in that field.
GUILLERMO VALLES, Director of International Trade in Goods, Services and Commodities of UNCTAD, introducing the Secretary-General’s report on “international trade and development” (document A/70/277) and the report on “world commodity trends and prospects” (document A/70/184), said that world trade volume had increased a modest 3.2 per cent in 2014 and was expected to grow by 3.8 per cent in 2015 and 4.8 per cent in 2016. The potential of trade was not automatically translated into development benefits. Positive international support, including through Aid for Trade, remained vital to building productive and trade capacities of developing countries.
Trade policies could catalyse the 2030 Agenda in various ways, he added, including by harnessing trade in climate-friendly goods. Further, it was necessary to promote competitive creative industries in developing countries by supporting film, music, publishing, design, arts, crafts, contemporary art, new media and other related industries. The Conference had been working with several countries to strengthen their services economy and trade. Services were the backbone of the economy, and agricultural trade contributed to poverty reduction and food security. Deliberate policies were required to maximize the potential of trade and global trade governance should be consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals. The multilateral trading system had to be revitalized to improve credibility and relevance.
ALEXANDER TREPELKOV, Director, Financing for Development Office, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introducing the Secretary-General’s report on the “outcome of the third International Conference on Financing for Development” (document A/70/320), said the Addis Ababa Action Agenda provided a strong foundation to support the 2030 Agenda, aiming to align all financing flows and policies with economic, social and environmental priorities. The Action Agenda also addressed private financing, domestic and international, emphasizing the need for long-term investment and for all financing to be aligned with sustainable development. It stressed the importance of a fair and equitable trading system and investment agreements, and called for a further increase in representation of developing countries in global norm-setting and decision-making bodies. It also emphasized that development and the dissemination of technology and capacity‑building aided in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
He said the Action Agenda also contained a number of concrete deliverables, including a new social compact to provide basic social services for all, a global infrastructure forum to bridge the infrastructure gap, a Technology Facilitation Mechanism and mainstreaming women’s empowerment into financing for development.
Introducing the Secretary-General’s report on the “international financial system and development” (document A/70/311), he said the Action Agenda called for multilateral cooperation in order to establish regulatory and policy frameworks that promoted financial stability, particularly in reducing systemic risks, and access to finance in a balanced manner. He said the report called for change, including completion of the reforms on financial market regulation, assessment and reduction of the systemic risks associated with shadow banking, addressing the risk created by “too-big-to-fail” financial institutions and reducing risks associated with the markets for derivatives. Regarding the international financial safety net, he highlighted the need for a global mechanism to ensure swift availability of substantial resources to stabilize markets in times of systemic liquidity crises. A timely and adequate resolution of sovereign debt problems would ultimately reduce future costs for all stakeholders.
DUSAN ZIVKOVIC, Debt and Development Finance Branch of UNCTAD, introducing the Secretary-General’s report on “external debt sustainability and development” (document A/70/278), said the total external debt stocks of developing countries increased by 5.2 per cent in 2014, compared to 2013, totalling $6.7 trillion. Since the launch of the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Debt Initiative, 36 of the eligible 39 countries had reached the completion point and benefited from that Initiative and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative. However, securing the participation of commercial creditors in debt relief initiatives remained a challenge, and litigation, in addition to lack of participation, had threatened to undermine debt relief and the achievement of countries’ development goals. Overall, Official Development Assistance (ODA) flows remained stable in 2014 at $135.2 billion, but of concern was the decline in aid to the heavily indebted poor countries and least developed countries. While greater access to international financial markets could facilitate resource mobilization for growth and development, he said, it also brought higher risk exposure. Innovative financing mechanisms, such as GDP-indexed and catastrophe bonds, could prove helpful in mitigating the growing vulnerability of developing countries’ external debt positions. International support through financial and technical assistance would ensure effective management of public liabilities and was critical to equipping developing countries with the means to assess the market-based risks to debt sustainability.
NAMSUK KIM, Development Policy and Analysis Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on unilateral economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries (document A/70/152), noting that it had been prepared in response to General Assembly resolution 68/200, in which the Assembly requested the monitoring of those measures and the study of their impact. Member States that had replied to the Secretary-General’s invitation to provide their views had disagreed with the imposition of such measures as instruments of political and economic coercion. In their view, those actions were not in line with the United Nations Charter, the norms of international law or the rules-based multilateral trading system. They also infringed on State sovereignty. Moreover, unilateral sanctions, which had increased in recent years, had not only hampered trade flows and their potential contribution to development, but adversely impacted the public welfare, human rights and growth prospects of the affected country.
RAYMOND THULANE NYEMBE (South Africa), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77, said that, for the multilateral trading system to harness the potential of trade, practices such as trade barriers and unilateral actions, and measures such as export subsidies, must be urgently eliminated, as they were major challenges for developing countries. Reform within the World Trade Organization (WTO) was a prerequisite for all other changes in the multilateral trading system. He called for facilitating developing countries’ accession to the WTO, as well as strengthening capacity and technical assistance for least developed countries acceding to it. He stressed the importance of debt relief, including debt cancellation, for achieving sustainable development, and reiterated the urgent need for enhancing transparency, supervision, regulation and good governance of the international financial system.
Recognizing the need for improving the regulation, efficiency, responsiveness, functioning and transparency of commodity markets in order to address excessive commodity price volatility, he expressed concern that policies such as currency depreciation in major economies contributed to such volatility. It was imperative that countries refrain from using trade-distorting policies that could fuel speculative practices, hoarding and panic-buying. There was a need to advance a more development-friendly multilateral trading system, strengthen the international financial architecture and ensure developing countries’ fair and equitable representation in decision-making, norm-setting and leadership positions at international financial institutions.
RAMLAN BIN IBRAHIM (Malaysia), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that, notwithstanding its robust economic performance, his region was not immune to external dynamics and shocks or to heightened volatilities in the global financial and exchange markets. Following the global financial and economic crisis, ASEAN emphasized the need to strengthen multilateral economic surveillance, particularly in the international banking and financial sectors. He stressed the importance of promoting fiscal soundness for sustainable economic development. The region continued to accelerate and deepen its economic structural reforms, promote domestic demand and employment, resist protectionism and foster trade and investment.
Noting that the current global downturn threatened the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the 2030 Agenda, he reaffirmed that official development assistance remained the main source of international financing for development in many developing countries, especially the least developed countries, land-locked developing countries and small island developing States. The United Nations was in a unique position to strengthen international cooperation for promoting development in the context of globalization. It must play a fundamental role in the promotion and strengthening of international cooperation and the coherence, coordination and implementation of the internationally agreed Development Goals.
COURTENAY RATTRAY (Jamaica), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating himself with the Group of 77, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (CELAC) and the Alliance of Small Island States, said trade was vital to growth and development. However, linkages between trade, economic growth and development were not automatic. Commodity-dependent economies remained particularly vulnerable to sudden shifts in terms of trade, a point clearly articulated in the Trade and Development Report. He agreed that such uneven trade performance was a reminder that inequality between States, as well as within countries, remained a persistent development challenge requiring immediate policy attention.
A universal, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system would facilitate the attainment of sustainable development, he said, calling for a system with improved credibility and relevance. It must also include provisions for special and differential treatment so that trade could contribute to broad-based development. To that end, it was important to give special attention to the challenges faced by Caribbean small island developing States in the area of financing, and particularly in addressing issues of external debt sustainability. Policies must include obtaining macroeconomic and financial stability, development of credit information institutions, and capital markets development.
ABULKALAM ABDUL MOMEN (Bangladesh), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that, when his Group was formed in 1971, their share in global trade was close to 1 per cent. Now, after more than four decades, the number of countries in the Group had doubled, but their share in international trade was still hovering around 1 per cent. Thanking those countries that had provided duty-free, quota-free market access to products from least developed countries, he said it was important that all developed countries fulfil the commitment to provide such access.
Turning to external debt, he added that the countries in his Group continued to suffer from heavy debt and volatile debt scenarios. That situation needed to be addressed urgently by ensuring debt sustainability, including through cancellation of multilateral and bilateral debts owed by least developed countries, and through provision of concessional funding, including grants. Further, it was important to stabilize the global commodities market while also diversifying the export destinations of least developed countries. The Addis Ababa Action Agenda had agreed on a social compact that included the establishment of global infrastructure and increasing official development assistance to developing countries. The full implementation of that compact was crucial for the eradication of poverty in all least developed countries.
AHMED SAREER (Maldives), speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States and associating himself with the Group of 77, said that, while challenges in achieving macroeconomic stabilization were faced by every developing country, small island developing States faced particular burdens. “Our economies are small, often based on a single industry,” he said, adding that there was limited capacity to mobilize domestic resources. Small island developing States were highly susceptible to the impacts of climate change and natural disasters. Climate change adaptation costs in small island developing States were among the highest in the world, relative to national output.
ODA shares to small island developing States had declined sharply in the past decade, yet it continued to remain crucial for development priorities, he said. It would not be possible to find sustainable solutions to end global poverty without first addressing climate change. Graduating to middle-income status paradoxically made many small island developing States ineligible for concessional finance and, subsequently, a low priority for donors. Meanwhile, high levels of public debt had remained a key challenge for many small island developing States and high risk-ratings limited them from borrowing at competitive rates.
MWABA P. KASESE-BOTA (Zambia), speaking on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said trade infrastructure, distance to the sea and access to appropriate technology had raised the cost of doing business for those States. The Secretary-General’s 2015 trade and development report had shown that global economic activity remained subdued, concluding that global trade had shown “little dynamism” and attributing volume growth to North-North trade. That situation had negatively impacted landlocked developing countries. The Vienna Programme of Action must be implemented and partners must enhance market access, capacity‑building and aid for trade.
She supported a work programme for landlocked developing countries in the WTO framework, with a focus on special market access that would allow participation in the global value chain. She underlined the need to support debt sustainability through coordinated policies that fostered debt financing, relief and management, stressing that those countries were vulnerable to debt crises. The new global infrastructure forum must better coordinate existing infrastructure initiatives, including by calling on development banks, regional banks and others to address gaps in trade, transport and transit-related regional infrastructure.
SERGIO SHCHERBAKOV (Ecuador), speaking for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said structural changes must continue so as to ensure the equitable representation of all States in leadership positions, decision-making and norm-setting at international financial institutions. In that context, developed countries should honour their commitments to allocate 0.7 per cent of their gross national income to ODA, conclude the Doha Round of WTO negotiations and eliminate all forms of subsidies for agricultural exports to countries in the region. The international financial architecture must be enhanced to promote financial stability for developing countries.
He also urged recognizing the importance of debt relief, noting that debt restructuring should have at its core a determination of “real payment capacity”. Moreover, the global partnership for development should be reinvigorated, with all countries contributing based on their capacities and allocation of resources, including financial and technology. The implementation of related agreements must be people-centred and promote the structural changes needed to eradicate poverty. “Development should be addressed with an integrated and holistic perspective,” he stressed, advocating the creation of a comprehensive action plan for cooperation with middle-income countries.
FRED SARUFA (Papua New Guinea), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States, and associating himself with the Alliance of Small Island States and with the Group of 77 (for those island countries that were also members of that Group), welcomed the call in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda to support the implementation of the “Small Island Developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action Pathway”, adopted in Samoa in September 2014. Members of his Group were among the most vulnerable to the impact of climate change and they underscored the importance of developed countries meeting the goal of mobilizing $100 billion annually, by 2020, in order to meet the needs of developing countries to adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change.
Stressing that climate finance must not be “double counted” as ODA and must be considered as separate from, and additional, to it, he added that among the most important outcomes of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda was the decision to establish a Technology Facilitation Mechanism. Promoting science, technology and innovation was critical to driving economic growth and reducing poverty. The countries in his Group especially welcomed support for the development of national statistical data capacity. It was also necessary to promote the linkages between the Action Agenda, the 2030 Agenda and the Samoa Pathway, and further engagement through the Economic and Social Council Financing for Development Forum was crucial.
ADEBAYO BABAJIDE (European Union) said the Addis Ababa Action Agenda set out a comprehensive framework for implementing the Sustainable Development Goals and, for the first time, a holistic vision based on three pillars of sustainable development: finance, good governance and climate change. Regarding financing, the Goals required strengthened domestic revenue mobilization initiatives, such as fair tax systems and managed spending, as well as international public finance, including ODA. The private sector also played a key role as a driver of inclusive growth and job creation, as did an ability to harness the potential of private entrepreneurship. International trade, especially with the duty-free and quota‑free market access for all least developed countries provided by the European Union, was a powerful engine for sustainable development. On good governance, he said policy coherence at all levels, in addition to democracy, the rule of law and the fight against corruption and illicit financial flows were crucial to gain maximum impact from other integrated activities. Finally, he urged maintaining a commitment to phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, moving forward on carbon pricing and creating incentives for low-carbon development.
CAROLYN SCHWALGER (New Zealand), speaking also for Canada and Australia, said countries should use policy levers and reform opportunities to lift growth now, as well as strengthen international frameworks and monitor risks to build resilience in the future. Such efforts should not undermine medium-term fiscal positions. While economic growth was a precondition for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, countries must ensure that the benefits of growth were well distributed.
In addition to bilateral and multilateral assistance, greater domestic resource mobilization would be needed to achieve the Goals, she said. The private sector would play a critical role through domestic and foreign direct investment, as well as new policies to promote “blended financing”. Appropriate policy and regulatory frameworks were also essential to encouraging private sector investment. On climate change, she welcomed the renewed global commitment to ensure that development financing frameworks responded to challenges facing smaller, more vulnerable countries.
Right of Reply
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply with regard to the earlier agenda item on Palestine, the representative of Qatar stated that the unfounded accusations made against his country by Israel proved the impossibility of believing in that delegation.