The Economic and Social Council concluded its coordination and management segment this afternoon with the adoption of 10 draft resolutions and 5 draft decisions.
In one resolution, the Council recommended that all States intensify their efforts to ensure the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.
Rafael Darío Ramírez Carreño (Venezuela) Chair of the Special Committee on Decolonization introduced the resolution titled “support to Non-Self-Governing Territories by the specialized agencies and international institutions associated with the United Nations”, saying that the text requested the United Nations system to examine and review conditions in each Non-Self-Governing Territory to accelerate their progress in the economic and social sectors.
The resolution was approved with a recorded vote of 22 in favour to none against and 23 abstentions, with several delegations said they would abstain from the vote because they believed the subject was not under the mandate of the Council.
The Council also adopted two resolutions under the topic of science and technology for development, one contained in a report that assessed the progress made in the implementation of and the follow-up to outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society.
In presenting the related report, Dong Wu, Chief of the Science and Technology Section of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), said that a number of issues pertaining to information and communications technology, bridging the digital divide, the enabling environment, human rights, building confidence and Internet governance were all explored in the text.
Further, the Council adopted another resolution contained within a report from the Commission on Population and Development. That report highlighted the forward-looking nature of the forty-ninth session of the Commission as a significant event that underscored the importance of population data and research, including in the context of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Roland Ocampo (Mexico) Co-Chair of the Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Management at its fifth session and Vice-President of the Mexican Institute for Statistics and Geography introduced a draft resolution on strengthening institutional arrangements on geospatial information management.
The resolution reflected the significant achievements the Committee of Experts had made, he said, including its ability to contribute to the work of the United Nations. Further, the text also highlighted the need for the establishment of strong regional infrastructure for the strengthening of coordination, capacity building and coherence of geospatial information management, especially in developing countries.
The Economic and Social Council will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 28 July, to elect the President and Vice-Presidents for its 2017 session.
Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples
RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO, Chair of the Special Committee on Decolonization and the Permanent Representative of Venezuela to the United Nations, introduced the report of the Secretary-General entitled “Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations” (document A/71/69). He said that the Committee had the mandate to promote self-determination, stressing that the United Nations must act decisively to achieve that aim as soon as possible.
The General Assembly trusted the Committee in examining and reviewing conditions in each non-self-governing territory, so as to take appropriate measures to accelerate their progress in the economic and social sectors, he continued. In accordance with its mandate, the plan of action had identified the need to create concrete mechanisms, he said, commending the work carried out by specialized agencies, including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Drawing attention to the special challenges faced by the territories in planning for and implementing sustainable development, he called upon the specialized agencies to strengthen the measures of support and formulate appropriate programmes of assistance.
The representative of the United States said he would abstain from voting as the sole authority rested with the federal Government.
The representative of Algeria said that the words and the action taken by the international community contradicted one another. As non-self-governing territories confronted specific problems, they deserved further efforts from specialized agencies. Citing an example, he said that the exploitation of natural resources must be addressed.
The representative of Venezuela then introduced a draft resolution titled “support to Non-Self-Governing Territories by the specialized agencies and international institutions associated with the United Nations” (document E/2016/L.25). He said that the text recommended that all States intensify their efforts to ensure the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. Furthermore, it requested the United Nations system to examine and review conditions in each non-self-governing territory to accelerate their progress in the economic and social sectors.
The representative of the Russian Federation, in explanation of vote before the ballot, said his delegation would abstain from voting. He believed that the consideration of that “political issue” in the Council was not appropriate.
By a recorded vote of 22 in favour to none against, with 23 abstentions, the Council adopted “L.25”.
The representative of France, speaking after the adoption, said his delegation abstained from voting as the subject was not under the mandate of the Council.
The representative of Argentina said his delegation maintained its position on the subject and abstained from voting.
The Council then adopted, without a vote, the resolution titled “report of the Committee for Development Policy on its eighteenth session” (document E/2016/L.19).
Next, the Council took note of the report of the Secretary-General on mainstreaming of the three dimensions of sustainable development throughout the United Nations system (document A/71/76-E/2016/55).
Science and Technology for Development
Turning to its next item, the representative of Saudi Arabia said that the resolution titled “assessment of the progress made in the implementation of and the follow-up to outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society” had been inappropriately adopted by the Committee due to the Group’s inability to reach quorum. She also noted that the membership of the Working Group did not have balanced geographical representation and recalled that during the feedback period, her country had raised a formal objection. Saudi Arabia requested that the Council send the resolution back to the Committee for further dialogue.
PETER MAJOR (Hungary), Chair of the nineteenth session of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development, then presented the report on the Commission’s most recent session (document E/2016/31), which he said explored the role of science and technology in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Two priority themes were taken up by the Commission during the session, including “smart cities and infrastructure” and “foresight for digital development”. A ministerial round table for the achievement of the future development agenda was also convened, while a special segment was devoted to the findings of the ongoing review of science policies of Iran and Rwanda. More than 30 Member States participated at the ministerial level, while representatives from across the United Nations system, civil society, academia and business entities also took part.
Participants stressed the important role of information and communications technology (ICT) in the promotion and empowerment of science and technology innovation for development. Many participants stressed the need for developing countries to have wider access to ICT and for new approaches that embedded capacity-building in science and technology innovation into national development plans. The Commission also called on Governments to put in place policies that supported digital ecosystems that were inclusive and took into account the social and political contexts of countries. The Commission session had resulted in two draft resolutions, which were now presented to the Council for consideration.
DONG WU, Chief of the Science and Technology Section with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society at the regional and international levels (document A/71/67-E/2016/51 and Corr.1). She recalled that 2015 was a critical year for the World Summit on the Information Society process, with the General Assembly conducting is review of the progress made in the implementation of Summit outcomes. The report showed that, as of 2015, the proportion of people covered under mobile networks exceeded 95 per cent, although there continued to be profound digital divides both between and within countries. The report highlighted the progress made in the implementation of the main Summit outcomes, including areas such as ITC for development, bridging the digital divide, the enabling environment, human rights, building confidence and Internet governance.
The report also stressed the close alignment between the Summit process and the 2030 Agenda, while highlighting ITC’s cross-cutting contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals, she said. The document concluded with suggestions for consideration, underscoring the need to make the information society more inclusive. The report called on the international community to pay special attention to the least developed countries to ensure that they would not be left further behind, saying this was not simply an issue of accessibility, but also affordability. Further, it called for a deeper understanding about the nature of the evolving information society and its impacts on societies.
The Council then adopted two resolutions contained within that report, titled “assessment of the progress made in the implementation of and the follow-up to outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society” and “report of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development on its nineteenth session and provisional agenda and documentation for the twentieth session of the Commission”, respectively.
The Council also adopted one decision contained within that report.
The Council then adopted the resolution titled “Human settlements” (document E/2016/L.23) without a vote, withdrawing document E/2016/L.18.
JAMIL AHMAD, Deputy Director of the New York Office of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), presented the report of the second session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (document A/71/25). The session had been held in Nairobi in May, with the participation of Governments, civil society, academia and the private sector. Throughout the conference, stakeholders had reviewed the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda.
He said that, at the session, the United Nations Environment Assembly had adopted 25 resolutions on key environmental issues requiring international attention, considering the linkages between environmental quality and human rights, health and well-being. He said that about 7 million people had died as a result of exposure to air pollution, which was the world’s single largest environmental risk to health. In addition, exposure to chemicals and waste was another area requiring further attention throughout the 2030 Agenda. Among others, climate change continued to be a major environmental driver that threatened the successful implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Population and Development
NADINE SKALE (Germany), Vice-Chair of the Commission on Population and Development, presented the report on the body’s forty-ninth session (document E/2016/25). She recalled that the session was held under the theme “strengthening the demographic evidence base for the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development”, which emphasized the need for a factual basis for understanding the relationship between population and social, economic and environmental trends. The meeting was well-attended, with participation from all 46 elected members of the Commission and observers from more than 60 other non-member States. Roughly 160 representatives of non-governmental organizations took part, as well. Many delegations took the floor to make statements, while there were also opportunities for interactive discussions.
As a result of session, she continued, the Commission recommended the adoption of two draft decisions, as well as the adoption of a draft resolution. She noted that it had been proposed that the 2017 session be organized under the theme “changing population age structures and sustainable development”. In many ways, the forty-ninth session was a forward-looking and significant event that underscored the importance of population data and research in supporting the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action.
The representative of Mexico stressed that it was important to improve the census processes at the local and national levels, while also working jointly with civil society and academia to analyse demographic information and plan sufficient public infrastructure.
The Council then adopted the resolution contained within the report titled “future organization and methods of work of the Commission on Population and Development”. The body also adopted a draft decision contained within that same report.
JOSE CASTELAZO, Chair of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration, presented the Report of the fifteenth session, via video link (document E/2016/44). While Governments had the primary role to implement the 2030 Agenda, public institutions were key in delivering successful outcomes. He stressed that the integration and coherence would ensure that policies were developed, calling upon local authorities to adopt local agendas. Governments must put a strong emphasis on institutions and high-level communication between all stakeholders.
Civil society and other relevant public institutions could provide assistance and quality services to those who were left behind, he continued. In that regard, transformative leadership and Governments must adopt higher standards to overcome challenges that organizations and individuals had long faced. While doing so, it was critical to strengthen diversity and end discrimination. Among others, enabling participatory decision-making was essential in addressing the needs of the marginalized.
The Council then adopted the resolution entitled “report of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration on its fifteenth session” (document E/2016/L.30).
It also adopted a decision entitled “provisional agenda of the sixteenth session of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration”.
International Cooperation in Tax Matters
The Council then took note of the report of the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters on its eleventh session (document E/2015/45).
The representative of India asked for clarification about whether the Council was taking up the portion of the report that addressed the proposed dates of its future session.
The Secretariat responded that taking note of a report only constituted acknowledging the existence of that report.
The representative of India said that it was thus his understanding that the issue of the dates of the Committee’s meetings was still under consideration.
The representative of Mexico emphasized the importance of the work carried out by the Committee of Experts on Tax Matters, noting that the substantive work carried out by the Committee was timely. However, his delegation was concerned about the Committee’s future work, specifically the number of meetings that would take place and the length of those meetings.
The representative of Thailand, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, had submitted its comments regarding the draft decision, specifically the portion that addressed the locations and dates of the future meetings. Action on the draft decision would directly affect and prejudge on-going discussions between Member States, and therefore, should be deferred.
The representative of the United Kingdom, speaking on behalf of the European Union, recalled that it had been decided to strengthen the Committee’s effectiveness and operational capacity by increasing the frequency of the Committee’s meetings.
The Vice-President of the Council noted that the dates and venues for the future meetings would remain a subject for further discussion.
The representative of Chile, associating himself with the Group of 77, said that it was not clear whether taking note of the report was a neutral position.
The Secretariat said that the Council would ultimately take action and decide on the locations and dates of the meetings in a future decision.
ROLANDO OCAMPO (Mexico), Co-Chair of the Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Management at its fifth session and Vice-President of the Mexican Institute for Statistics and Geography, then introduced the draft resolution “strengthening institutional arrangements on geospatial information management” (document E/2016/L.28), saying that the resolution reflected broad consensus and agreement, which was the result of a very productive negotiation process.
He recalled that in establishing the Committee of Experts, the Council requested that the Committee conduct its work within existing resources. The Council had also requested a comprehensive review of all aspects of the Committee’s work and operations to be presented in 2016, to allow Member States to assess its effectiveness. The resolution reflected the significant achievements the Committee of Experts had made, including its ability to contribute to the work of the United Nations. The efforts of the Committee of Experts to streamline the work of the four existing subsidiary bodies within the Council had been particularly welcomed by Member States. The establishment of strong regional infrastructure highlighted the importance of strengthening coordination, capacity-building and coherence of geospatial information management, especially in developing countries.
The Council then adopted the “L.28” resolution, as orally revised, without a vote.
Following that action, the Council adopted two decisions recommended in the report of the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names on the work of its twenty-ninth session (document E/2016/66).
The Council also took note of the report of the twentieth United Nations Regional Cartographic Conference for Asia and the Pacific (document E/Conf.104/9).
Next, the Council took note of the report titled “operational activities of the United Nations for international development cooperation: South-South cooperation for development” (document A/71/39).
The Economic and Social Council then resumed its consideration of “long-term programme of support for Haiti”.
The representative of Canada, introducing the draft resolution entitled “Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti” (document E/2016/L.32), stressed the importance of free, fair and transparent elections and called on all political actors to engage in dialogue so that legitimate authorities could contribute to the long-term development of Haiti. The text would extend the mandate of the Ad Hoc Advisory Group until the conclusion of the 2017 session. Further, it would request that the Advisory Group cooperate with all relevant stakeholders and submit a report on its work at the Council’s 2017 session.
The Council adopted the resolution “L.32” resolution, without a vote.
It then adopted another resolution, without a vote, entitled “African countries emerging from conflict” (document E/2016/L.31).