15 April 2016
Seventieth Session, 91st Meeting (AM)

General Assembly Adopts Resolution Seeking to Establish Road Safety Trust Fund, Aimed at Halving Global Number of Traffic Deaths, Injuries

Text on Least Developed Countries Also Passed, as Members Fill Vacancies on International Trade Law Commission

The General Assembly requested today that the Secretary-General consider the possibility of establishing a voluntarily funded Road Safety Trust Fund to support efforts by Member States to halve the global number of deaths and injuries from traffic accidents by 2020, as set out in target 3.6 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted a draft resolution titled “Improving global road safety” (document A/70/L.44), expressing concern that road traffic crashes killed more than 1.25 million people and injured as many as 50 million people a year.  It invited Member States and the international community to step up collaboration to meet target 3.6, and encouraged the upcoming United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Development to consider road safety and safe, affordable public transport.

By other terms of the text, the Assembly encouraged Member States to develop safer road infrastructure and to implement United Nations vehicle-safety regulations or equivalent national standards.  It also urged them to implement road-safety policies for the protection of children, youth, older persons and persons with disabilities, and invited the World Health Organization (WHO) to continue to monitor progress, through global status reports, during the ongoing Decade of Action for Road Safety, 2011-2020.

Jean Todt, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Road Safety, spoke before the adoption, elaborating on WHO’s most recent report on the issue (document A/70/386).  He said that establishing the Road Safety Trust Fund was a priority of his mandate, noting that of the 12 people killed on the world’s roads every five minutes, two were children, while some 480 people were injured.  In decennial terms, the toll was 13 million fatalities, including nearly 2 million children, and 500 million injured.  Low- and middle-income countries, with 82 per cent of the world’s population and 54 per cent of its registered vehicles, accounted for 90 per cent of those deaths, he said, putting the cost of road accidents and their consequences at around $500 billion a year.  “You don’t need much imagination to consider how such a gigantic sum could be used,” he said.

Introducing the draft resolution, Sergey B. Kononuchenko (Russian Federation) said that including road safety on the 2030 Agenda made it possible to consider the issue in the context of sustainable development.  The proposed trust fund would stimulate investment in road safety programmes, while relevant organizations, such as WHO and United Nations regional economic commissions would extend further assistance to interested States, he explained.

Several speakers voiced their support for the text, including Samantha Power (United States), who emphasized the dangers of distracted driving.  “Texting while driving is a global killer,” she said, citing a study which had found that, 587,000 vehicles were being driven be people using mobile phones at any given time in the United States.

George Robertson (United Kingdom), Chair of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile Foundation, said the text set a moral challenge for automakers to comply with United Nations safety standards by 2020.  “So many lives are at stake.  We cannot afford to fail,” he said, recalling a young girl in Brazil who had written a prize-winning essay on road safety for the 2015 Global High-Level Conference on Road Safety held in Brasilia, only to die with her father in a traffic accident.

Abdul Rahman Mohammed Sulaiman Ba Omar (Oman), whose country had proposed including road safety on the Assembly’s agenda, said that Government initiatives, such as the School of Traffic for Children, combined with greater social awareness, had helped to reduce traffic deaths in Oman by 50 per cent since 2012 and injuries by 30 per cent, despite a 25 per cent increase in the number of vehicles on its roads.

David Yitshak Roet (Israel) cited World Bank research estimating the cost of road crashes to developing-world Governments at 1 to 5 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).  “By saving lives on the road, we are also fighting poverty and boosting prosperity,” he said, noting that his country had discovered how seemingly simple actions — such as erecting “Think Life!” billboards by the roadside — could make a difference.

Others speaking before the adoption were representatives of Brazil, Sweden, France and Spain.  Observers for the European Union and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies also spoke.

Taking up its agenda item on follow-up to the fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, the Assembly adopted, also without a vote, draft resolution “L.45” (document A/70.L.45), on modalities for the Comprehensive High-Level Midterm Review of the Implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2020.

Speaking in explanation of position after that action, Thailand’s representative said on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, that it was crucial for the midterm review to be inclusive, with active and constructive participation by all stakeholders.

Acting once again without a vote, the Assembly elected the following members of the Group of African States to the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law for a six-year term beginning 27 June:  Kenya, Lesotho, Libya, Nigeria and Uganda.  Elections would be held to fill the remaining vacancies on the Commission — one from the African Group, and the other from the Asia-Pacific Group — upon notification by interested Member States in those two regions.

The Assembly will reconvene at a date and time to be announced.

For information media. Not an official record.