16 November 2016
Seventy-first Session, 46th Meeting (AM)

Speakers Stress Education Main Driver of Development, Peace, as General Assembly Adopts Resolution

Body Also Takes Up Other Matters, including Refugees, International Agreements

The General Assembly this morning adopted, without a vote, a resolution that strongly encouraged Member States and national, regional and local education authorities to integrate education for democracy — along with civic education, human rights instruction and education for sustainable development — into their curricula and to strengthen programmes aimed at the promotion of democratic values.

By the terms of the resolution titled “Education for democracy”, introduced by the representative of Mongolia, the Assembly reaffirmed the fundamental link between democratic governance, peace and development and the promotion and protection of all human rights.  It also decided to continue its consideration of the issue of education for democracy at its seventy-third session under the agenda item titled “Integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow up to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic, social and related fields”.  The Assembly invited United Nations agencies and programmes to provide appropriate resources for the development of relevant educational programmes and materials for democracy.

“Education is a main driver of development and is essential for peace, tolerance, human fulfilment and sustainable development,” Mongolia’s delegate said, acknowledging the important contributions already made by civil society, academia, the private sector and other stakeholders including the United Nations.  He recalled that the Sustainable Development Goals and targets were integrated and indivisible.  He also acknowledged the importance of taking measures to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all.

The Assembly also took note of the Secretary-General’s reports titled “Revised estimates resulting from the decisions contained in General Assembly resolution 70/290, entitled ‘High-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly on addressing large movements of refugees and migrants’” (document A/71/345), “Supporting the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development” (document A/71/534) and “The United Nations in global economic governance” (document A/71/378).

The Assembly also had before it several notes of the Secretary-General including “Literacy for life:  shaping future agendas and education for democracy” (document A/71/177) and “Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries” (document A/71/363).

In the ensuing discussion, Indonesia’s representative said that the historic milestone agreements reached in 2015 — the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change — offered great opportunities for people and countries.  “Every day will count to implement these three agreements for people, planet, prosperity, partnerships and peace,” he said, noting nevertheless that slow and low global economic growth posed challenges in that regard.  In today’s unpredictable world, closer collaboration and abundant innovation, both within and among countries, would be required.

For its part, he said, the United Nations should support national development efforts by promoting an enabling international environment as well as steady and accelerated economic development.  It should strengthen partnerships, including within the regional framework, and enact reforms promptly and consistently.  Among other things, international regulatory cooperation needed to be strengthened, and the multilateral system should coordinate closely and focus their specific mandates and comparative advantages in assisting countries to implement the 2030 Agenda.  Noting that such implementation required massive resources as well as greater partnerships and innovative financing sources, he stressed that the technology transfer, wider access to markets and the sharing of best practices was also needed.

Echoing that sentiment, the representative of Mexico said it was important to promote synergy at the United Nations and interdependency in development, peace and security, and human rights.  The adoption of the 2030 Agenda had placed development at the core of United Nations work.  Hence, it was important to reform and restructure “so that we can conduct ourselves in a more effective way”.  The Agenda must not be adapted to the existing bureaucratic and inner practices of the United Nations.  Rather, the new Secretary-General would be encouraged to address the need for far-reaching change in the Organization in order to broaden its vision.  That would also help advance human rights by ensuring the convergence of all stakeholders at the local, national and global levels.  The quadrennial comprehensive policy review must aim to put an end to obsolete mandates which unfortunately characterized the Organization.

South Africa’s representative said many countries, particularly developing nations, were lagging behind because the current global governance and trading system continued to fail in sufficiently meeting their needs.  While the availability of adequate financing for development was critical, the fragilities and imbalances of that system had negatively impacted the flow of resources to developing countries.  Calling for urgent reform, he said the 2008‑2009 global financial crisis had raised pertinent questions about the suitability of the international financial system, including its governance structures.

Continuing, he called for enhanced international commitment to assist all countries in achieving the three dimensions of sustainable development, as well as fundamental reform of the mandate, representation, scope, governance, responsibility, responsiveness and development orientation of global financial institutions.  Welcoming recent quota reforms of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), he nevertheless called for improved representation of Africa on its board, and said the appointment of heads of the organization should be based on merit without regard to nationality.

Guatemala’s representative said many questions remained on the means of implementation of the 2030 Agenda, particularly with regards to restructuring the United Nations development system and addressing the needs of countries in special situations.  Pointing to synergies between the various resolutions of the Assembly, the Security Council and other bodies, he called for integrated efforts and the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda in its entirety.

Achieving greater and better education was a universal right as well as an essential means of achieving social and economic development, he continued.  “Investing in our children is investing in our future,” he said, welcoming Assembly President Peter Thomson’s initiative aimed at encouraging States to include the Sustainable Development Goals in educational curricula.  Underscoring the need for United Nations decisions to keep pace with global challenges, he said regional economic commissions offered consistent and integrated support to States in implementing the 2030 Agenda, and called for new arrangements to bridge existing gaps and avoid fragmentation in that process.

Chile’s delegate said the proposals suggested by the Secretary-General in the reports, particularly those relating to the United Nations and global governance, were timely.  His country would propose a resolution on the United Nations and global governance with a view of adopting it before next summer.

The General Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m., Thursday, 17 November, to consider a report of the Secretary-General on the role of the United Nations in promoting a new global human order and take up a draft resolution on the situation in Afghanistan.

For information media. Not an official record.