6 April 2017
Seventy-first Session, 74th Meeting (AM)

General Assembly Approves Modalities for Negotiations on Migration, Scheduling Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt Global Compact in 2018

Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Day Also Proclaimed

The General Assembly today adopted modalities for intergovernmental negotiations leading to a global compact on migration, in addition to a package of texts recommended by its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), and proclaimed 27 June as Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Day.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted a text, as orally amended, titled “modalities for the intergovernmental negotiations of the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration” (document A/71/L.58).  In doing so, it decided that an intergovernmental conference to adopt a global compact on migration — held at the highest possible political level, including Head of State or Government — would be held at Headquarters immediately prior to the general debate of its seventy-third session in 2018.

Reiterating the importance of the participation of civil society, among others, the Assembly, by its text, invited non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council to register with the Secretariat in order to participate in the conference and its preparatory process.

In addition, the Assembly requested its President to submit to Member States — for their consideration on a non-objection basis — lists of representatives of other non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, academic institutions, the private sector, diaspora communities and migrant organizations who may attend and participate in shaping the compact.  One list, for the preparatory process, would be submitted no later than April 2017, and the other, for the intergovernmental conference, would be submitted by April 2018.

In a footnote, the resolution stated that a Member State objecting to a name on the lists would, on a voluntary basis, make the general basis of its objection known to the Office of the President of the General Assembly, who, in turn, would share that information with any Member State upon its request.

By the text, the Assembly also invited national human rights institutions compliant with the Paris Principles to register with the Secretariat to participate in the intergovernmental conference and its preparatory process, which would include a series of consultations at Headquarters, in Geneva and in Vienna, in addition to a stocktaking meeting in Mexico in early December.  Intergovernmental negotiations on the global compact would follow at Headquarters over several days in February through July 2018.

In an explanation of vote, the representative of the United States said her country appreciated that the text clarified the role of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), whose contribution would be critical at all phases.  Emphasizing the importance of transparency and the participation of civil society, she said the preparatory process and intergovernmental conference should be open to all interested parties, including those without Economic and Social Council status.

Non-governmental organizations must not be denied access to United Nations meetings for political reasons, the delegate continued, adding that the source and basis of any objection to the presence of such a group should be shared with the Assembly.  She went on to say that language in the resolution concerning civil society should not be seen as a precedent for other resolutions.  Her delegation, she continued, was pleased that the resolution created a voluntary trust fund, and urged Member States to contribute accordingly.

The representative of Canada, also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, said the human rights and gender dimensions should be at the heart of the global compact and appropriately addressed throughout all phases.  More inclusive language on civil society would have been preferred, she said, encouraging also the participation of national human rights institutions to the greatest extent possible.

In a statement after adoption, the delegate of the European Union said the resolution would ensure the global compact’s adoption in September 2018.  Noting a growing awareness of the global nature of migration, she said it was understood that the discussions would lead to action that would not be legally binding.

Programme budget implications of “L.58” were contained in a report of the Fifth Committee (document A/71/854) that stated that its adoption would require an additional appropriation of $975,700 from the programme budget for the biennium 2016-2017, representing a charge against the contingency fund.

In its resolution designating 27 June as Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Day (document A/71/L.60), the Assembly invited Member States, the United Nations system and others to observe the Day “in an appropriate manner and in accordance with national priorities” so as to raise public awareness of the contribution that such businesses made to sustainable development.

Martín García Moritán (Argentina), introducing “L.60”, recalled that the International Council for Small Business, at its 2016 world conference at Headquarters, had declared the urgent need for such a day.  Micro-, small and medium-sized businesses had the potential to make a long-lasting impact on development, he said, adding that he hoped the Day would draw attention to the contributions that such businesses could make to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as the challenges they faced.

The Assembly also adopted, without a vote, five texts introduced by Fifth Committee Rapporteur Diana Minyi Lee (Singapore).  (For more information, see Press Releases GA/AB/4225, GA/AB/4226, GA/AB/4227, GA/AB/4228 and GA/AB/4229 of 6, 8, 9, 10 and 31 March 2017, respectively.)

Turning to its agenda item on the programme budget for the biennium 2016‑2017, contained in document A/71/716/Add.1, the Assembly adopted seven-part draft resolution “L.27” on special subjects, which included the United Nations Monitoring Mechanism for the Syrian Arab Republic; lessons learned exercise on the coordination activities of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response; status of implementation of the information and technology strategy for the United Nations; managing after-service health insurance; proposed Secretariat contribution to the United Nations Development Group (UNDG) cost-sharing arrangement for the resident coordinator system; and standards of accommodation for air travel and estimates in respect of special political missions, good offices and other political initiatives authorized by the Assembly and/or the Security Council.

Speaking after that action, the representative of Syria, referring to Part I of “L.27”, expressed his delegations’ reservations on the allocation of funds for the Monitoring Mechanism, saying it was an unjustified decision that reflected the positions taken by some Member States against his country and the support given to armed terrorist groups.  He said assistance should be given from within Syria with the Government’s cooperation, and that the Government would cooperate with the Organization and its agencies in providing humanitarian assistance so long as United Nations guidelines were respected.

With regard to Part VII, relating to special political missions, good offices and other political initiatives, the delegate said that Syria, while joining consensus, rejected allegations contained in the report of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism, which was neither neutral nor objective.  He also said that the Joint Investigative Mechanism should be fully funded from the regular budget, and that his Government was committed to fulfilling all the obligations it took on when it joined the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

The Assembly then took up its agenda item on the Joint Inspection Unit, adopting a draft text contained in document A/71/855.  By draft resolution “L.25”, the Assembly reiterated its request to the executive heads of the participating organizations to comply with statutory procedures for consideration of the Unit’s reports.  It also stressed the importance of the Unit’s oversight functions in identifying managerial, administrative and programming questions within the participating organizations and in providing the Assembly with action-oriented recommendations to improve governance at the United Nations.

With regard to a new facility for the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, Arusha Branch, the Assembly adopted draft resolution “L.23”, contained in document A/70/704/Add.1, taking note of the Secretary-General’s related report and endorsing the conclusions and recommendations in the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions’ corresponding report.

Finally, the Assembly adopted draft resolution “L.54” on progress towards an accountability system in the Secretariat, contained in document A/71/717/Add.1.  By doing so, it requested from the Secretary-General a comprehensive fraud risk assessment by mid-year to better implement internal controls and policies on fraud at Headquarters and in field missions.  Welcoming an updated protection against retaliation policy, it also requested that the Secretary-General enhance the Organization’s processes to ensure that it encouraged the reporting of serious misconduct, protected whistle-blowers from retaliation and intervened to prevent retaliation from occurring.

The Assembly also adopted a draft decision “L.28”, contained in the same document, deferring to the main part of its seventy-second session consideration of the review of the experience of the utilization of the contingency fund.

For information media. Not an official record.