28 August 2017
Seventy-first Session, 95th Meeting (AM)

General Assembly Sets Dates for South-South Cooperation Conference, Transmits Draft Outcome of High-Level Human Trafficking Review to Next Session

The General Assembly adopted a consensus resolution today, transmitting to its seventy-second session the draft outcome document of its 27-28 September high-level meeting on the appraisal of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons.

Minna-Liina Lind (Estonia), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the political declaration, contained in the resolution’s annex (document A/71/L.81), constituted a wide-ranging effort to wipe out human trafficking.  Swift action was needed on many fronts, from implementing key international instruments and developing national strategies to ensuring the United Nations focused on situations of heightened vulnerability, including conflicts, and that its own procurement was free of trafficking.  However, she had hoped the declaration would have contained stronger references to inter-agency efforts to combat trafficking and more robust language on national institutions, she said.

Thomas Wheeler (United Kingdom), associating himself with the European Union, emphasized the holistic nature of the political declaration, with its link to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its focus on conflict.  However, coherent action on the part of the United Nations was not sufficient.  Member States must also act, which required political will.  Ahead of the high-level meeting, the United Kingdom Prime Minister would draw attention to the issue in hopes of creating a sense of greater urgency.

Also without a vote, the Assembly adopted, as orally corrected, a resolution titled “Second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation” (document A/71/L.83), deciding that the meeting would be held in Buenos Aires from 20 to 22 March 2019 and result in an action-oriented, intergovernmentally agreed outcome.

Jay Kimmel (United States) said Member States must do better on curbing conference costs, stressing that two items in the draft — the intergovernmental negotiations for an agreed outcome and the possibility of annual meetings — required spending United Nations resources which should rather be spent on people in need.

Also today, the Assembly took note of the report of the Security Council (document A/71/2).

Amr Abdellatif Aboulatta (Egypt), President of the Security Council for August, introduced the report, which covered 17 months — 1 August 2015 to 31 December 2016 — due to the transition to the new reporting framework.  During that period, the Council had adopted 102 resolutions and 31 presidential statements, and issued 150 press statements.  Holding 356 formal meetings, with 331 being public, the Council had convened frequent meetings focused on several countries in Africa and on the situation in the Middle East.  It also had regularly monitored the situations in Afghanistan, Ukraine, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina, conducted five missions to Africa, including Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and established a United Nations mission in Colombia.  He noted that the new reporting period for subsequent reports would be from 1 January to 31 December.

Several speakers took the floor to emphasize the importance of transparency and accountability in the Council and suggest ways to improve the annual report, with Belen Sapag Muñoz de la Peña (Chile) stressing that the report could have said more about the selection and appointment of the Secretary-General.  It also should have contained a chapter on working methods and addressed Council decisions in greater detail.

Ana Silvia Rodríguez Abascal (Cuba) said the report should be more exhaustive and analytical.  Expressing concern over a lack of transparency and democracy in the Council, she said its closed-door consultations should be an exception, and that permanent Council members’ veto rights were obsolete.  Reforming the United Nations would not be possible without reforming the Council.

Antonieta Socorro Jaquez Huacuja (Mexico) said that while the annual report had improved substantially in recent years, it should include a section on draft resolutions on which there had been no agreement.  She underscored efforts by her country and France to promote a voluntary restriction on veto use in cases of genocide and war crimes.

Burhan Gafoor (Singapore) said insufficient time had been provided for Member States to review the report, which could have contained greater analysis of the Council’s work, including the implementation rate of its decisions.  It also could be better aligned with the Council’s repertoire, giving Member States more clarity on how mandates had evolved while providing a way to assess the Council’s impact over time.

María Emma Mejía Vélez (Colombia), expressing gratitude for the Council’s work on the peace process in her country and the mission established there, expected future reports to contain more in-depth analysis of mandated tasks.

In other business, the Assembly took note of the Secretary-General’s notification (document A/71/300) listing 66 matters related to international peace and security being addressed by the Council.  It also took note of his 9 August 2017 letter to the Assembly President (document A/71/764/Add.8) stating that Libya had made the payment necessary to reduce its arrears below the amount specified in Article 19 of the United Nations Charter.

[Article 19 states that a United Nations member in arrears in payment of its financial contributions to the Organization shall have no vote in the General Assembly if the amount of its arrears equals or exceeds that of the contributions due for the preceding two full years.  The Assembly may, nevertheless, permit such a member to vote if it is satisfied that the failure to pay is due to conditions beyond the control of the member.]

For information media. Not an official record.