General Assembly Adopts Resolution Strengthening Ties between United Nations, Organization of Islamic Cooperation

GA/11986
6 December 2017
Seventy-second Session, 65th Meeting (AM)

General Assembly Adopts Resolution Strengthening Ties between United Nations, Organization of Islamic Cooperation

Member States Postpone Action on Draft Relating to Investigation of Dag Hammarskjöld’s Death, Pending Budget Discussion

While postponing action on a text on the investigation into the 1961 death of Dag Hammarskjöld, the General Assembly today adopted a resolution by recorded vote on cooperation with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), urging the United Nations system to cooperate with the body in areas of mutual interest.

The resolution, “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation" (document A/72/L.10), was adopted with 92 votes in favour to zero against, with four abstentions (Armenia, India, Israel, Syria).  By its terms, the Assembly affirmed that the United Nations and OIC shared a common goal of promoting and facilitating the Middle East peace process with the goal to establish a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.  It also affirmed that it shared a common objective of fostering peaceful and political solutions to other conflicts in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and Security Council resolutions.

By other terms, the Assembly requested the United Nations and OIC to continue to cooperate in their common search for solutions to global problems, such as questions relating to international peace and security, disarmament, self-determination, promotion of a culture of peace, decolonization, human rights and fundamental freedoms.  The Assembly also welcomed OIC's engagement in the fight against violent extremism and terrorism — another goal shared by both organizations — and invited OIC to participate in all its sessions and those of its subsidiary bodies as an observer body.

Introducing the draft resolution on behalf of OIC members, Bernard Tanoh-Boutchoue (Cote d'Ivoire), said he hoped the text would be adopted by consensus.  However, a recorded vote was requested, with speakers around the room voicing concerns or support for the text.

The representative of the European Union said that some of the language in the text was without any endorsement of declarations, decisions and resolutions adopted by OIC fora.  He also added that the provisions of that body’s 2025 Programme of Action regarding Cyprus were not consistent with General Assembly and Security Council resolutions.  OIC should refrain from adopting positions that would undermine international law, he said.

Azerbaijan’s delegate said that OIC and the United Nations must cooperate closely to push forward their shared agenda.  OIC was already working closely with various regional organizations and had been networking successfully with the African Union and the European Union.  She expressed concern that some members of OIC lived in conflict and under occupation, which continued to impede their socioeconomic development.  She welcomed that organization’s role in promoting peace and expressed concern over a rise of anti-Muslim rhetoric.

Saudi Arabia’s representative said OIC represented the common voice of the Muslim world and worked to protect human rights in the region.  It settled and prevented conflicts and defended the Palestinian’s people right to their land.  He also underscored the need to ensure a fair and decent life to the Rohingya people.  OIC supported alleviating poverty, combating terrorism, sustainable development, harmony between religions, empowering women, and good governance.  In that context, cooperation with the United Nations was essential.

However, Syria’s delegate said that it was an open secret that some OIC members had been voicing their discontent over that body’s increasingly undemocratic methods, as well as the fact that its host nation — Saudi Arabia — was attempting to impose its own will on other member States.  That country bore the chief responsibility for the terrorism violence being perpetrated around the world, including in Syria, he stressed, noting that Saudi Arabia had fuelled and financed the spread of extremist Wahabi ideology.  Adding that “we are at a historical turning point”, as the United States Government seemed to have made the unilateral and illegal decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem, he asked:  “What is the OIC doing today on behalf of Jerusalem?”  He urged all countries to ensure that OIC remained transparent, equitable and never be linked to terrorism.

Following the vote, several delegates also took the floor, with Israel’s representative stating that the text was yet another attack on her country.  Israel had not voted against the resolution but did disassociate itself from preambular paragraph four which noted the adoption of OIC’s 2025 Programme of Action.  But for that reason, her delegation could not vote in favour of the resolution and had abstained, she said.

Echoing a similar sentiment, the United States representative said, while he had voted in favour of the text, he too had to disassociate himself with preambular paragraph four due to references to unacceptable statements on Israel.

Prior to action on that draft text, the General Assembly, after hearing the introduction of the resolution, “Investigation into conditions and circumstance resulting in the tragic death of Dag Hammarskjöld and of the members of the party accompanying him” (document A/72/L.19), decided to postpone action on the text.

Also speaking today were representatives of Canada, Australia and Armenia.

Speaking in right of reply were representatives of Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia.

The General Assembly will reconvene tomorrow, 7 December at 10 a.m. to consider reports of its Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization).

Introduction of Draft Resolutions

IRINA SCHOULGIN NYONI (Sweden) introduced the draft resolution, “Investigation into conditions and circumstance resulting in the tragic death of Dag Hammarskjöld and of the members of the party accompanying him” (document A/72/L.19).  She said there was now a unique opportunity to shed light on what happened in Ndola on 17 September 1961.  It was the conclusion of Judge Othman’s report that it was plausible that an external attack or threat was a cause of the crash.  “This conclusion alters the balance of probabilities, and thus additional follow-up is warranted,” she added.  The resolution had eight operational elements, the most important of which were contained in operational paragraphs one, four and five.  As the resolution contained a small programme budget implication, adoption would take place once the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) had considered the matter later in December.

By terms of that text, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to reappoint Judge Othman to continue to review the potential new information and, if possible, to draw conclusions from the investigations already conducted.  It would also urge all Member States to release any relevant records in their possession and to provide to the Secretary-General relevant information related to the death of Dag Hammarskjöld and of the members of the party accompanying him.  Further, it would encourage Member States to ensure that any relevant records related to the death of Dag Hammarskjöld and of the members of the party accompanying him become declassified or otherwise made available for review.  The Assembly would also request the Secretary-General to ensure that the United Nations reviews its own specific records and archives for possible declassification of information relevant to the death of Mr. Hammarskjöld.

BERNARD TANOH-BOUTCHOUE (Cote d'Ivoire), introducing the draft resolution, "Cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation" (document A/72/L.10) on behalf of the members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said the text would have the Assembly invite that organization to participate in all its sessions and those of its subsidiary bodies as an observer body.  In its preamble, the resolution reaffirmed the common objectives of both the United Nations and OIC, especially in such areas as the prevention of conflicts, building a climate of trust, the maintenance of peace, the peaceful resolution of conflicts and mediation and diplomacy, in particular in situations involving Muslim communities.

He went on to say that by other terms the resolution would have the Assembly underline the commitment of both organizations to reinforce their cooperation in the political, economic, social, humanitarian, cultural and scientific spheres, including the promotion of a culture of peace, the defence of human rights, the pursuit of self-determination, decolonization and other areas.  The text would also have the Assembly welcome OIC's engagement in the fight against violent extremism and terrorism — another goal shared by both organizations — as well as its work to help facilitate the Middle East peace process.  In that context, he expressed hope that the text would be adopted by consensus.

Statements

PIERRE CHRISTOPHE CHATZISAVAS, European Union delegation, referencing language contained in the resolution, stressed that such language was without any endorsement of declarations, decisions and resolutions adopted by OIC fora.  The language must be fully consistent with General Assembly, Security Council and the United Nations Charter.  The provisions of the OIC 2025 Programme of Action related to Cyprus were not consistent with General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, he said, urging OIC to refrain from adopting positions that would undermine international law.

FAISAL NASSER M. ALHAKBANI (Saudi Arabia) said the world was witnessing many crises and challenges.  OIC was considered the second intergovernmental organization.  It represented the common voice of the Muslim world and worked to protect human rights.  It settled and prevented conflicts and defended the Palestinian people’s right to their land.  He also underscored the need to ensure a fair and decent life to the Rohingya people.  Because OIC supported alleviating poverty, combating terrorism, sustainable development, harmony between religions, empowering women, and good governance, cooperation between OIC and the United Nations on those issues was essential.

AMMAR AL ARSAN (Syria), noting that his country had been a founding member of both the United Nations and OIC, recalled that the latter had been established in response to a terrorist attack against the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.  Syria had therefore always defended Jerusalem, and sought friendly relations with other OIC member States.  Nevertheless, several strange practices were now prevalent within OIC, which ran counter to its core principles and those enshrined in the United Nations Charter.  Indeed, it was an open secret that some OIC members had been voicing their discontent over the body’s increasingly undemocratic methods, and the fact that its host nation — Saudi Arabia — was attempting to impose its own will on other member States.  OIC had recently decided to suspend Syria’s membership and many States had been pressured to accept that decision at Saudi Arabia’s urging.  As well, a communiqué welcoming the United States aggression against Syria had been issued against the better judgement of many OIC members.  Such actions were a lack of respect for OIC’s morality and good standing.

Syria had suffered from the fallout of a war against terrorism for seven years, he continued, with the warring terrorist groups financed and armed by some OIC members, including Saudi Arabia.  That country bore the chief responsibility for the terrorism violence being perpetrated around the world today, he stressed, noting that it fuelled and financed the spread of extremist Wahabi ideology.  Such activities ran directly counter to OIC’s mandate of promoting peace.  In addition, Saudi Arabia was also responsible for the unparalleled humanitarian catastrophe being perpetrated by a coalition of nations in Yemen.

“We are at a historical turning point,” he said, noting that the United States Government seemed to have made the unilateral and illegal decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem.  Strongly rejecting that decision, he asked:  “What is the OIC doing today on behalf of Jerusalem?”  Indeed, that decision by United States President Donald Trump demonstrated that it was possible today to ignore the collective voice of Muslims around the world.  Regarding the text before the Assembly today, he urged all countries to ensure that OIC remained transparent, equitable and never be linked to terrorism.  Therefore, Syria had called for a vote on the text, he said.

HUSNIYYA MAMMADOVA (Azerbaijan), associating herself with Cote D’Ivoire, said that OIC and the United Nations must cooperate closely to push forward their shared agenda.  OIC had already worked closely with various regional organizations, networking successfully with the African Union and the European Union.  Some OIC members lived in conflict and under occupation, which continued to impede social economic development.  Welcoming OIC’s role in promoting peace in the region and beyond, she added that the rise of anti-Muslim rhetoric was of serious concern.

Action on Draft Resolution

The General Assembly then approved the draft resolution, "Cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation" (document A/72/L.10) by a recorded vote of 92 in favour to zero against, with four abstentions (Armenia, India, Israel, Syria).

The representative of Israel, speaking in explanation of position, said the text presented another attack on her country.  Israel had not voted against the resolution but did disassociate itself from preambular paragraph four.  But for that reason it could not vote in favour and had abstained.

The representative of the United States said while he voted in favour of the text, he disassociated himself with preambular paragraph four due to unacceptable statements on Israel, specifically referring to the 2025 Programme of Action.

The representative of Canada said that she also disassociated from paragraph four and rejected any one-sided politicization of the issues.

The representative of Australia also disassociated himself with language contained in preambular paragraph four.

The representative of Armenia said the choice of negotiating methods was unacceptable.  There had been no opportunity to engage in the draft; that was disrespectful to Member States.  He noted with regret that there was reference to the 2025 Programme of Action, which had contravened the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Right of Reply

The representative of Saudi Arabia, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, responded to the statement delivered by Syria’s representative, expressing regret about the illegitimate and unsubstantiated allegations made against her country.  It was the Syrian regime that was committing crimes against its own people, she stressed, thanking those Member States that had voted in favour of the resolution.

The representative of Azerbaijan, responding to the statement made by Armenia’s delegate, said operative paragraph 4 of the resolution on the United Nations cooperation with OIC stated that both organizations shared the common goal of facilitating the peace process in the Middle East, as well as fostering the peaceful resolution of all other conflicts.  There was nothing surprising about Armenia's attempts to argue against those paragraphs, she said, noting that in the context of the conflict between her country and Armenia regarding Nagorno Karabk, OIC had explicitly determined Armenia’s actions to be acts of aggression.  Citing the 2016 establishment of the OIC Contact Group on the conflict, she said that group would help compel Armenia to comply with its international obligations and put an end to its aggression and occupation.

The representative of Armenia said the words spoken by the delegate of Azerbaijan were a testament to that country's abuse of various frameworks — including the Organization of Islamic Cooperation — regarding the Nagorno Karabakh conflict.  Azerbaijan continued to deviate from previously reached ceasefire agreements, he said, expressing hope that that country would soon demonstrate the necessary political will to help reach a peaceful solution to the conflict.

The representative of Azerbaijan said such remarks were filled with falsehoods and distortions, which demonstrated how Armenia disregarded Security Council resolutions, occupied parts of Azerbaijan, pursued racist ideologies and violated the fundamental rules of international law.

The representative of Armenia said the delegation of Azerbaijan was portraying the Nagorno Karabakh conflict upside down.  It consistently attempted to conceal its policies of ethnic cleaning and other crimes committed between 1988 and 1991, he said, adding that the internationally mandated format to resolve the conflict had repeatedly called for adherence to ceasefire agreements.  While Armenia had agreed to abide by those, Azerbaijan continued to refuse; coupled with the latter’s increasing reliance on heavy weaponry, it was clear that Azerbaijan remained unwilling to move towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

For information media. Not an official record.