22 December 2017
Seventy-second Session, 75th Meeting (PM)

Adopting Two Resolutions, General Assembly Decides to Hold Nelson Mandela Peace Summit in 2018, Elects New Head Of Human Settlements Programme

The General Assembly will hold a high‑level meeting on global peace in honour of the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth a day before the general debate of its seventy‑third session, a decision taken in one of two resolutions adopted today.

Introducing the resolution, titled Nelson Mandela Peace Summit (A/72/L.39), on behalf of the African Group, Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee (Ghana) said the life of Nelson Mandela had been informed by his selfless commitment and deep sense of duty to South Africa, Africa and humanity as a whole.  Mr. Mandela had ushered South Africa out of the insidious system of apartheid and strengthened national unity to avoid a civil war.  The summit was envisaged as an official United Nations event on the eve of the seventy-third session in 2018.

Noa Furman (Israel) said her delegation had joined consensus on the resolution, given the importance of Mr. Mandela’s legacy, however, concerns it had raised during consultations had not been addressed.

The Assembly also adopted a resolution titled “Impact of rapid technological change on achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals” (document A/72/L.38), encouraging Member States to consider the impact of such change on the Goals.  It requested the Technology Facilitation Mechanism to do likewise and present its findings at its third multi‑stakeholder forum on science, technology and innovation in June 2018.

Introducing the resolution, Juan José Ignacio Gómez Camacho (Mexico) said the United Nations usually reacted rather than anticipated challenges due to the rigidity of its thinking.  That applied to technological change taking place at an unprecedented pace.  The draft’s objective was not to limit or regulate technological developments, but rather to understand and address its effects.  He welcomed it as a proactive, consensus text on a new and relevant topic for the Organization, addressing a cross‑cutting issue with broad‑reaching effects.

Speaking before adoption, Andrea Pontiroli, of the European Union delegation, said it was important to deepen understanding of the impacts of rapid technological change on achieving the Goals.  There was merit in exploring opportunities and challenges presented by those technologies.

Ms. Iiguni‑Kanda (Japan) said science, technology and innovation were essential for attaining the Goals.  However, there were already two technology items on the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) agenda, and the multi‑stakeholder forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals served as a platform for discussion.  To avoid duplication, consensus had been reached to hold a session on rapid technological change within the Science, Technology and Innovation Forum.

Speaking after adoption, Ms. Christian (United States) said her country did not believe technology and development deserved a separate track within the Assembly. It had joined consensus, but believed the issue could be addressed under existing agenda items, particularly science, technology and innovation for development.  As such, the United States disassociated from preambular paragraph 6 to the extent that references to prior United Nations proposals or calls for “access to technology” promoted technology transfer or distribution of intellectual property rights that were not voluntary and on mutually agreed terms.

Noa Furman (Israel) said her country was proud to support the resolution, as technological progress, when used properly, could help the world solve major problems and achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Indeed, rapid technological advances were making the world more accessible and allowing people to accomplish things that just a few years ago were deemed impossible.

Also today, the Assembly elected Maimunah Mohd Sharif (Malaysia) Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN‑Habitat) at the Under‑Secretary‑General level for a four‑year term.  The effective date of her appointment will be communicated to the Assembly at a later stage.

It also elected the Czech Republic and El Salvador as members of the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission for a two‑year term, beginning on 1 January 2018.

The Assembly then decided to extend its date of recess, and that of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) to Saturday, 23 December to facilitate reaching consensus on pending resolutions.

For information media. Not an official record.