General Assembly Adopts 16 Texts Recommended by Fifth Committee, Concluding Main Part of Seventy-Third Session

GA/12117
22 December 2018
Seventy-third Session, 65th Meeting (resumed) (Night)

General Assembly Adopts 16 Texts Recommended by Fifth Committee, Concluding Main Part of Seventy-Third Session

Resolutions on Nuclear Disarmament, Human Rights, Ending Racism Also Adopted

Concluding the main part of its seventy-third session, the General Assembly tonight adopted 24 resolutions and 2 decisions recommended by its main Committees, including texts on management and fiscal issues, as well as on nuclear disarmament, human rights and eliminating racism.

Adopting 16 drafts sent by its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) earlier today, the Assembly approved funding and initiatives for a wide range of the Organization’s functions at Headquarters and around the world, rounding up the first year of its 2018-2019 budget cycle.  Among the package of texts were two resolutions, adopted without a vote, on the scale of assessments, one to be applied to the regular budget and another to peacekeeping budgets.

By another text, the Assembly approved $651.24 million for the 36 continuing special political missions authorized by the General Assembly and/or the Security Council, requested the Secretary-General to continue implementing flexible workspace strategies in New York in 2019 and approved funding for various capital improvement projects.  Texts were also adopted on human resources management, the United Nations pension system and international tribunals.  For further details on the Fifth Committee proceedings, see Press Release GA/AB/4312.

At the outset, the Assembly took up several texts that had been pending due to their budget implications.  From its First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), the Assembly adopted, by a recorded vote of 88 in favour to 4 against (Israel, Liberia, Federated States of Micronesia, United States), with 75 abstentions, a draft decision to convene a conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction no later than 2019.  The Assembly also approved funding for the creation of an expert group, as part of the provisions of a resolution on advancing responsible State behaviour in cyberspace in the context of international security.

Turning to resolutions from its Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural), the Assembly, by a recorded vote of 120 in favour to 11 against, with 41 abstentions, adopted a text on “A global call for concrete action for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action”.

Also adopted by recorded votes were resolutions on human rights in Myanmar and in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine.  Several delegations expressed concerns that these country-specific resolutions clearly show the politicization of human rights and double standards, and only encourage confrontation rather than creating an atmosphere for considering such issues.

The Assembly also adopted texts on cooperation between the United Nations and the League of Arab States, the United Nations Environment Assembly of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the effects of atomic radiation.

In other business, the Assembly elected Jakub Chmielewski of Poland to the Committee of Contributions for a three-year term from 1 January 2019 and extended the terms of office of two ad litem judges on the United Nations Dispute Tribunal, namely, Rowan Downing (Australia) in Geneva and Nkemdilim Amelia Izuako (Nigeria) in Nairobi.

The Assembly will reconvene at a date and time to be announced.

Action on Draft Resolutions

The General Assembly first adopted, without a vote, the draft resolution “Report of the United Nations Environment Assembly of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)”, contained in a report of its Second Committee (Economic and Financial) of the same name (document A/73/538/Add.7).  By that draft, the Assembly expressed concern about the sustainability, predictability and stability of the funding of the UNEP governing body and requested the Secretary-General to make proposals.  As stated in the Fifth Committee's related report (document A/73/684), no additional resources are required.

Next, the Assembly took up to a report of its Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) on “Effects of atomic radiation” (document A/73/521), containing an eponymous draft resolution.  By that text, it would support the intentions and plans of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation for the conduct of its programme of work, in particular its next periodic global surveys of radiation exposure.  The draft’s budget implications, as considered by the Fifth Committee, are contained in a related report (document A/73/677).

Prior to taking up the draft as a whole, the Assembly decided, by a recorded vote of 148 in favour to none against, with 14 abstentions, to retain operative paragraph 21 (e).  In doing so, the Assembly decided on the acceptance of observer delegations as States members of the Scientific Committee in the fourth year, with due consideration for a fair degree of participation according to the Secretary-General’s suggested framework of membership criteria and indicators.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly then adopted the draft resolution as a whole.  In doing so, the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to strengthen support for the Scientific Committee within existing resources, which would require an additional $24,900 due to the proposed reclassification of a P-4 post to the P-5 level as Deputy Secretary, effective 1 January 2019.  In addition, $4,400 would be required under the staff assessment section of the 2018–2019 budget, to be offset by a corresponding amount under income from the staff assessment section.

Turning to reports from its Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural), the Assembly first took up the report “A global call for concrete action for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action” (document A/73/587), containing an eponymous draft resolution.  By its terms, the Assembly will decide to establish a permanent forum on people of African descent as a consultation mechanism and a platform for improving the quality of life and livelihoods of People of African Descent and to contribute to elaborate a United Nations declaration as a first step towards a legally binding instrument on the promotion of and full respect for their human rights.  The draft’s budget implications, as considered by the Fifth Committee, are contained in a related report (document A/73/682).

By a recorded vote of 120 in favour to 11 against, with 41 abstentions, the draft resolution was adopted, providing additional resource requirements of $447,500 ($292,200 recurrent and $155,300 non-recurrent) under the programme budget for the biennium 2018–2019.  That would include $423,700 ($290,100 recurrent and $133,600 non-recurrent) under section 24, Human rights; $21,000 (non-recurrent) under section 28, Public information; and $2,800 ($2,100 recurrent and $700 non-recurrent) under section 29F, Administration, Geneva.

The General Assembly next took up the report “Promotion and protection of human rights: human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives” (document A/73/589/Add.3), containing several draft resolutions.  The Assembly considered draft resolutions III on the “Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine”, and V on “Situation of human rights in Myanmar”.  The budget implications of draft resolution III, as considered by the Fifth Committee, are contained in a related report (document A/73/685).  The budget implications of draft resolution V, as considered by the Fifth Committee, are contained in a related report (document A/73/681).

The representative of South Africa, explaining his delegation’s position on draft resolution V, underscored that his country adheres to the general principles of international law, especially regarding the territorial integrity of States.  It also takes a cautious approach of country-specific issues in respect of matters of human rights and human rights violations.  South Africa remains on guard at all times to ensure that human rights resolutions are not used to engage in regime change and also condemns human rights violations in Myanmar, he said, adding that, as such, his delegation will vote in favour of draft resolution V.

The representative of the Russian Federation said draft resolution III is an example of a country-specific resolution, all of which are politicized and generally based on unsubstantiated and sometimes outright fabricated information.  At the same time, draft resolution III is particular as it is a purely anti-Russian document and meaningless in the terms of its contents.  Crimea cannot be pushed back into its brief Ukrainian past, he emphasized, recalling that it was a depressed region of that country until 2014.  Today, Crimea is different, inhabited by happy people who have voluntarily chosen the Russian Federation as their home, he said, inviting everyone to visit the peninsula and see the situation there for themselves.

The representative of Syria said his delegation would like to express its rejection of draft resolution III.  The draft is a political attempt to add to the other efforts that target the Russian Federation, which are unrelated to human rights issues.

The representative of Myanmar said his delegation will vote against draft resolution V, which unfairly targets his country to exert political pressure on it.  Draft resolution V abuses various United Nations mechanisms and disregards the dignity and sovereignty of a United Nations Member State.  It also sows seeds of mistrust and will only be detrimental to the repatriation process and the building of peace in Myanmar.  No one can be in a better position than the people and Government of Myanmar to understand the complexity of their own challenges.

The representative of Bangladesh said that on draft resolution V there are a number of provisions relating to Bangladesh as an effected State party.  He took the opportunity to reaffirm his delegation’s support for the draft as well as to comply with the provisions relevant to his country.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said his delegation opposes country-specific resolutions that clearly show the politicization of human rights and double standards.  Such resolutions have nothing to do with the protection of human rights and only encourage confrontation rather than creating an atmosphere for considering such issues.  As such, his delegation will vote against draft resolution III.

By a recorded vote of 65 in favour to 27 against, with 70 abstentions, the Assembly adopted draft resolution III, for which no additional resources are required.

By a recorded vote of 136 in favour to 8 against (Belarus, Cambodia, China, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Philippines, Russian Federation, Viet Nam), with 22 abstentions, the Assembly adopted draft resolution V, requesting the Secretary-General to extend the appointment of the Special Envoy on Myanmar and provide all assistance necessary to enable the Special Envoy to effectively discharge her mandate and brief Member States every six months, or as otherwise requested or warranted by the situation on the ground.  The Special Envoy on Myanmar would continue to function on a when-actually-employed basis, supported by a small team based in Nay Pyi Taw and New York.

Turning to the work of its Sixth Committee (Legal), the Assembly took up the “Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its seventieth session” (document A/73/556), adopting without a vote an eponymous draft resolution contained therein.  The draft’s budget implications, as considered by the Fifth Committee, are contained in a related report (document A/73/680).

Next, the Assembly took up several reports from its First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), first considering the report on “Developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security” (document A/73/505) and draft resolution II on “Advancing responsible State behaviour in cyberspace in the context of international security”, contained therein.  The draft’s budget implications, as considered by the Fifth Committee, are contained in a related report (document A/73/678).

By a recorded vote of 138 in favour to 12 against, with 16 abstentions, the Assembly adopted the draft, in which it requested the Secretary-General, with help from a group of governmental experts, to continue to study possible cooperative measures to address information security threats.  The draft requires an additional appropriation of $206,700 in 2018-2019, representing a charge against the contingency fund.  Additional requirements of $763,800 and $325,100 would also be needed for meetings of the group of governmental experts in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

The Assembly then turned to the report on “The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East” (document A/73/513), taking action on the draft decision “Convening a conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction”.  The draft’s budget implications, as considered by the Fifth Committee, are contained in a related report (document A/73/679).

By a recorded vote of 88 in favour to 4 against (Israel, Liberia, Federated States of Micronesia, United States), with 75 abstentions, the Assembly adopted the text.

In doing so, the Assembly entrusted to the Secretary-General the convening, no later than 2019, for a duration of one of one week at United Nations Headquarters, of a conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, to which all States of the Middle East, the three co-sponsors of the resolution on the Middle East adopted by the 1995 Review and Extension Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, in the light of their responsibility for the implementation of that resolution, the other two nuclear weapon States and the relevant international organizations shall be invited.

Next, the Assembly took action on the plenary draft resolution “Cooperation between the United Nations and the League of Arab States” (document A/73/L.23).  The draft’s budget implications, as considered by the Fifth Committee, are contained in a related report (document A/73/683).

The representative of Syria, explaining his delegation’s position, said that as a founding member of the League of Arab States, Syria is not against the organization.  However, the League should immediately start a serious review of its working methods over the past decade and revive a mechanism of collective action and democratic decision making that represents joint Arab interests, not the interests of one or two members.  He expressed hope that the League of Arab States sees the situation in Syria objectively and revokes its illegal decision to suspend his country’s participation in its meetings.  The League should support the Government of Syria in countering terrorism, promoting return of refugees and internally displaced persons, rebuilding the nation and ending foreign occupation of its territory.  For these reasons, his delegation called for a recorded vote on this draft resolution.

The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution by a vote of 155 in favour to none against, with 3 abstentions (Côte d’Ivoire, Republic of Korea, Syria).

By the text, the Assembly allocated additional resources of $267,100 to provide for two posts and other operational needs would be required under section 3, Political affairs, of the 2018–2019 programme budget, and $20,300, under section 36, Staff assessment, to be offset by a corresponding amount under income section 1.  In addition, two posts (1 P-5 and 1 Local level) would be established and based in Cairo.

HICHAM OUSSIHAMOU (Morocco), Rapporteur for the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), then introduced its reports and provided an overview of its work.  (For more information, see Press Release GA/AB/4312).

The Assembly first elected Jakub Chmielewski (Poland) a member of the Committee on Contributions for a three-year term of office beginning on 1 January 2019 (document A/73/483/Add.1).

Next, it adopted without a vote the draft resolution contained in the report on “Financial reports and audited financial statements, and reports of the Board of Auditors” (document A/73/671).

Following that, the Assembly adopted without a vote the draft resolution contained in the report on “Programme planning” (document A/73/667).

It then adopted the draft resolution contained in the report on “Pattern of conferences” (document A/73/675).

Next, the Assembly, also without a vote, adopted the draft resolution contained in the report on the “Scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations” (document A/73/421/Add.1).

Acting without a vote, it then adopted the draft resolution contained in its report on the “Scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of United Nations peacekeeping operations” (document A/73/668).

Following that, the Assembly adopted without a vote the draft resolution contained in the report on the “United Nations common system” (document A/73/676).

It then adopted without a vote the draft resolution contained in the report on the “United Nations pension system” (document A/73/673).

Next, it adopted without a vote the draft resolution contained in the report on the “activities of the Office of Internal Oversight Services” (document A/73/672).

The General Assembly then took up the draft resolution contained in the report on the “Administration of Justice at the United Nations” (document A/73/669), adopting it without a vote, as orally amended.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly next adopted the draft resolution contained in the report on “Financing of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals” (document A/73/670).

The Assembly, acting without a vote, adopted the draft resolution contained in the report on “Financing of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur” (document A/73/674).

The Assembly next took up draft resolutions contained in the report on the “Programme Budget for the biennium 2018-2019” (document A/73/686): draft resolution I on “Special subjects relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2018-2019”; draft resolution II A on the “Revised budget appropriations for the biennium 2018-2019”; draft resolution II B on the “Revised income estimates for the biennium 2018-2019”; and draft resolution II C on “Financing of the appropriations of the biennium 2018-2019”.

The representative of Cuba proposed an oral amendment to section XIV of draft resolution I regarding estimates for special political missions, good offices and other political initiatives authorized by the General Assembly and/or the Security Council.  She said there has been no negotiated intergovernmental agreement for activities under the responsibility to protect, as there is no consensus on the principle.  Over the last two years, no legislative mandate has been submitted that would allow progress on this concept.  Resources related to the Office of the Special Adviser on the issue have been mixed up with those of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the prevention of genocide.  The latter official received the full support of the Government of Cuba.  The budgetary estimates for the Office of the Special Adviser on the responsibility to protect should be deleted, she said.

The representative of Canada said that, during the 2015 World Summit, Heads of State adopted a declaration on the responsibility to protect and established the post of the Special Adviser.  Since then, the General Assembly has reaffirmed its support by renewing the funding.  Each year, the Fifth Committee and the General Assembly have voted against the oral amendment brought forward today.  He asked for a vote and urged all Member States to vote against.

The representative of Nicaragua, thanking his counterpart from Cuba for the proposed oral amendment, said it is inappropriate to allocate resources to the Special Adviser.

The representative of Iran said his delegation would vote in favour of the proposed amendment.  There is a serious risk of a biased application of the responsibility to protect.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said he strongly supports Cuba’s proposed amendment to section XIV.  The concept of the responsibility to protect has not been agreed by consensus by all Member States in the General Assembly.  The concept also has some dangerous elements that can be manipulated for political purposes.

Prior to taking action on draft resolution I as a whole, the Assembly rejected the oral amendment submitted by Cuba, by a recorded vote of 73 against to 22 in favour, with 53 abstentions.

The representative of Israel then proposed an oral amendment to section XVIII of draft resolution I.

The representative of Kuwait requested a recorded vote on the oral amendment submitted by Israel.  The paragraph seeks to mobilize resources for the Human Rights Council to investigate violations in the occupied Palestinian territories including Jerusalem.  He underscored a need to mobilize the resources in order to implement the resolution.

The Assembly then rejected the oral amendment submitted by Israel by a recorded vote of 125 against to 4 in favour (Australia, Israel, Liberia, United States), with 24 abstentions.

The Assembly adopted, without a vote, draft resolution I as a whole.

The Assembly then turned to draft resolution II A, adopting it without a vote.

Also without a vote, it adopted draft resolution II B.

The Assembly, without a vote, then adopted draft resolution II C.

The representative of Syria said his delegation has joined consensus on the resolution on the programme budget proposed for the biennium 2018-2019.  He has also joined consensus in favour of section XIV of resolution I on special political missions.  He expressed reservations for appropriating financial resources for the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General involved with implementation of Security Council resolution 1559 (2004).  He also indicated that the Special Envoy was going beyond the mandate mentioned in the resolution.

The representative of Venezuela referred to “revised estimates resulting from the resolutions and decisions adopted by the Human Rights Council in its thirty-seventh, thirty-eighth, thirty-ninth sessions and its twenty-seventh extraordinary session” and the resolution adopted today by consensus on this particular issue.  While his delegation supported the issue, he disassociated himself with the document mentioned in paragraph 6.

The representative of Israel said his country disassociated itself with the decision to appropriate resources for the implementation of the provision mentioned in draft resolution I.

The General Assembly next adopted without a vote the draft resolution “Shifting the management paradigm in the United Nations: comparative assessment of human resources structures”, contained in the report on the “Review of the efficiency of the administrative and financial functioning of the United Nations” (document A/73/687).

It then adopted without a vote the draft decision “Questions deferred for future consideration”, contained in the same report, as orally revised.

Turning to other business, the Assembly considered its agenda item on the appointment of the judges to the United Nations Dispute Tribunal, deciding to extend the terms of office of two ad litem judges: Rowan Downing (Australia) in Geneva and Nkemdilim Amelia Izuako (Nigeria) in Nairobi.

For information media. Not an official record.