Second Committee Approves 5 Texts Including on Sovereignty of Arab Population in Occupied Syrian Golan, Palestinian People over Their Natural Resources

GA/EF/3508
8 November 2018
Seventy-third Session, 23rd Meeting (AM)

Second Committee Approves 5 Texts Including on Sovereignty of Arab Population in Occupied Syrian Golan, Palestinian People over Their Natural Resources

The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) today introduced 31 draft resolutions and approved five of them, including one calling on Israel to cease its occupation of the Palestinian Territory and Syrian Golan.

The text, “permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources”, further stated that the 51-year occupation by Israel has caused multi-layered harm to those populations, with the funding crisis affecting the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) further exacerbating the situation.

The Committee approved the text (document A/C.2/73/L.37) in a recorded vote of 149 in favour and six against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, United States), with 12 abstentions.

Addressing that text, the representative of Israel said it is the opposite of what a United Nations resolution should be — “a political agenda in search of a document number”.  The observer of the State of Palestine called the approved draft a resounding affirmation of the rights of those affected, urging the international community to act collectively to end the brutal occupation.  The representative of Syria stated the Palestinian issue goes beyond development, becoming an issue of principle and legality.

Another draft entitled “Towards a New International Economic Order” (document A/C.2/73/L.23) would have the Assembly call on countries to fulfil their commitments to pursue policy coherence, establish enabling environments and reinvigorate global partnerships for sustainable development.

Taking action on the draft, the Committee approved it in a recorded vote of 114 in favour and 47 against, with four abstentions (Armenia, Republic of Korea, Tonga and Turkey).

Before the vote, the representative of the United States stated that the draft is a waste of United Nations time and resources and should be retired.  After the vote, Austria’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said she voted against the draft, stating that resolutions from 1974 do not give an appropriate framework for addressing the challenges of today’s world.

A resolution on “World Food Safety Day” (document A/C.2/73/L.2/Rev.1) would have the Assembly address unsafe food, which causes more than 200 diseases worldwide, including cancer, and adopt 7 June as World Food Safety Day.  The Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote.  After approval, the representative of the United States expressed concern that the text incorrectly expands the mandate of the World Health Organization (WHO).

A draft on “World Pulses Day” (document A/C.2/73/L.3/Rev.1), would promote the celebration of an international day for pulses, aiming to maintain momentum gained during the International Year of Pulses.  The Committee approved the draft without a vote.  Similarly, a draft on “International Year of Plant Health, 2020” (document A/C.2/73/L.5/Rev.1) was approved without a vote.

Turning to the global economic question, a resolution was introduced on “International trade and development” (document A/C2/73/l.12) emphasizing that trade is a powerful engine for development and structural transformation and reaffirming the political commitment to multilateralism and addresses protectionism.  Another draft on “External debt sustainability and development” (document A/C.2/73/L.11) pointed to sluggish global trade, flat commodity prices and instances of debt distress in developing countries, putting forward actions to facilitate debt sustainability and restructuring.

Another draft, on “Promotion of international cooperation to combat illicit financial flows and strengthen good practices on assets return to foster sustainable development” (document A/C.2/73/L.19), would have the Assembly call on countries to continue combating illicit financial flows, noting developing countries are most susceptible to their harm.

The Committee also introduced 23 additional texts, primarily focused on macroeconomic policy questions, the environment and poverty eradication, with a view to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

A draft on “Information and communications technologies (ICT) for sustainable development” (document A/C.2/73/L.29) noted that ICT are powerful drivers of economic growth and key enablers for achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Other drafts were introduced on “International financial system and development” (document A/C.2/73/L.12); “External debt sustainability and development” (document A/C.2/73/L.11); “Promotion of international cooperation to combat illicit financial flows and strengthen good practices on assets return to foster sustainable development” (document A/C.2/73/L.19); “International trade and development” (document A/C.2/73/L.21); and “Follow-up to and implementation of the outcomes of the International Conferences on Financing for Development” (document A/C.2/73/L.17).

Turning to the environment, draft resolutions were introduced on “Effective global response to address the impacts of the El Niño phenomenon” (document A/C.2/73/L.6); “Oil slick on Lebanese shores (document A/C.2/73/L.13); “Disaster risk reduction” (document A/C.2/73/L.15); “Combating sand and dust storms” (document A/C.2/73/L.16); “Water for Sustainable Development, 2018-2028” (document A/C.2/73/L.24); “Towards the sustainable development of the Caribbean Sea for present and future generations” (document A/C.2/73/L.27); “Protection of global climate for present and future generations of humankind” (document A/C.2/73/L.28); “Implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity and its contribution to sustainable development” (document A/C.2/73/L.33); “Report of the United Nations Environment Assembly of the United Nations Environment Programme” (document A/C.2/73/L.36); and “Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa” (document A/C.2/73/L.38).

On poverty eradication, the Committee introduced drafts on “Eradication of poverty and other development issues:  Implementation of the Third United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2018-2027)” (document A/C.2/73/L.9); “Eradication of poverty and other development issues:  Industrial development cooperation” (document A/C.2/73/L.10); “Eradicating rural poverty to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (document A/C.2/73/L.18); “Operational activities for development:  Operational Activities for Development of the United Nations system” (document A/C.2/73/L.8); “Operational activities for development:  South-South Cooperation for Development” (document A/C.2/73/L.22); and “Agriculture development, food security and nutrition” (document A/C.2/73/L.7).

Further texts were introduced on “Follow-up to and implementation of the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway and the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States” (document A/C.2/73/L.14); “Implementation of the outcomes of the United Nations Conferences on Human Settlements and on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development and strengthening of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)” (document A/C.2/73/L.4); “Groups of countries in special situations:  Follow-up to the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries” (document A/C.2/73/L.31) and “groups of countries in special situations:  Follow-up to the second United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries” (document A/C.2/73/L.30).

The Committee will meet again on Thursday, 15 November to introduce and act on further drafts.

Action on Draft Resolutions

Prior to acting on the draft resolutions, the representative of the United States addressed the Second Committee (Economic and Financial), stating that the documents are non-binding.  While the United States supports the spirit of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as a framework for development and applauds the call for shared international responsibility, she noted the 2030 Agenda recognizes all countries must address development on their own individual terms.  She further noted that the 2030 Agenda does not address new market access or intellectual property.  The representative reiterated that her Government has announced its intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement unless it is reconfigured.

Turning to the New Urban Agenda, she said each sovereign State has the right to determine how it conducts trade.  Stressing that economic sanctions are applied with specific aims including moving parties to return to the rule of law, she affirmed the United States is within its rights to use targeted economic sanctions as an alternative to the use of force.  As United States President Donald Trump said in his address to the General Assembly on 25 September, Washington, D.C. does not take its trade policy from the United Nations.  The Organization is not the appropriate venue for discussions such as those on technology transfer that is not voluntary.  She noted that part of the problem with the recurrent use of the term “inclusive growth” in the resolutions is that it is not clearly defined, and the idea must be grounded in evidence and proven best practices.  She requested that her statement be made part of the official record of the meeting.

The representative of Egypt, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, introduced a resolution entitled “Towards a New International Economic Order” (document A/C.2/73/L.23).  He said the draft will assist nations in achieving agendas the international community has adopted, including the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement.  The resolution calls on countries to fulfil their commitments to pursue policy coherence, establish enabling environments and reinvigorate global partnerships for sustainable development.  Highlighting major international economic and policy challenges in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, the draft emphasizes the role of the United Nations in addressing these issues.

Taking action on the draft, the Committee approved it in a recorded vote of 114 in favour and 47 against, with four abstentions (Armenia, Republic of Korea, Tonga and Turkey).

Speaking before the vote, the representative of the United States objected to the General Assembly proscribing actions for entities outside of the United Nations.  He also found the resolution’s reference to foreign occupation unacceptable, adding that the draft is a waste of United Nations time and resources and should be retired.

Speaking after the vote, Austria’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said she had voted against the draft, stating that resolutions from 1974 do not give an appropriate framework for addressing the challenges of today’s world.  She also expressed concern that the Committee is continuing to address issues that that are already covered by other General Assembly resolutions.

The representative of Costa Rica then introduced a resolution on “World Food Safety Day” (document A/C.2/73/L.2/Rev.1), noting unsafe food causes more than 200 diseases worldwide including cancer.  The adoption of 7 June as World Food Safety Day will help raise awareness of the issue.  The Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote.

The representative of the United States made a statement after approval, stating food safety is deeply important, but expressing concern with PP.7, which incorrectly expands the mandate of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The representative of Burkina Faso introduced a draft on “World Pulses Day” (document A/C.2/73/L.3/Rev.1), stating that pulse crops are nutritious, contribute to food security at all levels, improve diversity and prevent climate change.  The resolution promotes the celebration of an international day for pulses, aiming to maintain momentum gained during the International Year of Pulses.

The Committee than approved the draft without a vote.

The representative of Finland (on behalf of the sponsors listed in the document) introduced a resolution on “International Year of Plant Health, 2020” (document A/C.2/73/L.5/Rev.1).  The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote.

The representative of Egypt (on behalf of the Group of 77) introduced the resolution “Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources” (document A/C.2/73/L.37), stating the 51-year Israeli occupation has had a detrimental effect on the people of Palestine and Syria.  The harm is multi-layered, and the funding crisis of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) only exacerbates the condition of the Palestinian people.  Israel’s actions are a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and may constitute collective punishment.

Acting on the draft, the Committee approved it in a recorded vote of 149 in favour and six against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, United States), with 12 abstentions.

Speaking before the vote, the representative of Saudi Arabia said the resolution shines a light on the actions of the occupying nation, Israel, and called for the resolution to be adopted by consensus to end the suffering of the Palestinian people.  Israel has gone far beyond the pale, occupying and settling the territories, and it is time to establish an independent Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital.  His Government rejects actions by Israel that do not respect international norms.

The representative of Israel said the content of the draft resolution has little to do with reality or development, which is the primary interest of the Committee.  The data is highly selective and does not hide its anti-Israel bias.  It is the opposite of what a United Nations resolution should be.  Denouncing Hamas as a hate-filled organization, she called them a murderous gang ruling over millions in Gaza, with no connection drawn between its reign of terror and the condition of the people under its rule.  She stated the resolution is a political agenda in search of a document number.

The representative of Austria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, noted previous support for the resolution, but said the use of term “Palestine” cannot be construed as recognition of a State.

The observer of the State of Palestine expressed gratitude for those Member States who voted for the resolution.  The approval is a resounding affirmation of the rights of the sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources.  Noting that the extensive destruction of the occupying power Israel caused grave environmental and economic harm, she said its adherence to international law is an absolute imperative and can only support sustainable development.  Only international action can change the situation on the ground, and after 51 years of brutal occupation, the international community must act collectively to end it.

The representative of Syria said the situation should not be debated depending on the view of one State or another.  She noted the Palestinian issue goes beyond development and is one of principle and legality.

For information media. Not an official record.