Acting by consensus today, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) approved peacebuilding- and decolonization‑related drafts as it concluded its general debate on the comprehensive review of special political missions.
The Committee approved, without a vote, the draft resolution titled “Comprehensive review of special political missions” (document A/C.4/73/L.8) by which the General Assembly stresses the need for the United Nations to continue to improve its capabilities in the pacific settlement of disputes, including mediation, conflict prevention, conflict resolution, peacebuilding and sustaining peace, for the maintenance of international peace and security.
By other terms of the text, the Assembly also stresses the need for enhanced coordination and cooperation between special political missions and regional and subregional organizations. It further requests that the Secretary‑General hold regular, inclusive and interactive dialogue on overall policy matters pertaining to special political missions, and reach out to Member States before holding such dialogue in order to ensure participation.
Taking up an outstanding decolonization text, the Committee then approved a draft decision titled “Question of Gibraltar” (document A/C.4/73/L.5), also without a vote. By its terms, the General Assembly urges the Governments of Spain and the United Kingdom to reach a definitive solution to the question of Gibraltar. It also takes note of the United Kingdom’s desire to continue with the trilateral Forum for Dialogue, and of Spain’s position that the Forum does not exist and should be replaced with a new mechanism for local cooperation, in which the people of the Campo de Gibraltar and Gibraltar are represented.
Some delegations recalled their experiences of hosting special political missions, with Iraq’s representative saying that the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) played a crucial role in supporting national reconciliation in his country, bolstering the political process and assisting in elections. Indeed, the delegation of Iraq asked the Security Council to extend the mandate of UNAMI, he said, explaining that the Mission is playing a constructive role in the country.
Sudan’s delegate said political will in his country’s western region of Darfur has united many actors who have agreed on the primacy of political solutions based on the Darfur Peace Agreement (Doha Agreement) and other accords. The financing available for special political missions constitutes proof that the United Nations accords high priority to making peacebuilding in Darfur a new African success story, he observed.
El Salvador’s representative, commenting on the funding structure of special political missions, noted that while they must have political and financial support to fulfil their mandates, their budget allocation has increased so much in recent years that it distorts the regular budget of the United Nations. She called for a special separate account to fund special political missions.
Also speaking today were representatives of Ethiopia, Ecuador, Myanmar, United States and Russian Federation.
The Fourth Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Friday, 9 November, to begin its consideration of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
BIRUK MEKONNEN DEMISSIE (Ethiopia), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the United Nations must play a meaningful role in addressing complex global challenges, including through the effective use of special political missions, which are flexible and offer a comprehensive approach to prevention, peacebuilding and sustaining peace. It is essential to address institutional fragmentation across the entire United Nations system in order to ensure that such efforts are prioritized, he added. Emphasizing the importance of partnership with regional organizations, he said the African Union has demonstrated the political will to respond to crisis situations and, in doing so, shares the burden of the United Nations while achieving results at a lower cost. In that regard, regional United Nations officers in Africa are forging closer engagement with the African Union on a range of collaborative efforts, he said, reiterating that the partnership between the two organizations is critical to addressing root causes of conflict.
The representative of Iraq said that special political missions represent one of the Secretary‑General’s primary efforts in pursuit of international peace and prevention of conflict. Such missions must respect State sovereignty, territorial integrity and political decisions made by States, he said, emphasizing that they must operate under precise mandates based on factual assessments and constructive dialogue with host countries. Calling for adequate financing of missions and for equitable geographical representation in appointing special envoys, he recalled that his country has hosted a special political mission since 2003, in accordance with Security Council resolution 1500 (2003). That mission played a crucial role in supporting Iraq’s national reconciliation, bolstering the political process and assisting in elections, he said. It is in that context that the delegation of Iraq asked the Security Council to extend its mandate, he added, explaining that the mission is playing a constructive role in the country. The Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) until 31 May 2019 by adopting resolution 2421 (2018), he recalled.
The representative of Ecuador, associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, noted the increase in the number of special political missions from 31 to 38 in recent years. Expressing the support of her country’s Government for the Secretary‑General’s reforms in that area, she highlighted the change in the budget structure from biennial to annual and the creation of new departments, including the Department of Operational Support. She also commended the Secretary‑General’s efforts to promote gender parity and women’s empowerment, spotlighting his appointment of the Special Envoy on Myanmar in that regard. In terms of the financing of special political missions, she said her delegation shares the concerns expressed by others, while stressing that the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) is the principal arena in which to discuss that question.
The representative of El Salvador, associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that special political missions play a fundamental role in defining and establishing peace. She recalled that 26 years after a peace agreement was reached in her country, a new dialogue is under way to develop economic and social well‑being. Although that process is not a special political mission, it informs El Salvador’s position on such missions and enables the country to share insights and best practices on various stages of peacebuilding. She pointed out, however, that while special political missions must have political and financial support to fulfil their mandates, their budget allocation has increased so much in recent years that it distorts the regular budget of the United Nations. Calling for a special separate account to fund special political missions, she went on to emphasize that the transition from special political missions to peacebuilding requires clear exit strategies as well as long‑term development strategies. She reaffirmed the important role of women at all stages of peacebuilding, reporting that of the small contingent of 10 people that El Salvador deploys to special political missions, 5 are women.
PWINT PHYU THINN (Myanmar), endorsing the statements delivered on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said her country has cooperated well with the three visits by the Secretary‑General’s Special Envoy to Rakhine and Kachin States to gain an understanding of the situation on the ground. Agreeing with the Special Envoy’s conclusions that accountability and inclusive dialogue are crucial for national reconciliation, she said Myanmar’s multifaceted problems will require patience and mutual trust, adding that that will only be possible when a democratic federal union is established by political means. Myanmar, in cooperation with Bangladesh, has been preparing the conditions for the safe and voluntary repatriation of those who fled to the neighbouring country, she said, reporting that the first stage of repatriation will begin this month.
The representative of Sudan, associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that although mediation and sustaining peace are among the priorities of special political missions, the principles of sovereignty, impartiality and national ownership must not be neglected. Turning to the peace process in his country’s western Darfur region, he said political will has united many actors who have agreed on the primacy of political solutions based on the Darfur Peace Agreement (Doha Agreement) and others. The financing available for special political missions constitutes proof that the United Nations accords high priority to making peacebuilding in Darfur a new African success story, he observed. Noting that special political missions are highly active in Africa and the Middle East, he said a high percentage of women’s participation had been realized in those regions, while also emphasizing the importance of geographical representation. Highlighting the goal of gender equality in the context of geographical background, he said that can be achieved by offering incentives for least developed areas, even if a policy of positive discrimination is required to do so. He went on to highlight the normalization of relations between various countries in the region through Sudan’s mediation, expressing optimism for the future of the Horn of Africa in that regard.
Action on Drafts
The Committee then took up a draft resolution titled “Comprehensive review of special political missions” (document A/C.4/73/L.8), approving it without a vote.
Taking up an outstanding text on decolonization, the Committee approved a draft decision titled “Question of Gibraltar” (document A/C.4/73/L.5) by consensus.
The representative of the United States, making a general statement on the postponed action relating to the Non‑Self‑Governing Territory of Guam, said his delegation is seeking only minimal edits to that text in question so as to rejoin the consensus. The intention is not to strike paragraphs but to clarify legal issues within the text, he said, inviting delegates to discuss the issue further if necessary.
The representative of the Russian Federation, recalling the reason for the delay, said the administering Power typically participates directly in the drafting process within the Special Committee on Decolonization, but did not do so in respect of the draft resolution on Guam. Noting that a delegation is unilaterally asking for discussion of questions relating to the text, he emphasized that the Special Committee does have questions about proposed amendments to that draft because they contravene the consensus already reached. Better cooperation before consensus is reached would be more constructive than causing such delays, he observed. Pointing out that decisions on most Territories discussed in the Special Committee are reached by consensus, he called for similar treatment of Guam’s case.