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GA/12154
20 June 2019
Seventy-third Session, 91st Meeting (AM)

General Assembly Adopts Texts, Recognizing 21 June as International Day to Celebrate Solstice, Scheduling Anniversary Event for Child Rights Convention

The General Assembly, acting without a vote, adopted three resolutions today, including one through which it will recognize 21 June as the International Day of the Celebration of the Solstice.

Introducing that text, Bolivia’s delegate said it reaffirms the right of indigenous peoples to practice and revitalize their cultural traditions.  In an explanation of vote, Chile’s representative added that the resolution bolsters the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Assembly also adopted a resolution by which it will include the United Nations implementation of a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual exploitation and abuse in the agenda of its seventy-fourth session.

The representative of Egypt introduced that text, saying it expresses the Organization’s ongoing commitment to implement the zero-tolerance policy throughout the United Nations system, including peacekeeping missions.

By the terms of a third text, the Assembly decided to convene a high-level commemorative event on 25 September — during the high-level week of its seventy-fourth session — to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Also speaking today were representatives of Ecuador, Chile, Peru, Guatemala, United States, Philippines, Argentina and Uruguay.

Action on Draft Resolutions

The Assembly first took up the draft resolution titled “International Day of the Celebration of the Solstice” (document A/73/L.92).  By its terms, the Assembly would recognize 21 June as the International Day of the Celebration of the Solstice and encourage Member States to make efforts to raise awareness of the celebration of the solstice in its different manifestations including, among others, the Inti Raymi, the We Tripantu, the Willkakuti and Yasitata Guasú, and to organize annual events in commemoration of these celebrations.

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia), the main sponsor of the draft resolution together with Chile, Ecuador and Peru, said it reaffirms the right of indigenous peoples to practice and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs.  It also regards the celebration of the solstice as an expression of the unity of cultural heritage and traditions which contribute to stronger ties between peoples as well as peace and good neighbourliness.  He went on to underscore the importance of living in harmony with nature, which is inherent in all civilizations.

The Assembly then adopted “L.92” without a vote.

In an explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of Ecuador said that for the indigenous peoples of the Andes, the Inti Raymi is a sacred time that celebrates the grain harvest as winter in the Southern Hemisphere draws closer.  He emphasized the importance of indigenous traditions that recognize the fertility of the land, cultural heritage and strengthened ties between peoples.

The representative of Chile said the resolution strengthens the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  Noting that his country will experience a total eclipse of the sun in a few days, he urged all interested Member States as well as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to participate in solstice events.

The representative of Peru said that for many indigenous peoples, the solstice marks the start of the Andean New Year.  He added that the Inti Raymi is one of the most important events of the year in the Peruvian city of Cusco, attracting thousands of tourists.

The representative of Guatemala, describing his country as the heart of the Mayan world, called on the international community to do more to promote and protect indigenous knowledge.  Doing so can contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, mitigate the effects of climate change and advance a culture of peace, he said.

The representative of the United States said his delegation joined consensus on “L.92” on the understanding that the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity adopted by UNESCO and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples are not legally binding on Member States.  Regarding operative paragraph 3, he said his delegation understands that activities arising from the resolution should be met through voluntary contributions.  He also reiterated his country’s concern about the proliferation of International Years.

The Assembly then, without a vote, adopted draft resolution A/73/L.93, by which the 193-member organ decided to convene a high-level commemorative event on 25 September 2019 to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child during the high-level week of its seventy-fourth session.

Finally, the representative of Egypt introduced draft resolution A/73/L.90, by which the Assembly would decide to include in the provisional agenda of its seventy-fourth session the item entitled “Sexual exploitation and abuse: implementing a zero-tolerance policy” and request the Secretary-General to continue to submit annual reports on the matter.

He said the draft is an expression of the continuing commitment of the United Nations to implement its zero-tolerance policy on the matter, and it applies across the United Nations system, including peacekeeping missions, funds and programmes and agencies, as well as non-United Nations organizations with a mandate given by the Security Council.

The representative of the Philippines said peacekeeping remains the flagship enterprise of the United Nations, and cases of sexual exploitation and abuse by its personnel not only undermine the values and principles of the United Nations but erode the trust of the peoples the Organization has vowed to protect.  When those committed to bringing peace and safety inflict the worst features of war, they commit the worst betrayal of the United Nations mission, she added, stressing that this issue must be addressed aggressively through the robust pre-deployment and in-mission training programmes that underscore leadership responsibility and accountability throughout the chain of common; exchange of information on context-specific responses, and innovative capacity-building initiatives based on best practices in overcoming a culture of impunity.  Her Government has adopted a more stringent criteria in the selection of peacekeeping candidates.

The representative of Argentina, which co-sponsored the draft, expressed his delegation’s support for the Organization’s zero-tolerance policy against sexual exploitation and abuse.  He also welcomed the appointment of Special Coordinator Jean Holl Lute and welcomed the establishment of the Trust Fund in support of victims.  Argentina signed on to the United Nations Voluntary Compact on the issue in 2017, and its President joined the related Leadership Circle.  Argentina has appointed two national focal points, one for military personnel and one for police personnel, he said, calling for greater cooperation among the Secretariat, the Security Council and the Assembly. 

The representative of Uruguay, which co-sponsored the draft, said that as a Member State which contributes troops and police personnel to United Nations peace operations, his country places the utmost importance on addressing the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse, expressing full support for the Organization’s zero-tolerance policy.  Outlining domestic measures, he said Uruguay’s peacekeeping personnel must complete a pre-deployment course, which covers topics on human rights, humanitarian law, sexual violence and protection of children.  His Government also established a focal point for victims.  Uruguay also signed on to the United Nations Voluntary Compact and its President joined the related Leadership Circle.  

The Assembly then adopted the text without a vote.

Speaking in explanation of vote, the representative of the United States said that his delegation reaffirms its commitment to eradicate the menace, expressing collective support for the Organization’s zero-tolerance policy and the Secretary-General’s initiative to strengthen its responses.  Sexual exploitation and abuse undermine the legitimacy and effectiveness of the United Nations, he said, stressing the need to do the utmost to promote accountability for this unacceptable act.

For information media. Not an official record.