Resolutions on Combating Corruption, Importance of Women in Development among 14 Texts Approved, as Second Committee Concludes Session

GA/EF/3529
27 November 2019
Seventy-fourth Session, 26th Meeting (PM)

Resolutions on Combating Corruption, Importance of Women in Development among 14 Texts Approved, as Second Committee Concludes Session

Concluding its programme of work, the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) today approved 14 draft resolutions, including one expressing concern that proceeds from offences under the United Nations Convention against Corruption have yet to be disposed of in favour of the requesting States parties.

Also by that text, “Promotion of international cooperation to combat illicit financial flows and strengthen good practices on assets return to foster sustainable development”, the Assembly would stress that anti‑corruption measures should be an integral part of national development policies and strategies and that all jurisdictions should consider undertaking further research, policy development and programming to address corruption.

Before the Committee approved the text without a vote, the representative of the European Union stated the bloc had shown flexibility in joining consensus and cited the importance of fighting money‑laundering and related corruption.  She also expressed regret that some Member States found including a reference to the Financial Action Task Force as problematic.

The representative of the United States said his delegation believes fighting money‑laundering and related crimes is crucial, but the language of the resolution undermines that cause, as the term “illicit financial flows” has no universally agreed‑upon definition.  The representative of Liechtenstein noted slavery and trafficking generate $150 billion annually, but questioned some of the language in the draft, expressing regret that it had not been biannualized.

The Committee took up a draft on “Women in development”, by which the Assembly would reaffirm that the achievement of full human potential and of sustainable development is not possible if one half of humanity continues to be denied its full human rights and opportunities.  Prior to taking action on the document text as a whole, the Committee considered and voted on five amendments to the draft, approving four of them.

The representative of Canada, also speaking on behalf of Australia, Mexico and New Zealand, noted language on sexual and reproductive health was crucial to the draft, and that efforts to overturn consensus on the issue were unfortunate.  The representative of Sweden, also speaking on behalf of Iceland and Norway, said including women and girls is a precondition for the rights of all, and regressive trends on the issue must be halted.  The representative of Guatemala noted his delegation protects the rights of women and children but protects human life from conception and does not believe reproductive rights include abortion rights.

Turning to climate change, a draft on “Protection of global climate for present and future generations of humankind” would have the Assembly express profound alarm that emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise globally.  Prior to adopting that text as a whole, the Committee voted on an amendment introduced by the representative of the United States, which was then rejected by a vote of 50 in favour to 106 against, with 4 abstentions (Mexico, Rwanda, San Marino, Turkey).  A separate vote was then held on operative paragraph 9, which was retained by a separate vote of 116 in favour to 46 against, with 5 abstentions (Iceland, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland, Turkey).

The European Union representative noted the resolution should have had stronger language, pointing to rising emission levels, calling on the international community to step up collective efforts on achieving the Paris Agreement on climate change, with 2020 being a critical year.

Also related to climate change, the Committee approved a text on “Sustainable mountain development” which would have the Assembly stress the special vulnerability of people living in mountain environments, particularly local communities and indigenous peoples, often with limited access to health, education and economic systems and particularly at risk because of the negative impact of extreme natural phenomena and invites States to strengthen cooperative action.  The Committee approved the draft without a vote.

Another draft on “Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa” would have the Assembly stress the urgent need to enhance adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate change and extreme weather events, urging Member States to continue to engage in adaptation planning processes and to enhance cooperation in disaster risk reduction.

The Committee approved the text without a vote.  The representative of the United States said her delegation was pleased to join consensus but noted the General Assembly does not have the power to dictate to the United Nations Convention on Desertification.  She expressed concern over the workload of the Committee, noting it has had to deal with 47 resolutions, more than ever before.

The Committee also took up “Eradicating rural poverty to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, approving it by a vote of 121 in favour to 49 against with 2 abstentions (Palau, Turkey).

Further addressing sustainable development were drafts on “Implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity and its contribution to sustainable development”; “Strengthening cooperation for integrated coastal zone management for achieving sustainable development”; “Education for sustainable development in the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”; “Implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development and of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development”; “Follow‑up to and implementation of the outcomes of the International Conferences on Financing for Development”; “Promoting investments for sustainable development”; and “Role of the United Nations in promoting development in the context of globalization and interdependence”.

The Committee also approved the “Draft programme of work of the Second Committee for the seventy‑fifth session of the General Assembly”.

Also speaking today were representatives of Finland (on behalf of the European Union), Nigeria, Canada (national capacity), Australia, Morocco, Algeria, Colombia, Iran, El Salvador, Turkey, Japan, Venezuela, Czech Republic, New Zealand, Argentina, Finland (national capacity), United Kingdom, Kenya, Cuba, Denmark, Libya, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Ecuador, Switzerland, Israel, Italy, China, Egypt and Mexico.  An observer for the State of Palestine and for the Holy See also spoke.

Action on Draft Resolutions

The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) first took up a draft on “Promoting investments for sustainable development” (document A/C.2/74/L.68).

The Committee then approved the text without a vote, withdrawing a previous draft.

The representative of Finland, speaking on behalf of the European Union, noted the draft offers potential for future discussions and cited the vital role of capital flows and investments.  He noted the Sustainable Development Goals require private financial flows, and that the Union is the world’s largest provider of official development assistance.

Addressing the draft, the representative of the United States raised questions about some of its language and issues the Committee should not be taking up, and referred the Committee to previous remarks his delegation had made on 21 November about the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and related development agreements and language.

The representative of Nigeria said his delegation attaches great importance to the draft and encouraged the United Nations system to support such investment.

Next, the Committee addressed “Promotion of international cooperation to combat illicit financial flows and strengthen good practices on assets return to foster sustainable development” (A/C.2/74/L.69).

The Committee then approved the text without a vote, withdrawing a previous draft.

The representative of the European Union emphasized the flexibility the bloc had shown in joining consensus and cited the importance of fighting money‑laundering and related corruption.  She expressed regret that some Member States found inclusion of reference to the Financial Action Task Force as problematic.  References to illicit financial flows should not be narrowed, and the resolution is a candidate for biannualization and triannualization as it is also covered by the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural).

The representative of the United States referred the Committee to previous remarks his delegation had made on 21 November about the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and related development agreements.  His delegation believes fighting money-laundering and related crimes is crucial, but the language of the resolution undermines that cause.  The term “illicit financial flows” has no universally agreed‑upon definition, and Member States must take action at home to fight such corruption.  He said the resolution does not address enough aspects of the asset recovery process, and that process should not be coupled tightly with sustainable development.  The Committee workload is too heavy and rushed, he noted.

The representative of Liechtenstein noted slavery and trafficking generate $150 billion annually.  She raised questions about some of the language in the draft and stated her delegation regretted it had not been biannualized.

The representative of Nigeria said the text is a substantial improvement over that of 2018.  However, he expressed regret that the international community has not reached a definition of international financial flows.

The Committee then took up a draft on “Follow-up to and implementation of the outcomes of the International Conferences on Financing for Development” (A/C.2/74/L.13/Rev.1), approving it without a vote and withdrawing a previous text.

The representative of the United States referred the Committee to previous remarks his delegation had made on 21 November about the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and related development agreements and language.  He reiterated the United Nations should not be opining on multilateral bank policies and procedures.

The representative of Canada expressed disappointment over operative paragraph 16 which introduced new language on a sensitive issue that had not been mutually and transparently agreed upon, leading his delegation to break silence.

The representative of Australia said her delegation regretted having to break silence on operative paragraph 18, which added language referring to States and not Member States without open and transparent debate and decision.

Next, the Committee took up “Strengthening cooperation for integrated coastal zone management for achieving sustainable development” (A/C.2/74/L.31/Rev.1).

Introducing the draft, the representative of Morocco said integrated coastal zone management is a dynamic process, which considers diversity and interactions between countries.  Aiming to enhance participation in global trade, the draft enables interlinking of international cooperation and the sharing of best practices on eco‑based adaptation methods.  It aims to promote international cooperation and strengthen coherence between all actors to benefit integrated coastal management.  He then read out an oral correction to operative paragraph 12.

The representative of Algeria withdrew his delegation’s proposed amendments to operative paragraphs 4, 5 and 6.

The Committee then acted on preambular paragraph 2 of the draft, approving it in a vote of 149 in favour to 8 against (Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Serbia, Turkey, Venezuela), with 8 abstentions (Algeria, Cambodia, China, El Salvador, Mauritania, Niger, Syria, Zambia).

Speaking after the vote, the representative of Colombia expressed regret that the text failed to reach consensus due to a paragraph that was not accepted by all delegations.  Colombia understands that approval of the draft cannot be considered if it implies tacit acceptance of certain provisions in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The representative of Iran said his delegation voted against the disputed paragraph, as it was not approved by his country’s Parliament.

The representative of El Salvador said his country is not a party to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and cannot accept references to it in the draft.

The representative of Turkey voted against the paragraph as it is not a party to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  The Convention does not have universal support and does not provide sufficient safeguards for maritime situations.

The Committee then turned to operative paragraph 12 of the draft, approving it in a recorded vote of 109 in favour to 4 against (United States, Israel, Japan, Australia), with 49 abstentions.

Speaking before the vote, the representative of Morocco urged delegations to vote in favour of the paragraph.

The Committee then approved the text as a whole without a vote, as orally corrected, withdrawing a previous draft.

Speaking after the approval, the representative of the European Union expressed disappointment that consensus could not be reached on including language regarding the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  By establishing a legal framework directed at oceans and seas, she stressed that the Convention contributes to peace and security through customary international law.

The representative of Japan said his delegation joined consensus, but expressed regret that the oral statement by the Secretariat implying programme budget implications was issued one day before the approval date.  This statement was contrary to previous indications by the Secretariat that there would be no programme budget implications, which misled delegations.

The representative of Venezuela said his delegation joined consensus on the draft, but did not support references in the resolution to international instruments that his country is not party to — in this case, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The representative of the United States said the draft’s subject does not warranty a resolution in an already overburdened Committee.  Disassociating her delegation from operative paragraph 12, she referred the Committee to a statement made by the United States on 21 November regarding the 2030 Agenda and related agreements.

The representative of the Czech Republic said her delegation voted in favour of the paragraph and would like this reflected in the meeting’s record.

Following that, the Committee turned to a draft on “Implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development and of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development” (A/C.2/74/L.36/Rev.1).

The observer for the State of Palestine asked the Chair which delegation requested the vote.

The Chair said it was requested by the United States.

The draft was then approved by a vote of 126 in favour to 2 against (United States, Israel), with 49 abstentions.

Speaking after the vote, the representative of the European Union pointed to the redundancy of the resolution, stating that the Committee should focus its efforts on the more ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Adding that undue emphasis continues to be placed on Agenda 21, he nevertheless welcomed its attention to untenable consumption patterns and sustainable development.

The representative of New Zealand, speaking also for Liechtenstein and Norway, said she looked forward to working further on the resolution in efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The representative of Canada said that revitalization of the Committee’s work is vital to allow all delegations to reach 2030 Agenda goals.  However, more progress is needed to ensure that the resolution brings more value to the Committee and his country has shifted its vote to abstain on it.

The representative of the United States said his delegation voted against the draft, as it believed the Committee could better spend its limited time and resources elsewhere.

The observer for the State of Palestine, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the resolution is as relevant as ever in advancing sustainable development, which cannot be achieved in a vacuum.

The Committee then turned to a draft on “Women in development” (A/C.2/74/L.28/Rev.1), voting on various amendments.

The representative of Argentina said achieving gender equality and empowerment of women and girls would contribute to significant progress in reaching sustainable development targets.  He expressed regret that the Committee is voting on amendments to the resolution for the first time.  His delegation would vote to keep the amendments forwarded by the Group of 77, but would vote against amendments seeking to delete mention of sexual and reproductive health.

The Committee then took up the amendment contained in A/C.2/74/L.74.

The representative of Finland urged all delegations to support the amendment.

The representative of the United Kingdom said women in development is critical for the Second Committee, as it emphasizes the importance of empowering women and girls for sustainable development.  It would be highly detrimental to approve a text which went backwards on sexual and reproductive health as well as neglecting to mention related services.  She urged delegations to vote in favour of the amendments.

The representative of Kenya said achieving gender equality and empowerment of women and girls is key to achieving development targets.  Kenya will vote in favour, as the amendment contains previously agreed language and is more constructive in achieving such empowerment.

The amendment was approved by a vote of 118 in favour to 37 against, with 7 abstentions (Trinidad and Tobago, Malaysia, Barbados, Colombia, Algeria, Equatorial Guinea, Brunei).

Next, the Committee took up the amendment to “Women in development” contained in A/C.2/74/L.73.

The representative of the European Union said the term “health care services”, which the amendments propose to reinsert into the resolution, is used in other texts containing previously agreed language.

The amendment was then approved by a vote of 130 in favour to 26 against, with 5 abstentions (United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Colombia, Uganda, Equatorial Guinea).

Following that, the Committee turned to the amendment to “Women in development” contained in A/C.2/74/L.75.

The representative of Finland, referring to HIV/AIDS mentioned in operative paragraph 19, emphasized the importance of retaining language regarding health-care services in the draft.

The amendment was then approved by a vote of 136 in favour to 25 against, with 4 abstentions (United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Equatorial Guinea, Colombia).

The representative of the United States questioned why a proposed amendment to the draft by her delegation was not circulated in the room.

The Secretariat then distributed the document to the Committee.

The Committee then turned to the proposed amendment by the United States contained in document A/C.2/74/CRP.5.

The representative of Cuba said the amendment does not adhere to the principles of good faith used in the Committee and will weaken the draft’s purpose and operative paragraphs.  His delegation will vote against it.

The representative of Denmark said a women or girls’ power over her own body is crucial to their rights as well as sustainable development, as this is a critical part of the 2030 Agenda and key to prosperity in her country and countries across the world.  She expressed regret that a delegation wishes to delete terms such as health services and sexual and reproductive health.

The Committee then rejected the amendment in a recorded vote of 18 in favour to 119 against, with 16 abstentions.

The Committee then turned to an amendment to operative paragraphs 18 and 19 contained in document A/C.2/L.28/Rev.1, approving it in a recorded vote of 136 in favour to 12 against, with 7 abstentions (Belarus, Brunei Darussalam, Colombia, Russian Federation, Algeria, Libya, Jamaica).

The Committee approved the draft, as amended, without a vote.

The representative of the European Union said his bloc supported the human rights of women and girls and the full realization of gender equality.  However, much must be done to adequately address the challenges women and girls around the world face each day.  Language on climate change and biodiversity loss in the draft should be strengthened, as they adversely affect women in many parts of the world.

He said the language met the absolute minimum standards, and that gender equality is necessary for sustainable development.  He expressed hope that the spirit of consensus will be restored.

The representative of Canada, also speaking on behalf of Australia, Mexico and New Zealand, expressed strong support for gender equality.  He noted language on sexual and reproductive health was crucial to the draft, and said it was unfortunate that there had been efforts to overturn consensus on the issue.

The representative of the United States noted women are agents of transformation in sustainable development but that her delegation would not accept language on sexual and reproductive rights that references the right to abortion.  There is no international right to abortion, and her country’s Government does not support the right to abortion in its international assistance.  The United States dissociates itself from operative paragraphs 8, 17, 18 and 19, which is not consensus text going forward.  She referred to remarks made on 21 November on the 2030 Agenda.

The representative of Sweden, aligning herself with the European Union and also speaking on behalf of Iceland and Norway, said including women and girls is a precondition for the rights of all.  She said the regressive trend must be stopped, and the events today were an attempt to reverse global agreements on the rights of women and girls.

The representative of Guatemala said his delegation will continue to protect the rights of women and children and support their development.  His country protects human life from conception and believes reproductive rights do not include abortion rights.

The representative of Nigeria, also speaking on behalf of a group of 18 countries, said they joined consensus for empowerment of girls and women.  She regretted language on multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, which does not enjoy consensus on human rights issues and dissociated from it, as well as language added to operative paragraph 18.  She expressed support for global objectives to empower women and girls.

The representative of Libya, aligning himself with Nigeria on behalf of a group of countries, said his delegation had shown flexibility despite disagreeing with some language including on “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination”.  His country’s Government supports equal pay for women and does not enforce the taking of a husband’s surname.

The representative of Iran, aligning himself with Nigeria on behalf of a group of countries, dissociated itself from the language added to operative paragraph 8.

The observer for the Holy See expressed support for language including that on empowering girls and women.  However, his delegation reiterated that the broader revitalization of Committees must remain focused on their own drafts without duplication.  Eradicating poverty is essential and cannot be overstated, but specific considerations on fundamental rights are best left to the Third Committee.  He expressed reservations on terms including abortion rights as a component of “sexual and reproductive health”.

Next, the Committee took up “Protection of global climate for present and future generations of humankind” (A/C.2/74/L.37/Rev.1).

The representative of the United States introduced an amendment as contained in A/C.2/74/CRP.4.

The amendment was then rejected by a vote of 50 in favour to 106 against, with 4 abstentions (Mexico, Rwanda, San Marino, Turkey).

A separate vote was then held on operative paragraph 9, which was retained by a separate vote of 116 in favour to 46 against, with 5 abstentions (Iceland, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland, Turkey).

The representative of the European Union said the resolution should have had stronger language, pointing to rising emission levels.  Collective efforts must be stepped up to achieve the Paris Agreement on climate change, with 2020 being a critical year.  She noted shipping is an important element and more effort is needed in that domain.

The representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines noted her delegation had voted in favour.

The Committee then approved the text without a vote, withdrawing a previous draft.

The representative of the United States objected to language in operative paragraph 9 which reflected the interests of a single State and dissociated her delegation from it, although it had joined consensus.  She added her delegation has announced its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.

The Committee then turned to “Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa” (A/C.2/74/L.41/Rev.1), approving the draft without a vote.

The representative of the United States said her delegation was pleased to join consensus but referred to remarks made on 21 November on the 2030 Agenda and related development agreements and language.  She noted the General Assembly does not have the power to dictate to the United Nations Convention on Desertification, and urged that future resolutions reflect the will of those parties.  She expressed concern over the workload of the Committee, noting it has had to deal with 47 resolutions, more than ever before.

Next, the Committee took up “Implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity and its contribution to sustainable development” (A/C.2/74/L.66).

The representative of Ecuador said the draft reaffirmed the international community’s will to convene a biodiversity summit in 2020, although the date and format are still to be defined.

The representative of New Zealand, speaking also for Australia, Canada and Norway, stressed the importance of the resolution, as it brings attention to the global biodiversity crisis.  She expressed disappointment, however, that the resolution does not lay down a specific date and venue for the 2020 summit.

The representative of the European Union stressed that the global biodiversity crisis is “real”, with the scale of loss unprecedented in global history.  She also expressed regret that Member States could not agree on a specific date and venue for the upcoming summit.

The representative of the United States said it joined consensus on the draft, but referred the Committee to remarks her country made on 21 November regarding the 2030 Agenda and related development agreements.  Her delegation is concerned that the language does not reflect the biodiversity convention and does not accurately reflect parties to the Convention.

The representative of Switzerland said the 2020 summit should be transparent and inclusive if it wished to succeed in halting global biodiversity loss.  Planning it to coincide with the 2020 high‑level session of the General Assembly would be beneficial to all.

The Committee then approved the text without a vote, withdrawing a previous draft.

The Committee then took up “Education for sustainable development in the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (A/C.2/74/L.48/Rev.1).

The observer for the State of Palestine asked which delegation asked for the vote.

The Chair responded that Israel requested the vote.

The representative of Israel said it called for a vote on operative paragraph 13, as the language in it was introduced as “part of package deal”, which the delegation was unwilling to change or compromise on.  She stressed that the work of the Committee must be conducted with transparency and fairness.

Operative paragraph 13 was then approved by a vote of 162 in favour to 4 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, United states), with 3 abstentions (Georgia, Japan, Papua New Guinea).

The Committee then approved the text as a whole without a vote, withdrawing a previous draft.

The representative of the United States said the resolution should not attempt to define quality education or its standards.  Regarding the 2030 Agenda and related agreements, she referred the Committee to remarks made by the United States on 21 November.

The representative of Japan said his delegation joined consensus, stressing that the resolution should be implemented in achieving sustainable development for all.

The observer for the Holy See lauded the resolution for its inclusiveness, noting that it addressed indigenous people and children in vulnerable situations.

Following that, the Committee took up a draft on “Sustainable mountain development” (A/C.2/74/L.50/Rev.1).

Introducing the draft, the representative of Italy said the resolution highlights the sustainable development of mountain regions and the conservation of their cryosphere and biodiversity, which have a direct impact on lowland areas, even far from mountains, thus potentially affecting the well‑being of billions of people.  The resolution also points to the impact of climate change and environmental degradation on mountain regions, which are areas most vulnerable to hazards and natural disasters due to the rise in global temperatures.

The Committee then took up a draft on “Sustainable mountain development” (A/C.2/74/L.50/Rev.1), approving the text without a vote.

The Committee next took up “Role of the United Nations in promoting development in the context of globalization and interdependence” (A/C.2/74/L.26/Rev.1).

A separate vote was requested on an amendment as contained in A/C.2/74/CRP.6.

The amendment to the draft was then rejected by a vote of 46 in favour to 113 against with 4 abstentions (Japan, Norway, Republic of Korea, Turkey).

The draft was then approved by a vote of 127 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States) with 45 abstentions.

Next, the Committee took up “Eradicating rural poverty to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (A/C.2/74/L.22/Rev.1).

The draft was then approved by a vote of 121 in favour to 49 against with 2 abstentions (Palau, Turkey).

The Committee then took up “Draft programme of work of the Second Committee for the seventy‑fifth session of the General Assembly” (A/C.2/74/L.72), approving the text without a vote.

For information media. Not an official record.