12 August 2020

General Assembly Extends Seventy-Fourth Session until Mid-September, Postpones Events, Report Submission Deadlines, Adopting 10 Texts in Silence Procedure

The General Assembly adopted 10 resolutions and decisions by its silence procedure from 6 to 12 August, including one extending its seventy-fourth session until mid-September and several postponing events and deadlines for report submissions, reflecting ongoing COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions.

Using its silence procedure, the Assembly adopted on 12 August decision 74/563 “Closing date of the seventy-fourth session of the General Assembly” (document A/74/L.79), deciding to end its current session on Tuesday, 15 September 2020.

On the recommendation of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), the Assembly adopted on 6 August resolution 74/254 B, “Seconded active-duty military and police personnel” (document A/C.5/74/L.52).  By the resolution’s terms, it regretted that the Secretary-General has not yet proposed a permanent solution to the secondment issue, thus compelling the General Assembly to resort to prolonging exceptional measures.  The Assembly recalled that the selection of staff members, including seconded active-duty military and police personnel, should be made in accordance with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and requested the Secretary-General to enable the participation of all Member States in seconding active-duty military and police personnel.

Also by its terms, the Assembly decided to approve the continuation of the exceptional measures approved in its resolution 67/287, including the waiver of staff regulation 1.2 (j) and staff rule 1.2 (l) of the Staff Regulations and Rules of the United Nations for seconded active-duty military and police personnel and the application of bilateral agreements with Member States, until 30 June 2022.  It further requested the Secretary-General to increase outreach and engagement with Member States and to submit a report during the first part of its resumed seventy-sixth session with detailed factual information and to present options aimed at systemically resolving those issues.

On 11 August, the Assembly adopted two resolutions and one decision, including one recommended by its Second Committee (Economic and Financial).  In adopting decision 74/537 B, “Revitalization of the work of the Second Committee” (document A/C.2/74/L.76), the Assembly reaffirmed the importance of the full implementation of its resolutions on the revitalization of its work, which also aims at enhancing international development and accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  It also agreed that the Second Committee’s work needs to be better aligned with the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development.

The Assembly also adopted resolution 74/232 B, “Follow-up to the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (document A/74/L.74).  By the resolution’s terms, the Assembly decided to reschedule the Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries and to hold it in Doha from 23 to 27 January 2022 at the highest possible level, including Heads of State and Government, in line with the mandate specified in resolutions 73/242 and 74/232.  It also decided to reschedule the meeting of the intergovernmental preparatory committee and to hold it in New York in two parts, from 24 to 28 May 2021 and from 26 to 30 July 2021, of no more than five working days each.

The Assembly then adopted resolution 74/297, “Progress in the implementation of General Assembly resolution 71/243 on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system” (document A/74/L.77).  By its terms, the Assembly took note of the Secretary-General’s report on the issue and of the report of the Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group on the work of the Development Coordination Office.  The Assembly, by the resolution’s terms, encouraged a continued comprehensive, evidence-based and analytical approach to the process of reporting to the operational activities for development segment of the Economic and Social Council, and the continued use of data and examples from the work of resident coordinators on the ground in all future reporting on the implementation of the reinvigorated resident coordinator system.  It welcomed the progress achieved by the United Nations development system, took note of the challenges on repositioning it, and looked forward to the full, timely implementation of all reform mandates as contained in its resolutions 71/243, 72/279, 73/248 and 74/238.

On 12 August, the Assembly adopted several resolutions and decisions, many reflecting pandemic-related restrictions.  First, it adopted decision 74/566 “Extension of the term of office of the current members of the International Law Commission and other related matters” (document A/74/L.78).  By its terms, the Assembly stressed that the decision to extend the terms of office of the current members of the International Law Commission for one year — to 31 December 2022 — has been made on an exceptional basis, owing to the unprecedented circumstances arising as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that this decision is without prejudice to article 10 of the statute of the Commission and does not constitute a precedent, either for the Commission or for other bodies of the United Nations with elected members.  Also by the decision’s terms, the Assembly decided that the seventy-second session of the International Law Commission shall be postponed and shall be held at the United Nations Office at Geneva in 2021, and that the seventy-third session of the Commission shall be held at the United Nations Office at Geneva in 2022.

It then adopted decision 74/550 B “Fourteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice” (document A/74/L.80).  Recalling further its decision 74/550 of 13 April 2020, in which it noted with concern the situation concerning the coronavirus disease, the Assembly decided to hold the event in Kyoto, Japan, from 7 to 12 March 2021, with pre-Congress consultations to be held on 6 March 2021.

Similarly, the Assembly adopted decision 74/565 “Informal interactive hearing with indigenous peoples” (document A/74/L.81), noting with concern the situation arising out of the coronavirus disease.  As such, it decided to postpone to its seventy-fifth session the request to the General Assembly President to organize and preside over an informal interactive hearing and to prepare a summary of it.

The Assembly then adopted decision 74/564 “Review of the United Nations peacebuilding architecture” (document A/74/L.82).  By its terms, the Assembly decided to extend the review of the peacebuilding architecture at the seventy-fourth session to the end of the main part of the seventy-fifth session, in order to afford all parties involved the time necessary to engage in robust intergovernmental consultations and a comprehensive review, taking into account the unprecedented technical and logistical challenges to a comprehensive review at the current session posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which necessitated a delay of the formal process of the review from June to September.  The Assembly also decided that the review process during the seventy-fifth session should continue to be conducted in accordance with the terms of reference recommended by the Peacebuilding Commission.  In addition, it requested the General Assembly President to facilitate the review process and ensure its successful outcome.

The Assembly adopted resolution 74/298, “Review of the implementation of General Assembly resolution 67/290 on the high-level political forum on sustainable development, resolution 70/299 on the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the global level and resolution 72/305 on the strengthening of the Economic and Social Council” (document A/74/L.83).  By its terms, the Assembly decided to conduct the reviews in its seventy-fifth session.

Also by the resolution’s terms, it decided that the thematic focus of the Economic and Social Council for its 2021 session and the 2021 High-level Political Forum on sustainable development convened under its auspices shall be “Sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that promotes the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development:  Building an inclusive and effective path for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda in the context of the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development”.  The Assembly decided that the review shall take into account the different and particular impact of the COVID-19 pandemic across all Sustainable Development Goals, consider progress in implementing the 2030 Agenda in its entirety and address the links among the Goals.

[Under decision 74/544, “Procedure for taking decisions of the General Assembly during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‑19) pandemic”, adopted on 27 March 2020, the Assembly President is authorized to circulate, after consultation with the General Committee, its draft decisions to all Member States under a silence procedure of at least 72 hours.  If the silence is not broken, the decision should be considered adopted.  On 15 May 2020, through decision 74/555 (document A/74/L.65), on 18 June 2020, through decision 74/558 (document A/74/L.72), and again on 21 July 2020, through decision 74/561 (document A/74/L.76), the silence procedure was extended until the end of June, July and August 2020, respectively.  (See also Press Releases GA/12244, GA/12245, GA/12251 and GA/12257.)

The final version of decisions adopted during the resumed part of the General Assembly’s seventy-fourth session will be contained in the Assembly’s official record (document A/74/49 (Vol. III)) after editorial review.]

For information media. Not an official record.