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GA/12260
3 September 2020
Seventy-fourth Session, 62nd Meeting (AM)

General Assembly Adopts 2 Drafts on Sustainable Development in Africa, Text Regarding Status of Georgia’s Refugees, Internally Displaced

Delegates Also Take Note of Over 70 Texts Previously Adopted under Silence Procedure since 27 March

The General Assembly adopted three resolutions today, as the world body held its first plenary meeting since the start of coronavirus-related restrictions at Headquarters, taking note of more than 70 texts it had adopted under its silence procedure since 27 March.

During the course of the previous five months, the Assembly had acted on a range of issues via videoconference meetings and silence-procedure voting, electing Volkan Bozkir, Foreign Affairs Minister of Turkey, as President of its seventy-fifth session.  (See Press Release GA/12250.)  Among other actions, it filled vacancies in other organs, decided to reschedule several international conferences and proclaimed 2021 to 2030 the second Decade of Action for Road Safety.

Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, President of its seventy-fourth session, recalled the restrictions on holding live meetings at Headquarters, during which he had convened virtual meetings and presided over a nearly empty General Assembly Hall on days when delegates had cast their votes in socially-distance-guided elections for his successor and new members of the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council.  Today, he cautioned representatives that they must strictly maintain social distancing and wear masks throughout the day-long meeting except when addressing the Assembly, otherwise he would be forced to suspend or adjourn the meeting.

Commending Member States for taking a lead role in the COVID-19 response, including by adopting two related General Assembly resolutions, he said these actions will help the world overcome challenges and work towards the realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its goals and targets.

Taking up a range of draft resolutions and decisions, the Assembly first adopted the resolution “Status of internally displaced persons and refugees from Abkhazia, Georgia, and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, Georgia” (document A/74/L.89), by a recorded vote of 84 in favour to 13 against, with 78 abstentions.  By its terms, the Assembly recognized the right of return of all internally displaced persons and refugees and their descendants, regardless of ethnicity, to their homes, including in Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, and stressed the need to respect the property rights of all internally displaced persons and refugees affected by the conflicts in Georgia.

The representative of Georgia, introducing “L.89,” said that the text underscores the importance of adhering to the rights of displaced persons, the unacceptability of forced demographic change and the need for unimpeded humanitarian access.  It also expresses support for the negotiations in Geneva between his country and the Russian Federation, “where progress still remains elusive”.  While the draft refers to a situation in a single country, it reflects a global challenge that requires a principled and united response, he said.

The representative of Syria, in an explanation of vote before the vote, said “L.89” is a unilateral politicized initiative that would prevent the development of normal relations among peoples and impede international efforts to resolve the situation.  The only positive step forward should be centred on direct discussions, he said, adding that for these reasons, Syria will vote against the draft resolution.

The representative of the Russian Federation, calling for a vote on “L.89,” said the text is yet another attempt to prevent the normalization of the situation in the region.  He noted with regret that Georgia, supported by a certain group of Member States, had tabled a draft that harms humanitarian efforts, impacts the Geneva discussions and stokes ethnic dissent.  He stressed the need for a stance of peaceful coexistence, adding that his delegation will vote against the text.

The Assembly then took up the draft resolution “New Partnership for Africa’s Development:  progress in implementation and international support” (document A/74/L.68/Rev.1), introduced by the representative of Guyana, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, who said it contained technical updates.  Prior to voting on “L.68/Rev.1” as a whole, the Assembly rejected, by a recorded vote of 113 against, to 51 in favour, with 5 abstentions (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu), a proposed oral amendment Germany’s representative presented, on behalf of the European Union, to delete operative paragraph 43, containing the “win-win” formulation concept, which focuses on economic gains at the expense of sustainable development needs.  The Assembly then, by a recorded vote of 132 in favour to 31 against, with 16 abstentions, adopted the resolution as whole.

Several representatives, including from Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom, voiced strong support for African development and partnership, but explained that they had voted against “L.68/Rev.1” because of unresolved concerns about the term “win-win”.  Delegates said the term was undefined and not internationally agreed to.  Expanding on those reasons for casting a vote against “L.68/Rev.1”, the United States representative said her delegation stood against the Global Compact for Migration, the Paris Agreement on climate change and the promotion of a “right to abortion”, as well as the resolution’s references to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Adopting the resolution “Implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the Secretary-General on the causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa (document A/74/L.69/Rev.1), by a vote of 130 in favour to 31 against, with 18 abstentions, the Assembly stressed the importance of creating an environment conducive to national reconciliation, transitional justice and social and economic recovery in countries emerging from conflict, and calls upon the United Nations system, the international community and all partners to support the efforts of African countries to promote political, social and economic inclusion.

Prior to adopting the resolution, the Assembly rejected an oral amendment to operative paragraph 8 — which refers to win-win cooperation — proposed by the representative of Germany, on behalf of the European Union, by a recorded vote of 50 in favour to 115 against, with 1 abstention (Bosnia and Herzegovina).

The representative of Germany, speaking on behalf of the European Union, as well as those from the United States and India, among others, reiterated their concerns regarding the text’s reference to win-win cooperation.  China’s delegate said win-win cooperation is an essential requirement for common development, as well as an important means for advancing multilateralism.  Other countries, however, are putting their own interests first and politicizing development issues, thus putting a drag on global economic recovery and growth, he said.

China’s representative, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said his delegation was dedicated to the concept of global development, which included in globally agreed documents, and to the win-win concept.

The United Kingdom’s representative, also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, reiterated that the win-win term is not a concept the international community has agreed to, as the vote on the issue indicates.

The Assembly also turned to decisions it had made and announced in virtual meetings from 27 March to 31 August, beginning by taking note of decision 74/544 “Procedure for taking decisions of the General Assembly during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic”, adopted at the outset of the pandemic.

It then took note of:  resolution 74/269 “Scope, modalities, format and organization of the summit on biodiversity”; resolutions 74/261 B and 74/261 C “Financing of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur”; decision 74/545 “Seventy-second session of the International Law Commission”; decision 74/546 “Disarmament Commission”; resolution 74/270 “Global solidarity to fight the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)”, whose additional co-sponsors are listed in document A/74/L.52/Addendum 1; decision 74/547 “Interactive dialogue on Harmony with Nature”; decision 74/548 “2020 United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14:  Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”; decision 74/549 “Fourth Conference of Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones and Mongolia, 2020”; decisions 74/550 and 74/550 B “Fourteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice”; decision 74/406 B “Appointment of members of the Committee on Contributions”; and decision 74/409 B “Appointment of members of the Independent Audit Advisory Committee”.

Then the Assembly took note of:  resolution 74/271 “Progress towards an accountability system in the United Nations Secretariat”; decisions 74/540 B and 74/540 C “Questions deferred for future consideration”; resolution 74/272 “Construction of a new facility for the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, Arusha branch”; resolution 74/273 “International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda”, whose additional co-sponsors are listed in document A/74/L.40/Addendum 1; resolution 74/274 “International cooperation to ensure global access to medicines, vaccines and medical equipment to face COVID-19”, whose additional co-sponsors are listed in document A/74/L.56/Addendum 1; decision 74/551 “High-level dialogue to assess the progress made in the fight against desertification, land degradation and drought and to map the way forward”; decision 74/552 “Seventh Biennial Meeting of States to Consider the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects”; decision 74/553 “Twentieth session of the High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation”; and decision 74/554 “Twenty-first meeting of the United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea”.

It also took note of:  decision 74/555 “Extension of the procedure for taking decisions of the General Assembly during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic”; decision 74/556 “The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy”; resolution 74/275 “International Day to Protect Education from Attack”, whose additional co-sponsors are listed in document A/74/L.66/Addendum 1; decision 74/557 “Procedure for holding elections by secret ballot without a plenary meeting during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic”; resolution 74/276 “Special session of the General Assembly against corruption”; decision 74/558 “Extension of the procedure for taking decisions of the General Assembly during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic until the end of July 2020”; resolution 74/277 “Comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects”; decision 74/559 “Postponement of the seventy-second session of the International Law Commission”; decision 74/420 of 29 June 2020 entitled “Election of the Vice-Presidents of the General Assembly at its seventy-fifth session”; and resolution 74/249 B “Financial reports and audited financial statements, and reports of the Board of Auditors”.

It then took note of:  resolution 74/260 B “Financing of the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti”; resolution 74/278 “Closed peacekeeping missions”; resolution 74/279 “Triennial review of the rates and standards for reimbursement to Member States for contingent-owned equipment”; resolution 74/280 “Support account for peacekeeping operations”; resolution 74/281 “Financing of the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe, Uganda”; resolution 74/282 “Financing of the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi, Italy”; resolution 74/283 “Financing of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei”; resolution 74/284 “Financing of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic”; resolution 74/285 “Financing of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus”; resolution 74/286 “Financing of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo”; resolution 74/287 “Financing of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti”; resolution 74/288 “Financing of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo”; resolution 74/289 “Financing of the United Nations Mission in Liberia”; resolution 74/290 “Financing of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali”; resolution 74/291 “Financing of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force”; resolution 74/292 “Financing of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon”; resolution 74/293 “Financing of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan”; resolution 74/294 “Financing of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara”; and resolution 74/295 “Financing of the activities arising from Security Council resolution 1863 (2009)”.

The Assembly then took note of:  decision 74/560 “Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal”; resolution 74/296 “Global service delivery model”; decision 74/561 “Extension of the procedure for taking decisions of the General Assembly during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic until the end of August 2020”; decision 74/562 “High-level meetings of the General Assembly in September 2020”; resolution 74/254 B “Seconded active-duty military and police personnel”; resolution 74/232 B “Follow-up to the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries”; 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”; decision 74/537 B “Revitalization of the work of the Second Committee”; decision 74/563 “Closing date of the seventy-fourth session of the General Assembly”; 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”; decision 74/564 “Review of the United Nations peacebuilding architecture”; decision 74/565 “Informal interactive hearing with indigenous peoples”; decision 74/566 “Extension of the term of office of the current members of the International Law Commission and other related matters”; and decision 74/567 “Ad Hoc Committee to Elaborate a Comprehensive International Convention on Countering the Use of Information and Communications Technologies for Criminal Purposes”.

For details on all texts adopted from 27 March to 14 August, see Press Releases GA/12244, GA/12245, GA/12246, GA/12247, GA/12248, GA/12249, GA/12251, GA/12252, GA/12253, GA/12254, GA/12257, GA/12258 and GA/12259.

The Assembly then turned to texts adopted under its silence procedure on 31 August.  Taking note of resolution 74/299 “Improving global road safety”, whose additional co-sponsors are listed in document A/74/L.86/Addendum 1, the Assembly proclaimed the period 2021–2030 as the Second Decade of Action for Road Safety, with a goal of reducing road traffic deaths and injuries by at least 50 per cent from 2021 to 2030.

Taking note of decision 74/568 “Special session of the General Assembly against corruption”, the Assembly decided to convene the special session of the General Assembly on challenges and measures to prevent and combat corruption and strengthen international cooperation from 2 to 4 June 2021, instead of from 26 to 28 April 2021, at United Nations Headquarters, in New York.

The Assembly took note of decision 74/402 B “Appointment of members of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions”, by which it decided to appoint Suzuki Yoriko of Japan for a term of office beginning on the date of appointment and expiring on 31 December 2022.

Taking note of decision 74/569 “Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and other matters related to the Security Council”, the Assembly decided to immediately continue intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform in informal plenary of the General Assembly at its seventy-fifth session.

The Assembly also took note of decision 74/503 B on the re-opening and consideration of agenda items in the plenary, of 31 March 2020 to consider agenda item 163 directly in the plenary; of 2 April 2020 to reopen consideration of agenda items 79 and 100 (b) and to consider them directly in the plenary; of 13 April 2020 to reopen consideration of agenda item 106 and to consider it directly in the plenary, to reopen consideration of agenda item 115 (b) and to consider agenda items 133 and 147 directly in the plenary; of 14 May 2020 to reopen consideration of agenda item 19 (e) and to consider it directly in the plenary and to consider agenda item 23 (b) directly in the plenary; of 11 August 2020 to consider agenda item 21 (a) directly in the plenary and to reopen consideration of agenda item 23 (a) and to consider it directly in the plenary; of 12 August 2020 to reopen consideration of agenda item 67 and to consider it directly in the plenary; of 14 August 2020 to reopen consideration of agenda item 107 and to consider it directly in the plenary; and of 31 August 2020 to reopen consideration of agenda item 115 (a) and to consider it directly in the plenary.

In addition, the Assembly took note of the results of elections held in accordance with decision 74/557 “Procedure for holding elections by secret ballot without a plenary meeting during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic”, under agenda items 4 “Election of the President of the General Assembly”, 113 (a) “Election of non-permanent members of the Security Council” and 113 (b) “Election of members of the Economic and Social Council”.

The Assembly then took note of the Secretary-General’s note contained in document A/74/300, and the report of the Security Council, contained in document A/74/2.

Also delivering statements were the representatives of Liechtenstein, Hungary, Switzerland, Chile, Brazil, Australia, Libya, New Zealand and Canada.

The General Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Friday, 4 September, to continue its work.

For information media. Not an official record.