Chair Notes High Output Despite Constraints Imposed by COVID-19 Pandemic, Highlighting ‘Exceptional’ Joint General Debate
The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) approved 22 draft resolutions and one draft decision concerning decolonization today, as it completed its work for the main part of the General Assembly’s seventy-fifth session.
At the outset, the Committee approved the a text titled “Information from Non‑Self‑Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 e of the Charter of the United Nations” by a recorded vote of 163 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 2 abstentions (France, United Kingdom).
By its terms, the General Assembly requests that administering Powers transmit or continue to regularly transmit to the Secretary‑General statistical and other technical information relating to the economic, social and educational conditions in the Territories within a maximum period of six months following the expiration of the administrative year.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution “Economic and other activities which affect the interests of the peoples of the Non‑Self‑Governing Territories” by a recorded 162 votes in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 3 abstentions (El Salvador, France, United Kingdom).
By that text, the Assembly reaffirms its deep concern at the number and scale of natural disasters in the course of 2017 and their devastating impact on Caribbean Non‑Self‑Governing Territories. The Assembly also expresses concern about activities aimed at exploiting the natural and human resources of the Non‑Self‑Governing Territories to the detriment of their inhabitants.
Further by that text, the Assembly calls upon administering Powers to ensure that the exploitation of marine and other natural resources in the Non‑Self‑Governing Territories neither violates relevant United Nations resolutions nor adversely affects the interests of the Territories’ peoples. It also calls upon those Powers to provide all necessary assistance to those in the Territories affected by hurricanes in order to alleviate humanitarian needs, support recovery and rebuilding efforts, and enhance emergency preparedness and risk reduction capabilities.
The Committee also approved — by a recorded vote of 115 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 52 abstentions — the draft “Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations”.
By that text, the Assembly recommends that all States intensify their efforts to ensure full and effective implementation of the Declaration through specialized agencies and other entities of the United Nations system. It also urges those that have not yet provided assistance to Non-Self‑Governing Territories to do so as soon as possible.
Taking up the draft “Dissemination of Information on Decolonization draft resolution XVIII” (document A/75/23, chapter V, p.100), the Committee approved it by a recorded vote of 168 in favour, 2 against (Israel, United States) with 1 abstention (France).
By its terms, the General Assembly requests that the Department of Global Communications continue its efforts to update web-based information on the assistance programmes available to the Non-Self-Governing Territories. It also requests that the Department, and the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, implement the recommendations of the Special Committee on Decolonization.
The Committee then turned to the draft “Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples” (document A/75/23, chapter V, p.102), by which the General Assembly calls upon administering Powers to cooperate fully with the Special Committee to develop and finalize a constructive programme of work for the Non-Self-Governing Territories to facilitate implementation of the Special Committee’s mandate as well as relevant resolutions.
Moreover, the text calls upon administering Powers to ensure that economic and other activities in the Territories do not adversely affect the interests of their peoples but instead promote development. It also calls upon the administering Powers to terminate military activities and eliminate military bases in the Territories. The Committee approved the text by a recorded 126 votes in favour to 3 against (Israel, United Kingdom, United States), with 42 abstentions.
The Committee then turned to the draft resolution “Fourth International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism: draft resolution XX” (document A/75/23, chapter V, p.106), by which the General Assembly declares the period 2021–2030 the Fourth International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism. As such, the Assembly calls upon Member States to intensify their efforts to implement the plan of action for the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism. It calls upon the administering Powers to cooperate fully with the Special Committee to develop a constructive programme of work for the Non-Self-Governing Territories to facilitate implementation of its mandate. The Committee approved the text by a recorded vote of 147 in favour to 3 against (Israel, United States), with 22 abstentions.
It went on to approve several other texts without a vote, including “Offers by Member States of study and training facilities for inhabitants of Non-Self-Governing Territories” (document A/C.4/75/L.2), by which the General Assembly urges administering Powers to take effective measures to ensure widespread and continuous dissemination of State-offered study and training facilities information in Territories and provide all facilities necessary to enable students to avail themselves of such offers.
Acting again without a vote, the Committee approved drafts on the following individual Non‑Self‑Governing Territories: American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, French Polynesia, Guam, Montserrat, New Caledonia, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, Tokelau, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the United States Virgin Islands.
The Committee went on to approve, without a vote, a draft resolution and a draft decision on the questions of Western Sahara and Gibraltar, respectively.
Finally, the Committee a draft decision on its programme of work for the seventy-sixth session without a vote.
In concluding remarks, Committee Chair Collen Vixen Kelapile (Botswana) noted that it approved 34 draft resolutions and three draft decisions despite constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. On an exceptional basis, the Committee held a joint general debate on all 11 substantive agenda items before it, which heard 135 statements delivered in 10 formal meetings and two virtual informal meetings.
Delivering statements in explanation of position were representatives of the United States, United Kingdom, Argentina, Germany, Australia, Armenia and Spain.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply was the representative of Azerbaijan.