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GA/12318
16 April 2021
Seventy-fifth Session, 59th Meeting (AM)

Taking Up Fifth Committee Reports, General Assembly Adopts Texts on Common System, Joint Inspection Unit, Special Subjects Related to 2021 Programme Budget

Resolutions on Ecosystem Restoration, Central Asia Preventive Diplomacy Centre also Adopted as Speakers Pay Tribute to United Republic of Tanzania’s Late President

The General Assembly adopted five resolutions and five decisions today, all without a vote, including four texts referred to it by its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), as its President, the Secretary-General and representatives of regional groups paid tribute to John Pombe Joseph Magufuli, President of the United Republic of Tanzania, who passed away on 17 March at the age of 61.

In adopting the resolution titled “Joint Inspection Unit”, the Assembly took note of the Joint Inspection Unit’s report for 2020 and programme of work for 2021.  It also stressed the need for the Unit to continuously update and improve its strategic framework for 2020-2029, taking into account dynamics and challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Organization’s ongoing reform efforts.

Through the resolution titled “United Nations common system”, the Assembly, among other things, requested the Secretary-General to provide, in his next report, updated information on the divergence of jurisprudence of the common system’s two tribunals on matters relating to the International Civil Service Commission, together with an assessment of its impact on the common system.

Through the resolution titled “Special subjects relating to the programme budget for 2021”, the Assembly decided, among other things, to appropriate $494,000 from the contingency fund to address the deteriorating conditions and limited capacity of conference service facilities at the United Nations Office at Nairobi.  It also appropriated an additional $15.50 million from the 2021 programme budget to supplement the voluntary financial resources of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.  Additionally, it requested the Secretary-General to do more to encourage those who qualify for first-class or business‑class air travel funded by the Organization to voluntarily downgrade from their entitled class.

Adopting the decision titled “Questions deferred for future consideration”, the Assembly deferred, to the second part of its resumed seventy-fifth session, consideration of 41 reports from the Secretary-General and the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) dealing with human resources management, some of which date back to its seventy-third session.  It deferred consideration of the Secretary-General’s reports on active-duty military and police personnel and on the review of the experience of the utilization of the contingency fund.

Under the terms of the resolution titled “Nature knows no borders:  transboundary cooperation — a key factor for biodiversity conservation, restoration and sustainable use”, introduced by the representative of Kyrgyzstan, the Assembly encouraged Member States — and invited international organizations and other relevant stakeholders — to contribute to the implementation of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021–2030).

Through the resolution titled “Role of the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia”, introduced by Turkmenistan’s delegate, the Assembly encouraged the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia to continue to liaise with the Governments of the region and with other parties concerned on issues relevant to preventive diplomacy.  It also noted the Regional Centre’s cooperation with Central Asian countries to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Adopting a set of procedural decisions prompted by the pandemic’s impact on its work, the Assembly postponed an informal interactive hearing with indigenous peoples to its seventy-sixth session.  It also decided to allow pre-recorded statements to be made during its special session on corruption from 26 to 28 April and its high-level meeting on HIV/AIDS from 8 to 10 June.

Finally, the Assembly, acting on a note from the Secretary-General, appointed Claudia Angélica Bueno Reynaga (Mexico) as a member of the International Civil Service Commission to fill, until 31 December 2021, the vacancy that arose from the resignation of Luis Mariano Hermosillo Sosa (Mexico) from that body.

Volkan Bozkir (Turkey), President of the General Assembly, who invited the Assembly to stand for a moment of silence in memory of President Magufuli, paid tribute to the late Head of State for his commitment to multilateralism.  His achievements will long be remembered at the United Nations, he said, noting in particular the United Republic of Tanzania’s deployment of “Blue Helmets” to the Organization’s peacekeeping operations.

António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, noted that, during the President’s term in office, the United Republic of Tanzania achieved middle‑income country status four years ahead of its 2025 goal.  Going forward, the Organization will work closely with his successor, Samia Suluhu Hassan, the country’s first female President, he added.

Congo’s representative, speaking on behalf of the African Group, called President Magufuli a Pan-Africanist who was often described as a “bulldozer” with the power to move mountains.  His commitment to his country was reflected in his ambitious programme to eradicate poverty, fight corruption, build infrastructure and lift economic growth.

The United Republic of Tanzania’s representative, thanking all speakers for their tributes and condolences, said that President Magufuli was a hard worker and a visionary leader who spoke truth to power through both tough love and humility.  He was an ardent Pan-Africanist “who believed that Tanzanians, Africans and the entire humanity deserved the best”, he added.

Also speaking in tribute were representatives of Kuwait (on behalf of the Asia-Pacific Group), Romania (on behalf of the Eastern European Group), Chile (on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group), Netherlands (on behalf of the Western European and Other States Group) and United States (as the Host Country).

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 21 April, to consider the Secretary-General’s report titled “International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Persons Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011” (document A/75/311).

Tribute for Late President of the United Republic of Tanzania

The General Assembly first paid tribute to the memory of John Pombe Joseph Magufuli, President of the United Republic of Tanzania, who passed away on 17 March.

VOLKAN BOZKIR (Turkey), President of the General Assembly, recalled the late President’s address during the General Debate in September 2020, when he pledged that his country would continue to support the United Nations to ensure the success of its many undertakings.  The late President’s commitment to multilateralism was particularly evident in his country’s contribution to United Nations peacekeeping operations, with 2,000 “Blue Helmets” participating in six missions.  He added that the United Republic of Tanzania and the United Nations have also been close development partners with a rich history of working together.  He concluded by saying that the late President’s achievements will long be remembered at the United Nations.

ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that the late President had sought to extend access to social services, tackle corruption and promote economic progress.  Under his Presidency, the United Republic of Tanzania achieved middle‑income‑country status four years ahead of its 2025 goal.  President Magufuli also strengthened the educational system and improved rural electrification.  He added that the United Nations will, going forward, work closely with his successor, Samia Suluhu Hassan, the country’s first female President.

RAYMOND SERGE BALÉ (Congo), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that President Magufuli was a Pan-Africanist who was committed to his people and often described as a “bulldozer” with the power to move mountains.  His commitment to his country was reflected in his ambitious programme to build roads and railways, improve bridges and ports, and improve economic growth, which reached 6 per cent in 2019.  He also fought corruption, working to improve transparency and accountability in public finances, and made the eradication of poverty a priority.

BADER ABDULLAH N. M. ALMUNAYEKH (Kuwait), speaking on behalf of the Asia‑Pacific Group, said that the late President was a man of faith who served his country and people with distinction throughout his political career.  He was devoted to bringing growth and prosperity to his country, he said, adding that his efforts to combat corruption will also be remembered.  Over the years, he took concrete steps to unlock the potential of his country and people, leaving behind a nation that is filled with hope as it seeks to build on what he started.

ILEANA-RODICA DINCULESCU (Romania), speaking on behalf of Eastern European States, echoed expressions of sympathy and relayed her condolences to the people and Government of the United Republic of Tanzania.  Recalling late President Magufuli’s many diplomatic and domestic accomplishments, including his term as Chairman of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), she noted the Eastern European Group’s confidence that the United Republic of Tanzania will continue its leadership on many crucial development and other multilateral issues.

MILENKO ESTEBAN SKOKNIC TAPIA (Chile), speaking on behalf of Latin American and Caribbean States and also conveying his condolences, spotlighted President Magufuli’s remarkable achievements in the fields of technology development, infrastructure, railroad expansion and health, especially as the United Republic of Tanzania worked to combat cholera.  She expressed her hope that the people and Government of the country will find comfort in the late President’s enduring legacy.

YOKA BRANDT (Netherlands), speaking on behalf of Western European and other States, said the late President will be remembered for his desire and actions to realize the dreams of his country’s first President, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.  He lived to see the United Republic of Tanzania achieve the status of middle-income country, an ambition set to be achieved in 2025, but reached already before his passing.  He also welcomed his successor, President Samia Suluhu Hassan, as a new member of the growing United Nations community of female Heads of State and Government and pledged full support to her in her new role and responsibilities.

PATRICK KENNEDY (United States), speaking as the representative of the Host Country, extended his deepest sympathies to the family of the late President and to all the people of the United Republic of Tanzania.  Among other things, he spotlighted the sense of urgency he brought to the fight against corruption and his efforts to improve the Government’s efficiency.  Noting the United States long history of partnership with the people of the United Republic of Tanzania, he pledged that the two countries will stand united in their determination to build a more democratic, healthy and prosperous society.

KENNEDY GASTORN (United Republic of Tanzania) thanked all the speakers for their tributes and their heartfelt condolences.  Describing President Magufuli as a rare person and a towering figure, he underlined his love for God and his nation, his trust in his people and his charisma.  President Magufuli was a hard worker and a visionary leader who spoke truth to power through both tough love and humility, he said, also describing him as an ardent Pan-Africanist “who believed that Tanzanians, Africans and the entire humanity deserved the best”.

Among other accomplishments, he said, President Magufuli became an architect of his country’s contemporary infrastructure, its strong anti-corruption efforts and its modern development philosophy.  That work propelled the United Republic of Tanzania to become a middle-income country five years ahead of its projected timetable, he said, adding that President Magufuli was a champion of self‑determination and daring strategic institutional and regulatory reforms.  Now, his successor, Samia Suluhu Hassan, will usher in yet another historic chapter as the United Republic of Tanzania’s first woman President.  Describing her as a seasoned politician and stateswoman, as well as a staunch supporter of multilateralism, he vowed that his country will remain a faithful member of the United Nations community under her watch.

Reports of the Fifth Committee

TSU TANG TERRENCE TEO (Singapore), Rapporteur of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), introduced in one intervention the reports of that Committee, which contained three draft resolutions and one draft decision.

The Assembly first considered a draft resolution in its report titled “Joint Inspection Unit” (document A/75/830), through which it would take note of the Joint Inspection Unit’s report for 2020 and programme of work of 2021.  It would also stress the need for the Unit to continuously update and improve its strategic framework for 2020-2029, taking into account dynamics and challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Organization’s ongoing reform efforts.

It adopted the draft resolution without a vote.

Next, the Assembly took up the draft resolution in its report titled “United Nations common system” (document A/75/670/Add.1).  By its terms, the Assembly would, among other things, request the Secretary-General to provide, in his next report, updated information on the divergence of jurisprudence of the common system’s two tribunals on matters relating to the International Civil Service Commission, together with an assessment of its impact on the common system.

The Assembly adopted the text without a vote.

Moving along, it considered the draft resolution in its report titled “Special subjects relating to the programme budget for 2021” (document A/75/682/Add.1), by which the Assembly would, among other things, appropriate $494,000 from the contingency fund to address the deteriorating conditions and limited capacity of conference service facilities at the United Nations Office at Nairobi.  It would appropriate an additional $15.50 million from the 2021 programme budget to supplement the voluntary financial resources of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.  It would also request the Secretary-General to make more efforts to encourage all individuals who qualify for first-class or business class air travel funded by the Organization to voluntarily downgrade from their entitled class.

It adopted the draft resolution without a vote.

Finally, the Assembly took up the draft decision in its report titled “Questions deferred for future consideration” (document A/75/683/Add.1).  Through that text, the Assembly would defer, to the second part of its resumed seventy‑fifth session, consideration of 41 reports from the Secretary-General and the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) dealing with human resources management, some of which date back to its seventy-third session.  It would also defer consideration of the Secretary-General’s reports on active-duty military and police personnel and on the review of the experience of the utilization of the contingency fund.

Th Assembly adopted the draft decision without a vote.

International Civil Service Commission

The Assembly then turned its attention to a note by the Secretary-General (document A/75/104/Add.1) titled “Appointment of members of the International Civil Service Commission”.  That document stated that the Government of Mexico has nominated Claudia Angélica Bueno Reynaga to fill the vacancy arising from the resignation of Luis Mariano Hermosillo Sosa from the International Civil Service Commission, which took effect on 22 February.

It then decided to appoint Buena Reynaga as a member of the International Civil Service Commission for a term of office beginning immediately and ending on 31 December.

Sustainable Development

Next, the Assembly took up the draft decision titled “Nature knows no borders:  transboundary cooperation — a key factor for biodiversity conservation, restoration and sustainable use” (document A/75/L.73).  By its terms, the Assembly, welcoming the convening of the summit on biodiversity on 30 September 2020, would encourage Member States — and invite international organizations and other relevant stakeholders — to contribute to the implementation of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021–2030).  It would also encourage the use of economic models in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication that are aimed at accelerating inclusive and sustainable economic growth and improving human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental degradation and risks and natural resource scarcities, as a means of contributing to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The representative of Kyrgyzstan, introducing the text, recalled that the 2030 Agenda, adopted in 2015, rapidly became a universal and comprehensive plan providing a precise map to achieving a better future for all of humanity.  Outlining several development initiatives spearheaded by Kyrgyzstan and aimed at preserving ecological diversity — as well as others launched in light of the current global crisis — she spotlighted the establishment of the Group of Friends of Mountainous Countries as one example.  The resolution being introduced today seeks to build upon those initiatives and further develop global cooperation in support of sustainable development targets.  Describing its negotiations as well‑balanced and constructive, she said its adoption by the Assembly will further reaffirm the organ’s support for those crucial goals.

The Assembly then adopted “L.73” without a vote.

Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The Assembly then took up the draft decision titled “Informal interactive hearing with indigenous peoples” (document A/75/L.77), through which it would — noting its concern about the ongoing situation arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic — decide to postpone to its seventy-sixth session the request to the President of the Assembly to organize and preside over an informal interactive hearing with indigenous peoples and to prepare a summary of the hearing.

It then adopted “L.77” without a vote.

Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice

The Assembly then turned its attention to the draft decision titled “Special session of the General Assembly against corruption” (document A/75/L.75).  By its terms, the Assembly would, during its special session on challenges and measures to prevent and combat corruption, to be held from 26 to 28 April, decide that Member States and other participants may submit pre‑recorded statements to be played in the General Assembly Hall, owing to limitations on access to Headquarters due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It then adopted “L.75” without a vote.

Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS

Next, the Assembly took up the draft decision titled “Participation in the 2021 high-level meeting on HIV/AIDS” (document A/75/L.74).  By its terms, the Assembly, looking ahead to its high-level meeting on 8 to 10 June to review progress on the commitments made in the 2016 Political Declaration towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030, would decide that Member States and observers may submit pre-recorded statements by their Heads of State or Government, head of delegation or other dignitary, owing to limitations on access to Headquarters due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It then adopted “L.74” without a vote.

Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace

The Assembly then considered the draft decision titled “Role of the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia” (document A/75/L.72).  By its terms, the Assembly would encourage the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia to continue to liaise with the Governments of the region, and with their concurrence, with other parties concerned on issues relevant to preventive diplomacy.  It would also note the need to continue the Regional Centre’s cooperation with the Central Asian countries within its mandate to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in the region.

The representative of Turkmenistan, introducing the text on behalf of five Central Asian countries, underlined the constructive atmosphere which characterized its drafting.  The United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia, established in 2007, brings countries of the region together to find common solutions and combat common threats.  Among other things, she said, it helps States engage more directly with relevant United Nations offices and agencies, and since its inception, it has addressed such challenges as extremism, organized crime and human and other kinds of trafficking.  The Centre also works to build the capacity of regional States to make better use of preventive diplomacy, provides training to women and young people and is now playing an active role in tackling the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, she said.

The Assembly then adopted “L.72” without a vote.

For information media. Not an official record.