The General Assembly adopted two draft resolutions today aimed at ensuring global access to eye care and combat illicit trafficking in wildlife, as delegates called for international solidarity to capitalize on the connection between proper eye care and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and to address the link between wildlife trafficking and financial crime that hinders realization of those development objectives.
Introducing the text titled “Vision for Everyone: accelerating action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals” (document A/75/L.108), the representative of Bangladesh highlighted the work accomplished by stakeholders, from the World Health Organization (WHO) to civil society partners. Stressing that it is critical for the Assembly to ensure proper eye care for all, she said the resolution recognizes the impact of eye problems on the health and lives of those affected, from learning to earning. Given that there is a $411 billion annual global loss of productivity, urgent action must enhance employment potential and education.
Most of those affected by vision loss or impairment live in low- and middle-income countries, and 55 per cent of blind people are women and girls, she said, adding that a whole-of-society approach is needed along with a paradigm shift to address poverty and inequality linked with vision loss. Many other Sustainable Development Goals, from health to gender equality, are also connected. Eye care can be transformative, with a simple test or a pair of glasses making the difference for going to work or school. “This resolution is a watershed moment,” she said, urging Member States to send a strong message of hope to those in need.
Adopting the text without a vote, the Assembly called upon Member States to ensure access to eye‑care services for their populations and to mobilize the necessary resources and support in this regard, in order to contribute to global efforts to reach, by 2030, at least 1.1 billion people who have a vision impairment and currently lack access to the eye‑care services that they need. It further called upon Member States and other stakeholders to include persons with disabilities, including those with visual impairments, in all stages of policymaking and decision-making, as well as to eliminate barriers and discrimination against persons with disabilities, in particular women and girls and those in vulnerable situations, in accessing support and health-care services on an equal basis with others.
The representative of the United States, explaining his delegation’s position after the adoption, said he was pleased to join the consensus. He reaffirmed the United States position on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, outlined in his delegation’s statement on 1 September 2015. Turning to the resolution, he highlighted the rights-based language it contains.
The speaker for Hungary said that leaving no one behind is a universal term, and therefore, his delegation is concerned that singling out different actors and marginalized groups, such as migrants in preambular paragraph 17 of the resolution might have an implication of excluding others who are equally in vulnerable situations. Ending vision impairment and blindness requires action by all Governments, with the support of the international community, in ensuring the health and well-being of their own populations, thus enabling them to prosper and thrive in their homeland, and preventing the need for displacement, which puts these populations at an even more precarious situation.
The representative of the Russian Federation said “L.108” demonstrates the connection of vision with such issues as poverty eradication, economic growth, employment and health at work, education, environment and road safety, allowing the General Assembly, within its competence, to contribute to global efforts in this direction. Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is even more relevant not only due to failures in the provision of ophthalmological services, but also in the context of disease and the possibility of its impact on vision. Citing Russian contributions to ophthalmology, he said Moscow is determined to work towards further advancing progress.
Introducing the text titled “Tackling illicit trafficking in wildlife” (document A/75/L.116), Germany’s representative noted that illicit trafficking in wildlife continues to be one of the most profitable forms of organized crime and threatens biodiversity, development, stability and health. Expressing hope that the resolution will be adopted by consensus to set an example of Member States working together to address “an issue of truly global concern”, he said that the text recognizes the link between wildlife crime and financial crime and calls for strengthening Member States’ capacity to address these issues as the former remains highly lucrative and leads to corruption that can undermine State stability. The resolution also emphasizes the importance of developing strategies and tools to effectively deal with online marketplaces and social media fora that facilitate the illicit trafficking of wildlife as that crime moves increasingly into the virtual space, he said.
Adopting the text without a vote, the Assembly urged Member States to take decisive steps at the national level to prevent, combat and eradicate the illegal trade in wildlife and to increase the exchange of information and knowledge among national authorities, as well as among Member States and international crime authorities. It further called on Member States to make illicit trafficking in protected species of wild fauna and flora a serious crime to ensure that, where the offense is transnational in nature and involves an organized criminal group, effective international cooperation can be afforded under the relevant international convention to prevent and combat transnational organized crime.
The Assembly also called on Member States to integrate, as appropriate, the investigation of financial crimes linked to wildlife trafficking into wildlife crime investigations; to strengthen law enforcement agencies’ capacity to monitor and investigate illegal online wildlife trade; and to prohibit, prevent and counter any form of corruption that facilitates illicit trafficking in wildlife and wildlife products.
Through the resolution, the Assembly additionally encouraged Member States, through their national competent authorities, to enforce all necessary sanitary monitoring, measures and controls to protect human or animal health with regard to markets selling dead and live wild animals and wildlife products. The Assembly requested the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to continue strengthening the collection of information on patterns and flows of illicit trafficking in wildlife and report thereon biennially, and requested the Secretary-General to report to the Assembly at its seventy-seventh session on the global status of illicit trafficking in wildlife, the implementation of today’s resolution and proposals for possible future action.
The General Assembly will next meet at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 29 July, to consider the report of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Secretary-General’s report on the Peacebuilding Fund, as well as the zone of peace and cooperation of the South Atlantic and strengthening of the United Nations system.