67th Plenary Meeting of General Assembly 71st Session

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SIX OFFICIAL 22-Dec-2016 01:11:40
General Assembly adopts resolutions promoting interreligious dialogue, continued cooperation between United Nations and entity prohibiting use of chemical weapons, at 67th plenary meeting of the 71st session.
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Following a contentious discussion, the General Assembly adopted two draft resolutions, on the promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, and cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), respectively.

Both resolutions were adopted by recorded vote, with several delegates disputing specific paragraphs and asking for separate votes on each.

By the terms of resolution titled “Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace”, the General Assembly condemned any advocacy of religious hatred that constituted incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, and emphasized that everyone had the right to freedom of expression, among other matters. The representative of Pakistan, who introduced the text, said that conflicts fuelled by suspicion and mistrust had caused human suffering and economic loss.

Armenia’s representative requested a separate vote on operative paragraph 9, which welcomed the Baku Declaration, adopted at the Seventh Global Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations in April 2016, and encouraged relevant stakeholders to continue efforts to promote mutual understanding among different civilizations, cultures, religions and beliefs.

The Philippines’s speaker noted that the text had always been adopted unanimously in previous General Assembly sessions. By a recorded vote of 116 against to 1 in favour (Armenia), with 4 abstentions (France, Mauritius, Nigeria, Palau), the Assembly rejected the motion to divide the resolution into two separate votes, and went on to adopt the text as a whole.

The Assembly also adopted a resolution titled “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons”, by a recorded vote of 145 in favour, to none against and no abstentions. Prior to that, in a separate recorded vote, Member States decided to retain operative paragraph 4, which took note of Security Council resolution 2209 (2015) adopted in March 2015, by which the Council noted the first, second and third reports of the OPCW fact-finding mission concerning allegations of the use of toxic chemicals for hostile purposes in Syria.

Speaking after the vote, Turkey’s representative said that the joint investigative mechanism set up to find chemical weapons in Syria was the most sustainable mechanism of the OPCW, and that information should be added to the text as it did not yet sufficiently reflect the facts on the ground. Meanwhile, several representatives, including those of the Russian Federation, Venezuela and Iran, noted what they referred to as the inappropriateness of referring to the Security Council resolution in the Assembly’s text because it was not directly related to the cooperation between the OPCW and the United Nations and made the issue a political one.

The representative of Syria said that it always provided cooperation to the experts of the OPCW and to the United Nations, and that any use of weapons of mass destruction and chemical weapons should be condemned wherever that took place. The vote was a new attempt to politicize standard resolutions by introducing controversial items. It was clear that certain sponsors of the resolution had conflated technical and political questions, and that Turkey was supporting terrorist groups by providing conventional and unconventional weapons, including chemical weapons, in Syria.

Also speaking during action today were representatives of Cuba and Ecuador.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Friday, 23 December to adopt draft resolutions on various topics and the reports of its Fifth Committee (Economic and Financial).
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