48th Plenary Meeting of General Assembly 74th Session

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16-Dec-2019 02:48:21
Calling for galvanized action to reach rising number of crisis-affected people, General Assembly adopts 5 texts outlining coordination strategies at 48th plenary.

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The General Assembly today adopted five humanitarian‑focused resolutions, primarily on strengthening coordination of United Nations humanitarian and disaster relief assistance, while rejecting two amendments proposing to remove language related to reproductive and sexual health in emergency situations.

General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad‑Bande (Nigeria) expressed alarm that more than 70 million people worldwide have been forcibly displaced in recent years and that some 167.7 million people will need humanitarian assistance in 2020. Not only is the need greater than ever before, today’s humanitarian crises are protracted and more complex, he said, adding that: “We are duty‑bound to serve. This humanitarian catastrophe demands urgent attention.”

This requires the international community to do more, he said, including to ensure that women and girls are safe from sexual and gender‑based violence and to address the disturbing trend of humanitarian workers being killed in the line of duty. Between January 2018 and July 2019, 16 United Nations staff and 32 aid workers were killed while making “the ultimate sacrifice”, he said, condemning all acts of violence against aid workers.

Before adopting the five texts by consensus, the Assembly rejected, by recorded vote, two amendments presented by the United States proposing to change language in two draft resolutions to remove references to sexual and reproductive health. It rejected an amendment to replace operative paragraphs 58 and 59 of the draft resolution “Strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations” (document A/74/L.34), by a recorded vote of 4 in favour (Guatemala, Nigeria, Qatar, United States) to 112 against, with 26 abstentions.

The Assembly also rejected an amendment proposing to change operative paragraph 62 of the draft resolution “International cooperation on humanitarian assistance in the field of natural disasters, from relief to development” (document A/74/L.31), by a recorded vote of 6 in favour (Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Qatar, Russian Federation, United States) to 106 against, with 25 abstentions.

The Assembly then, by separate recorded vote, decided to retain the above‑mentioned paragraphs, after which it adopted “L.34” and “L.31” without a vote.

By adopting “L.34”, the Assembly urged Member States to continue to give priority to efforts to investigate and prosecute acts of sexual and gender‑based violence in humanitarian emergencies. It underscored the importance of protecting all persons affected by humanitarian crises from any sexual exploitation and abuse and urged Member States, the United Nations, and others to reinforce preparedness and response capabilities to deal with outbreaks of infectious disease. The Assembly also urged Member States to do more to provide a coordinated emergency response to the food needs of affected populations.

By the terms of “L.31”, the Assembly called on States to adopt necessary legislation to mitigate the effects of natural disasters and integrate disaster risk reduction strategies into development planning. The Assembly urged the United Nations and all relevant stakeholders to strengthen the resilience of Member States, including through capacity‑building for communities, and the application of new technology. In addition, it called on Member States and relevant actors to address the consequences of humanitarian emergencies for migrants, particularly in vulnerable situations.

By adopting the draft resolution “Safety and security of humanitarian personnel and protection of United Nations personnel” (document A/74/L.32), the Assembly condemned the deliberate targeting of humanitarian personnel and United Nations and associated personnel. It also urged all States to ensure the security of humanitarian personnel and that crimes against humanitarian personnel do not remain unpunished.

By the terms of the draft resolution “Assistance to the Palestinian people” (document A/74/L.33), the Assembly urged Member States and international donors to extend aid to the Palestinian people. Urging Member States to open their markets to exports of Palestinian products, it called upon the international community to expedite the delivery of pledged assistance to the Palestinian people to meet their urgent needs. Stressing the need to ensure the safety and security of humanitarian personnel and facilities, it urged the international community to extend to the Palestinian people emergency economic assistance.

By the terms of the draft resolution “Persistent legacy of the Chernobyl disaster” (document A/74/L.30), the Assembly stressed the need to continue the environmental and health monitoring of Chernobyl‑affected regions and communities for the purpose of assessing the efficiency of international assistance. It also requested the General Assembly President to convene on 26 April 2021 a special commemorative meeting in observance of the thirty‑fifth anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.

The Assembly also considered the following reports on: “Safety and security of humanitarian personnel and protection of United Nations personnel” (document A/74/464); “Strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations,” (document A/74/81); “Central Emergency Response Fund,” (document A/74/138); “International cooperation on humanitarian assistance in the field of natural disasters, from relief to development” (document A/74/319); “Assistance to the Palestinian people (document A/74/89); and “Persistent legacy of the Chernobyl disaster” (document A/74/461).

Also delivering statements today were representatives of Belarus, Finland (on behalf of the European Union), Sweden (also on behalf of India), United States, Brunei Darussalam (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Ukraine, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Norway, Maldives, Turkey, Qatar, Switzerland, New Zealand, Ireland, Japan, Spain, China, Canada, Malaysia, Philippines, Egypt, Russian Federation, Australia, Thailand, United Kingdom and Israel.

Observers for the State of Palestine (also on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies also spoke.

The Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 17 December for its high‑level event for the conclusion of the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

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