52nd Plenary Meeting of General Assembly 74th Session - Part 1

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19-Dec-2019 02:13:43
Taking up Second Committee reports at the 52 plenary, General Assembly adopts 47 resolutions, including texts to combat protectionism and unilateral economic measures.

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As waning multilateralism and burgeoning inequalities threaten to side-track the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the General Assembly today adopted 47 resolutions and four related decisions aimed at bolstering nation’s efforts to reach agreed goals.

By a text on “International trade and development”, adopted in a recorded vote of 176 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States) with no abstentions, the Assembly emphasized the urgent need to combat protectionism and rectify trade-distorting measures going against World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.

It further urged the international community to eliminate unilateral economic, financial or trade measures unauthorized by United Nations organs, inconsistent with international law or contravening the multilateral trading system.

Adopting another resolution on “Commodities” in a recorded vote of 177 in favour to 1 against (United States) with no abstentions, the Assembly stressed the special challenges developing countries face as lower prices for commodities threaten sustainable growth and debt burdens. It strongly encouraged international financial institutions and development banks to assist developing countries in managing the effects of price volatility.

A further text on “Unilateral economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries” was adopted in a recorded vote of 122 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 51 abstentions. By that text, the Assembly called on the international community to condemn and reject using such measures to politically or economically coerce developing countries, impeding full achievement of economic and social development.

Other macroeconomic policy texts the Assembly adopted focused on illicit financial flows, international Conferences on Financing for Development, financial inclusion, promoting investments for sustainable development and the international financial system.

Taking up sustainable development, the organ adopted a resolution on “Protection of global climate for present and future generations of humankind”, by which it expressed profound alarm that emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise globally. It also remained deeply concerned that vulnerable countries are already experiencing increases in persistent drought, extreme weather events, land degradation, sea level rise, coastal erosion, ocean acidification and retreating mountain glaciers.

By a related text on “Combating sand and dust storms”, the Assembly reaffirmed that climate change is among the greatest challenges of our time and a serious challenge to sustainable development. Adopting the resolution in a recorded vote of 177 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 1 abstention (Australia), it recognized that such storms cause numerous human health problems in different regions worldwide, especially in arid and semi-arid regions.

According to a further resolution on “Agricultural Technology for Sustainable Development”, adopted in a recorded vote of 154 in favour to 2 against (Syria, Venezuela), with 26 abstentions, the Assembly urged Member States, relevant United Nations organizations and other stakeholders to strengthen efforts to develop sustainable agricultural technologies, as well as their transfer and dissemination to developing countries.

Other sustainable development texts spotlighted the Lebanese oil slick, tourism in Central America, coastal zone management, munitions waste at sea, tourism in Central Asia, small island developing State conferences, sustainable development conferences, disaster risk reduction, desertification and drought, biological diversity, education, United Nations Environment Assembly, harmony with nature, energy access and mountain development.

Turning to poverty eradication, the Assembly adopted a resolution on “Eradicating rural poverty to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” in a recorded vote of 126 in favour to 49 against, with 2 abstentions (Palau, Turkey).

By its terms, the Assembly expressed deep concern that progress in reducing poverty remains uneven, with an unacceptable 1.46 billion people still living in multidimensional poverty. It further emphasized that economic growth continues to leave rural dwellers behind, noting that 79 per cent of people living in extreme poverty are in rural areas and 41 per cent of sub-Saharan Africa’s population lived on less than $1.90 per day in 2015.

Adopting a related text on “Agriculture development, food security and nutrition”, the Assembly stressed the need for urgent and concerted action to accelerate efforts to end hunger and malnutrition, tackling both its causes and effects. It also underscored the need to address child stunting, which remains unacceptably high, with nearly 149 million children under 5 years of age, or over 21.9 per cent, affected by stunting in 2018.

By a further resolution on “Information and communications technologies (ICT) for sustainable development”, the Assembly recognized uneven growth in ICT use, expressing concern over the 122 mobile broadband subscriptions per 100 people in developed countries, compared with 75 in developing States and 33 in the least developed countries.

As in previous years, it adopted a text on “Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources” in a vote of 160 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, United States), with 15 abstentions.

By its terms, the Assembly demanded that Israel cease exploiting, damaging, causing loss or depleting and endangering natural resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and in the occupied Syrian Golan. It further stressed that the wall and settlements Israel is constructing in the Occupied Palestinian Territory are contrary to international law and seriously deprive the Palestinian people of their natural resources.

The Assembly also adopted resolutions highlighting new international days and years, deciding to designate 21 May as International Tea Day, 7 September as International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies, 29 September as International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste and 2021 as International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development.

Remaining texts focused on globalization and interdependence; science, technology and innovation; culture; cooperation with middle-income countries; conferences on landlocked and least developed countries; the Third United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2018–2027); women; human resources; natural plant fibres; United Nations operational activities; and South-South cooperation.

Two decisions the Assembly adopted addressed the 2020 venue of the fifteenth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the eighth United Nations conference on restrictive business practices. Two further decisions focused on the Second Committee’s programme for the General Assembly’s seventy-fifth session.

Committee Rapporteur David Mulet (Guatemala) introduced its reports.

In other business, the Assembly adopted a resolution on “International Year of Fruits and Vegetables 2020-2021”, noting that daily consumption of these foods mitigates diseases and other health problems. It also designated 4 December as the “International Day of Banks” in a like-named resolution, underscoring the role of banks and financial institutions in sustainable development.

The Assembly then suspended the meeting.

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