32nd Plenary Meeting - General Assembly 75th Session

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01-Dec-2020 01:22:23
General Assembly adopts three resolutions, one designating world’s seafarers, other maritime personnel as key workers in context of COVID-19 pandemic.

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Delegates Also Commemorate 75 Million People Who Died during Second World War

The General Assembly adopted three resolutions today, all without a vote, including one urging Member States to designate the world’s two million seafarers and other maritime personnel as key workers in the context of the COVID‑19 pandemic, as delegates also commemorated the 75 million people, most of them civilians, who lost their lives during the Second World War.

Through its resolution titled “International cooperation to address challenges faced by seafarers as a result of the COVID‑19 pandemic to support global supply chains”, the Assembly also called upon Governments to promptly take steps to facilitate maritime crew changes, including by expediting travel and repatriation efforts and ensuring access to medical care.

It also encouraged Governments and relevant stakeholders to implement protocols to ensure safe ship crew changes and travel during the pandemic as approved by the International Maritime Organization’s Safety Committee, thus allowing stranded seafarers to return to their home countries and permitting their replacements to join their ships.

Indonesia’s representative, who introduced the text, said that the shipping industry transports more than 80 per cent of world trade, yet the work and commitment of its seafarers has largely gone unnoticed, even as they face significant challenges due to the pandemic.

“The crisis being endured by seafarers and others at sea cannot be permitted to continue,” said the United Kingdom’s delegate, who called for States to act immediately for the sake of seafarers’ physical and mental welfare, the marine environment, and the global economy and supply chains.

The Assembly also adopted a draft resolution titled “Sport as an enabler of sustainable development”. Monaco’s representative, introducing that annual text, said that it incorporates new elements which recognize the impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic on professional, amateur and youth sport, including the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games to mid‑2021.

In addition, the Assembly adopted a text titled “Credentials of representative to the seventy-fifth session of the General Assembly,” as contained in the report of the Credentials Committee. Kennedy Godfrey Gastorn (United Republic of Tanzania), Committee Chair, introduced the report.

Also before delegates today was the Secretary‑General’s report on implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, the first since that framework agreement was adopted by world leaders at an intergovernmental conference in Marrakech, Morocco, on 10 December 2018 and subsequently endorsed by the Assembly. (See Press Releases DEV/3375 and GA/12113.)

El Salvador’s representative, referencing that report, said that without appropriate follow-up and monitoring mechanisms in place, the Global Compact risks becoming an “impactless instrument”. She also called for a change in the narrative regarding migrants — one that would underscore their positive contributions, including in mitigating the effects of the COVID‑19 pandemic.

The Assembly’s solemn meeting in commemoration of all victims of the Second World War was prompted by its resolution 75/5, adopted on 6 November, on the occasion of the seventy-fifth anniversary of that global conflict which also led to the creation of the United Nations. (See Press Release GA/12282.)

António Guterres, Secretary‑General of the United Nations, delivered opening remarks, saying that “never again” was the rallying cry of those who gathered around the Organization’s Charter in the wake of the war. Today, however, the international community is falling short on the promise of the Charter as it confronts the climate crisis, poverty, hunger, inequality, human rights violations and a raft of regional conflicts. Reiterating the call he issued in March for a global ceasefire in response to the COVID‑19 pandemic, he said that millions look to the United Nations to deliver on peace, human rights and equality — and that “we cannot let them down”.

The Russian Federation’s representative, speaking also on behalf of China and several Member States that were once part of the Soviet Union, said that today’s commemoration was not about perpetuating hatred, but rather to draw a lesson from history, look to the future and jointly cherish and safeguard peace. He condemned shameful attempts to rewrite the history of the war, adding that the international community must stand alert and united to suppress any embryo of Nazi ideology.

Israel’s representative, in the same vein, said that despite their differences, the nations that joined together to defeat Nazism “knew that evil had to be stopped”. She emphasized the importance of mourning the victims of “history’s darkest hour”, which is synonymous with the Holocaust, and that the international community cannot allow the sacrifices of so many to be in vain.

South Africa’s representative said that victory in 1945 helped lead to independence movements in Asia and Africa, and paved the way to the intensified struggle against Apartheid. Calling for Security Council reform, he urged all nations to stand united against nationalism, unilateralism and isolationism.

In other business, the Assembly took up the Secretary‑General’s report on the culture of peace and the related draft resolution “Follow-up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace”. Bangladesh’s representative, introducing that text, said that the annual resolution calls for a High-Level Forum on the Culture of Peace to be held in September 2021. As intolerance rises in the midst of the COVID‑19 pandemic, the text’s importance has only grown, she added.

Also speaking today were representatives of the United States, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, Qatar, Brunei (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), China, Iran, Djibouti (on behalf of the African States), Iraq (on behalf of the Asia-Pacific States), Antigua and Barbuda (on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean States), Malta (on behalf of the Western European and Other States) and United States (on behalf of the Host Country), as well as the European Union.

Representatives of Tajikistan (on behalf of the Collective Security Treaty Organization), Ukraine, Serbia, India, Syria, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Belarus, Pakistan, Peru (on behalf of a number of States, including members of the Lima Group), Venezuela, Nicaragua, Brazil (on behalf of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance), Libya, Oman, Kuwait and Cuba also spoke.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 2 December to take up draft resolutions on the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East and to continue its consideration of the culture of peace.

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