48th Plenary Meeting - General Assembly 75th Session

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21-Dec-2020 01:41:01
Taking Up Second Committee reports, General Assembly adopts 36 resolutions, including text calling for building back better in wake of pandemic.

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As the COVID‑19 pandemic ravages economies and threatens to reverse hard-won development gains, the General Assembly today adopted 36 resolutions and two decisions of its Second Committee (Economic and Financial), urging the global community to “build back better” in tackling the biggest challenge it has faced since the Second World War.

By a resolution on “International trade and development”, adopted by recorded vote of 175 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 2 abstentions (Haiti, Sudan), the Assembly emphasized the urgent need to combat protectionism in all its forms and rectify any trade-distorting measures inconsistent with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.

Underscoring COVID‑19 disruptions, the Assembly called on Member States to reaffirm the critical importance of global supply chains in ensuring the flow of vital medical and food supplies as well as other essential goods across air, land and sea borders. It also encouraged cooperation to ease cross-border travel of individuals for essential purposes without undermining efforts to prevent spread of the coronavirus.

Adopting another resolution on “External debt sustainability and development”, the Assembly stressed the need to continue assisting developing countries in reducing the risk of relapsing into another crisis. It recognized steps the Group of 20 has taken, including the extraordinary leaders’ summit hosted by Saudi Arabia on COVID‑19, to provide a time-bound suspension of debt service payments for the poorest countries.

By adopting a resolution on “Promoting investments for sustainable development”, the organ expressed concern that many least developed countries and small island developing States continue to be side-lined by foreign direct investment that could help diversify their economies, noting the gap in access to capital for micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises.

Further macroeconomic resolutions focused on the international financial system, assets return, investments for sustainable development and financing for development.

Addressing texts on sustainable development, the Assembly adopted a resolution on “Protection of global climate for present and future generations of humankind” by a recorded vote of 102 in favour to 54 against, with 2 abstentions (Madagascar, Turkey). The text urged Member States to adopt a climate-responsive approach to COVID‑19 recovery by aligning investments with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change in creating low‑emission, climate-resilient and sustainable economies.

Further, expressing concern that nationally determined contributions presented thus far by parties to the Paris Agreement are insufficient, it stated that action is needed to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

Adopting another resolution on “Disaster risk reduction”, the Assembly urged States to conduct inclusive and multi-hazard disaster risk assessments that consider climate change projections. The Assembly also emphasized the need for action to enhance efforts to build resilience through the sustainable management of ecosystems and to build resilience to reduce the impacts and costs of natural hazards.

Other texts on sustainable development addressed the 2030 Agenda, small island developing States, desertification, biological diversity, harmony with nature, sustainable energy access and sand as well as dust storms.

Turning to globalization and interdependence, the Assembly adopted a text titled “Towards a New International Economic Order”, by which it called on States and international institutions to increase financial liquidity in tackling the COVID‑19 crisis. Further, it emphasized the need to boost access to concessional finance, calling on donors to fulfil their development assistance commitments.

Addressing Groups of countries in special situations, the Assembly adopted a resolution on “Follow-up to the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries”. By the text, it expressed deep concern at the recent devastating impacts of COVID‑19 on least developed countries, inviting development partners, international organizations and other stakeholders to support them in recovering.

By other terms, the organ noted that exports of goods and services of least developed countries declined by 1.6 per cent in 2019 compared with 2018, expressing concern that the share of goods and services exports, which stood at 0.91 per cent in 2019, remains far below the target of 2 per cent of global exports called for in the Istanbul Programme of Action.

Taking up poverty eradication, the Assembly adopted a resolution on “Eradication of poverty and other development issues: 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 (Tonga, Turkey).

By the text, the Assembly expressed deep concern that progress in reducing poverty remains uneven, with 1.46 billion people still living in multidimensional poverty. Further, it emphasized that 2 billion people globally, primarily in rural areas in developing countries, have no access to formal financial services.

The organ adopted a further text on “Quadrennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system”, in a recorded vote of 167 in favour to none against, with 1 abstention (Russian Federation). By that text, the Assembly expressed concern over the rise in global poverty, requesting the United Nations development system to strengthen actions to accelerate progress on its eradication.

Adopting a related resolution on “Agriculture development, food security and nutrition”, the Assembly urged Member States to speed up collective actions addressing the impacts of COVID‑19 on those needs. Actions should focus on sustainable agriculture and food systems, access to safe drinking water and sanitation, measures to ensure adequate nutrition, healthy diets and prevention of novel diseases.

It further emphasized that sustainable agricultural production, food security, food safety and nutrition are key elements for eradicating poverty in all forms, calling for greater efforts to sustainably enhance agricultural production capacities, productivity and food security in developing countries.

The Assembly also took up a report on “Programme planning”, which regarded working arrangements of the Committee’s seventy-fifth session and required no action.

Remaining texts focused on information and communications technologies, tourism, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, immigration, landlocked developing countries, the poverty eradication decade (2018-2027), industrial development, South-South cooperation and sovereignty of the Palestinian people and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan.

Two decisions the Assembly adopted focused on the Second Committee’s programme for the General Assembly’s seventy-sixth session and the convening of informal dialogues in December 2020 and the first months of 2021 to discuss revitalization of the Committee’s work.

In other business, the Assembly then turned to its item “Election of members to the Committee for Programme and Coordination”, electing Germany for a three-year term beginning 1 January 2021, on nomination of the Economic and Social Council.

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