General Assembly: 56th Plenary Meeting, 77th Session

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20-Dec-2022 03:40:32
General Assembly adopts two draft resolutions on protecting oceans, preventing violent extremism, elects five member states to Peacebuilding Commission.

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Delegates Fail to Achieve Majority to Fill Seat for Group of Eastern European States on Economic and Social Council.

The General Assembly today adopted resolutions to protect the world’s oceans and combat violent extremism and elected five Member States to the Peacebuilding Commission, but failed yet again to fill a seat on the Economic and Social Council held by the Group of Eastern European States.

To help achieve progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 14 on life below water, the Assembly adopted by consensus the draft resolution “Integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic, social and related fields” (document A/77/L.40).

By the text, the Assembly decided to convene the high-level 2025 United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development, in France, in June 2025. It decided that all Conference costs, including its preparations, shall be financed through extrabudgetary resources, welcoming the generous offer by the Governments of Costa Rica and France to co-host and assume the Conference’s costs. Introducing the draft, the representative of Costa Rica said the ocean faces a continued emergency of escalating challenges and that Sustainable Development Goal 14 remains the most underfunded of all global goals. It is estimated that an additional $175 billion will be needed each year until 2030, for the global goal’s full implementation.

“In the meantime, sea levels are rising and coastal erosion is worsening, impacting the lives, livelihoods and culture of many island nations and coastal communities,” she said. “The current situation is beyond alarming,” she added, urging the international community to build on momentum achieved during the first and second Ocean Conferences to achieve global Goal 14. The Conference in France in June 2025 will be preceded by a high-level themed event in Costa Rica in June 2024.

Continuing, she said the Conference will provide a platform for reviewing progress on key processes that need high-level political will and engagement: Instruments on plastic pollution and biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction; discussions around deep sea mining; the Decade of Ocean Science and the commitments from more than 100 States to protect at least 30 per cent of marine areas by 2030.

A second resolution “International Day for the Prevention of Violent Extremism as and when Conducive to Terrorism” (document A/77/L.41) was adopted by a recorded vote of 154 in favour and none against, with 4 abstentions (Belarus, Congo, Madagascar, Russian Federation).

By its terms, the Assembly decided to declare 12 February the International Day for the Prevention of Violent Extremism as and when Conducive to Terrorism, in order to raise awareness of the threats linked to that phenomenon. It also invited all Member States, entities of the United Nations Global Counter Terrorism Coordination Compact and agencies of the United Nations system, as well as other relevant stakeholders to commemorate the International Day in an appropriate manner.

The representative of Iraq, introducing that draft, said his country is one that has suffered the most from terrorist groups. The Iraqi Government is committed to international cooperation to eradicate terrorism, including through judicial accountability and victim support. Further, Iraq is developing a national strategy in line with international developments and the Organization’s counterterrorism strategy.

The Assembly first held a debate on the plan of action to prevent violent extremism on 12 February 2015, he said, noting that the plan is the first United Nations document to make this issue a priority. The current resolution’s priority is to raise awareness and bolster international cooperation on this matter, he said, underscoring that terrorism and violent extremism cannot be tied to any religion, nationality or group of people.

Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, the representative of the Russian Federation said the coordinators of the text pushed it through without considering other proposals or holding extensive discussions. The text is deploying double standards for dividing terrorists into two categories of “the bad ones and the not-so-bad ones,” he said, with violent extremists falling in the latter category. Noting that 12 February was chosen to memorialize the adoption of Assembly resolution A/70/674 concerning the plan of action for preventing violent extremism, he said this plan was an early attempt to institutionalize the idea of “prevention of violent extremism” by watering down traditional counterterrorism.

“It is this ambiguous document that we're being asked to celebrate at the international level,” he continued, adding that his delegation suggested the text should focus on the prevention of terrorism as there are clear binding instruments on that. “It is not clear why the root causes of terrorism are being ignored by Iraq, a country which is regularly hit by terrorist attacks,” he said.

Speaking after the vote and explaining that his country’s vote in favour was underpinned by its historical unwavering and categorical position against terrorism, the representative of Cuba reaffirmed that prevention of violent extremism or terrorism must not be used to justify violations of the United Nations Charter. It is unacceptable, he stressed, that certain States engage in acts of aggression against sovereign peoples and commit flagrant violations of human rights and international humanitarian law under the flag of the supposed fight against terrorism. As terrorism cannot and should not be linked to any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group, the fight against it must be holistic, address prevention and eradicate root causes.

Further, he condemned unilateral actions of certain States to certify politically motivated behaviour, rejected the manipulation of terrorism into an instrument against other countries and reiterated his support for the adoption of a general convention against terrorism. He then spotlighted his country’s decades-long suffering due to terrorist acts, namely those with the backing and support of the United States.

The representative of Egypt affirmed that his country’s vote in favour does not change its views on the matter as a whole. His Government continues to be concerned by the absence of an internally agreed upon definition on violent extremism, lack of a clear legal framework to govern violent extremism on the international and national levels, general trend to use violent extremism to describe acts of terrorism committed by non-Islamic criminal groups and the concept’s many uses, which erode the main responsibilities of countries to counter terrorism, thereby causing an unnecessary misunderstanding of causes. The 2015 Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, he added, was not the product of negotiations between countries and thus does not reflect consensus. He then encouraged adding the term “conditions conductive to the spread of terrorism” wherever violent extremism is mentioned.

Exercising the right of reply, the representative of Iraq thanked all delegates who voted in favour of this resolution, which indicates the international community’s intent to prevent terrorism. Unfortunately, one delegation requested a recorded vote, despite efforts to build a consensus. He said his delegation showed extreme flexibility, but its initiatives were rejected and the only option was to ignore this resolution, which his delegation could not accept. His delegation is keen to cooperate with all to counter the threat of terrorism.

The Assembly then adopted the draft decision “Accreditation and participation of an intergovernmental organization in the United Nations Conference on the Midterm Comprehensive Review of the Implementation of the Objectives of the International Decade for Action, ‘Water for Sustainable Development’, 2018–2028” (document A/77/L.42).

Adopting it without a vote, the Assembly decided to accredit the European Investment Bank and invite the Bank to participate as an intergovernmental organization in the Conference’s work with observer status.

Speaking after adoption, the representative of the Russian Federation, noting that his delegation did not undermine consensus, nevertheless disassociated from consensus, stating that the European Union and its structures are politicizing environmental and climate cooperation.

The Assembly also held elections for members of the Economic and Social Council, as no candidate from the Group of Eastern European States obtained the required two-thirds majority in previous balloting, held at the Assembly’s 2 September meeting. It then held its tenth, eleventh and twelfth rounds of restricted balloting for two candidates from the Groups of Eastern States, North Macedonia and the Russian Federation. Since neither candidate was able to obtain the required two-thirds majority, further balloting will take place on a date to be determined.

In other business, the Assembly elected five Member States to the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission, representing distinct regional groups, two-year terms of office beginning on 1 January 2023. The Member States are Egypt, Kenya and South Africa from the Group of African States; Qatar from the Group of Asia-Pacific States; and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines from the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States. The Peacebuilding Commission is an intergovernmental advisory body that supports peace efforts in conflict‑affected countries, with the Organizational Committee bringing the Commission’s Member States together to establish its work agenda.

In addition, the Assembly appointed Toyshiya Hoshino (Japan) to the 11‑member Joint Inspection Unit — the independent external oversight body of the United Nations system ‑ for a five-year term beginning 1 January 2023 to the 11-member Joint Inspection Unit.

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