The General Assembly would express profound alarm that greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise worldwide and remain deeply concerned that all nations are experiencing an increase in adverse impacts of climate change, according to one of eight draft resolutions the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) approved today.
Further to that text, “protection of global climate for present and future generations of humankind”, such impacts include persistent drought, extreme weather events, land degradation, sea level rise, coastal erosion, ocean acidification and the retreat of mountain glaciers. The Assembly would emphasize that mitigation of and adaptation to climate change represents an immediate and urgent global priority.
Several other approved drafts addressed climate change and environmental degradation, emphasizing their negative impacts on efforts to attain sustainable development.
A text on “oil slick on Lebanese shores” (document A/C.2/73/L.13) would have the Assembly express deep concern about the adverse implications of Israel’s destruction of oil tanks near Lebanon’s Jiyah electric power plant for achieving sustainable development in the country. Noting that damage to Lebanon amounted to $856.4 million, the Assembly would request that Israel promptly compensate Lebanon and other countries directly affected, such as Syria, for costs of repairing the environment.
The draft was approved in a recorded vote of 161 in favour to 7 (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, United States) against, with 8 abstentions (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Guatemala, Honduras, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Vanuatu).
Addressing that text, Israel’s delegate said it fails to mention that Lebanese rockets have rained down on her country, injuring its people as well as damaging villages and forests. As the text also neglects to include Israel’s offers to assist in the clean‑up with specialized equipment, her country will vote against the resolution.
The representative of Lebanon said approval of the resolution affirms the Committee’s commitment to uphold international law and assist countries in efforts to achieve sustainable development. Adding that the resolution asks Israel to supply compensation for damage from the oil slick, she said this should be paid fully and without delay.
Also on marine degradation, the Committee approved a draft, “towards the sustainable development of the Caribbean Sea for present and future generations”, by which the Assembly would call on the international community to assist countries in protecting that body of water from ship pollution and the illegal dumping or accidental release of hazardous waste.
Highlighting land degradation, a draft on “combating sand and dust storms” would have the Assembly recognize that such hazards have inflicted substantial economic, social and environmental damage on inhabitants of the world’s arid, semi‑arid and dry subhumid areas in the past few years, underscoring the need to promptly address those challenges.
A related text on “Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa” would have the Assembly encourage the public and private sectors to continue to invest in combating desertification, land degradation and drought.
By a draft on “international migration and development” the Assembly would recommit to ensuring full respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants, regardless of their migration status, and support countries of origin, transit and destination. Also by the text, the Assembly would decide to convene a one‑day high‑level debate on international migration and development in the first half of 2019.
The text was approved in a recorded vote of 177 in favour to 3 against (Hungary, Israel, United States), with no abstentions.
Addressing that draft, the United States delegate said the resolution gave the United Nations overarching focus in migration matters, interfering with the national sovereignty of Member States. The United States does not support the Global Compact for Migration, has not participated in any negotiations and will not be governed by the text.
The representative of Mexico said voices both within and outside the room refuse to recognize certain realities. Representing 3.3 per cent of the global population, the 258 million international migrants generate almost 9 per cent of the world’s wealth. Moreover, the Global Compact recognizes migration as a fundamental, transnational reality imposing no responsibilities on Member States, as it is not legally binding.
Further texts focused on follow‑up to and implementation of the outcomes of the International Conferences on Financing for Development, midterm comprehensive review of the implementation of the International Decade for Action, “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018‑2028, and harmony with nature.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Austria (speaking for the European Union), Japan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Venezuela, Colombia, Iceland, Switzerland, Egypt (speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Bulgaria and Hungary.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Friday, 30 November to act on further draft resolutions.
Action on Draft Resolutions
The Second Committee first approved a draft on “follow‑up to and implementation of the outcomes of the International Conferences on Financing for Development” (document A/C2/73/L.42), without a vote as orally revised, withdrawing a previous text on the same topic.
Speaking before the action, the representative of Austria, speaking for the European Union, said the commitment expressed in 2013 that no one should be left behind in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals reflected a people‑centred approach. His bloc is concerned about a gradual movement towards development that is focused on States rather than people. The Union cannot accept a gradual reinterpretation of an agreement by all leaders and must seek to undermine these attempts. He then made some oral revisions to the draft.
The representative of Mexico noted that the Addis Ababa Action Agenda provided a framework for development, contributing to international goals with concrete measures. He thanked all Member States for their work in completing the draft resolution.
The representative of the United States said the scale and impact of private capital, domestic resources, remittances and other financial flows now dwarfed the role of official development assistance (ODA) in development financing. He expressed concern that duplicative, parallel negotiations and reports on development financing at the United Nations wasted the Committee’s time and resources. Many Member States have insisted on this duplicative resolution with no value added to the process.
The representative of Japan said the resolution could be improved in many aspects, especially on the issue of reporting. The Secretary‑General’s report could be replaced with an integral and holistic one on financing for development.
Next, the Committee approved a draft on “oil slick on Lebanese shores” (document A/C.2/73/L.13) by a recorded vote of 161 in favour to 7 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, United States) with 8 abstentions (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Guatemala, Honduras, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Vanuatu).
Speaking before the vote, the representative of Israel said time and energy is hijacked year after year on this resolution for political purposes. The draft fails to mention Lebanese rockets that have rained down on Israel, injuring her people and damaging villages and forests. In response to the oil slick in Lebanon, her country has offered to assist in the clean‑up with specialized equipment, but this is not mentioned in the resolution. The Government of Lebanon seems more interested in blaming Israel for all that is wrong in the world than in issues of development. Israel will vote against the resolution.
Speaking after the vote, the representative of Lebanon said the Committee has voted in favour on the resolution for the second year running because it knows the facts. Approval of the resolution affirms the Committee’s commitment to uphold international law and help countries in their efforts to achieve sustainable development. The resolution asks Israel to supply compensation for damage from the oil slick, which should be paid fully and without delay.
Following that, the Committee approved a text on “midterm comprehensive review of the implementation of the International Decade for Action, Water for Sustainable Development, 2018–2028” (document A/C2/73/L.24/Rev.1).
The representative of Tajikistan, speaking before the action, asked for editorial changes in operational paragraphs 5 and 7, and underlined the importance of the draft.
The representative of Austria, speaking on behalf of the European Union after the action, said the bloc remains firmly committed to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and expressed regret that some countries could not support the draft. He stated urgent action was needed on Sustainable Development Goal 6, adding that the compromise reached here should not constitute a precedent.
The Committee then approved a draft on “towards the sustainable development of the Caribbean Sea for present and future generations” (document A/C2/73/L.27/Rev.1).
The representative of Turkey, speaking after the action, said she joined consensus on the draft as it addresses important issues with respect to the Caribbean Sea. However, she disassociated herself from references to international instruments to which Turkey is not party, such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The representative of Venezuela said her delegation joined consensus because it addressed an important issue for the sustainable development of the Caribbean region, but disassociated herself from references to international instruments to which her country is not party, such as the Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The representative of Colombia stated her country is committed to protecting ecosystems and has a robust array of protections for its coastline, but has not ratified the Convention on the Law of the Sea and is therefore not governed by it. She stated that the agreement is not the only legal framework overseeing oceans and offered no tacit acceptance of it.
Following that, the Committee approved a text on “implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa” (document A/C2/73/L.44), withdrawing a previous text on the same topic.
Speaking before the action, the representative of Iceland thanked the Bureau for its continued hard work and support throughout the process.
Speaking after the action, the representative of the United States said the General Assembly does not provide guidance to parties in implementation of the Convention. The resolution must accurately reflect the will of the parties and language used.
Next, the Committee took up a draft on “Harmony with Nature” (document A/C2/73/L.39/Rev.1) and proposed amendments to that text (document A/C.2/73/L.52). In a recorded vote of 45 in favour to 108 against, with 12 abstentions, the Committee rejected the amendments to the draft.
Introducing the amendments before the vote, the representative of Austria expressed concern about language in the initial text, proposing revisions to better reflect the vision of the 2030 Agenda.
Speaking in explanation before the vote, the representative of Switzerland said what embodies multilateralism is the search for common solutions to common problems. Sometimes, coming to a solution means making concessions. He expressed regret that in 2018 the Committee was voting on resolutions that were approved by consensus in the past. His country will abstain from the vote in a call for compromise in the future.
Speaking after the vote, the representative of Egypt, speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said it requested a vote on the resolution’s amendments to preserve established rules and practices of the Committee’s work.
The representative of Austria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the bloc voted in favour of the amendments to bring the Committee back to a people‑centred approach to sustainable development.
The representative of the United States said his country disassociates itself from language in the resolution stating that no country will be left behind. This language detracts from multi‑stakeholder efforts, shifting the focus away from those whom sustainable development impacts the most — the people.
The Committee then approved, without a vote, the draft on “Harmony with Nature”.
Following that, the Committee approved a text on “combating sand and dust storms” (document A/C2/73/L.45), withdrawing a previous draft on the same topic.
The Committee then approved a text on “international migration and development” (document A/C2/73/L.46), in a recorded vote of 177 in favour to 3 against (Hungary, Israel, United States), with no abstentions, withdrawing a previous text.
The representative of Bulgaria, speaking before the vote, said despite that action being requested, the text indicated international cooperation is the way forward.
The representative of the United States, speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, objected to the resolution conferring overarching focus to the United Nations in migration matters, which interferes with the national sovereignty of Member States. Her country will withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change as soon as it is eligible to do so. The United States does not support the Global Compact for Migration as it has not participated in any negotiations and will not be governed by the text. The country’s sovereignty in matters of immigration will not be affected by the draft.
The representative of Hungary, speaking after the vote, disassociated herself from the Global Compact and said that it will not participate in the conference in Marrakech on 10 and 11 December. Her delegation disassociated itself from the whole of the text.
The representative of Mexico said he voted in favour due to the strong links between international migration and sustainable development. He said it was disconcerting that some voices both within and outside the room refuse to recognize certain realities. International migrants represent 3.3 per cent of the global population but produce almost 9 per cent of its wealth, that being 258 million people generating the equivalent of $6.7 trillion. The Global Compact took almost two years to prepare, with full participation of relevant actors. Speaking against “xenophobia”, he stated the Compact recognizes migration is a fundamental reality that is transnational, and imposes no responsibilities on any Member State as it is not legally binding. Control over borders clearly remains in the hands of each State. He said no country can go it alone on the issue.
The Chair then announced that the work of the Committee has been extended for four working days until Wednesday, 5 December. The Committee will resume at 10 a.m. on Friday, 30 November.