Press Releases

    GA/EF/3135
    5 December 2005

    Taking Action on 7 Draft Resolutions, Second Committee Approves Text Calling on Israel Not to Exploit Resources in Occupied Arab Lands

    Measure Passed by 151 Votes in Favour, 7 Against, 9 Abstentions

    NEW YORK, 2 December (UN Headquarters) -- The General Assembly would express concern over Israel's extensive destruction of agricultural land and orchards in occupied Arab territories, and call upon that country not to exploit, damage, deplete or endanger the natural resources in those lands, according to one of seven draft resolutions approved -- five without a vote -- by the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) this afternoon.

    By other terms of that text, which the Committee approved by a recorded vote of 151 in favour to 7 against (Australia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 9 abstentions (Albania, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, El Salvador, Malawi, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu), the Assembly would call on Israel to cease the dumping of waste materials in the occupied Palestinian territory and the occupied Syrian Golan, which gravely threatened their natural resources and posed an environmental and health threat to civilian populations.  (For details of voting, see Annex I.)

    Further by the draft, on permanent sovereignty of the people in occupied Arab lands over their natural resources, the Assembly would stress that the wall Israel was constructing in occupied Palestinian territory was contrary to international law, and seriously depriving the Palestinians of their natural resources.  It would also call on Israel to comply strictly with its obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, with respect to altering the character and status of the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.

    In another recorded vote, of 117 in favour to 1 against (United States), with 48 abstentions, the Committee approved a draft resolution on unilateral economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries.  By that text, the Assembly would urge the international community to adopt measures eliminating the use against developing countries of unilateral coercive economic measures that were not authorized by United Nations organs, or were inconsistent with the principles set forth in the Organization's Charter, and contravened the basic principles of the multilateral trading system.  (See Annex II.)

    Expressing deep concern over the frequency and intensity of natural disasters in recent years, the Committee also approved two consensus drafts relating to disaster reduction.  According to the first, on the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, the Assembly would endorse the Hyogo Declaration and the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015:  Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters, as adopted by the World Conference on Disaster Reduction, held at Kobe, Hyogo, Japan, in January 2005.

    Also by that text, the Assembly would call on the international community to implement fully the commitments of the Hyogo Declaration and the Hyogo Framework for Action, and call for more effective integration of disaster-risk reduction into sustainable development policies, planning and programming; the development and strengthening of institutions, mechanisms and capacities to build resilience to hazards; and the incorporation of risk reduction approaches into emergency preparedness, response and recovery programmes.

    By other terms, the Assembly would call on United Nations bodies to integrate the goals of the Hyogo Framework for Action into their programmes, and to use existing mechanisms to help developing design disaster-risk reduction measures.  It would further call on the United Nations system to support efforts led by disaster-stricken countries for disaster-risk reduction in post-disaster recovery and rehabilitation processes.

    The second text, on natural disasters and vulnerability, would have the Assembly urge the international community to address ways to reduce the adverse effects of natural disasters, including those caused by extreme weather events, by implementing the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.  It would emphasize the importance of addressing underlying risk factors identified in the Hyogo Framework for Action, as well as the importance of promoting the integration into disaster reduction programmes of risk reduction associated with geological and hydrometeorological hazards.

    Acting without a vote, the Committee also approved draft resolutions on implementation of the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) and strengthening of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT); the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism; and follow-up to and implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States.

    The representatives of Canada, United Kingdom, Jamaica (on behalf of the "Group of 77" and China), Venezuela and the United Republic of Tanzania spoke during today's meeting.

    Also making a statement was the observer for Palestine.

    The Second Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 6 December, to take action on further draft resolutions.

    Background

    The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met today to take action on several draft resolutions.

    Draft Resolutions Before Committee

    A draft on the 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 (document A/C.2/60/L.11/Rev.1) would have the General Assembly call upon Israel not to exploit, damage, cause loss or depletion of, or endanger natural resources in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan.  The Assembly would, by other terms of that draft, recognize the Palestinian people's right to claim restitution as a result of such actions resulting from illegal measures by Israel, expressing the hope that the issue would be dealt with in final negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli sides.

    Also by that text, the Assembly would stress that the wall being constructed by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory is contrary to international law and is seriously depriving the Palestinian people of their natural resources, and call for full compliance with legal obligations mentioned in the 9 July 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice and General Assembly resolution ES-10/15.

    By further terms, the Assembly would call upon Israel to cease the dumping of waste materials in the occupied Palestinian territory and in the occupied Syrian Golan, which gravely threatens their water and land resources, and poses an environmental hazard and health threat to the civilian populations.  Also by the draft, it would call on Israel to comply strictly with its obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, with respect to altering the character and status of the occupied Palestinian territory.

    A draft on unilateral economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries (document A/C.2/60/L.36) would have the Assembly urge the international community to adopt measures to eliminate the use of unilateral coercive economic measures against developing countries that are not authorized by relevant United Nations organ or are inconsistent with the principles set forth in the United Nations Charter, and that contravene the basic principles of the multilateral trading system.

    Further by the text, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to continue monitoring the imposition of measures of this nature and to study their impact on the affected countries, including the impact on trade and development.

    According to draft on the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism (document A/C.2/60/L.44), the Assembly would emphasize the need to promote responsible and sustainable tourism for the protection and safeguarding of natural and cultural heritage that could benefit all sectors of society and the natural environment towards achieving sustainable development.  Also, the Assembly would invite Member States and other stakeholders to support World Tourism Organization activities favouring sustainable tourism in developing countries for the eradication of poverty.  It would reiterate its invitation to Member States to consider introducing the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism into their laws, regulations and professional practices.

    A draft on natural disasters and vulnerability (document A/C.2/60/L.45) would have the Assembly stress the importance of international cooperation and partnerships to support national efforts for sustainable development and disaster-risk reduction, including through implementation of and follow-up to the Hyogo Framework for Action.  It would urge the international community to continue addressing ways to reduce the adverse effects of natural disasters, including those caused by extreme weather events, by implementing the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.

    Also by that text, the Assembly would stress the importance of the Hyogo Declaration and the Hyogo Framework for Action and the priorities for action that States, regional and international organizations and international financial institutions, as well as other concerned actors should consider in their approach to disaster-risk reduction.  It would also emphasize the importance of addressing underlying risk factors identified in the Hyogo Framework for Action and the importance of promoting the integration of risk reduction associated with geological and hydrometeorological hazards in disaster-risk reduction programmes.

    By other terms, the Assembly would stress the importance of close cooperation and coordination among Governments, the United Nations system, other international and regional organizations, non-governmental organizations and other partners, taking into account the need to develop disaster-management strategies, including people-centred early-warning systems.

    A draft on the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (document A/C.2/60/L.46) would have the Assembly endorse the Hyogo Declaration and the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015:  Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters, as adopted by the World Conference on Disaster Reduction, held at Kobe, Hyogo, Japan, in January 2005.  Further, it would call for a more effective integration of disaster-risk reduction into sustainable development policies, planning and programming; for the development and strengthening of institutions, mechanisms and capacities to build resilience to hazards; and for a systemic incorporation of risk reduction approaches into the implementation of emergency preparedness, response and recovery programmes.

    Also by that text, the Assembly would call upon the United Nations system and international organization to integrate the goals of the Hyogo Framework for Action into their strategies and programmes, making use of existing mechanisms to assist developing countries in urgently designing disaster-risk reduction measures.  It would further call on the international community to fully implement the commitments of the Hyogo Declaration and the Hyogo Framework for Action.

    By other terms, the Assembly would call on the United Nations system to support efforts led by disaster-stricken countries for disaster-risk reduction in post-disaster recovery and rehabilitation processes.  Further, it would stress also the importance of strengthening the capacity of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction system to provide a solid basis for action as mandated by the Hyogo Framework for Action.  It would stress also the importance of identifying, assessing and managing risks prior to the occurrence of disasters, as well as the importance of integrating disaster-risk reduction into development plans and poverty eradication programmes.

    The Assembly would, by further terms, stress the need to foster better understanding and knowledge of the causes of disasters, and to build and strengthen coping capacities by transferring and exchanging experiences and technical knowledge, access to relevant data and information and strengthening institutional arrangements, including community organizations.  It would also emphasize the need for the international community to maintain its focus beyond emergency relief and support medium- and long-term rehabilitation, reconstruction and risk reduction, as well as stress the importance of implementing programmes related to poverty eradication, sustainable development and disaster-risk reduction management in the most vulnerable regions.

    By a further draft, on implementation of the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) and strengthening of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) (document A/C.2/60/L.47), the Assembly would call for continued financial support to UN-HABITAT through increased voluntary contributions to the United Nations Habitat and Human Settlements Foundation, and invite Governments to provide multi-year funding to support programme implementation.

    Also by the text, the Assembly would stress the need for the international community to fully implement commitments to support Governments of developing countries and countries with economies in transition in implementing the Habitat Agenda, the Declaration on Cities and Other Human Settlements in the New Millennium, and the Millennium Declaration by providing the needed resources, capacity-building and technology transfer, as well as by creating an international enabling environment.  Further, it would call for increased, non-earmarked contributions to the United Nations Habitat and Human Settlements Foundation, and emphasize the need for UN-HABITAT to develop a results-based and less fragmented budget structure, regardless of funding source.

    The Assembly would, by other terms, invite international donors and financial institutions to contribute generously to the Water and Sanitation Trust Fund, the Slum Upgrading Facility and the technical cooperation trust funds in enabling UN-HABITAT to assist developing countries to mobilize public investment and private capital for slum upgrading, shelter and basic services.  By further terms, it would stress the importance of publishing the financial rules and regulations of the United Nations Habitat and Human Settlements Foundation in time for their adoption no later than the end of 2005.

    A draft resolution on follow-up to and implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (document A/C.2/60/L.48) would have the Assembly call for the full implementation of the commitments, programmes and targets adopted at the International Meeting to Review the Implementation of that Programme and, to that end, for the fulfilment of the Mauritius Strategy adopted at that International Meeting.

    Further by that text, the Assembly would urge the Secretary-General to ensure that the Small Island Developing States Unit in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs is sufficiently and sustainably staffed to undertake its mandated functions.  It would encourage small island developing States and their development partners to continue their wide consultations when developing implementation projects and programmes.  By other terms, the Assembly would request the United Nations system to mainstream the Mauritius Strategy for Implementation in their work programmes and to establish a small island developing States focal point within their respective secretariats.

    Action on Draft Resolutions

    The Committee first took up the draft resolution on the 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 (document A/C.2/60/L.11/Rev.1), deciding to hold a recorded vote on the text.

    Speaking before the vote, the representative of Canada stressed that the promotion and protection of environmental integrity was vital to the interests of any State.  Canada wished to see the conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis culminate in a final peace settlement that would lead to peace and prosperity for both sides.  With respect to the draft resolution, Israel should take action to fulfil its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

    The Committee then approved the text by a recorded vote of 151 in favour to 7 against (Australia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 9 abstentions (Albania, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, El Salvador, Malawi, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu).  (See Annex I.)

    Following the vote, the representative of the United Kingdom, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that the natural resources of any territory seized by force of arms should not be used inappropriately by the occupying Power, and reaffirmed the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention in such a case, as well as the right of the Palestinian people to hold any infringements of it illegal.

    She added, however, that matters affecting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be dealt with in the framework of the Middle East peace process.  The text must not be considered as prejudicial to the outcome of those negotiations, and any action or statement to that effect must be avoided.

    The observer for Palestine expressed his gratitude to those who had voted in favour of the text, which concerned an issue of vital importance to the Palestinian people.  The international community had reiterated its commitment to international law, and the applicability of international standards to all States in equal measure.

    The Committee then turned to the draft on unilateral economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries (document A/C.2/60/L.36).

    Speaking before the vote, the representative of Jamaica stressed, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, the importance of the text, saying that the international community should be prepared to take firm action on the issue.

    The Committee then approved the text, as orally amended, by a recorded vote of 117 in favour to 1 against ( United States), with 48 abstentions.  (See Annex II.)

    Speaking after the vote, the representative of the United Kingdom, said, on behalf of the European Union and associated States, that any economic measures taken should be compatible with international law, as contained in the United Nations Charter and the wider rules and regulations of the international trading system and the World Trade Organization.  Furthermore, coercive economic measures should not be taken against any Member State and was strictly not admissible.  Such measures were often taken against developing countries.

    The Committee then approved, without a vote, the draft on the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism (document A/C.2/60/L.44), withdrawing an earlier version (document A/C.2/60/L.26).

    Speaking after that action, the representative of Venezuela said that historically, his country had always supported small island developing States and their development aspirations.  However, the Mauritius Strategy, which the text mentioned in its preambular section, contained references to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  Venezuela was not party to that Convention and its provisions, with the exception of those already contained in the country's domestic laws, were not applicable to it.

    Acting again without a vote, the Committee then approved the draft on follow-up to and implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for the further implementation of the programme of action for the sustainable development of small island developing States (document A/C.2/60/L.48), withdrawing a previous version (document A/C.2/60/L.21).

    It then approved, again without a vote, the draft on natural disasters and vulnerability (document A/C.2/60/L.45), as orally amended, and withdrew an earlier version (document A/C.2/60/L.27).

    The Committee then approved, without a vote, the draft on the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (document A/C.2/60/L.46), as orally amended, withdrawing an earlier version (document A/C.2/60/L.25).

    Regarding that text, the representative of Venezuela said his delegation had no desire to block the consensus on it but had reservations about a section that referred to the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document, since the draft was only a working paper with no mandate for commitment or action.

    The Committee then approved, without a vote, the draft on implementation of the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) and strengthening of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) (document A/C.2/60/L.47), as orally amended, withdrawing an earlier version (document A/C.2/60/L.13).

    Referring to that text, the representative of Venezuela pointed to a section that, as per an oral amendment, mentioned the World Summit on Sustainable Development, stating once again that the draft was merely a working paper that laid down no commitments or obligations.

    The Committee then decided to withdraw a draft on the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Peace and Poverty Eradication, 2008 (document A/C.2/60/L.37), as requested by the representative of the United Republic of Tanzania, who explained that there had been no consensus on the text.  However, the United Republic of Tanzania recognized the important role that tourism could play in poverty reduction, and would table the resolution in the next session.

    The Committee then postponed action on a draft relating to human resources development (document A/C.2/60/L.49) until its next meeting.

    (annexes follow)

    ANNEX I

    Vote on Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources

    The draft resolution on the 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 (document A/C.2/60/L.11/Rev.1) was approved by a recorded vote of 151 in favour to 7 against, with 9 abstentions, as follows:

    In favour:  Afghanistan, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

    Against:  Australia, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, United States.

    Abstain:  Albania, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, El Salvador, Malawi, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.

    Absent:  Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chad, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Gambia, Grenada, Haiti, Iraq, Kiribati, Liberia, Madagascar, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Swaziland, Tajikistan, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

    (END OF ANNEX I)

    ANNEX II

    Vote on Unilateral Economic Measures

    The draft resolution on unilateral economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries (document A/C.2/60/L.36) was approved by a recorded vote of 117 in favour to 1 against, with 48 abstentions, as follows:

    In favour:  Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

    Against:  United States.

    Abstain:  Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, San Marino, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom.

    Absent:  Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Gambia, Iraq, Kiribati, Liberia, Madagascar, Marshall Islands, Rwanda, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Swaziland, Tajikistan, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Uzbekistan.

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