General Assembly: 53rd plenary meeting, 76th session
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General Assembly: 53rd plenary meeting, 76th session
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World Body Proclaims 2022 International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development

The General Assembly adopted 59 resolutions and one decision recommended by its Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today, covering a range of issues, from the rights of refugees and others forced to flee their homes, to the provision of universal and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

Several resolutions dealt with the theme of migration and the movement of people, including refugees and those internally displaced. One text, on improving coordination in the fight against human trafficking, was adopted by consensus. By its terms, the Assembly decided to convene a high-level meeting on the progress achieved in implementing the 2010 Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, at its eightieth session. It also called on Member States, as well as international organizations, civil society and the private sector, to increase prevention efforts in countries of origin, transit and destination.

The Assembly also adopted without a vote a resolution on strengthening the role of the United Nations in the holding of genuine elections — a move that prompted multiple delegations to take the floor to stress that while they had joined consensus on the text, they wished to disassociate from two paragraphs that contained non-agreed language.

Egypt’s delegate cautioned that the terms “women in all their diversity”, “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” only undermined the resolution by showing a lack of respect for cultural norms. Proposed amendments — which had gathered the support of 58 countries — had not made it into the draft, he said. In a similar vein, Belarus’s delegate underscored that such language was “aggressive” in its attempt to forward concepts that had not achieved international recognition, while Ethiopia’s representative noted that the imposition of the values of one society on another is “unacceptable”. Saudi Arabia’s representative said that God created man and woman, emphasizing that anything that is neither male nor female is “against nature”. Libya’s delegate noted that the terms did not consider the religious framework of his country.

By the text, the Assembly called upon States to take measures to eliminate laws, regulations and practices that discriminate, directly or indirectly, against citizens in their right to participate in public affairs, including based on race, colour, ethnicity, national or social origin, sex, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity, language, religion, political views or on the basis of disability.

This year, the Assembly adopted four new texts, three of which — on homelessness, volunteerism and rare diseases — were adopted by consensus, while the resolution on equitable access for all countries to COVID vaccines passed by a recorded vote of 179 in favour to none against, with 7 abstentions (Armenia, Australia, Israel, Japan, Republic of Korea, United Kingdom, United States), with the Assembly emphasizing the urgent need to ensure the right to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, and to facilitate universal health coverage.

When the Assembly turned to country-specific situations, the resolution on human rights in the temporarily occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine, generated spirited discussion before passing by a recorded vote of 65 in favour to 25 against, with 85 abstentions. By its terms, the Assembly condemned efforts by the Russian Federation to legitimize its attempted annexation of Crimea, through the automatic imposition of Russian citizenship, illegal election campaigns and suppression of national identity.

Speaking in explanation of vote, the Russian Federation’s representative described the text as part of an anti-Russian campaign. After Crimea returned to the Russian Federation as the result of free vote, there has been a steady growth in revenues in the regional budget on the peninsula, while housing construction and industrial output are gathering pace. After the 2014 illegal water blockade of Crimea introduced by Kyiv, water security has become a priority, he stressed, pointing to 100 kilometres of new pipelines that have already been provided.

To that, Ukraine’s delegate — pointing to the “Russian so-called peacemakers” in Syria, Georgia and Ukraine — said the Russian Federation pretends that its troops are not in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. However, even the Russian courts decided that the troops are there. As the population in the temporarily occupied territory of Crimea faces repression and hopelessness, systematic human abuses have turned Crimea into a land of fear, not a land of tourism, as the Russian delegate said. The indigenous people expelled from their homeland by the Stalin regime have again become a direct target of terror.

The Assembly deferred action on three draft resolutions related to disinformation, the human rights situation in Syria and the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

Earlier in the day, the General Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution proclaiming 2022 the International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development.

It also elected Finland to fill the vacancy left on the Economic and Social Council left by the relinquishment by Norway of its seat before the end of its term. It then went on to elect Bulgaria and the Dominican Republic as members of the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission. It also appointed new members to the Board of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns, followed by an election of members of the Permanent Forum of People of African Descent.

Also speaking today were representatives of Kyrgyzstan, Finland, Russian Federation, Iran, Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Guatemala, Pakistan, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Uganda, Bangladesh, Zambia, Guinea, Algeria and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.