General Assembly: 40th plenary meeting, 76th session
Draft Texts on Atomic Energy Agency, Economic and Social Council’s Least Developed Country Category Unanimously Adopted
After unanimously adopting two draft resolutions pertaining to the Economic and Social Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today, the General Assembly also concluded its debate on equitable representation and increase in the membership of the Security Council.
At the outset of today’s meeting, the representative of Bhutan, speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, introduced the draft resolution “Graduation of Bangladesh, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Nepal from the least developed country category” (document A/76/L.6/Rev.1), which the General Assembly then unanimously adopted. (For background, see Press Release GA/12378.)
By its terms, the Assembly noted with concern the negative impact on the vulnerable economies of the least developed countries from the global crisis triggered by the coronavirus disease COVID‑19 pandemic. It further decided to provide Bangladesh, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Nepal, on an exceptional basis, with a five-year preparatory period leading to graduation.
In the ensuing discussion, the three graduating countries called for enhanced support and solidarity from development partners, with the representative of Bangladesh emphasizing that “graduation is not a punishment but a reward”. Highlighting the potential impact of loss of support measures for graduating countries, she called for an incentive-based structure with monitoring that is responsive to crises.
The General Assembly also unanimously adopted a resolution on the report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) (document A/76/L.10), which had been previously introduced by the representative of the Republic of Korea. (For background, see Press Release GA/12386.)
Colombia’s representative, joining other delegates, highlighted the Agency’s central role in promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, as well as the transfer of knowledge applicable in areas crucial to development. Transfer of such knowledge and technology supports the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, she stressed.
Argentina’s representative outlined IAEA efforts to assist countries in combating the COVID‑19 pandemic, recalling that her country received equipment from the Agency to detect the virus. In addition, the Agency’s Zoonotic Disease Integrated Action (ZODIAC) created a global network to help laboratories detect and control zoonotic viruses, she pointed out.
Meanwhile, the representative of China called on the Agency to strengthen its safeguards regime, which should be implemented with a universal approach. In that context, she expressed concern about the activities of the United Kingdom, United States and Australia, arguing that they could pose a serious proliferation risk, and called for a debate on the issue within the Agency.
In other business today, the General Assembly resumed its consideration of the agenda item, “Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and other matters related to the Security Council”, with delegates calling for a Security Council reform in accordance with geographical representation as well as debating the limit on the use of the veto in the case of mass atrocities.
The representative of Viet Nam called for the expansion of Security Council membership in both permanent and non-permanent categories in order to improve equitable geographical representation for the underrepresented and developing countries. He also stressed that the veto should only be used by the Council in discharging its duties under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, with a view to the eventual elimination of that power.
Ethiopia’s delegate said that inadequate African representation on the Council is a matter of injustice that should concern everyone. Expressing support for the Common African Position on the size of an enlarged Council, she said Africa must have no fewer than two permanent and five non-permanent seats in that event. As for the veto, she expressed support for the creation of a category of permanent members with no veto powers.
The Russian Federation’s representative also noted that the Council must better reflect contemporary geopolitical realities, with greater representation for Asia, Africa and Latin America. However, he underscored that any infringement on the institution of the veto is unacceptable, emphasizing that the threat of the veto has saved the United Nations from being called into dubious ventures.
Nonetheless, the representative of Estonia, noting his country is an elected member in the Council for the first time, from 2020 until the end of this year, pointed out that the use, or threat of use, of the veto has sometimes made the Council unable to react in situations where action is most needed.
Echoing that, Guatemala’s delegate emphasized that the Council’s permanent members should refrain from using the veto to block Council actions meant to prevent or end situations involving mass-atrocity crimes. To that end, he drew attention to the initiative by France and Mexico to limit the use of the veto in the case of mass atrocities.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Nepal, United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, Kuwait, Syria, Kenya, Serbia, Senegal, Switzerland, El Salvador, Latvia, Papua New Guinea and Germany.
The representative of Japan spoke in the right of reply.
The General Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 1 December, to take up the Question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East.