General Assembly: 49th Plenary Meeting, 76th Session
Members Adopt Five Additional Texts, Concluding Debates on Culture of Peace, Law of the Sea
Acting on the recommendations of its Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) and Sixth Committee (Legal), the General Assembly today adopted a total of 51 resolutions and 13 decisions on items ranging from decolonization to the power, study and dissemination of international law.
The 193-member Assembly also adopted five additional resolutions meant to promote a culture of peace, prevent armed conflict in Ukraine and protect the world’s oceans and fish stocks.
Taking up the Fourth Committee’s body of work for the seventy-sixth session, the Assembly adopted 34 draft resolutions and 3 draft decisions that spanned Israeli-Palestinian affairs, decolonization, atomic radiation and outer space matters, among other topics.
Members adopted three draft resolutions related to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), each by a recorded vote. A text titled “Assistance to Palestine refugees” was adopted by a recorded vote of 164 in favour to 1 against (Israel), with 10 abstentions (Cameroon, Canada, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Rwanda, United States, Uruguay, Zambia). By its terms, the Assembly noted with regret that the situation of Palestine refugees continues to be a matter of grave concern and the refugees continue to require assistance to meet their basic health, education and living needs. Further by its terms, the Assembly called on all donors to continue to strengthen their efforts to meet the Agency’s anticipated needs and commended the Agency for its provision of vital assistance as well as its role as a stabilizing factor in the region.
Members also took action on three texts related to Israeli practices and settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, adopting a draft resolution titled “Work of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli practices and settlement activities affecting the rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories” by a recorded vote of 80 in favour to 18 against, with 73 abstentions. By the terms of that text, the Assembly demanded that Israel cooperate with the Special Committee in implementing its mandate. It further expressed grave concern about the critical situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory as a result of unlawful Israeli practices and measures, and called for the immediate cessation of all illegal Israeli settlement activities and the construction of the wall, among other measures.
The Assembly then took action on a number of texts related to decolonization matters, including the adoption of a draft resolution titled “Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73(e) of the Charter of the United Nations” by a recorded vote of 176 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 2 abstentions (France, United Kingdom). By its terms, the Assembly requested that administering Powers transmit or continue to regularly transmit to the Secretary-General statistical and other technical information relating to the economic, social and educational conditions in the Territories, within a maximum period of six months following the expiration of the administrative year.
Turning to the Sixth Committee’s body of work for the seventy-sixth session, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, 17 draft resolutions and 10 draft decisions. Those touched on items ranging from the work of bodies such as the International Law Commission and the Commission on International Trade Law, to administrative issues that impact the Organization’s work, such as the report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country and requests for observer status in the Assembly.
Among the Sixth Committee texts adopted was a draft resolution concerning the Organization’s flagship legal education initiative, the United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law. By its terms, the Assembly provided the mandate in 2022 for the organization and award of fellowships for the United Nations Regional Courses in International Law and the International Law Fellowship Programme; the development of the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law; and the publication and dissemination of legal texts, as well as for the websites maintained by the Office of Legal Affairs.
Another resolution forwarded by the Sixth Committee and adopted by the Assembly concerned “Protection of the Atmosphere”. By its terms, the Assembly welcomed the conclusion of the work of the International Law Commission on the protection of the atmosphere and its adoption of the draft preamble, guidelines and commentaries thereto. By other terms, the Assembly brought those texts to the attention of States, international organizations and all who may be called upon to deal with the subject, encouraging their widest possible dissemination.
In the morning, the Assembly completed its debate on the theme “Culture of peace”, which began on 6 December (see Press Release GA/12392). Acting without a vote, it adopted a resolution titled “Follow-up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace”, by whose terms the Assembly encouraged Member States, United Nations entities, and regional and subregional organizations to help youth understand and respect human dignity, pluralism and diversity, and discourage their participation in terrorism, violent extremism, xenophobia and discrimination.
Speaking in explanation of position on that item, the representative of the United Arab Emirates said a culture of peace is essential to combat violence and conflict, and the pandemic has tested the international community, regardless of borders. She pointed to the “Global Alliance for Tolerance” initiative, launched by the United Arab Emirates in the context of its 2020 Expo, as an example of the country’s efforts to promote peace and recalled the Assembly resolution on the International Day of Human Fraternity, which was sponsored by the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
The Assembly then adopted a draft resolution titled “Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace” by a recorded vote of 139 in favour to none against, with 9 abstentions (Armenia, Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, Norway, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States). By its terms, the Assembly called on Member States and relevant actors, including political and religious leaders, to promote inclusion in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and combat racism, xenophobia, hate speech, violence and discrimination.
Turning to its agenda item of the prevention of armed conflict, the Assembly then adopted a draft resolution titled “Problem of the militarization of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine, as well as parts of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov”, by a recorded vote of 62 in favour to 22 against, with 55 abstentions. By its terms, members urged the Russian Federation, as the occupying Power, to immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw its military forces from Crimea and end its temporary occupation of the territory of Ukraine without delay. It also called on the Russian Federation to refrain from efforts to extend its jurisdiction over the nuclear facilities and material in Crimea.
In introducing the resolution, the representative of Ukraine said the territory of Crimea continues to host a disproportionate number of weapons. He said the Russian Federation is conducting regular military exercises, combined with intense snap exercises in Crimea, which destabilize the region.
Speaking in explanation of position, the representative of the Russian Federation called on delegations to vote against the completely unrealistic Ukrainian draft, which does not help to resolve the internal conflict in that country. The text fuels the sick fantasies spread by the country’s regime about the situation in Russian Crimea, he said, adding that the patently false nature of the information is clear to any visitor to this open and prosperous Russian region.
Speaking after the vote, the representative of Lithuania, on behalf of eight Nordic and Baltic countries, expressed concern about the Crimean Peninsula’s increased militarization by the Russian Federation. Describing that country’s military build-up around the Ukrainian borders as deeply worrying, he urged Moscow to de-escalate tensions by withdrawing its forces.
The Assembly also concluded its debate on the item “Oceans and the law of the sea”, which began on 7 December (see Press Release GA/12393). Members adopted two related draft resolutions, both introduced that day, including a consensus text titled “Sustainable fisheries, including through the 1995 Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, and related instruments.”
The Assembly then adopted a draft resolution titled “Oceans and the Law of the Sea” by a recorded vote of 131 in favour to 1 against (Turkey) with 4 abstentions (Colombia, El Salvador, Nigeria, Venezuela).
Speaking before that vote, Albert Hoffman, President of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, addressed the Assembly and recalled that the Tribunal celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary on 1 October. The Tribunal has established itself as the primary judicial body for States parties to the Law of the Sea Convention. Adi Asenaca Navoti, speaking on behalf of the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority, reaffirmed that the Convention on the Law of the Sea, along with its two implementation agreements, sets out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out.
Also speaking today on the Culture of Peace issue were representatives of Egypt, Syria, Algeria and Bolivia.
Speaking in explanation of position on that item were the representatives of Armenia, Slovenia, United States, Ukraine, Argentina and Azerbaijan. The representative of the European Union spoke in its capacity as observer.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Speaking in explanation of position on the prevention of armed conflict were the representatives of Syria, Singapore, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Belarus, Republic of Korea, United States, Georgia, United Kingdom, Poland, Dominican Republic and Cyprus. The representative of the European Union spoke in its capacity as observer.
Speaking on the two resolutions relating to the Ocean and the law of the sea were the representatives of Argentina, Turkey, El Salvador, Venezuela and Colombia.
The representative of China spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Friday, 10 December, to discuss the strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance and take up five draft resolutions.