General Assembly adopts 14 resolutions on strengthening coordination of humanitarian, disaster relief assistance
Plenary 87th Meeting (PM)
The General Assembly this afternoon adopted 14 resolutions on strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance. It adopted those texts without a vote.
By a resolution on assistance to the Palestinian people, introduced by the representative of Belgium (speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States), the Assembly urged Member States, international financial institutions, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and regional and interregional organizations to extend economic and social assistance to the Palestinian people as rapidly and as generously as possible, in close cooperation with the Palestine Liberation Organization and through official Palestinian institutions.
The Assembly also urged Member States to open their markets to exports of Palestinian products on the most favourable terms, and to implement fully existing trade and cooperation agreements. It called upon the international donor community to expedite the delivery of pledged assistance to the Palestinian people to meet their urgent needs, and stressed the importance of ensuring the free passage of aid to the Palestinian people and the free movement of persons and goods. Further to the text, the Assembly suggested the convening in 2002 of a United Nations-sponsored seminar on assistance to the Palestinian people.
The representative of Israel, in explanation of his vote, said providing assistance to the Palestinian people was a primary component of Israeli policy. Despite Israel's mounting security concerns, it had tried to permit a steady flow of food, medicine, humanitarian assistance and other essential supplies. He welcomed efforts of Member States and international agencies to improve living conditions for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, but emphasized that that support should not be construed as implying any position regarding the present or future status of the "occupied territories".
By adopting a resolution on efforts to study, mitigate and minimize the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster, introduced by the representative of Ukraine, the Assembly emphasized the importance of full cooperation and assistance by the authorities of the affected countries in facilitating the work of humanitarian organizations to mitigate the humanitarian consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe.
By the text, the Assembly stressed the need for coordinated international cooperation in studying the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster, and invited
Member States and interested parties to take part in and promote the activities of the International Chernobyl Centre on Nuclear Safety, Radioactive Waste and Radioecology. The Secretary-General was asked to provide proposals for innovative measures for optimizing the effectiveness of the response of the international community to the Chernobyl disaster.
By resolution on participation of volunteers, "White Helmets", in the activities of the United Nations in the field of humanitarian relief, rehabilitation and technical cooperation for development, introduced by the representative of Argentina, the Assembly recognized the White Helmets as an operational partner of the United Nations, and an efficient and viable mechanism for making pre-identified and trained homogeneous teams available to the United Nations in support of immediate relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction and development activities. It invited the international community and the United Nations system to ensure the integration of the White Helmet initiative into their programme activities.
By the terms of the resolution on emergency assistance to the Sudan, introduced by the representative of the United Republic of Tanzania, the Assembly urged the international community to continue to support national and international programmes of rehabilitation, voluntary resettlement and reintegration of returnees and internally displaced persons, as well as assistance to refugees. It also urged all parties involved to continue to offer all feasible and necessary assistance to guarantee the success of Operation Lifeline Sudan in all affected parts of the country.
By the same text, the Assembly called upon all parties to respect international humanitarian law on the protection of civilians during times of war, and condemned attacks against civilians and attacks against and detention of humanitarian personnel, calling for appropriate investigations into all allegations concerning such incidents.
The representative of Belgium (speaking on behalf of the European Union in explanation of vote) said the resolution did not reflect the gravity of the situation in the Sudan as it was described in the Secretary-General's report. Indeed, the humanitarian situation had deteriorated during the period covered by the report.
The Assembly further adopted resolutions on emergency response to disasters; international cooperation on humanitarian assistance in the field of natural disasters, from relief to development (introduced by the representative of Iran on behalf of the Group of 77, China and Mexico); and strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations (introduced by the representative of Sweden).
Under the sub-item "Special economic assistance to individual countries and regions" the Assembly adopted resolutions on assistance for humanitarian relief, rehabilitation and development for East Timor (introduced by the representative of Brazil); international assistance to and cooperation with the Alliance for the Sustainable Development of Central America (introduced by the representative of Panama); assistance for humanitarian relief and the economic and social rehabilitation of Somalia (introduced by the representative of Egypt); and economic assistance to Eastern European States affected by the developments in the Balkans (introduced by the representative of Ukraine).
Under the same sub-item, resolutions were adopted on economic assistance for the reconstruction and development of Djibouti (introduced by the representative of Sweden); humanitarian assistance to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (introduced by the representative of Yugoslavia); and special assistance for the economic recovery and reconstruction of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (introduced by the representative of the United Republic of Tanzania).
The Assembly will meet again on Wednesday 19 December at 10 a.m. to consider the reports of the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural).
The General Assembly met this afternoon to hear the introduction of and to take action on draft resolutions under its agenda item Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance. (For background information on reports and a record of the meeting, see Press Release GA/9999 of 14 December.)
Introduction of Draft Resolutions A/56/L.39, L.56, L.60: Sudan, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of Congo
MUHAMMAD YUSSUF (United Republic of Tanzania), introducing the draft on behalf of the African Group, said the present text did not depart significantly from previous resolutions. However, some editorial changes had been made to reflect the improvements that had been suggested during negotiations. He drew the Assembly's attention to operative paragraph 6 in respect to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and introduced a small change, albeit very important to the people of that country. He suggested that the word "entire" be added immediately after the phrase "for the benefit of the". The paragraph would then read "stresses the link between the peace process and economic recovery of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, welcomes economic reforms undertaken by its Government and encourages it to carry on with this process for the benefit of the entire Congolese people."
He said the three countries covered by the draft, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti and Sudan, belonged to the least developed countries group. They were afflicted by internal conflicts and, in the case of Djibouti, also by severe climatic conditions affecting not only water resources but agricultural potential as well. It also hosted a huge refugee population from conflicts in neighbouring countries. Nevertheless, there was a silver lining as far as Djibouti's involvement in the peace efforts of Somalia and other countries in the region were concerned. As the Secretary-General had observed: "the people of these countries have suffered for too long and their yearning for peace and well-being needs to be heard".
It was his hope that since the resolution did not raise new issues or elements, the Assembly would adopt it by consensus. That was the minimum the Assembly could do, even though he hoped that after its passage, generous and timely contributions of resources would be forthcoming. He appealed to all factions and parties in the countries concerned to give peace a chance, and provide a much-needed respite for the people to rebuild their lives and join the mainstream of development.
Additional co-sponsors of draft L.39 were Antigua and Barbuda, Honduras, Senegal, South Africa and Ethiopia.
Introduction of Draft Resolution on Humanitarian Assistance to Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
DEJAN SAHOVIC (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia), introducing draft resolution A/56/L.49, said that his delegation appreciated the humanitarian assistance and rehabilitation support rendered to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, particularly by major contributors, international organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as well as the humanitarian assistance provided through the United Nations and specialized agencies. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had already mobilized its internal resources to overcome its dire starting position and to reform rapidly.
His country recognized the need for a thorough restructuring of the economy of the country. However, in order to succeed in the undertaking -- given the enormous weight of the past -- the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia still needed significant short-term backing from the international community, particularly from the European Union, other governments and the international financial organizations. His country also requested that the United Nations and the specialized agencies continue their efforts to assess humanitarian needs.
Additional co-sponsors of the draft were Armenia, Bulgaria, France, Lithuania and the Republic of Moldova.
Introduction of Draft A/46/L.50: White Helmets
ARNOLDO M LISTRE (Argentina), introducing draft resolution L.50, said the resolution reflected essential aspects of the White Helmet initiative and referred to necessary elements that would contribute to the White Helmets' task.
The resolution reflected the perspective of the region, he said. He encouraged members of other Latin American regional associations to consider the importance of White Helmets in the humanitarian area.
The resolution recommended that the Secretary-General encourage agencies of the United Nations system to cooperate with White Helmets, considering their good results to date. He was convinced that White Helmets were useful, providing effective and efficient humanitarian service. He hoped the resolution would be adopted by consensus.
Additional co-sponsors were Antigua and Barbuda, Benin, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Finland, France, Georgia, Greece, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Ireland, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Poland, Republic of Korea, Seychelles, and Ukraine.
Introduction of Draft Resolution A/56/L.51: Humanitarian Assistance
NASROLLAH KAZEMI KAMYAB (Iran), speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries, China and Mexico, introduced draft resolution A/56/L.51 on international cooperation on humanitarian assistance in the field of natural disasters, from relief to development. One of the new elements in the draft was the request to the Secretary-General to continue compiling the Directory of Advanced Technologies for Disaster Response as a new part of the Central Register of Disaster Management Capacities. That, along with a directory of disaster mitigation capacity, would be useful in raising awareness among developing countries of existing capacities at the national, regional and international levels that could be deployed to assist them.
Additional co-sponsors of the draft resolution were Belize, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Honduras, Indonesia, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Madagascar, Mauritius, Papua New Guinea, Suriname, Syria and Uruguay.
Introduction of Draft Resolution A/56/L.52: Humanitarian Relief, Rehabilitation and Development for East Timor
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI (Brazil), introducing the draft resolution, said that it emphasized the need for continued international assistance to East Timor in the transition from relief and rehabilitation to development. In that regard, it recognized the challenges that were to be faced in preparation for independence and in the post-independence period, in areas such as public administration, education, health, agriculture and infrastructure.
The draft resolution recognized the central role that capacity building must play in the establishment of favourable conditions for self-government and for sustainable development. Specific areas were singled out as of particular importance in capacity-building, such as training of civil servants, health-care professionals and teachers. It also highlighted the following areas that needed particular attention: support for an effective and functioning governmental administration; development of agriculture and the challenges of food security; outstanding infrastructure needs; the challenge to public health posed by diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS; and the question of rehabilitation of schools.
None of those challenges could be adequately addressed without the necessary resources, she said. That was why the draft resolution not only welcomed the convening of donor meetings for East Timor, but also urged the international community to fulfil its pledges to meet the external requirements for rehabilitation, reconstruction and development activities.
The draft resolution must not be seen as a mere update of last year's text, she said. The draft carried a political weight that must be stressed. It reaffirmed the commitment of the international community to continued support for East Timor now and after independence. The text was also a political compass, since it provided the general direction in which the United Nations must head. It was her firm hope that the draft resolution would be adopted without a vote.
She also asked that the following correction be made to operative paragraph 2 of the resolution. At the end of the fifth line, the words "including in regard to a" should be replaced by "including in the area of".
She said the following countries had become additional co-sponsors: Cyprus, Federated States of Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Korea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu and Ukraine.
Introduction of Draft Resolution A/56/L.53: Assistance and International Cooperation for Sustainable Development of Central America
MARY MORGAN-MOSS (Panama) introduced draft resolution A/56/L.53 on behalf of the Central American Group. She said that in its preambular part, the present draft reaffirmed prior resolutions that recognized the importance of support and assistance for peacekeeping and peace-building in Central America, following armed conflict and natural disasters. The draft recognized the vulnerability of the poorest populations, as well as the deficiencies in the institutional order. It took into account the effects of natural disasters in Central America and the importance of prevention methods.
The resolution also noted the importance of national priorities, and the valuable contribution of the United Nations system. It noted, for example, that the United Nations system and the Organization of American States should also continue to provide the material, technical and financial support required by the Governments of Central America to remove landmines.
She said that additional co-sponsors were Colombia, Ireland, South Africa, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United States and Dominican Republic.
Introduction of Draft Resolution A/56/L.54: Somalia
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt), introducing draft resolution A/56/L.54 on behalf of the Group of Arab States, said Somalia had suffered a devastating civil war and was in dire need of support from the international community. It had achieved some progress in the reconciliation of its factions and social groupings. He commended the efforts of the Transitional National Government, but said that the road remained long and difficult.
The preambular paragraphs of the draft referred to all relevant resolutions adopted by the Security Council and General Assembly on Somalia, he said. The text referred particularly to the Security Council presidential statement that encouraged the Transitional National Government to continue involving all groups in the country to arrange for a permanent government.
The preamble also included paragraphs that welcomed the efforts of the transitional Government in promoting reconciliation within Somalia and those of the United Nations system in providing humanitarian relief. The resolution urged all governmental and non-governmental organizations to continue implementing General Assembly resolutions and building social and economic services and a civil administration. The operative paragraphs urged all factions in Somalia to participate in the current peace process and establish constructive dialogue with the transitional Government, which would allow them to move from relief to reconstruction and development.
Additional co-sponsors were Angola, Austria, Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Ireland, Madagascar, Mauritania, Niger, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Togo, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Introduction of Draft Resolution A/56/L.55: Emergency Humanitarian Assistance of United Nations
INGA ERIKSSON FOGH (Sweden) introduced draft resolution (document A/56/L.55) on strengthening the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations. She said the resolution recalled the landmark resolution 46/182, which continued to guide the work of the United Nations in the humanitarian field.
During two informal consultations, she said, valuable proposals were made for improvement of the text and agreement was reached on all paragraphs. Expressing gratitude for the contributions of other delegations, and for the spirit of partnership in which the consultations were held, she hoped the draft would be adopted by consensus.
Introduction of Draft Resolution A/56/L.57: Chernobyl
MARKIYAN KULYK (Ukraine) introduced resolution A/56/2-57 on Chernobyl, which he said had special significance for his country as well as for Belarus and the Russian Federation. In the sixteenth year since humankind's worst man-made disaster, assistance to affected States was no less important than at the time of the accident, particularly with regard to mitigating the long-term consequences. The Secretary-General had analyzed the situation and had made recommendations at all levels. The draft resolution reflected the steps already taken to optimize the effects of the international response. Entities such as UNDP, resident coordinators and country teams were playing increased roles. At the same time, visits to the affected area, including by a needs assessment team, had identified areas to be incorporated into the new United Nations strategy for Chernobyl.
He said that implementation of the current resolution would be comprehensively assessed. It was expected that findings about the effectiveness of responses would be presented during the Assembly's next session. He added that the following had become additional co-sponsors: Armenia, China, Ecuador, Greece, Latvia, Poland, Republic of Moldova, San Marino and Turkmenistan.
It was announced that the following countries had become co-sponsors of draft resolution A/56/L.14, introduced at an earlier date: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Malawi, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Federated States of Micronesia, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Myanmar, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, San Marino, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Yugoslavia.
Introduction of Draft Resolution A/56/L.58: States Affected by Developments in Balkans
Mr. KULYK (Ukraine) then introduced the resolution on economic assistance to States affected by developments in the Balkans. He said the resolution expressed concern at the persistence of special economic problems in the Eastern European region, including their impact on regional trade and economic cooperation, and on navigation along the Danube River and the Adriatic Sea. It invited States and organizations to support and assist efforts for economic recovery, structural adjustment and development. It welcomed all initiatives already taken in that regard, including economic cooperation in the region and with the rest of Europe.
He noted that the draft emphasized the importance of a well-coordinated and timely donor response to external funding requirements in the Balkans, and of financial support to other affected countries of Eastern Europe. He noted the leading role played by the European Commission and the World Bank in that regard, pointing out that the draft encouraged the affected States to enhance multilateral regional cooperation in the fields of transport and infrastructural development, including the resumption of full navigation on the Danube. Finally, it called on States to foster favourable conditions for trade, such as customs reform, investment and private sector development, including privatization.
Additional co-sponsors, he said, were Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Japan, Republic of Moldova, and Slovakia.
Introduction of Draft Resolution A/56/L.59: Assistance to Palestinian People
STEPHANE DE LOECKER (Belgium) introduced the draft resolution on behalf of the European Union. He said the Union attached high importance to the things dealt with in the draft, and he hoped that it would be adopted by consensus. The situation in the Middle East was very serious and the need to assist the Palestinian people was urgent.
By the terms of the draft, the General Assembly called on all stakeholders together to grant social and financial assistance to the Palestinian people and urged them to intensify assistance in keeping with the priorities set forth by the Palestinian Authority. Donors were asked to fulfil as soon as possible their pledges of assistance. The resolution also urged Member States to open their markets to Palestinian exports -- the most favourable terms and to implement trade agreements. He noted that Israel's sealing-off policy of the past year had led to a serious deterioration in the social, economic and humanitarian situation. It was an obstacle to humanitarian agencies and their ability to provide assistance. The European Union called on the Israeli Government to facilitate the access of staff and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian population.
Additional co-sponsors of the resolution were Belarus, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Guinea, Japan, Lithuania, Malta, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Turkey.
JOHN VON KAUFMANN (Canada) said that Canada would join consensus on the resolution because of its continuing commitment to humanitarian assistance for the people of the Sudan. However, he continued to have misgivings about some of the language contained in the text, and its potential effect on a coordinated international effort to deliver humanitarian assistance to affected populations in Sudan and on the pursuit of peace. Canada fully supported the aim of achieving a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire in the Sudan. He continued to believe, however, that the parties must work within the framework of the peace process and adhere to and implement the Declaration of Principles.
The ninth preambular paragraph noted that humanitarian assistance should be channelled solely through Operation Lifeline Sudan. Canada continued to support and fund the vital work of the operation, and he applauded its efforts to act with transparency, imagination, and humanity in extremely difficult circumstances. However, support must also be given to agencies such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, which worked independently of, but in concert with, the basic spirit of Operation Lifeline Sudan.
He was pleased by the reference to the recent visit of the Representative of the Secretary-General on Internal Displacement, and by the emphasis on the safety of humanitarian personnel and access. However, he was disappointed that there was no mention of the challenges associated with child soldiers in the final text. Canada remained deeply concerned by the abduction, recruitment or use of child soldiers and the humanitarian effect that armed conflict had on children in the Sudan.
STEPHANE DE LOECKER (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union in explanation of vote before the vote on resolution A/56/L.60, said that the visit of the European Union troika to Khartoum last week had led to open-ended and constructive dialogue. That was why the European Union regretted that the consultation led by the Sudanese delegation did not develop in New York in the same positive spirit. Some amendments, however constructive, had been rejected offhand without sufficient discussion.
The draft resolution did not reflect the gravity of the situation in the Sudan as it was described in the Secretary-General's report. Indeed, the humanitarian situation had deteriorated during the period covered by the report. Despite the inadequacies of the draft, the European Union had decided to join in with the consensus.
Action on Draft Resolution
Without a vote, the Assembly adopted draft resolution L.14 on emergency response to disasters.
The Assembly adopted, without a vote, draft resolution L.39 on special assistance for the economic recovery and reconstruction of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
It then adopted, also without a vote, draft resolution L.49 on humanitarian assistance to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
It adopted without a vote draft resolution L.50 on participation of volunteers, White Helmets, in activities of the United Nations in the field of humanitarian relief, rehabilitation and technical cooperation for development.
The Assembly adopted, without a vote, draft resolution L.51 and Corrigendum 1 on international cooperation on humanitarian assistance in the field of natural disasters, from relief to development.
The Assembly adopted, without a vote, draft resolution L.52 on assistance for humanitarian relief, rehabilitation and development for East Timor.
Additional co-sponsors were Cyprus, Federated States of Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Korea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu and Ukraine.
Without a vote, the Assembly then adopted draft resolution L.53 on international assistance to and cooperation with the Alliance for the Sustainable Development of Central America.
It adopted, without a vote, draft resolution L.54 on assistance for humanitarian relief and the economic