Second Committee Approves 15 Resolutions, including One Emphasizing Pandemic’s Adverse Impact on Markets, Global Supply Chains

The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) today approved 15 draft resolutions, voting on five of them, including one emphasizing the disruption COVID-19 has had on open market functioning, global supply chains and the flow of essential goods, as well as services.

Further to that draft, on “International trade and development”, the General Assembly would call on States to emphasize the importance of supply chains in ensuring unimpeded flows of medical and food supplies, without undermining efforts to prevent the coronavirus from spreading. It would also emphasize the need to combat protectionism and rectify trade-distorting measures inconsistent with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.

The draft was approved in a recorded vote of 175 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 2 abstentions (Haiti, Sudan).

Addressing the text, the representative of the United States said he voted against it, stressing that every State has the sovereign right to determine its own trade relationships. The representative of Germany, speaking for the European Union, expressed support for a multilateral trading system centered around WTO, but added it must be modernized to tackle current trade tensions.

By another draft, “Towards a New International Economic Order”, the Assembly would call on States and international institutions to provide more financial liquidity to assist in tackling the unfolding COVID-19 crisis. It would further emphasize the need to increase access to concessional finance in dealing with the global pandemic, calling on donors to fulfil their development assistance commitments.

The text was approved in a recorded vote of 124 in favour to 49 against, with 4 abstentions (Armenia, Madagascar, Tonga, Turkey).

On that draft, the United Kingdom’s delegate said his country voted against it due to problematic elements in the text, which had the potential to create divisions between developed and developing countries, hindering the overall goal of sustainable development.

A further draft on “Entrepreneurship for sustainable development” would have the Assembly recognize the role of entrepreneurship in developing regional integration, which can be vital in implementing economic reforms, reducing trade barriers and decreasing trade costs. It stressed the need to align entrepreneurship policies with post-COVID-19 recovery priorities and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, prioritizing vulnerable communities.

Addressing that text, Syria’s delegate said Israel is using the Committee to convince the international community that it supports sustainable development, while undermining sustainable development in the Golan and Palestine. The representative of Mauritius, speaking for the Arab Group, said the Israeli occupation continues to hamper Palestinian development and violates their human rights, hindering the very spirit of entrepreneurship.

Votes were also cast on a text titled “Palestine Demands that Israel, the occupying Power, cease the exploitation, damage, cause of loss or depletion and endangerment of the natural resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan”. The text was approved in a recorded vote of 153 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, United States), with 16 abstentions.

Likewise, votes were cast for a draft on “Oil slick on Lebanese shores”, by which the Assembly would express deep concern about adverse implications of the Israeli Air Force’s destruction of oil storage tanks in the direct vicinity of the Lebanese Jiyah electric power plant and its effects on sustainable development. The Committee approved the draft in a recorded vote of 162 in favour to 8 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, United States), with 6 abstentions (Cameroon, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Papua New Guinea, Tonga).

Drafts were also approved on information and communications technology, investments for sustainable development, human and ecological rehabilitation and economic development of the Semipalatinsk region of Kazakhstan, harmony with nature, Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, poverty eradication, sustainable tourism and South-South cooperation.

Also speaking to explain their positions were the representatives of Nigeria, Lebanon and Mauritania (for the African Group). The observer for the State of Palestine also made a statement.

The Committee will meet again at a date and time to be announced in the Journal to consider further draft resolutions.

Action on Draft Resolutions

The Committee first took action on a text titled “Information and communications technologies for sustainable development” (document A/C.2/75/L.42), with its Secretary making an oral correction to preambular paragraph 19. The Committee then approved the item without a vote, withdrawing a previous draft.

Speaking after the action, the representative of the United States said that this and other resolutions are non-binding and do not create new financial commitments. The United States will act in its sovereign interests in trade matters, rejecting calls that undermine innovation. Stating that the term “illicit financial flows” lacks an agreed-upon international definition, she noted President Donald J. Trump had ended the country’s relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO), and that references to the Paris Agreement and climate change are without prejudice to United States positions.

Next, the Committee took action on a draft titled “International trade and development” (document A/C.2/75/L.3/Rev.1). By its terms, the Assembly would emphasize the urgent need to combat protectionism in all its forms and rectify any trade-distorting measures that are inconsistent with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.

Further to the draft, it would urge the international community to adopt urgent and effective measures to eliminate the use of unilateral economic, financial or trade measures that are not authorized by relevant organs of the United Nations, or that contravene the basic principles of the multilateral trading system affecting developing countries.

The draft resolution was then approved in a recorded vote of 175 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 2 abstentions (Haiti, Sudan).

Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of the United States said his delegation voted against the draft for the third year in a row due to problematic language. He believes it is inappropriate for the United Nations to involve itself in other forums, including WTO. His Government does not advocate protectionism, but believes economic sanctions employed instead of force can be useful, and that every State has the sovereign right to determine its own trade relationships, including the use of sanctions.

The representative of Germany, speaking on behalf of the European Union, expressed support for a multilateral trading system centered around WTO, but noted it must be modernized. That institution must be prepared to deal with varied tensions in trade and update a 20-year-old multilateral rulebook.

Also speaking was the representative of the United Kingdom.

Following that, the Committee took action on a text titled “Promoting investments for sustainable development” (document A/C.2/75/L.40).

Speaking before action, the representative of the United States offered clarification of language on the far-reaching impacts of COVID-19.

The Committee then approved the text without a vote, withdrawing a previous draft.

Speaking in explanation after the action, the representative of Nigeria noted consensus was acknowledgement that achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will require all stakeholders, including the private sector. The representative of Mexico joined consensus because fostering investment is more important than ever, but said the lack of common ground among some Member States is unfortunate. Climate financing is a fundamental topic for sustainable development.

Next, the Committee acted on a draft titled “Oil slick on Lebanese shores” (document A/C.2/75/L.6). By that text, the Assembly would reiterate for the fifteenth consecutive year, its deep concern about the adverse implications of the destruction by the Israeli Air Force of the oil storage tanks in the direct vicinity of the Jiyah electric power plant for the achievement of sustainable development in Lebanon.

Further to the draft, it would acknowledge the conclusions in the report of the Secretary-General, in which he stated that studies show that the value of the damage to Lebanon amounted to $856.4 million in 2014, and reiterated its request to the Government of Israel to assume responsibility for prompt and adequate compensation to the Government of Lebanon.

Speaking before the vote, the representative of the United States said his country remains a strong leader with partners in the Middle East, working to move them away from the conflicts of the past. He expressed disappointment that the Committee was again taking up unbalanced resolutions, including this one biased against one State, Israel, which undermines trust and an environment conducive to peace, casting doubt upon the impartiality of the United Nations.

The representative of Israel said the resolution was the very definition of the word “ritual”, as nothing in it has changed, and it is solely political. She noted that thousands of rockets had rained down from Lebanon on Israel in 2006, not mentioned in the text, nor was the involvement of Hizbullah. The resolution itself states that, since 2015, there have been no relevant or new findings. It is empty of meaning and a distraction from development issues, she said, adding that Lebanon must separate itself from Hizbullah.

The Committee approved the draft in a recorded vote of 162 in favour to 8 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, United States), with 6 abstentions (Cameroon, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Papua New Guinea, Tonga).

Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of Lebanon said that Member States had voted for the fifteenth consecutive year in overwhelming numbers to hold Israel for its acts, and that time is not a vehicle for impunity. The text acknowledges the effects of Israel’s bombing of oil tanks in the vicinity of Jiyah power plant in July 2006, he said, noting the Secretary General’s report cites $856.4 million in damages among other statistics.

Next, the Committee acted on a text titled “International cooperation and coordination for the human and ecological rehabilitation and economic development of the Semipalatinsk region of Kazakhstan” (document A/C.2/75/L.27/Rev.1).

The draft was approved without a vote.

The Committee next took action on “Entrepreneurship for sustainable development” (document A/C.2/75/L.28/Rev.1). By that text, the Assembly would recognize the vital role of entrepreneurship in the development of regional economic integration, which can be an important catalyst for implementing economic reforms, reducing trade barriers and decreasing trade costs.

Further to the draft, it would stress the need to align policies for entrepreneurship with the post-COVID-19 recovery priorities and the 2030 Agenda, emphasizing that these policies should prioritize those in vulnerable situations including women and young entrepreneurs. Also, it would call upon all stakeholders to implement the present resolution as a means to deliver the comprehensive Sustainable Development Goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda, meeting them for all nations and peoples and for all segments of society, ensuring no one is left behind and endeavouring to reach the furthest behind first.

Speaking before the vote, the representative of Syria said he fully supported the premise of the resolution, but that entrepreneurship must not take place on occupied territories. Israel, the occupying Power, is trying to use the Committee to convince the international community that it supports sustainable development, but is directly undermining the people of the Golan and Palestine. Noting unjust policies on irrigation and drinking water and other restrictive measures, including burying toxic waste, he said Israel’s occupation is the main obstacle to sustainable development in the occupied territories.

The representative of Mauritania, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said that, as in previous years, the vote was not against content of the resolution, but to prompt the Committee to grade Israel’s sincerity. The Israeli occupation continues to hamper Palestinian development and violates their human rights, hindering the very spirit of entrepreneurship. In 2019, Israel destroyed over 600 buildings, including 31 in just one day. In all, 50,000 buildings have been destroyed since the beginning of occupation.

The draft was then approved in a recorded vote of 144 in favour to 26 against, with 9 abstentions (Angola, Bangladesh, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Maldives, Namibia, Nicaragua, South Africa, Sri Lana, Turkey).

Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of Israel said support for the resolution marked a great victory for his country and all States looking towards a future of innovation and building inclusive economies. It was unfortunate that some delegations voted no due to anti-Semitism and intolerance, and those Member States should feel ashamed. Despite bigotry, the resolution will empower pioneers around the world. The innovative spirit of the people of Israel turned a country that is 60 per cent desert into a leader in exported goods and in desalination.

Also speaking were the representatives of the United States and the United Kingdom. A representative of the European Union also spoke.

The Committee then took action on a text titled “Harmony with Nature” (document A/C.2/75/L.37), approving it without a vote and withdrawing a previous draft.

The representative of the United States said his country had joined consensus, but referred delegations to a national statement it made earlier regarding the 2030 Agenda and related agreements.

Next, the Committee acted on a draft titled “Global Code of Ethics for Tourism” (document A/C.2/75/L.20/Rev.1), approving it without a vote.

The Committee then took action on a text titled “Towards a New International Economic Order” (document A/C.2/75/L.10/Rev.1), approving it in a recorded vote of 124 in favour to 49 against, with 4 abstentions (Armenia, Madagascar, Tonga, Turkey). By the text, the Assembly would call on States and international institutions to provide more financial liquidity to assist in tackling the unfolding COVID-19 crisis. It would further emphasize the need to increase access to concessional finance in dealing with the global pandemic, calling on donors to fulfil their development assistance commitments.

Speaking before the vote, the representative of the United States said his country would vote against the draft and urged others to do so. It addresses issues outside the purview of the United Nations and WTO, he said, adding that the text also contains unacceptable references to foreign occupation.

Speaking after the vote, the representative of the United Kingdom said his country voted against the draft due to problematic elements in the text. It also makes the United Nations look out of date and has the potential to create divisions between developed and developing countries, which does not assist the overall goal of sustainable development.

Following that, the Committee acted on a draft titled “Follow-up to the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries” (document A/C.2/75/L.39), approving it without a vote.

The representative of the United States said his country joined consensus on the draft, but disassociated itself from language relating to an increase in official development assistance (ODA). The emphasis should instead be on alternative development finance, he said, referring also to the general statement his country made earlier on development agreements.

Next, the Committee took action on a text titled “Follow-up to the second United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries” (document A/C.2/75/L.38), approving it without a vote.

The Committee then took action on a draft titled “Implementation of the Third United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2018-2027)” (document A/C.2/75/L.43), approving it without a vote and withdrawing a previous text.

The representative of the United States said his country had joined consensus on the draft, lauding the empowerment of women and girls, but does not support universal access to abortion and rejects any reference to human rights with regards to abortion.

The representative of Germany, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the COVID-19 pandemic presents a huge challenge to implementation of the 2030 Agenda, stressing that recovery plans must be integrated with efforts to achieve it, building back better and fairer.

The representative of the United Kingdom said his country joined consensus, noting that the pandemic threatened to push 115 million people into severe poverty. The draft outlined concrete actions to achieve a resilient recovery, including investments in international health systems.

Following that, the Committee took action on a text titled “Promotion of sustainable tourism, including ecotourism, for poverty eradication and environment protection” (document A/C.2/75/L.29/Rev.1), approving it without a vote as orally corrected.

Speaking after the approval, the representative of the United States said his country joined consensus, but referred delegations to its previous general statement relating to the 2030 Agenda and other related agreements.

Next, the Committee acted on a draft titled “South-South cooperation” (document A/C.2/75/L.41), approving it without a vote and withdrawing a previous text.

The representative of the United Kingdom said the international community should also recognize the importance of triangular cooperation, expressing disappointment that a draft is unable to assist developing countries in achieving priority goals.

The Committee then took action on a text titled “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.2/75/L.35), approving it in a recorded vote of 153 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, United States), with 16 abstentions

Speaking before the vote, the representative of the United States expressed disappointment that the Committee was taking up an unbalanced resolution that is biased against one Member State. His country will vote against the resolution, he said, encouraging others to do so.

Also speaking before the vote, the representative of Israel said the Committee has spent years on this resolution, and that its contents have also appeared in various other documents and Committee proceedings. While corruption in Palestine is a big hindrance to sustainable development, it insists on spending countless millions of United Nations dollars on meetings and documents to further its cause. Even now, with the Organization’s resources stretched thin in the midst of a global pandemic, the resolution appears with the same wording it has had for years. He encouraged others to join Israel in voting against the draft.

The representative of the United Kingdom noted that the use of the term Palestine does not imply recognition of the State of Palestine.

The observer for the State of Palestine said the vote was a resounding reaffirmation of the inalienable right of the Palestinian and Syrian people over their resources, including land, water and energy, in accordance with international law. He noted it expressed concern over the grave environmental impact of destruction of agriculture by Israel, including uprooting trees. The international community cannot remain silent or indifferent in view of Israel’s activities, as it is long overdue for the world to stand on principle and demand an end to the occupation.

The representative of Syria said Israel is confiscating water resources for its own settlements and building wind turbines on farms that are the property of Syrian inhabitants, significantly limiting expansion by Syrian villages. The occupying Power continues looting Syrian territories, also forming partnerships with companies to prospect for oil in the Golan.

Source: United Nation