Press Releases

    1 February 2002


    Assembly Adopts Texts on Crime Prevention,
    Report of Economic and Social Council

    NEW YORK, 31 January (UN Headquarters) -- The President of the General Assembly, Han Seung-soo (Republic of Korea), this morning solemnly appealed to all States to demonstrate their commitment to the Olympic Truce and to take appropriate measures to ensure the safe passage and participation of athletes at the XIX Olympic Winter Games, which open next Friday, 8 February, in Salt Lake City, Utah, United States.

    Reading document A/56/795 containing the solemn appeal, he said the Olympic Truce -- the Greek tradition of "ekecheiria" -- was born in the eighth century B.C., and served as a hallowed principle of the Olympic Games. The Olympic movement aspired to contribute to a peaceful future for humankind through the educational value of sport. Bringing together athletes of the world, it promoted world peace, friendship, solidarity and fairness, values for which the United Nations also stood.

    Based on those shared goals, he continued, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had decided to fly the United Nations flag at all sites of the Olympic Games. The Organization, in particular through the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), was expanding its cooperation with the IOC in fields such as development, humanitarian assistance, education and the fight against HIV/AIDS.

    The terrorist attacks of 11 September, however, posed a grave challenge to humanity, the ideal of the United Nations and the spirit of the Olympic Games, he said. The international community had shown strong unity and was cooperating closely to address the challenge. Relevant Assembly resolution 56/75 of 11 December 2001 had called for that truce. As the XIX Olympic Winter Games approached, even more concerted efforts and cooperation on the part of the world community were needed to ensure that those Games were safely and peacefully conducted.

    As it turned to other matters this morning, the Assembly adopted several resolutions, all without a vote, concerning crime prevention and criminal justice, follow-up to the outcome of the special session on children, and the report of the Economic and Social Council.

    Concerned that the serious problems posed by corruption may endanger the stability and security of societies, undermine the values of democracy and morality and jeopardize social, economic and political development, the Assembly set the negotiating parameters for the ad hoc committee established to negotiate an international legal instrument on corruption.

    By the first resolution, on "terms of reference for the negotiation of an international legal instrument against corruption" (document A/56/L.69), the Assembly decided that the ad hoc committee should adopt a comprehensive approach that would consider, among other things, sanctions and remedies, protection of witnesses and victims, protection of sovereignty, and preventing and combating the transfer of funds of illicit origin derived from acts of corruption.

    Further by that text, the Assembly decided that the ad hoc committee would be convened in Vienna in 2002 and 2003, holding no fewer than three sessions of two weeks per year. Donor countries were invited to assist the United Nations in ensuring the full and effective participation of developing countries, in particular least developed countries, in the work of the ad hoc committee, including by covering local expenses and travel.

    Another text on crime prevention adopted today was on "plans for action for implementation of the Vienna Declaration on Crime and Justice: Meeting the Challenges of the Twenty-first Century" (document A/56/l.70). The Assembly invited governments to consider carefully and use the national and international plans –- contained in an annex to the resolution -– as guidance in their efforts to formulate legislation, policies and programmes in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice, for the purpose of implementing the commitments undertaken in the Vienna Declaration.

    The Assembly also invited the Secretary-General, in close cooperation with relevant intergovernmental organizations, to consider carefully and implement as appropriate the plans of action as guidance in developing policies and programmes in the filed of crime prevention and criminal justice. It invited Member States and regional and international institutions to further strengthen the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme through sustained funding and other technical support activities.

    Under its consideration of the report of the Economic and Social Council, the Assembly adopted a resolution submitted by Iran on "Meeting of the General Assembly devoted to information and communication technologies for development" (document A/56/L.68/Rev.1), whereby it decided to convene a meeting of the Assembly devoted to bridging the digital divide and promoting digital opportunities in the emerging information society during the Assembly's fifty-sixth session. That meeting should be prepared and organized in a manner that will assist governments and all relevant partners in their preparations for the two phases of the World Summit on the Information Society, to be held in December 2003 and December 2005.

    The draft resolution was introduced by the representative of Venezuela, speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China. The representative of Romania also spoke in his capacity as facilitator of the draft. A representative of the Secretariat informed members that, should the Assembly adopt the draft, the related additional conference servicing requirements under the regular budget were estimated at $13,100. The representative of the United States said she had understood that no additional costs would be attached to the resolution, to which the representative of the Secretariat answered that the additional costs could be absorbed by the budget.

    By a resolution submitted by its President (document A/56/L.71), the Assembly set times and dates for six plenary meetings and three round tables for the special session of the General Assembly on children, from 8 to 10 May.

    The Assembly President, opening the meeting, extended Member States’ deepest sympathy for the tragic loss of lives and extensive material damage resulting from the recent volcano eruption to the Government and people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He expressed the hope that the international community would demonstrate its solidarity by responding promptly and generously to any request from the Democratic Republic of the Congo for assistance in its present plight.

    The Assembly was informed that, according to a letter from the Secretary-General contained in document A/56/780, 25 Member States were in arrears in the payment of their contributions to the United Nations within the terms of Article 19 of the Charter. Since the issuance of that communication, Armenia had made the necessary payment to reduce its arrears below the amount specified in that article. [Article 19 stipulates that a Member State which is in arrears in the payment of its financial contributions to the Organization shall have no vote in the Assembly if the amount of its arrears equals or exceeds the amount of the contributions due from it for the preceding two full years.]

    The General Assembly will meet again at a date to be announced in the Journal.

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