Press Releases

    16 September 2004

    General Committee Recommends Agenda for Fifty-Ninth General Assembly

    Decides Once again Not to Recommend Inclusion of Item on “Representation of Republic of China (Taiwan)”

    NEW YORK, 15 September (UN Headquarters) -- In two meetings today, the General Committee of the fifty-ninth General Assembly recommended the inclusion of 158 items on the Assembly’s agenda for the session. The Committee recommended that the Assembly’s current session recess on Tuesday, 14 December and close on Monday, 14 September 2005.

    After considering a number of items, both new and traditional, the Committee made recommendations concerning the dates by which the Assembly’s substantive Committees should complete their work and allocated various items to those bodies. It also recommended a new proposal, following numerous requests from delegations, that during the final week of Ramadan -- from 1 to 11 November 2004 -- the hours of plenary meetings and meetings of the Main Committees be held from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., at the latest.

    Nearly 120 speakers took the floor during a lengthy debate on what the Gambian representative referred to as a perennial “burning question” -- ultimately rejected from inclusion on the agenda once again -- “the equitable representation of the 23 million people of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in the United Nations”.

    Introducing the item, he said the exclusion of a sovereign, peace-loving nation from the United Nations, “indicted us all both morally and politically”.  But today the Committee had a chance “to rectify one of history’s greatest injustices...the 33-year exclusion of the people of Taiwan”.  In this era of threats and new challenges to the international system, leaving out any nation was foolhardy and counterproductive.  Strategically, Taiwan was emerging as a potentially strong power broker in East Asia, he said, adding that its record as a democracy and champion of human rights stood out among its peers in that part of the world.  Taiwan was committed to the principles of the Charter and acted in accordance to it, even when it was legally under no obligation to do so.  

    Expressing his strong opposition to the inclusion of the item, China’s representative said the purpose of such an act was nothing more than to create “two Chinas”, “one China, one Taiwan” in the United Nations.  This “gross encroachment” not only ran counter to the purposes and principles of the Charter, but also “constituted a brazen challenge to the one-China principle widely recognized by the international community”.  An internal matter for China, that issue had been long solved in political, legal and procedural terms when the United Nations adopted, by an overwhelming majority, resolution 2758 (1971).

    Delegations speaking in favour of representation for the Republic of China (Taiwan) in the United Nations urged that action finally be taken, lest the issue “fester”, out of sight of the wider international community for another year.  They adhered to the view that it was the only legitimate representative of the Taiwanese people.  Moreover, the Republic of China had been recognized as a founding member of the United Nations, until the adoption of resolution 2758, and even that resolution did not prohibit Taiwan from being seated at the Organization.

    Delegations supporting the one-China principle expressed strong support for efforts to safeguard State sovereignty and territorial integrity. They believed that the item should not be included on the current agenda since the issue had been resolved by Assembly resolution 2758, which held that the Government of the People’s Republic of China was the sole legitimate representative of the people of China.  Seeing no reason to “reject the validity of that resolution”, they felt that the people of Taiwan had a place at the “table of nations” under the banner of the People’s Republic of China.

    Speaking in favour of the inclusion of the item on the Assembly’s agenda were the representatives of Chad, Solomon Islands, Swaziland, Palau, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sao Tome and Principe, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Senegal, Tuvalu, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Honduras, Burkina Faso, Belize, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Grenada.

    Others speaking against the inclusion of the item were the representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Kazakhstan, Egypt, Uzbekistan, Mozambique, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Spain, Jamaica, Myanmar, Cuba, Cambodia, Argentina, Morocco, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Burundi, Tunisia, Syria, Nigeria, Tajikistan, Uganda, Zambia, Mongolia, Suriname, Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea, Mexico, Guyana, Cyprus, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Algeria, Belarus, Venezuela, Saint Lucia, South Africa, Ukraine, Mauritius, Côte d’Ivoire, Sri Lanka, Republic of Moldova, Republic of Congo and the Sudan.

    Also opposing inclusion of the item were Georgia, Kuwait, Libya, Bolivia, Malta, Lebanon, Central African Republic, Madagascar, Russian Federation, Bangladesh, Trinidad and Tobago, Yemen, Djibouti, Dominica, Angola, Somalia, Namibia, Zimbabwe, United Republic of Tanzania, Brazil, Gabon, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Colombia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Guinea Bissau, Italy, Rwanda, Romania, Niger, Benin, Papua New Guinea, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Indonesia, Greece, Cameroon, Timor-Leste, Chile, Albania, Cape Verde, Iraq, Ethiopia, Barbados, Mali, Nepal, Lesotho and Pakistan.  

    Further, several representatives expressed degrees of opinion on the issue. France’s representative stressed the importance of peaceful dialogue between the two straits, and said his country stood as it had in the past. Also encouraging dialogue, Germany’s representative highlighted the importance of the one-China policy. The representative of Guatemala said he trusted that differences existing between the two straits would find a path of understanding and solution to the satisfaction of both parties, as well as to the larger United Nations membership.

    The representative of the United Kingdom said his delegation’s position had not changed. He welcomed the development of democracy in Taiwan, and urged China and Taiwan to avoid any action that increased tensions across the strait. He also opposed the use of force to resolve the issue, and hoped for efforts to lower tension, increase confidence-building measures and the resumption of constructive dialogue. The representative of Kyrgyzstan said his delegation wanted the item struck from the record and hoped that it would never be discussed again.

    The representative of Grenada began his statement in favour of including the item on the Assembly’s agenda by referring to the devastation that had been wrought in his own country by deadly hurricane “Ivan.”  He pleaded with all States to assist in the massive humanitarian effort under way to help stave off death and disease due to the lack of food, water and sanitation.  He noted that relief workers representing many peoples and regions, including Taiwan, were already on the ground during their utmost to save lives and help rebuild wrecked infrastructure.   

    In other action today, the Committee postponed the consideration of including the item “Question of the Comorian island of Mayotte” to the Assembly’s sixtieth session.  Following proposals by the representatives of Burkina Faso and Belgium, the Committee decided to defer consideration of the item “Question of the Malagasy islands of Glorieuses, Juan de Nova, Europa and Bassas da India” until next year.

    Among the new items recommended by the Committee for inclusion were those related to observer status for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Southern African Development Community and the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Those items would be considered in plenary after the matter of their observer status had been taken up by the Sixth Committee (Legal).

    Another new item recommended today was a proposal that the Organization declare 8 and 9 of May each year as “days of remembrance and reflection”. When he introduced the item, the representative of the Russian Federation hoped that such a dedication would lead the Assembly to hold a “special and solemn plenary meeting” at which a declaration could be adopted on the unity of mankind around the goals of peace and unity throughout the world.

    The Committee also decided to recommend that the Assembly conduct a plenary review of the progress made in the implementation of the recommendations of the Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III) in October.  As 2004 marks the tenth anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development, held in Cairo, the Committee also recommended that the Assembly devote one day during this session to commemorate that meeting.

    In other commemorative and conference review-related action, the Committee recommended that the Assembly’s plenary meeting on 10 December -- Human Rights Day -- be structured as an interactive dialogue to review the achievements of the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education, 1995-2004. It also recommended that one plenary meeting be devoted to observance of the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family, and to devote 2 June 2005 to a high-level review of the progress made regarding the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS.  

    As for the Assembly’s substantive Committees, the General Committee recommended that during the main part of the fifty-ninth session, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) and Sixth Committee (Legal) should all complete their work by 11 November; the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) by 24 November and the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) by 10 December.

    In addition, based on a proposal by the representative of Costa Rica, the Committee decided to shift the categorization of the item on an international convention against the reproductive cloning of human beings from “organizational, administrative and other matters” to that of the “promotion of justice and international law”.

    The Committee further decided to allocate consideration of the item on “Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples” to the Fourth Committee for annual consideration. A further item on “Assistance in Mine Action” was also allocated to the

    Fourth Committee. Also two items, respectively on “special economic assistance to individual countries and regions”, and “information and communication technologies for development”, as well as the Consultative Committee’s report on operation, management and budget of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) were allocated to the Second Committee (Economic and Financial).  The item on “programme planning” was allocated to the Third Committee and deferred to a later date.

    The representatives of Algeria and Egypt, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), requested further consultations with the Bureau on matters related to the allocation of items to the Main Committees, and Assembly President Jean Ping (Gabon) assured those delegations that talks would be held over the next few days to ensure that the Assembly could adopt its final agenda.

    A memorandum on the organization of the Assembly’s fifty-ninth regular session is contained in document A/BUR/59/1, dated 10 September 2004.

    The General Committee will meet again at a time to be announced.

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