Press Releases

    3 December 2004

    Second Committee Approves Draft Resolution Calling upon Israel Not to Exploit Natural Resources in Occupied Arab Territories

    Acting Without Vote, Delegates Approve Six Other Drafts, Including Texts on Natural Disaster, Protection of Global Climate

    (delayed in transmission)

    NEW YORK, 24 November (UN Headquarters) -- Expressing concern over Israel’s extensive destruction of agricultural land and orchards in occupied Arab territories, the General Assembly would call on that country not to exploit, damage, cause loss, deplete or endanger natural resources in those territories, according to one of six draft resolutions approved today by the Second Committee (Economic and Financial).

    Approving that draft by a recorded 144 votes in favour, to 4 against (Israel Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, the United States), with 8 abstentions (Albania, Australia, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Tuvalu, Vanuatu), the Committee recommended that the Assembly reaffirm the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and the population of the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources, including land and water. (See annex.)

    Also by that text, on the 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.2/59/L.41), the Assembly would recognize the Palestinian right to claim restitution due to exploitation, damage, loss, depletion, or endangerment of their natural resources, and express hope that the issue would be dealt with in the final status negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis.

    Speaking after the vote, on behalf of the European Union, the representative of the Netherlands said the violation of Palestinian rights was illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention. The European Union was committed to assisting the parties to find a Middle East settlement within the context of the Road Map set forth by the Quartet, and the text approved by the Committee should not be considered prejudicial or pre-emptive of any outcome.

    The Committee then approved, without a vote, six additional draft resolutions relating to sustainable development; the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II); and training and research. Committee Vice-Chair Ewa Anzorge (Poland) introduced the first two drafts, while Vice-Chair Antonio Bernardini (Italy) presented the third.

    A draft on natural disasters and vulnerability (document A/C.2/59/L.45) would have the Assembly stress the importance for the World Conference on Disaster Reduction to conclude the review of the Yokohama Strategy for a Safer World and its plan of action with a view to updating the guiding framework on disaster reduction for the twenty-first century. It was also important to identify specific activities aimed at ensuring the implementation of relevant provisions of the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development on vulnerability, risk assessment and disaster management.

    The Assembly would stress, by other terms, the need for close cooperation and coordination among governments, the United Nations system and other organizations, taking into account the need to develop disaster-management strategies, including the effective establishment of early warning systems while taking advantage of all available resources and expertise. It would also emphasize that the World Conference on Disaster Reduction should make concrete recommendations to reduce the risks and vulnerabilities of developing countries to disasters, including through the strengthening of national platforms for disaster reduction or the establishment of institutional mechanisms.

    Further by that text, the Assembly would encourage governments to strengthen capacity-building in the most vulnerable regions, to enable them to address the socio-economic factors that increase vulnerability, and to develop measures that would enable them to prepare for and cope with natural disasters, including those associated with earthquakes and extreme weather. It would encourage the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the parties to the Kyoto Protocol to address the adverse effects of climate change, especially in developing countries that were particularly vulnerable.

    By a draft on the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa (document A/C.2/59/L.46), the Assembly would stress the importance of implementing the Convention in order to meet internationally agreed development goals, including those contained in the United Nations Millennium Declaration.

    It would call upon governments, in collaboration with multilateral organizations, including the Global Environmental Facility implementation agencies, to integrate desertification into their plans and strategies for sustainable development.

    The draft would have the Assembly call upon governments and invite multilateral financial institutions, regional development banks, regional economic integration organizations and all other interested parties, including non-governmental organizations and the private sector, to contribute to the Convention’s General Fund, Supplementary Fund and Special Fund. Further, the Assembly would urge United Nations bodies, the Bretton Woods institutions and donors to integrate action backing the Convention into their programmes and strategies to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

    By a text on protection of global climate for present and future generations of mankind (document A/C.2/59/L.30), the Assembly would call on States to work together in achieving the ultimate goals of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It would also invite conferences of the parties to multilateral environmental conventions to consider the schedules of the General Assembly and the Commission on Sustainable Development when setting their meeting dates, so as to ensure adequate representation of developing countries.

    Referring to that draft, the representative of the United States said her country was committed to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and to addressing climate change in a science-based, cost-effective manner. However, the United States had decided neither to ratify the Kyoto Protocol nor to ensure its entry into force. As such, it considered preambular paragraph 9 of the text, which recalled a declaration made during the Millennium Summit, to be historical and overtaken by changed policies and circumstances.

    Also addressing that text, the representative of the Netherlands, on behalf of the European Union, welcomed the Russian Federation’s recent ratification of the Kyoto Protocol and urged all non-signatory parties to ratify it. Noting that the third climate change assessment had revealed that the phenomenon was indeed real and occurring more quickly than originally thought, she said that addressing the first comprehensive regionally based study on climate change would be a main priority for the European Union next year.

    Similarly, New Zealand’s delegate said the Kyoto Protocol’s entry into force was a small but significant first step in the long but challenging process of addressing climate change.  It was important to make progress on climate change during the meeting in Buenos Aires next month and the January 2005 International Meeting in Mauritius to review the Barbados Programme of Action on small island developing States.

    Another draft (document A/C.2/59/L.38), on implementation of the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) and strengthening of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) would have the Assembly would call for increased financial support to UN-Habitat, particularly non-earmarked contributions, to the UN-Habitat Foundation and its upgrading facility, and would invite governments to provide multi-year funding to support programme implementation. It would also call upon the international donor community and financial institutions to contribute generously to the Technical Cooperation Trust Fund and the Special Human Settlements Programme for the Palestinian people.

    Further by that text, the Assembly would urge the donor community to support developing-country efforts to make pro-poor investments in services and infrastructure, particularly for slum upgrading.  It would encourage governments to set up local, national and regional urban observatories and financially support UN-Habitat to improve data collection, analysis and dissemination. Further, it would request that UN-Habitat continues to help countries affected by natural disasters and complex emergencies to set up rehabilitation and reconstruction programmes, as well as work closely with other United Nations agencies.

    According to a draft on the World Summit on the Information Society (document A/C.2/59/L.32), the Assembly would endorse the Declaration of Principles and the Plan of Action the Summit adopted on 12 December 2003, and stress the importance of the effective and timely implementation of the Plan of Action. It would also urge Member States, United Nations bodies, including the Information and Communication Technologies Task Force, and other intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, civil society and the private sector to actively help implement the Summit. Further, it would call on the international community to make voluntary contributions to the special fund set up by the International Telecommunication Union to support Summit preparations.

    Also today, the Committee approved an oral decision to take note of the Secretary-General’s report on information and communication technologies for development: Progress in the implementation of General Assembly resolution 57/295 (contained in document A/59/563), and to request the Secretary-General to submit a further report on implementation of the General Assembly’s strategy at its sixtieth session.

    At the meeting’s outset, the Committee heard the introduction of draft resolutions by Somalia’s delegate on assistance for humanitarian relief and the economic and social rehabilitation of Somalia (document A/C.2/59/L.40); by the representative of Liberia on assistance for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Liberia (document A/C.2/59/L.44); and by Mexico’s delegate on the World Survey on the Role of Women in Development (document A/C.2/59/L.48).

    In addition, Qatar’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, introduced a draft resolution on the role of microcredit in the eradication of poverty (document A/C.2/59/L.49), as well as texts on implementation of the first United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (1997-2006) (document A/C.2/59/L.50); industrial development cooperation (document A/C.2/59/L.47); and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (document A/C.2/59/L.51).

    The Second Committee will meet again at a date and time to be announced in the Journal.

    (annex follows)


    Vote on Draft Resolution on Permanent Sovereignty

    The draft resolution on the 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.2/59/L.41) was approved by a recorded vote of 144 in favour to 4 against, with 8 abstentions, as follows:

    In favour:  Afghanistan, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Canada, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Dominica*, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

    Against:  Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, United States.

    Abstain:  Albania, Australia, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.

    Absent:  Antigua and Barbuda, Bhutan, Cape Verde, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Gambia, Georgia, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan*, Malawi, Mauritania, Nauru, Nicaragua, Niger*, Nigeria, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Moldova*, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Sudan*, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan.

    * *** *


    *    Denmark’s vote incorrectly reflected as Dominica’s vote; Dominica absent from room.  Kyrgyzstan and the Republic of Moldova indicated that they had intended to vote in favour.  Niger and the Sudan indicated that had they been present, they would have voted in favour.