15 July 2005

General Assembly Endorses Mauritius Declaration, Strategy for Small Island Developing States

Also Adopts Texts on Human Rights Education, Cooperation with Central African States, Assembly Participation despite Arrears

NEW YORK, 14 July (UN Headquarters) -- The General Assembly this afternoon, by one of four resolutions adopted without a vote, endorsed the Declaration and Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, adopted at the Mauritius International Meeting, held from 10 to 14 January.

In adopting that resolution, contained in document A/59/L.63 and introduced by the representative of Jamaica, on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, the Assembly also urged timely actions to ensure the effective implementation and follow-up to the Mauritius Declaration and Strategy.  Further, it recommended that the outcomes of the International Meeting be taken into consideration at the Assembly’s high-level plenary meeting, to be held from 14 to 16 September 2005, and in its preparatory process.

Speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), the representative of Mauritius highlighted some essential aspects of the Mauritius Strategy for Implementation, which called for, among other things, a substantial increase in the flow of financial resources and their effective use; improved trade opportunities; access to and transfer of environmentally sound technologies; and capacity-building.  The Strategy would necessitate quick and practical actions to address the unique challenges facing the sustainable development of small island developing States and to address their economic, social and environmental vulnerabilities.

He said that the AOSIS Summit held in the margins of the Mauritius Meeting had called for the establishment and development of an all hazard early warning system as a priority in all regions of the world and had called for international support in that regard.  While welcoming progress in that area, he emphasized that it was equally important that that vulnerable group of countries received urgent assistance to build resilience to the adverse effects of climate change, sea-level rise and associated phenomenon, such as the increase in intensity and frequency of extreme weather events.

New Zealand’s representative voiced her support for strengthening the Small Island Developing States Unit within the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.  As a donor that had contributed extrabudgetary resources to fund its activities, she felt it was important that the Secretary-General allocate sufficient resources to enable the Unit to carry out its mandated functions.  She also wanted to see the Unit’s permanent staffing numbers raised to facilitate that, which, as the resolution noted, should be done within existing resources.

In addition, the representative of the United Kingdom, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, welcomed the endorsement of the Declaration and Strategy, which she felt provided an important blueprint for future international support for, and collaboration with, small island developing States.

Venezuela’s representative informed the Assembly that her country dissociated itself from the contents of operative paragraph 2 of the resolution.  Venezuela was not a State party to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, nor were the norms of that instrument applicable to her country, except for those expressly recognized by her country.

By a resolution on a World Programme for Human Rights Education, the Assembly adopted the revised draft plan of action for the first phase (2005-2007) of the World Programme for Human Rights Education, which focuses on primary and secondary school systems.  It also requested the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in close cooperation with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), to promote the national implementation of the revised draft plan of action, provide relevant technical assistance when requested, and coordinate related international efforts.

Australia’s representative, introducing that text, contained in document A/59/L.65, said the Programme would lend itself to a structured approach to international human rights education; facilitate those already engaged in human rights education; and encourage others to do so.  The text followed up on the resolutions adopted by the Assembly and the Commission on Human Rights on the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education, 1995-2004.

India’s representative noted that the draft plan provided for the establishment of a United Nations inter-agency coordination committee.  A prior intergovernmental agreement on details of the role, functioning and mandate of that committee was required, and she would have preferred to discuss that aspect further in the Assembly’s sixtieth session.  Since that was not possible, she made clear her understanding that India did not envisage or accept any monitoring or evaluating mandate of a United Nations inter-agency coordination committee.  She was also concerned that neither the resolution nor the draft plan provided for any additional funding for its implementation, particularly in developing countries.

Venezuela’s representative endorsed the resolution and stated that her country already had national plans under way in human rights education and in implementation of the World Programme.  In addition, she said any related plans carried out by non-governmental organizations in her country should be in conformity with Venezuela’s national plans.

By the terms of another text, adopted as orally revised, the Assembly agreed that the failure of the Central African Republic, Comoros, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Somalia, Tajikistan, Niger and Sao Tome and Principe to pay the full minimum amount necessary to avoid the application of Article 19 of the Charter was due to conditions beyond their control, and decided that they should be permitted to vote in the Assembly until it takes a final decision during the main part of the sixtieth session. 

[Article 19 of the United Nations Charter states that a Member State in arrears in its contributions to the Organization shall have no vote in the General Assembly if the amount of the arrears equals or exceeds the amount of the contribution due from it for the preceding two years.]

Liberia was also included in that list, as requested by the representative of Georgia during his introduction of the text, contained in document A/59/L.65.  Permitting that group of countries to vote in the Assembly would enable them to take part in the historic decisions regarding United Nations reform.

Iraq’s representative stated that his country had previously presented to the Assembly President a request for exempting it from paying its financial obligations due to the circumstances in his country, which had also been explained to the Committee on Contributions.  He expressed his gratitude to the Committee for its understanding of the situation in Iraq.  Iraq had been working with the Secretariat and the Security Council to be permitted to make payments from its assets in the security account that was established based on relevant Council resolutions.  Iraq had paid its financial obligations to the regular budget, as well as to the peacekeeping and Tribunals’ budgets.

Lastly, the Assembly, by the terms of a resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), urged the international community and the United Nations agencies to continue to provide those countries of the Community in which a process of national reconstruction is taking place with appropriate assistance to consolidate their efforts towards democratization and the consolidation of the rule of law and to support their national development programmes.

The Assembly also urged the United Nations and the international community as a whole to help to strengthen the means existing in the region to ensure that the Community has the necessary capacity with regard to prevention, monitoring, early warning and peacekeeping operations.

Introducing the text on behalf of the Community, Congo’s representative stressed that the post-conflict situations in most of those countries required increased assistance.  Thus, he called on the international community to focus on substantive assistance to consolidate the various peace processes under way in the region.  The text was contained in document A/59/L.16/Rev.1.

The Assembly will meet again at a time to be announced.

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