14 September 2006

General Assembly Adopts Work Programme, Adds New Agenda Item on "GUAM" Conflicts; Recorded Vote Reverses General Committee's Recommendation to Exclude Item

NEW YORK, 13 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following a contentious procedural debate culminating in a recorded vote on the report of its organizational committee, the General Assembly this evening adopted its work programme for the sixty-first session, which will now include a new item on conflicts in the Black Sea-South Caucasus, bringing to 154 the total number of agenda items.

By a recorded vote of 15 in favour to 16 against with 65 abstentions, the Assembly decided to enter on its current agenda the item entitled "protracted conflicts in the GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Republic of Moldova) area and their implications for international peace, security and development", against the decision of its General Committee not to recommend its inclusion.  (For details of the vote, see Annex.)

The representative of Ukraine, speaking on behalf of the GUAM States, called for the vote, saying his delegation had been disappointed with the General Committee's decision yesterday.  Unresolved or "frozen" conflicts had undeniable impact on the political, social and economic development of the States and the millions of people living in the region.  GUAM's aim was not to change the format of existing negotiations, but to have the chance to bring the matter to the international community through the Assembly.  The representatives of Georgia, Azerbaijan and the Republic of Moldova also stated their countries positions.

Opposing the inclusion of the item on the agenda, the representative of the Russian Federation noted that the issue had been discussed in the General Committee and had received no support.  The Committee had taken a clear decision on the matter yesterday, so the insistence on including the item was aimed at undermining existing mechanisms to negotiate settlements of the conflicts in question.

The representative of Armenia, supporting the statement made by the Russia Federation, said that, after the General Committee's thorough consideration of the issue, Member States were witnessing an attempt to force the Assembly to hear the matter.

Following calls for a legal opinion on the procedural basis for Assembly action on its organizational Committee's recommendations, the representative of the United Kingdom, explaining her delegation's position after the vote, said that the Committee's recommendation had been rejected, and thereby, a new item had been added to the Assembly's agenda.  The General Committee's report was subjected to the approval of the Assembly and there was no doubt that the Assembly should be able to deal with any issue that fell within the Charter.

Prior to the vote on that item, the Assembly held a lengthy debate on the inclusion of two other items, namely, "the proactive role for the United Nations in maintaining peace and security in East Asia" and "the representation and participation of the 23 million people of Taiwan in the United Nations".  Yesterday, the General Committee had been able to implement a two-year-old decision to limit its traditional lengthy debate on the issue but, today in the Assembly, some 35 delegations took the floor on the matter.

The representative of the Solomon Islands said that his delegation had been "concerned and disappointed" that the General Committee had decided to limit debate on the matter.  Curtailing debate amounted to abuse of the concept of United Nations reform, as well as the principle of maintaining international peace and security.  Denying Member States the right to debate issues of importance to the international community also contravened the principles of the Charter.  It was troubling that the Charter could be used to address certain matters and then "covered up" when other matters were raised.

The representative of Palau joined that statement, stressing that his delegation believed that limiting debate on such an important issue did not serve the United Nations.  That view was supported by the representatives of Burkina Faso, Tuvalu, and El Salvador.

China's representative said he was firmly opposed to the inclusion of the two items in the Assembly's agenda and believed that the majority of the Member States were similarly opposed.  Opening up the matter for discussion interfered with China's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Recalling that Assembly resolution 27/58 (1971) had settled the matter "once and for all", the representative of Cyprus supported China's view, as did the representatives of Uganda, Pakistan, South Africa, Greece, Myanmar, Argentina, Syria, Russian Federation, Eritrea, Brazil, Somalia, Bangladesh, Egypt, Iraq, Morocco, Kuwait, Algeria, Sudan, Yemen, Cuba, Chile, Cameroon, Iran, Comoros, Colombia, Congo, Sri Lanka and Angola.

On organizational matters, with the adoption of its work programme and agenda, as contained in document A/61/250, the Assembly decided that its current session would recess on Tuesday, 12 December, and close on Monday, 17 September 2007.

The work programme also set the meeting schedule for the Assembly's Main Committees.  During the main part of the session, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) would complete its work by Tuesday, 31 October; the Sixth Committee (Legal) and the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) by Thursday, 9 November; the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) by Wednesday, 22 November; the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) by Friday, 1 December; and the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) by Friday, 8 December.

The Assembly will reconvene tomorrow at 10 a.m. to open its High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development.


Vote on General Committee Recommendation on Agenda Item 42

The General Committee's recommendation not to include agenda item 42 on protracted conflicts in the GUAM area was rejected by a recorded vote of 15 in favour to 16 against, with 65 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Cyprus, Eritrea, Greece, Guinea, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Panama, Russian Federation, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe.

Against:  Australia, Azerbaijan, Canada, Estonia, Guatemala, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States.

Abstain:  Andorra, Argentina, Austria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bhutan, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, El Salvador, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Israel, Italy, Libya, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Monaco, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Yemen.

Absent:  Afghanistan, Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Burundi, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Federated States of Micronesia, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mongolia, Montenegro, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Niger, Paraguay, Qatar, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Zambia.

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