General Assembly

General Assembly: 96th Plenary Meeting, 76th Session…

General Assembly: 96th Plenary Meeting, 76th Session

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 Strengthening of the United Nations system - Item 124: Special report of the Security Council (A/76/905)
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Resolutions on Law of Sea, Sustainable Development in African Also Adopted

After the Russian Federation vetoed a draft Security Council resolution on 8 July which would have injected certainty and predictability into the humanitarian response in Syria, the General Assembly today held a debate on the issue, with delegates expressing diverging views on the formula for — and merits of — renewing aid deliveries through the Bab al-Hawa crossing in the country’s north-west.

The debate — held under the Assembly’s new standing mandate to convene within 10 working days on a situation in which a veto is cast — preceded an intense afternoon of action, as delegates adopted two decisions and three resolutions on topics ranging from the law of the sea and disaster relief to sustainable development in Africa.  (See Press Release GA/12417.)

The Russian Federation’s delegate defended his country’s decision to veto a draft sponsored by Ireland and Norway that would have allowed cross-border aid to pass through Bab al-Hawa for 12 months, unless decided otherwise after six months.  Resolution 2585 (2021) — which establishes the “6+6” formula — is flawed, he said, in that it does not outline a specific way to end the renewal if Council members deem progress to be insufficient.  The Russian Federation had insisted that renewal would require a separate resolution, a position Western members rejected when they voted against a competing draft submitted by his delegation.

Syria’s representative agreed, pointing to the “major shortcomings” of resolution 2585 (2021), which provides only one means of cross-border access and does not respect Syria’s sovereignty.  No mechanism exists to ensure humanitarian aid does not fall into the hands of terrorists on the Council’s list.  These concerns were met with intentional disregard by the United States, United Kingdom and France.  He agreed with the rejection of the draft extending the terms of resolution 2585 (2021) for another year, without any amendments.

However, Ireland’s representative called the solitary veto “an unconscionable act”, placing the critical lifeline for 4 million Syrians at risk, while Norway’s delegate stressed:  “We cannot have another situation where people, humanitarian organizations and United Nations staff in north-west Syria “have to sit and wait while Security Council negotiations run into overtime”.

The United States delegate pointed out that the Russian Federation has vetoed 17 Council resolutions on Syria since the start of the conflict there, seeking to shield “the Assad regime” from accountability and prop up its tattered standing in the international community.  Turkey’s delegate said the veto is being used as a license to pursue self-interest.  With power over all United Nations organs, the Assembly can hold the Council to account.  “We have the quality of voice and vote,” he said.

In the afternoon, the Assembly adopted five texts, notably endorsing the declaration adopted at the United Nations Ocean Conference, held in Lisbon from 27 June to 1 July.  By another, it decided to convene the first United Nations Pledging Conference for Development Activities in its adjusted format the first half of 2023.

By a resolution on the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, the Assembly welcomed the progress made by African countries in working to deepen democracy, human rights, good governance and sound economic management.  Among other things, it encouraged them to strengthen and expand local and regional infrastructure, and more broadly called for targeted investments in national health systems.

In another resolution the Assembly decided to defer consideration of the Secretary-General’s report on the causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa to its seventy-seventh session.

In final action, the Assembly failed to adopt a resolution titled “Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance”, by a recorded vote of 77 against, to 9 in favour, with 45 abstentions.  Had it passed, the Assembly would have decided to defer consideration of its subitem titled “Strengthening of international cooperation and coordination of efforts to study, mitigate and minimize the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster” to its seventy-eighth session.

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

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