Second Committee Approves 12 Resolutions, Including Texts on Eradicating Rural Poverty, Addressing Digital Divide

Enhancing and expanding developing countries’ access to pro poor technologies are among a range of targeted measures the General Assembly would promote, according to the provisions of 1 of 12 draft resolutions the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) approved today.

By the terms of the draft resolution titled Eradicating rural poverty to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (document A/C.2/73/L.18/Rev.1), approved by a recorded vote of 121 in favour to 49 against, with 2 abstentions (Georgia, Turkey), the Assembly would also underline the need for increased investment in agriculture, natural resources management and capacity building.

It would further stress that achieving sustainable development and eradicating poverty also hinge on the ability and readiness of countries to effectively mobilize domestic resources, attract foreign direct investment and fulfil official development assistance (ODA) commitments.

The representative of Egypt, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, explained his position, stating that poverty is the greatest impediment to implementing the 2030 Agenda, especially in rural areas where nearly 80 per cent of those in extreme poverty live, and expressed regret that consensus had been elusive.

The representative of Austria, speaking on behalf of the European Union and other States, noted that rural poverty must be eradicated, but the present resolution was the opposite of the Union’s outlined principles. However, as the world’s biggest provider of ODA, they remain committed to fighting poverty.

The representative of the United States, associating himself with the European Union, noted his country contributed $34.7 billion in worldwide ODA in 2017, but voted against the resolution, which undermines work against poverty. He expressed concern over the bad faith in which the resolution had been presented.

Several other approved drafts also addressed related issues of international development, including one titled Information and communications technologies for sustainable development (document A/C.2/73/L.29/Rev.1), which the Committee approved without a vote. Provisions of that draft would have the Assembly express concern over the substantial continued digital and broadband divides between and within developed and developing countries.

By further terms, the Assembly would recognize a persistent gender digital divide, with the proportion of women using the Internet 12 per cent lower than that of men worldwide, and note with concern that the gender digital divide has widened in Africa.

Prior to approving the draft, the Committee rejected, by a recorded vote of 106 against to 45 in favour, with 11 abstentions, amendments to the text contained in document A/C.2/73/L.55.

In explanation of position, the representative of Austria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, expressed concern over movement towards States rather than individuals on the issue of leaving no one behind. Peoples’ lives and livelihoods are at stake and focus must remain on them.

Meanwhile, the representative of Egypt, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77, explained that he had requested a vote on the amendments with the aim of preserving the established rules and practices of the Committee.

Acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft resolution titled International trade and development (document A/C2/73/L.21/Rev.1). Prior to that approval, it rejected proposed amendments contained in document A/C.2/73/L.56, in a recorded vote of 108 against to 46 in favour, with 14 abstentions.

The Committee also approved a draft titled International financial system and development (document A/C.2/73/L.12/Rev.1), by which the Assembly would stress the critical importance of a stable, inclusive and enabling global economic environment for the advancement of sustainable development, approving that text in a recorded vote of 176 in favour to 1 against (United States), with no abstentions.

Next, the Committee acted on a draft titled Convention on Biological Diversity (document A/C.2/73/L.33/Rev.1) and amendments to the text (document A/C.2/73/L.51). The amendments were rejected in a recorded vote of 110 against to 45 in favour, with 11 abstentions. The original draft was then approved without a vote.

Explaining his delegation’s position, the representative of the United States said he joined consensus on the draft, but his country disassociates itself from the call for a summit on biodiversity in 2020. The representative of Austria called on all stakeholders to engage fully in the preparatory process for the summit, which will be a vital contribution to the 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreement.

The Committee also approved the following drafts without a vote: Protection of global climate for present and future generations of humankind; Implementation of the outcomes of the United Nations Conferences on Human Settlements and on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development and strengthening of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme; Follow up to the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries; Follow up to the second United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries; Implementation of the Third United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2018�2027); Operational activities for development of the United Nations system; and South South cooperation for development.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Singapore, Mexico, Turkey, China and Belarus.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 3 December, to act on further draft resolutions.

Action on Draft Resolutions

The Second Committee first took up a draft titled Information and communications technologies for sustainable development (document A/C.2/73/L.29/Rev.1) and amendments to the text (document A/C.2/73/L.55).

The amendments to the draft were rejected in a recorded vote of 106 against to 45 in favour, with 11 abstentions.

The original draft was then approved without a vote as orally revised.

Speaking before the action on behalf of the European Union, the representative of Austria expressed concern over a gradual and subtle movement towards States rather than individuals on the issue of leaving no one behind. She stated that language introduced in an imperfect compromise in 2017 represents neither the Addis Ababa Action Agenda nor the Sustainable Development Goals. Peoples’ lives and livelihoods are at stake and focus must remain on them, and she expressed regret that parties will not negotiate these issues, requesting that two paragraphs be deleted or amended. Member States must hold firm to principles agreed upon in 2015.

Introducing the amendment, the representative of Austria expressed concern over certain paragraphs on the goal of leaving no one behind.

Speaking in explanation of vote on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, the representative of Egypt explained he had requested a vote on the amendments with the aim of preserving the established rules and practices of the Committee.

Making a general statement, the representative of Austria said focus should be on returning to the person centred focus of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Next, the Committee turned to a text titled International trade and development (document A/C2/73/L.21/Rev.1) and amendments to the draft (document A/C.2/73/L.56).

Amendments to the draft were rejected in a recorded vote of 108 against to 46 in favour, with 14 abstentions.

The text was then approved without a vote.

Speaking before the vote, the representative of Austria said preambular paragraph 11 and operative paragraph 21 do not reflect the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. She proposed certain corrections related to preserving the dignity of every individual and leaving no one behind.

Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of Egypt referred to his previous statement and requested it be entered into the record.

In the interests of brevity, the representative of Austria also referred to her previous statement for the record.

The representative of Singapore, making a general statement on behalf of several States, reaffirmed their commitment to the multilateral trading system of the global economy. He said the Committee has the mandate to address that subject, and he attached great importance to strengthening the multilateral trading system and the World Trade Organization (WTO), as a bulwark against protectionism. That system fosters coherence in trade policies across the globe, and trade is an engine for inclusive growth and poverty reduction.

The draft was approved in a recorded vote of 172 in favour to 1 against (United States), with no abstentions.

Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of the United States said she voted against it for the second straight year due to the inflexibility of the Group of 77. She could not agree to certain language on international trade policies, as she does not share the view that the language is suboptimal. The General Assembly should not be opining on these measures. Affirming that sanctions can be an appropriate and effective alternative to the use of force, she said the United Nations is not the appropriate forum for discussions on those issues, including technology transfer that is not voluntary. Measures taken considering the unfair activities of other States are not protectionist.

The representative of Austria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said she voted in favour of the draft because strengthening the multilateral trading system and WTO is paramount. States should combat protectionism in all its forms.

Following that, the Committee approved a text titled International financial system and development (document A/C.2/73/L.12/Rev.1) in a recorded vote of 176 in favour to 1 against (United States), with no abstentions.

Speaking after the vote, the representative of Austria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said she voted in favour of the resolution, but said it should reflect new developments as well as challenges. Adding that the text mainly contains language from previous years, she said significant proposals were not considered, including those regarding climate related language. She also suggested that the resolution become biennial.

The representative of the United States repeated sentiments expressed in the previous statement.

The Committee then approved a draft, without a vote and as orally revised, titled Protection of global climate for present and future generations of humankind (document A/C.2/73/L.28), withdrawing a previous draft on the same topic.

Speaking after the action, the representative of Mexico said his country is highly vulnerable to climate change and has made this topic one of its foreign policy priorities. It advocates ambitious and flexible climate governance, which focuses on commitments to comply with the Paris Agreement at national and global levels. He then made an oral revision to the draft.

The representative of Austria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the resolution sends a timely and important signal by urging completion of the Paris Agreement work programme. Noting that her bloc has published a long term strategy for a climate neutral Union by 2050, she said she would like to have seen stronger language in the resolution, especially regarding the shifting of financial flows towards green technology.

The representative of the United States said he joined consensus on the resolution, noting that its language is without prejudice to his country’s position. However, the United States has announced its intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement unless suitable terms for re engagement are identified.

Next, the Committee acted on a draft titled Convention on Biological Diversity (document A/C.2/73/L.33/Rev.1) and amendments to the text (document A/C.2/73/L.51).

The amendments were rejected in a recorded vote of 110 against to 45 in favour, with 11 abstentions.

Introducing the amendments, the representative of Austria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said her bloc is concerned about maintaining the person centred approach and language of the 2030 Agenda in the current resolution. The proposed amendments are intended to bring the draft closer to that language in ensuring that no nations and people are left behind.

The original draft was then approved without a vote.

Speaking after the approval, the representative of the United States said he joined consensus on the draft, but his country disassociates itself from the call for a summit on biodiversity in 2020. He said he expects that budgetary impacts of the summit beyond existing resources will be considered in consultation with Member States. However, there has been no discussion on outcomes expected from the summit, so it is impossible to determine how realistic it will be to finance it within existing resources.

The representative of Austria called on all stakeholders to engage fully in the preparatory process for the summit, which will be a vital contribution to the 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreement.

The Committee then turned to a draft titled Implementation of the outcomes of the United Nations Conferences on Human Settlements and on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development and strengthening of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (document A/C.2/73/L.4/Rev.1) and amendments to the text (document A/C.2/73/L.61).

The amendments were rejected in a recorded vote of 111 against to 45 in favour, with 12 abstentions.

The text was then approved without a vote.

The representative of Egypt, speaking before the vote on behalf of the Group of 77, made an oral revision.

The representative of Austria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, expressed concern over certain paragraphs that move the resolution away from a person centred approach.

Next, the Committee approved, without a vote, a draft titled Follow up to the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (document A/C.2/73/L.47), withdrawing a previous text on the same topic.

Speaking before the action, the representative of Turkey noted that some countries eligible for graduation still face problems.

The text was then approved without a vote.

Speaking after the action, the representative of the United States acknowledged the effort behind the resolution, but highlighted certain paragraphs addressing efficiency of meetings and scarce resources being expended therein. She referred to a previous statement on the 2030 Agenda, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Paris Agreement.

Following that, the Committee approved, without a vote, a text titled Follow up to the second United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries (document A/C.2/73/L.48), withdrawing a draft on the same topic.

The text was then approved without a vote as orally corrected.

The representative of Egypt, speaking after the action on behalf of the Group of 77, said they attach great importance to the resolution and had addressed it with utmost flexibility. He reiterated that he looked forward to success on the Vienna Programme of Action.

The representative of the United States offered clarification of certain parts of the text that do not apply to her country and disassociated herself from references to the Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries addressing technology transfer not established on mutually agreed terms.

The Committee then approved a draft titled Eradicating rural poverty to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (document A/C.2/73/L.18/Rev.1) in a recorded vote of 121 in favour to 49 against, with 2 abstentions (Georgia, Turkey).

The representative of Egypt, speaking before the action on behalf of the Group of 77, said poverty is the greatest impediment to implementing the 2030 Agenda, especially in rural areas where nearly 80 per cent of those in extreme poverty live. The increase in extreme climate change related events doubles down on that misery. He expressed regret that consensus had been elusive in recent informal consultations.

The representative of Austria, speaking on behalf of the European Union and other States, noted that rural poverty must be eradicated, but expressed disappointment in how the draft had been presented. The issue should be presented in a manner that allows for consensus and revitalization and should not be based on national interests. She said the present resolution was the opposite of her delegation’s outlined principles, but they remained committed to fighting poverty, as the world’s biggest provider of official development assistance (ODA).

The representative of the United States, associating himself with the European Union, noted his country contributed $34.7 billion in worldwide ODA in 2017. He stated he would vote against the resolution, which undermines work against poverty, and urged all Member States to do so as well, as it is a waste of United Nations resources. He expressed concern over the bad faith in which the resolution had been presented, which does not reflect multilateral agreements and will undermine sustainable development.

Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of China said the resolution addressed serious questions and expressed hope that the global community could find consensus in eliminating rural poverty and offer less empty talk on behalf of those who risk being left behind.

Next, the Committee turned to a draft titled Implementation of the Third United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2018�2027) (document A/C.2/73/L.9/Rev.1) and amendments to the text (document A/C.2/73/L.62).

Introducing the amendments, the representative of Austria said her bloc is concerned about paragraphs in the draft that fail to espouse the person centred approach of the 2030 Agenda. The amendments would bring the resolution closer to the language and vision of the 2030 Agenda, ensuring that no one is left behind.

The amendments to the draft were rejected in a recorded vote of 110 against to 45 in favour, with 12 abstentions.

The Committee then approved the original text without a vote.

Following that, the Committee took up a draft titled Operational activities for development of the United Nations system (document A/C.2/73/L.8/Rev.1) and amendments to the text (document A/C.2/73/L.64).

Introducing the amendments, the representative of Austria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, expressed sentiments similar to her previous statement.

The amendments were rejected in a recorded vote of 107 against to 45 in favour, with 12 abstentions.

The Committee then approved the original draft without a vote.

Speaking after the action, the representative of Belarus welcomed important provisions in the draft, such as the need to fully benefit from reorganization of the United Nations development system. She tried to include a logical proposal in the draft regarding the basic principles of operational activities, but it was not included for trivial reasons. Although Belarus joined consensus on the resolution, she would not use the words transparent and neutral to describe the process in reaching it.

Next, the Committee turned to a draft titled South South cooperation for development (document A/C.2/73/L.22/Rev.1) and amendments to the text (document A/C.2/73/L.65).

Introducing the amendments, the representative of Austria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, expressed sentiments similar to her previous statement.

The amendments were rejected in a recorded vote of 110 against to 45 in favour, with 11 abstentions.

The original text was then approved without a vote.

Source: United Nations