Adopting 7 Resolutions, General Assembly Calls for Recorded Vote on Texts Addressing Global Health, Ties with Organization of Islamic Cooperation

As the General Assembly considered seven draft resolutions today on issues ranging from the return of cultural property to education for democracy, speakers held a contentious debate, resulting in a recorded vote on two texts tackling global health, as well as one on the fortifying of ties between the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

The General Assembly adopted the draft resolution titled Cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (document A/73/L.45) by a recorded vote of 139 in favour to 0 against, with 6 abstentions (Armenia, El Salvador, Honduras, India, Israel, Syria).

By the text, the General Assembly urges the United Nations system to cooperate with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in areas of mutual interest. It further invites the United Nations to consider providing increased technical and other forms of assistance to the OIC and its subsidiary organs. It also affirms that both organizations share a common goal of promoting and facilitating the Middle East peace.

The representative of Bangladesh, introducing the draft resolution, said the text reaffirms the shared objectives of the two organizations in conflict prevention and resolution, peacebuilding, mediation and the promotion of a culture of peace, especially with Muslim communities around the world. Protracted and emerging conflicts in the world make United Nations-OIC cooperation strategically important.

However, the representative of Syria � who called for a recorded vote on the text � urged a re-evaluation of OIC working methods after the comedy that took place when certain States were pressured to suspend its membership. That pressure, he warned, emanated from OIC’s host country, a State that is also imposing its agenda on the organization. The host OIC country, he stressed, is responsible for the creation of terrorist groups linked to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and the famine in Yemen.

The representative of Saudi Arabia, in exercise of the right of reply following the conclusion of all action, responded that he was accustomed to hearing lies in Syria’s statements, adding that the OIC defends the causes of the Arab people, including through support of United Nations resolutions on the Syrian Golan. The Syrian Government used prohibited weapons, including toxic gases, on its citizens, he said, justifying that country’s suspension from the OIC.

Following the vote on that resolution, a number of delegates also disassociated from language in the text that they said unfairly singled out Israel, with that country’s representative stressing that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s programme of action contains biased and untrue information against Israel.

The General Assembly also adopted the draft resolution titled Global health and foreign policy: a healthier world through better nutrition (document A/73/L.62) by a recorded vote of 157 in favour to 2 against (Libya, United States), with 1 abstention (Hungary).

By the text, the Assembly calls upon Member States to reinforce actions towards the improvement of nutrition, health conditions and living standards of populations around the globe as a key element of strategies for the eradication of all forms of malnutrition. It further calls upon Member States to consider ratifying or implementing, as appropriate, the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Brazil’s representative, introducing the draft resolution, highlighted that improved health and lifestyles are essential to accomplishing the Sustainable Development Goals. The draft recognizes the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger and malnutrition, he stated, adding that the text invites Member States to work with international organizations to convene action networks on nutrition.

Hungary’s representative, voicing her opposition to references in L.62 to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, introduced a draft amendment (document A/73/L.67). That draft text called for the deletion of preambular paragraph 22. The General Assembly rejected the amendment by a recorded vote of 117 against to 4 in favour (Hungary, Israel, Libya, United States), with 27 abstentions.

Still, following the voting, several speakers shared reservations regarding language in the resolution related to migrants, with the representative of Germany, on behalf of 26 European Union member States (with the exception of Austria and Hungary), saying that while she voted in favour of the text, its terms did not extend the rights of migrants beyond already agreed-upon terms in relevant international documents.

Countering those concerns was the representative of South Africa, who said that the international community’s pronouncements of equality are invalid if it can’t rise above what separates us, especially in the case of the treatment of migrants. Global health is a pressing issue and a telling indicator of the Sustainable Development Goals, she said.

The General Assembly also adopted without a vote a draft resolution, Return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin (document A/73/L.54). By its terms, the Assembly calls upon all relevant bodies, agencies, funds and programmes of the United Nations system to continue to address the issue of return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin and to provide appropriate support accordingly.

The international community shares a common responsibility to protect cultural property, said the representative of Greece while introducing the draft resolution. Noting that the past few decades were characterized by an increase in the illicit trafficking of such artefacts, she warned that conflict in the Middle East is leading to unprecedented destruction, looting and theft. In that regard, the text highlights the direct link between such illicit trafficking and terrorism.

Representatives of States that have seen their cultural property stolen took the floor to urge increased action that would ensure artefacts are returned to countries of origin.

Joining that call, the representative of Libya noted that over the past 500 years, his country has been subjected to plundering of its cultural heritage. Libyan artefacts are on display around the world, including pillars that adorn the garden of a certain European royal family, he pointed out.

By the terms of a draft resolution, Graduation of countries from the least developed country category (document A/73/L.40/Rev.1) � adopted without a vote � the General Assembly reaffirms that graduating from the category of least developed countries should not result in a disruption of development plans, programmes and projects. It also invites a number of Member States, following their graduation from the least developed country category, to prepare national smooth-transition strategies.

Egypt’s representative introduced the draft resolution on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China. He said graduation from the category of least-developed country by the States mentioned in the text � Bhutan, Solomon Islands and Sao Tome and Principe � is a clear sign that those countries are on track towards achieving sustainable development. Graduating countries must be put on a path that minimizes backsliding after graduation, he added, calling on development partners to provide country-specific support to those States.

Through the terms of another draft on Education for democracy (document A/73/L.50) � also adopted without a vote � the General Assembly reaffirms the fundamental link between democratic governance, peace, development and the promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms. The text recognizes that education strengthens the principles of democratic governance, peace, development and human rights, said the representative of Mongolia as he introduced the text.

The General Assembly also adopted � without a vote � a draft resolution and a draft decision linked to its seventy-fourth session, set for September 2019.

By the draft resolution titled Scope, modalities, format and organization of the high-level meeting on universal health coverage (document A/73/L.37), the Assembly decides that the one-day high-level meeting shall be held in New York a day before the start of the general debate of the General Assembly at its seventy-fourth session and that the meeting’s theme will be Universal health coverage: moving together to build a healthier world.

The General Assembly, by the terms of a draft decision High-level meetings of the General Assembly in September 2019 (document A/73/L.38) � as orally revised � decided that the general debate of the seventy-fourth session of the General Assembly will be held from Tuesday, 24 September, to Saturday, 28 September, and on Monday, 30 September 2019. It also sets out the dates for a series of high-level meetings.

The General Assembly had before it several reports and notes of the Secretary-General, including: Return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin (document A/73/390); Political declaration of the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on antimicrobial resistance and its corrigendum (documents A/73/393 and A/73/393/Corr.1); and Improving international coordination and cooperation to address the health needs of the most vulnerable for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (document A/73/414).

In other business, the General Assembly decided today to extend the work of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) until Friday, 21 December.

Also speaking today were representatives of Cyprus, United States, Thailand (for the Association of South-East Asian Nations), Saint Kitts and Nevis, Norway, Egypt, Australia, Austria, Switzerland, Chile, Tuvalu, Armenia, Canada, Azerbaijan and Turkey.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were Turkey, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Syria and Armenia.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 14 December, to consider the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance.

Return or Restitution of Cultural Property to Countries of Origin

MARIA THEOFILI (Greece) introduced the draft resolution, Return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin (document A/73/L.54). She said the past few decades were characterized by an increase in the illicit trafficking of cultural property. Further, conflict in the Middle East is leading to unprecedented destruction, looting and theft of cultural property. The internet has immensely enlarged the possibilities of the illegal trade, she warned, adding that the draft highlights the direct link between such illicit trafficking and terrorism. The draft further recognizes the leading role played by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in the fight against illicit trafficking. Identifying capacity-building as central to the success of efforts to return cultural property to countries of origin, she underscored that the international community shares a common responsibility to protect cultural property.

The representative of Libya, stressing the importance of cultural property to people, emphasized that the return of such property to countries of origin is complicated and requires concerted efforts by the United Nations. He commended UNESCO for its efforts to launch information campaigns and for its keen interest in the matter. Libya, over the past 500 years, has been subjected to plundering of its cultural heritage, he pointed out, adding that Libyan artefacts are on display around the world, including pillars that adorn the garden of a certain European royal family. Threats to cultural heritage are on the rise and cultural property is now being used to finance terrorism, he warned, adding that countries that hold cultural artefacts of other States are not adequately implementing relevant Security Council resolutions.

KORNELIOS KORNELIOU (Cyprus) said the protection of cultural property is a priority in Cyprus foreign policy, in part due to the aftermath of the military occupation that has been in place since 1974. Noting that approximately 60,000 objects were stolen from his country, he voiced his endorsement for the adoption of measures against the destruction and illicit trafficking of cultural heritage. At a national level, those include the digitization of cultural heritage and stronger, more comprehensive policing and monitoring. At an international level, those efforts include the establishment of the Group of Friends for the Protection of Cultural Heritage along with Italy; an initiative in Geneva for the adoption of the resolution of the Council of Human Rights and the Protection of Cultural Heritage; and the adoption of the Council of Europe’s Convention on Offences Relating to Cultural Property. He called on all Member States to become a party to that convention, describing it as an important and unique legal tool for the protection of cultural heritage and the return of cultural property.

The representative of the United States said that the protection of cultural property promotes regional stability and good governance. As such, the United States has supported efforts to protect cultural property in a variety of ways, including recently passed national legislations that protect such property. However, while the United States joins consensus on the resolution, he expressed his hesitation about preambular paragraph 5 and operative paragraph 11 on the jurisdiction of States as it relates to cultural property trafficking, noting that it is a different issue.

The General Assembly then adopted the draft resolution, Return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin (document A/73/L.54) without a vote.

Global Health and Foreign Policy

The representative of Brazil introduced the draft resolution Global health and foreign policy: a healthier world through better nutrition (document A/73/L.62). Draft resolutions on health-related matters have been introduced since 2008 to highlight the link between health and foreign policy. This year’s text focuses on nutrition, highlighting how improved health and lifestyles are essential to accomplishing the Sustainable Development Goals. The draft recognizes the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger and malnutrition, he stated, adding that the text invites Member States to work with international organizations to convene action networks on nutrition. Tackling the root causes of malnutrition is a complex task that demands sustained political leadership, he emphasized, calling on all Member States to support the draft.

The representative of Hungary, introducing an amendment to draft resolution L.62 (document A/73/L.67), said her country is fully committed to the goals of the draft resolution. However, we are not able to endorse preambular paragraph 22, she said, voicing her opposition to references to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. Hungary disassociated from the Compact, she noted, calling for the deletion of preambular paragraph 22 from the draft.

The representative of Brazil, in a point of order, expressed regret that the only paragraph relating to migration is being challenged. Great efforts were made to stay as factual as possible � given the sensitivity of the issue � and to accommodate concerns about the issue to find an agreeable balance on preambular paragraph 22. Thus, he called on delegations to vote against the amendment to the resolution.

VITAVAS SRIVIHOK (Thailand), speaking for the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the theme on nutrition is particularly important to his region, as many of its people die prematurely due to diet-related non-communicable diseases, including diabetes and obesity. In addition, many children continue to suffer from malnutrition and undernourishment, which hinders their growth and development, especially in rural areas. The ASEAN Post-2015 Health Development Agenda addresses 20 areas of priority in health and their related goals to promote good nutrition and healthy diets. It strives to ensure food safety and security and promotes healthy diets and lifestyles at the country and regional levels to achieve health across ASEAN member States by 2020.

In addition, ASEAN will address social, economic or environmental determinants and ensure greater access to health services in the face of rising morbidity and drug resistance, he said. In so doing, the health sector needs the highest and strongest level of political anchor, sustained investment and engagement from all relevant sectors. Speaking in his national capacity and aligning himself with Brazil, he expressed regret that the only annual health resolution proposed by the Foreign Policy and Global Health Initiative in the General Assembly will be put to a vote, when the aim of such resolutions is to address health-related challenges affecting all countries. Nonetheless, a unique, like-minded, cross-regional group like the Global Health Initiative will continue to advocate for global health in the international arena, despite countless obstacles it may encounter, as health is a key enabler for achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The representative of South Africa said that the international community’s pronouncements of equality are invalid if it can’t rise above what separates us, especially in the case of treatment of migrants. Global health is a pressing issue and a telling indicator of the Sustainable Development Goals. The resolution brings together the United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition with other topics. In South Africa � where health care is a universal right � the Government promotes healthy diet with taxation of unhealthy foods, food product labelling, and rules against the commercialization of unhealthy foods to children. Her delegation did not anticipate that such earnest efforts at consensus on this topic would erode the essence of diplomacy and mutual respect, she lamented, saying they had witnessed a concerted effort to shut down the issue because it threatens industry. She affirmed her commitment to the effort at hand, adding that she will thwart attempts to shut down dialogue on controversial issues. The role of nutrition cannot be overemphasized, she said, calling for Member States to vote in favour of the resolution.

The representative of Saint Kitts and Nevis said health is a precondition and an outcome of sustainable development. The multidimensional nature of global health can be seen throughout the 2030 Agenda. Her country is witnessing a dietary shift in its population and continues to fight against malnutrition and obesity which contribute to many diseases. Several national measures are addressing child health issues, including promoting breast feeding and working to prevent micronutrient deficiencies. Social protection programs are vital in that regard and the Government is encouraging the beneficiaries of cash transfers to invest in healthy nutrition and lifestyles. However, the advancement of agricultural systems and fisheries, which are crucial for health and food security, are threatened by climate change. As such, Saint Kitts and Nevis is creating disaster preparedness and mitigation plans as a means to protect the population from food insecurity, she said.

DANIEL FERNAN GIMENEZ (Norway), marking the tenth anniversary for the adoption of the Foreign Policy and Global Health resolution, said the backdrop, then and now, is the belief that health is one of the most important yet still broadly neglected foreign policy issues facing the international community. This year’s resolution on nutrition is essential in States’ endeavours to achieve a healthy population. However, he voiced his regret regarding the controversy surrounding some of the discussion on non-communicable diseases in operating paragraph 10, adding that the language in the text today was weaker than what was collectively agreed on in September. In order to achieve nutrition-related Sustainable Development Goals, consumption of healthy food must be ensured, which means avoiding consumption of food high in sugar, salt and saturated fats and trans-fats. The normative work of the World Health Organization shows that there are cost effective ways to achieve this, including taxation and restrictions on marketing to children. Underlining the need for improved nutrition, he stressed that health is the building block of any well-functioning society.

The representative of Egypt noted the high priority afforded to issues of global health and called for policy coherence in the fields of health and nutrition amid the increasing number of people suffering from hunger. The international community cannot stand by as 150 million children suffer from stunting, he said, adding that limited financial resources hinder individual ability to pursue healthier lifestyles. The international community must accelerate efforts to combat treatable diseases, he said, calling on all Member States to support the draft and its implementation.

The representative of Bangladesh said health is the foundation of human capital and pointed to Sustainable Development Goal 3 (Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages) as key to reaching the targets to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Moving forward, we must pursue policies that promote universal health coverage, he said, urging collective action on global health by all relevant stakeholders. He pointed to inequality as a major challenge in the promotion of health initiatives and said his country stands as an example of best practice in promoting good health at low cost. Bangladesh defies the expert view that economic strength is the key driver of good health, he asserted, noting that the country’s women’s empowerment strategy has been a main contributor to improving health indicators.

The representative of the United States, in explanation of position before action, said she regretted the need to vote against draft L.62. While the topic of nutrition is important, the draft appears to be a collection of general platitudes and extraneous topics, she said, adding it is loaded with as much unfinished business as possible. She said she would vote against the draft as a display of respect for drafts that are actionable and responsible, calling for resolutions to be as concise as possible. On preambular paragraph 7, the United States believes all women should have access to reproductive care but said abortion is not a method of family planning. She further voiced support for the dignity and value of human life and condemned attempts to have the term health services include abortion. She said references to the Global Compact on Migration represent efforts by the United Nations to circumvent national migration legislation.

The representative of Brazil, in a point of order, said every year the issue of global health and foreign policy is considered by the General Assembly and adopted by consensus. Expressing regret that a vote has been called for, he said the dedication of all stakeholders and negotiating parties to this resolution must be recognized. The resolution negotiations were held in an open and transparent manner and led to the best possible results. The text reaffirms the right of every human being to health, the essential role of food security and the importance of healthy diets in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Recalling several points in the resolution’s text, he stressed that it sets the tone on global health issues. He invited all delegations to vote in favour of the resolution as an indicator of the priority given to the issue.

The General Assembly then turned to the draft resolution, Scope, modalities, format and organization of the high-level meeting on universal health coverage (document A/73/L.37), adopting it without a vote.

Next, the Assembly took up the draft resolution, Global health and foreign policy: a healthier world through better nutrition (document A/73/L.62) and the related amendment (document A/73/L.67).

Acting on the draft amendment L.67, the Assembly rejected that text by a recorded vote of 117 against to 4 in favour (Hungary, Israel, Libya, United States), with 27 abstentions.

The Assembly then acted on the draft L.62, as a whole, adopting it by a recorded vote of 157 in favour to 2 against (Libya, United States), with 1 abstention (Hungary).

The representative of Germany, speaking on behalf of 26 European Union member States (with the exception of Austria and Hungary), said, in explanation of position, that she voted in favour of the draft as the text represents a compromise package. The draft did not extend the rights of migrants beyond already agreed-upon terms in relevant international documents.

The representative of Australia, acknowledging that all States have a responsibility to support refugees, said she does not conflate this resolution with the Global Migration Compact. She, therefore, abstained from the vote.

The representative of Austria said his delegation voted in favour of the resolution despite reservations on preambular paragraph 22. Austria decides on migration issues in a strictly national, sovereign manner, he said. As such, their vote cannot be seen as an acceptance of a change in position regarding the rights of migrants.

Switzerland’s delegate, in explanation of vote, expressed regret that the resolution lacked focus on the issue of nutrition. The text includes a variety of subjects not directly related to the topic that should be discussed in the appropriate forums, she said. An example is the issue of access to medicines in preambular paragraph 15. Switzerland takes a holistic approach, including all relevant factors that contribute to access to medical products and, given the many reports in that regard, does not see a reason to single out one reference, she said.

The representative of Chile registered her delegation’s reservations about preambular paragraph 22 of the resolution.

Organization of Work, Adoption of Agenda and Allocation of Items

Acting without a vote the General Assembly then adopted the draft decision, High-level meetings of the General Assembly in September 2019 (document A/73/L.38), as orally revised.

Report of the Economic and Social Council

The representative of Egypt, speaking for the Group of 77 developing countries and China, introduced the draft resolution, Graduation of countries from the least developed country category (document A/73/L.40/Rev.1). Noting that only five countries have ever graduated from the least developed country category, he urged that the graduation of the three countries included in the draft text be celebrated by the entire international community. Graduation from the category is a clear sign that those countries are on track towards achieving sustainable development. Graduating countries must be put on a path that minimizes backsliding after graduation, he added, calling on development partners to provide country-specific support to the graduating States.

The General Assembly then adopted the draft resolution, Graduation of countries from the least developed country category (document A/73/L.40/Rev.1) without a vote.

The representative of Tuvalu, in explanation of vote, observe that, while graduation from the list of least developed countries is a milestone on the way to development, it can cause fear and regret if countries are not fully ready. The process must be undertaken with caution as a gradual process rather than a cliff to protect the development process that led to the graduation in the first place. A slower graduation process is more likely to create sustainable conditions, he continued, pointing out that Pacific countries are subject to unique vulnerabilities and challenges, including economic shocks and natural disasters. As a result, they also struggle to attract financing and investment, he noted, calling on the international community to ensure that graduating countries develop the resilience they need.

Follow-up of United Nations Conferences in Economic, Social, Related Fields

SUKHBOLD SUKHEE (Mongolia), introducing the draft resolution titled Education for democracy (document A/73/L.50), reaffirmed the fundamental link between democratic governance, peace, development and the promotion and protection of human rights. The draft text recognizes that education strengthens those principles. Among other terms, the text notes that the Sustainable Development Goals, which are indivisible, call for expanded opportunities for all children. It also recognizes that education for democracy nurtures responsible and active learners. Acknowledging the contributions of civil society, academia and the private sector, he urged that unanimous support be given to the draft.

Acting without a vote, the General Assembly adopted the draft resolution Education for democracy (document A/73/L.50).

The representative of the United States, in explanation of position, said education is transformational and creates pathways towards peaceful democratic societies. A new education policy in the United States recognizes the role of civil society and the private sector in providing educational opportunities. While the United States joined consensus, he said it did so with the understanding that the draft is mindful of the governance framework of national education legislation.

Cooperation between United Nations, Organization of Islamic Cooperation

The representative of Bangladesh introduced the draft resolution, Cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (document A/73/L.45). The resolution is consistent with the spirit of resolution 3369 (1975) when the United Nations invited the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to be an observer. It reaffirms the shared objectives of the two organizations in conflict prevention and resolution, peacebuilding, mediation and the promotion of a culture of peace, especially with Muslim communities around the world. The draft resolution highlights the desire of the two organizations to work together on a number of shared concerns, including global security, self-determination, decolonization and combating terrorism. In its operative paragraphs, the resolution reaffirms the organizations’ shared common goals of facilitating the Middle East process, combating religious intolerance and preventing violent extremism. The protracted and emerging conflicts in the world make cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation strategically important.

The representative of Austria, on behalf of the European Union, spoke in explanation of position before the vote, expressing general support for the text. However, he noted his reservations about language regarding the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s program of action as it relates to Cyprus. The language is not supported or endorsed by any United Nations documents nor is it consistent with any Security Council or General Assembly resolutions, he said.

The representative of Syria said his country was a founder of OIC and will remain so despite the comedy that took place when certain States were pressured to suspend its membership. He noted his country’s friendly relations with most OIC member States and called for a re-evaluation of OIC activities due to the undemocratic suspension. The OIC host country is imposing its agenda on the organization, he said, voicing opposition to references to the situation in his country included in the draft. We have suffered from terrorism and Syrians have paid a heavy price. Our blood has been spilled and our infrastructure destroyed, he said.

He warned that certain countries were financing terrorism with the aim of forcing regime change in Syria and that the host OIC country is responsible for the creation of terrorist organizations linked to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and the famine in Yemen. He urged OIC members to conduct a true review of working methods to address the failures that emanate from its host’s actions. He clarified that his position does not reject the work of the OIC; instead it is meant to sound the alarm that will allow the Organization to return to its true path. He then called for a recorded vote on draft resolution L.45.

The representative of Bangladesh, in a point of order, expressed disappointment that the delegate of Syria had broken consensus on the resolution by calling for a vote. The language of the resolution was agreed upon and is in line with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation mandate, he said.

The representative of Syria, in response, said that the draft was voted on last year and thus the language cannot be considered agreed on.

The General Assembly then adopted the draft resolution, Cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (document A/73/L.45), by a recorded vote of 139 in favour to 0 against, with 6 abstentions (Armenia, El Salvador, Honduras, India, Israel, Syria).

The representative of Armenia, in explanation of vote, said his country spares no effort in deepening cordial relations with OIC members. He reiterated the importance of finding peaceful solutions to conflicts within international negotiation formats and called on the OIC to adhere to the language and regulations of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group related to Nagorno-Karabakh.

The representative of Canada disassociated her country from preliminary paragraph 4 of the resolution as it unfairly singles out Israel for criticism and politicizes the issue there, she said.

The representative of the United States disassociated his country from the preambular paragraph of the resolution regarding the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s program of action and its handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, calling it one-sided, political and unproductive.

The representative of Israel said the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s program of action contains biased and untrue information against Israel and thus disassociated from preambular paragraph number 4.

Right of Reply

The representative of Turkey, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that only a negotiated settlement will be sustainable in Cyprus. The Greek Cypriot community has been recognized by the European Union regardless of the vote to the contrary, he stressed, suggesting that the European Union will not be able to contribute to the conflict solution efforts in an unbiased manner. The program of action under discussion is in line with international law and the Charter of the United Nations and contains some components of a viable solution, he said, urging the European Union to play a facilitating role in that regard.

The representative of Saudi Arabia voiced his rejection of baseless allegations made by the representative of Syria. We are accustomed to hearing lies in Syria’s statements, he said, adding that the OIC defends the causes of the Arab people, including through support of United Nations resolutions on the Syrian Golan. The Syrian Government uses prohibited weapons, including toxic gases, on its citizens, he said, justifying Syria’s suspension from the OIC. Syria’s attempts to divert attention from its violations of human rights will not succeed.

The representative of Azerbaijan said Armenia’s continued aggression amounts to serious breaches of international law. As a result, the international community is committed to legally putting an end to those violations. The OIC has urged strict implementation of Security Council resolutions on the matter and for the complete withdrawal of Armenian forces from Azerbaijan. Armenia must realize that peace will be possible only if the consequences of its aggression are removed, he said.

The representative of Cyprus invited delegates to read the relevant resolutions of the United Nations, specifically Security Council resolutions 541 (1983) and 550 (1984) and decide for themselves on the issue. Turkey should contribute to finding a solution by withdrawing its troops and guarantees in Cyprus, she said, adding that occupied areas of Cyprus are a part of the European Union but remain suspended until reunification.

The representative of Syria reiterated that his previous statement pertained to objective matters regarding the method of work of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The delegate of Saudi Arabia made false and unfounded claims that reflect the unbalanced position it holds concerning the crisis in Syria, he said, suggesting that the country was a supporter of terrorist organizations. He called on the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to conduct a revision of its actions, given the grave danger the Middle East is in.

The representative of Armenia said the representative of Azerbaijan presents an upside-down reality and had failed to mention the principle of self-determination. He said the will of the international community related to Nagorno-Karabakh is reflected in OIC proposals.

The representative of Azerbaijan said Armenia’s statements are astonishing as the Security Council has condemned that country’s aggressions. On Armenia’s territorial claims, he said the Council has said Nagorno-Karabakh is an integral part of Azerbaijan.

Source: United Nations

Adopting 7 Resolutions, General Assembly Calls for Recorded Vote on Texts Addressing Global Health, Ties with Organization of Islamic Cooperation

As the General Assembly considered seven draft resolutions today on issues ranging from the return of cultural property to education for democracy, speakers held a contentious debate, resulting in a recorded vote on two texts tackling global health, as well as one on the fortifying of ties between the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

The General Assembly adopted the draft resolution titled Cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (document A/73/L.45) by a recorded vote of 139 in favour to 0 against, with 6 abstentions (Armenia, El Salvador, Honduras, India, Israel, Syria).

By the text, the General Assembly urges the United Nations system to cooperate with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in areas of mutual interest. It further invites the United Nations to consider providing increased technical and other forms of assistance to the OIC and its subsidiary organs. It also affirms that both organizations share a common goal of promoting and facilitating the Middle East peace.

The representative of Bangladesh, introducing the draft resolution, said the text reaffirms the shared objectives of the two organizations in conflict prevention and resolution, peacebuilding, mediation and the promotion of a culture of peace, especially with Muslim communities around the world. Protracted and emerging conflicts in the world make United Nations-OIC cooperation strategically important.

However, the representative of Syria � who called for a recorded vote on the text � urged a re-evaluation of OIC working methods after the comedy that took place when certain States were pressured to suspend its membership. That pressure, he warned, emanated from OIC’s host country, a State that is also imposing its agenda on the organization. The host OIC country, he stressed, is responsible for the creation of terrorist groups linked to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and the famine in Yemen.

The representative of Saudi Arabia, in exercise of the right of reply following the conclusion of all action, responded that he was accustomed to hearing lies in Syria’s statements, adding that the OIC defends the causes of the Arab people, including through support of United Nations resolutions on the Syrian Golan. The Syrian Government used prohibited weapons, including toxic gases, on its citizens, he said, justifying that country’s suspension from the OIC.

Following the vote on that resolution, a number of delegates also disassociated from language in the text that they said unfairly singled out Israel, with that country’s representative stressing that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s programme of action contains biased and untrue information against Israel.

The General Assembly also adopted the draft resolution titled Global health and foreign policy: a healthier world through better nutrition (document A/73/L.62) by a recorded vote of 157 in favour to 2 against (Libya, United States), with 1 abstention (Hungary).

By the text, the Assembly calls upon Member States to reinforce actions towards the improvement of nutrition, health conditions and living standards of populations around the globe as a key element of strategies for the eradication of all forms of malnutrition. It further calls upon Member States to consider ratifying or implementing, as appropriate, the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Brazil’s representative, introducing the draft resolution, highlighted that improved health and lifestyles are essential to accomplishing the Sustainable Development Goals. The draft recognizes the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger and malnutrition, he stated, adding that the text invites Member States to work with international organizations to convene action networks on nutrition.

Hungary’s representative, voicing her opposition to references in L.62 to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, introduced a draft amendment (document A/73/L.67). That draft text called for the deletion of preambular paragraph 22. The General Assembly rejected the amendment by a recorded vote of 117 against to 4 in favour (Hungary, Israel, Libya, United States), with 27 abstentions.

Still, following the voting, several speakers shared reservations regarding language in the resolution related to migrants, with the representative of Germany, on behalf of 26 European Union member States (with the exception of Austria and Hungary), saying that while she voted in favour of the text, its terms did not extend the rights of migrants beyond already agreed-upon terms in relevant international documents.

Countering those concerns was the representative of South Africa, who said that the international community’s pronouncements of equality are invalid if it can’t rise above what separates us, especially in the case of the treatment of migrants. Global health is a pressing issue and a telling indicator of the Sustainable Development Goals, she said.

The General Assembly also adopted without a vote a draft resolution, Return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin (document A/73/L.54). By its terms, the Assembly calls upon all relevant bodies, agencies, funds and programmes of the United Nations system to continue to address the issue of return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin and to provide appropriate support accordingly.

The international community shares a common responsibility to protect cultural property, said the representative of Greece while introducing the draft resolution. Noting that the past few decades were characterized by an increase in the illicit trafficking of such artefacts, she warned that conflict in the Middle East is leading to unprecedented destruction, looting and theft. In that regard, the text highlights the direct link between such illicit trafficking and terrorism.

Representatives of States that have seen their cultural property stolen took the floor to urge increased action that would ensure artefacts are returned to countries of origin.

Joining that call, the representative of Libya noted that over the past 500 years, his country has been subjected to plundering of its cultural heritage. Libyan artefacts are on display around the world, including pillars that adorn the garden of a certain European royal family, he pointed out.

By the terms of a draft resolution, Graduation of countries from the least developed country category (document A/73/L.40/Rev.1) � adopted without a vote � the General Assembly reaffirms that graduating from the category of least developed countries should not result in a disruption of development plans, programmes and projects. It also invites a number of Member States, following their graduation from the least developed country category, to prepare national smooth-transition strategies.

Egypt’s representative introduced the draft resolution on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China. He said graduation from the category of least-developed country by the States mentioned in the text � Bhutan, Solomon Islands and Sao Tome and Principe � is a clear sign that those countries are on track towards achieving sustainable development. Graduating countries must be put on a path that minimizes backsliding after graduation, he added, calling on development partners to provide country-specific support to those States.

Through the terms of another draft on Education for democracy (document A/73/L.50) � also adopted without a vote � the General Assembly reaffirms the fundamental link between democratic governance, peace, development and the promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms. The text recognizes that education strengthens the principles of democratic governance, peace, development and human rights, said the representative of Mongolia as he introduced the text.

The General Assembly also adopted � without a vote � a draft resolution and a draft decision linked to its seventy-fourth session, set for September 2019.

By the draft resolution titled Scope, modalities, format and organization of the high-level meeting on universal health coverage (document A/73/L.37), the Assembly decides that the one-day high-level meeting shall be held in New York a day before the start of the general debate of the General Assembly at its seventy-fourth session and that the meeting’s theme will be Universal health coverage: moving together to build a healthier world.

The General Assembly, by the terms of a draft decision High-level meetings of the General Assembly in September 2019 (document A/73/L.38) � as orally revised � decided that the general debate of the seventy-fourth session of the General Assembly will be held from Tuesday, 24 September, to Saturday, 28 September, and on Monday, 30 September 2019. It also sets out the dates for a series of high-level meetings.

The General Assembly had before it several reports and notes of the Secretary-General, including: Return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin (document A/73/390); Political declaration of the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on antimicrobial resistance and its corrigendum (documents A/73/393 and A/73/393/Corr.1); and Improving international coordination and cooperation to address the health needs of the most vulnerable for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (document A/73/414).

In other business, the General Assembly decided today to extend the work of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) until Friday, 21 December.

Also speaking today were representatives of Cyprus, United States, Thailand (for the Association of South-East Asian Nations), Saint Kitts and Nevis, Norway, Egypt, Australia, Austria, Switzerland, Chile, Tuvalu, Armenia, Canada, Azerbaijan and Turkey.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were Turkey, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Syria and Armenia.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 14 December, to consider the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance.

Return or Restitution of Cultural Property to Countries of Origin

MARIA THEOFILI (Greece) introduced the draft resolution, Return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin (document A/73/L.54). She said the past few decades were characterized by an increase in the illicit trafficking of cultural property. Further, conflict in the Middle East is leading to unprecedented destruction, looting and theft of cultural property. The internet has immensely enlarged the possibilities of the illegal trade, she warned, adding that the draft highlights the direct link between such illicit trafficking and terrorism. The draft further recognizes the leading role played by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in the fight against illicit trafficking. Identifying capacity-building as central to the success of efforts to return cultural property to countries of origin, she underscored that the international community shares a common responsibility to protect cultural property.

The representative of Libya, stressing the importance of cultural property to people, emphasized that the return of such property to countries of origin is complicated and requires concerted efforts by the United Nations. He commended UNESCO for its efforts to launch information campaigns and for its keen interest in the matter. Libya, over the past 500 years, has been subjected to plundering of its cultural heritage, he pointed out, adding that Libyan artefacts are on display around the world, including pillars that adorn the garden of a certain European royal family. Threats to cultural heritage are on the rise and cultural property is now being used to finance terrorism, he warned, adding that countries that hold cultural artefacts of other States are not adequately implementing relevant Security Council resolutions.

KORNELIOS KORNELIOU (Cyprus) said the protection of cultural property is a priority in Cyprus foreign policy, in part due to the aftermath of the military occupation that has been in place since 1974. Noting that approximately 60,000 objects were stolen from his country, he voiced his endorsement for the adoption of measures against the destruction and illicit trafficking of cultural heritage. At a national level, those include the digitization of cultural heritage and stronger, more comprehensive policing and monitoring. At an international level, those efforts include the establishment of the Group of Friends for the Protection of Cultural Heritage along with Italy; an initiative in Geneva for the adoption of the resolution of the Council of Human Rights and the Protection of Cultural Heritage; and the adoption of the Council of Europe’s Convention on Offences Relating to Cultural Property. He called on all Member States to become a party to that convention, describing it as an important and unique legal tool for the protection of cultural heritage and the return of cultural property.

The representative of the United States said that the protection of cultural property promotes regional stability and good governance. As such, the United States has supported efforts to protect cultural property in a variety of ways, including recently passed national legislations that protect such property. However, while the United States joins consensus on the resolution, he expressed his hesitation about preambular paragraph 5 and operative paragraph 11 on the jurisdiction of States as it relates to cultural property trafficking, noting that it is a different issue.

The General Assembly then adopted the draft resolution, Return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin (document A/73/L.54) without a vote.

Global Health and Foreign Policy

The representative of Brazil introduced the draft resolution Global health and foreign policy: a healthier world through better nutrition (document A/73/L.62). Draft resolutions on health-related matters have been introduced since 2008 to highlight the link between health and foreign policy. This year’s text focuses on nutrition, highlighting how improved health and lifestyles are essential to accomplishing the Sustainable Development Goals. The draft recognizes the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger and malnutrition, he stated, adding that the text invites Member States to work with international organizations to convene action networks on nutrition. Tackling the root causes of malnutrition is a complex task that demands sustained political leadership, he emphasized, calling on all Member States to support the draft.

The representative of Hungary, introducing an amendment to draft resolution L.62 (document A/73/L.67), said her country is fully committed to the goals of the draft resolution. However, we are not able to endorse preambular paragraph 22, she said, voicing her opposition to references to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. Hungary disassociated from the Compact, she noted, calling for the deletion of preambular paragraph 22 from the draft.

The representative of Brazil, in a point of order, expressed regret that the only paragraph relating to migration is being challenged. Great efforts were made to stay as factual as possible � given the sensitivity of the issue � and to accommodate concerns about the issue to find an agreeable balance on preambular paragraph 22. Thus, he called on delegations to vote against the amendment to the resolution.

VITAVAS SRIVIHOK (Thailand), speaking for the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the theme on nutrition is particularly important to his region, as many of its people die prematurely due to diet-related non-communicable diseases, including diabetes and obesity. In addition, many children continue to suffer from malnutrition and undernourishment, which hinders their growth and development, especially in rural areas. The ASEAN Post-2015 Health Development Agenda addresses 20 areas of priority in health and their related goals to promote good nutrition and healthy diets. It strives to ensure food safety and security and promotes healthy diets and lifestyles at the country and regional levels to achieve health across ASEAN member States by 2020.

In addition, ASEAN will address social, economic or environmental determinants and ensure greater access to health services in the face of rising morbidity and drug resistance, he said. In so doing, the health sector needs the highest and strongest level of political anchor, sustained investment and engagement from all relevant sectors. Speaking in his national capacity and aligning himself with Brazil, he expressed regret that the only annual health resolution proposed by the Foreign Policy and Global Health Initiative in the General Assembly will be put to a vote, when the aim of such resolutions is to address health-related challenges affecting all countries. Nonetheless, a unique, like-minded, cross-regional group like the Global Health Initiative will continue to advocate for global health in the international arena, despite countless obstacles it may encounter, as health is a key enabler for achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The representative of South Africa said that the international community’s pronouncements of equality are invalid if it can’t rise above what separates us, especially in the case of treatment of migrants. Global health is a pressing issue and a telling indicator of the Sustainable Development Goals. The resolution brings together the United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition with other topics. In South Africa � where health care is a universal right � the Government promotes healthy diet with taxation of unhealthy foods, food product labelling, and rules against the commercialization of unhealthy foods to children. Her delegation did not anticipate that such earnest efforts at consensus on this topic would erode the essence of diplomacy and mutual respect, she lamented, saying they had witnessed a concerted effort to shut down the issue because it threatens industry. She affirmed her commitment to the effort at hand, adding that she will thwart attempts to shut down dialogue on controversial issues. The role of nutrition cannot be overemphasized, she said, calling for Member States to vote in favour of the resolution.

The representative of Saint Kitts and Nevis said health is a precondition and an outcome of sustainable development. The multidimensional nature of global health can be seen throughout the 2030 Agenda. Her country is witnessing a dietary shift in its population and continues to fight against malnutrition and obesity which contribute to many diseases. Several national measures are addressing child health issues, including promoting breast feeding and working to prevent micronutrient deficiencies. Social protection programs are vital in that regard and the Government is encouraging the beneficiaries of cash transfers to invest in healthy nutrition and lifestyles. However, the advancement of agricultural systems and fisheries, which are crucial for health and food security, are threatened by climate change. As such, Saint Kitts and Nevis is creating disaster preparedness and mitigation plans as a means to protect the population from food insecurity, she said.

DANIEL FERNAN GIMENEZ (Norway), marking the tenth anniversary for the adoption of the Foreign Policy and Global Health resolution, said the backdrop, then and now, is the belief that health is one of the most important yet still broadly neglected foreign policy issues facing the international community. This year’s resolution on nutrition is essential in States’ endeavours to achieve a healthy population. However, he voiced his regret regarding the controversy surrounding some of the discussion on non-communicable diseases in operating paragraph 10, adding that the language in the text today was weaker than what was collectively agreed on in September. In order to achieve nutrition-related Sustainable Development Goals, consumption of healthy food must be ensured, which means avoiding consumption of food high in sugar, salt and saturated fats and trans-fats. The normative work of the World Health Organization shows that there are cost effective ways to achieve this, including taxation and restrictions on marketing to children. Underlining the need for improved nutrition, he stressed that health is the building block of any well-functioning society.

The representative of Egypt noted the high priority afforded to issues of global health and called for policy coherence in the fields of health and nutrition amid the increasing number of people suffering from hunger. The international community cannot stand by as 150 million children suffer from stunting, he said, adding that limited financial resources hinder individual ability to pursue healthier lifestyles. The international community must accelerate efforts to combat treatable diseases, he said, calling on all Member States to support the draft and its implementation.

The representative of Bangladesh said health is the foundation of human capital and pointed to Sustainable Development Goal 3 (Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages) as key to reaching the targets to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Moving forward, we must pursue policies that promote universal health coverage, he said, urging collective action on global health by all relevant stakeholders. He pointed to inequality as a major challenge in the promotion of health initiatives and said his country stands as an example of best practice in promoting good health at low cost. Bangladesh defies the expert view that economic strength is the key driver of good health, he asserted, noting that the country’s women’s empowerment strategy has been a main contributor to improving health indicators.

The representative of the United States, in explanation of position before action, said she regretted the need to vote against draft L.62. While the topic of nutrition is important, the draft appears to be a collection of general platitudes and extraneous topics, she said, adding it is loaded with as much unfinished business as possible. She said she would vote against the draft as a display of respect for drafts that are actionable and responsible, calling for resolutions to be as concise as possible. On preambular paragraph 7, the United States believes all women should have access to reproductive care but said abortion is not a method of family planning. She further voiced support for the dignity and value of human life and condemned attempts to have the term health services include abortion. She said references to the Global Compact on Migration represent efforts by the United Nations to circumvent national migration legislation.

The representative of Brazil, in a point of order, said every year the issue of global health and foreign policy is considered by the General Assembly and adopted by consensus. Expressing regret that a vote has been called for, he said the dedication of all stakeholders and negotiating parties to this resolution must be recognized. The resolution negotiations were held in an open and transparent manner and led to the best possible results. The text reaffirms the right of every human being to health, the essential role of food security and the importance of healthy diets in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Recalling several points in the resolution’s text, he stressed that it sets the tone on global health issues. He invited all delegations to vote in favour of the resolution as an indicator of the priority given to the issue.

The General Assembly then turned to the draft resolution, Scope, modalities, format and organization of the high-level meeting on universal health coverage (document A/73/L.37), adopting it without a vote.

Next, the Assembly took up the draft resolution, Global health and foreign policy: a healthier world through better nutrition (document A/73/L.62) and the related amendment (document A/73/L.67).

Acting on the draft amendment L.67, the Assembly rejected that text by a recorded vote of 117 against to 4 in favour (Hungary, Israel, Libya, United States), with 27 abstentions.

The Assembly then acted on the draft L.62, as a whole, adopting it by a recorded vote of 157 in favour to 2 against (Libya, United States), with 1 abstention (Hungary).

The representative of Germany, speaking on behalf of 26 European Union member States (with the exception of Austria and Hungary), said, in explanation of position, that she voted in favour of the draft as the text represents a compromise package. The draft did not extend the rights of migrants beyond already agreed-upon terms in relevant international documents.

The representative of Australia, acknowledging that all States have a responsibility to support refugees, said she does not conflate this resolution with the Global Migration Compact. She, therefore, abstained from the vote.

The representative of Austria said his delegation voted in favour of the resolution despite reservations on preambular paragraph 22. Austria decides on migration issues in a strictly national, sovereign manner, he said. As such, their vote cannot be seen as an acceptance of a change in position regarding the rights of migrants.

Switzerland’s delegate, in explanation of vote, expressed regret that the resolution lacked focus on the issue of nutrition. The text includes a variety of subjects not directly related to the topic that should be discussed in the appropriate forums, she said. An example is the issue of access to medicines in preambular paragraph 15. Switzerland takes a holistic approach, including all relevant factors that contribute to access to medical products and, given the many reports in that regard, does not see a reason to single out one reference, she said.

The representative of Chile registered her delegation’s reservations about preambular paragraph 22 of the resolution.

Organization of Work, Adoption of Agenda and Allocation of Items

Acting without a vote the General Assembly then adopted the draft decision, High-level meetings of the General Assembly in September 2019 (document A/73/L.38), as orally revised.

Report of the Economic and Social Council

The representative of Egypt, speaking for the Group of 77 developing countries and China, introduced the draft resolution, Graduation of countries from the least developed country category (document A/73/L.40/Rev.1). Noting that only five countries have ever graduated from the least developed country category, he urged that the graduation of the three countries included in the draft text be celebrated by the entire international community. Graduation from the category is a clear sign that those countries are on track towards achieving sustainable development. Graduating countries must be put on a path that minimizes backsliding after graduation, he added, calling on development partners to provide country-specific support to the graduating States.

The General Assembly then adopted the draft resolution, Graduation of countries from the least developed country category (document A/73/L.40/Rev.1) without a vote.

The representative of Tuvalu, in explanation of vote, observe that, while graduation from the list of least developed countries is a milestone on the way to development, it can cause fear and regret if countries are not fully ready. The process must be undertaken with caution as a gradual process rather than a cliff to protect the development process that led to the graduation in the first place. A slower graduation process is more likely to create sustainable conditions, he continued, pointing out that Pacific countries are subject to unique vulnerabilities and challenges, including economic shocks and natural disasters. As a result, they also struggle to attract financing and investment, he noted, calling on the international community to ensure that graduating countries develop the resilience they need.

Follow-up of United Nations Conferences in Economic, Social, Related Fields

SUKHBOLD SUKHEE (Mongolia), introducing the draft resolution titled Education for democracy (document A/73/L.50), reaffirmed the fundamental link between democratic governance, peace, development and the promotion and protection of human rights. The draft text recognizes that education strengthens those principles. Among other terms, the text notes that the Sustainable Development Goals, which are indivisible, call for expanded opportunities for all children. It also recognizes that education for democracy nurtures responsible and active learners. Acknowledging the contributions of civil society, academia and the private sector, he urged that unanimous support be given to the draft.

Acting without a vote, the General Assembly adopted the draft resolution Education for democracy (document A/73/L.50).

The representative of the United States, in explanation of position, said education is transformational and creates pathways towards peaceful democratic societies. A new education policy in the United States recognizes the role of civil society and the private sector in providing educational opportunities. While the United States joined consensus, he said it did so with the understanding that the draft is mindful of the governance framework of national education legislation.

Cooperation between United Nations, Organization of Islamic Cooperation

The representative of Bangladesh introduced the draft resolution, Cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (document A/73/L.45). The resolution is consistent with the spirit of resolution 3369 (1975) when the United Nations invited the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to be an observer. It reaffirms the shared objectives of the two organizations in conflict prevention and resolution, peacebuilding, mediation and the promotion of a culture of peace, especially with Muslim communities around the world. The draft resolution highlights the desire of the two organizations to work together on a number of shared concerns, including global security, self-determination, decolonization and combating terrorism. In its operative paragraphs, the resolution reaffirms the organizations’ shared common goals of facilitating the Middle East process, combating religious intolerance and preventing violent extremism. The protracted and emerging conflicts in the world make cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation strategically important.

The representative of Austria, on behalf of the European Union, spoke in explanation of position before the vote, expressing general support for the text. However, he noted his reservations about language regarding the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s program of action as it relates to Cyprus. The language is not supported or endorsed by any United Nations documents nor is it consistent with any Security Council or General Assembly resolutions, he said.

The representative of Syria said his country was a founder of OIC and will remain so despite the comedy that took place when certain States were pressured to suspend its membership. He noted his country’s friendly relations with most OIC member States and called for a re-evaluation of OIC activities due to the undemocratic suspension. The OIC host country is imposing its agenda on the organization, he said, voicing opposition to references to the situation in his country included in the draft. We have suffered from terrorism and Syrians have paid a heavy price. Our blood has been spilled and our infrastructure destroyed, he said.

He warned that certain countries were financing terrorism with the aim of forcing regime change in Syria and that the host OIC country is responsible for the creation of terrorist organizations linked to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and the famine in Yemen. He urged OIC members to conduct a true review of working methods to address the failures that emanate from its host’s actions. He clarified that his position does not reject the work of the OIC; instead it is meant to sound the alarm that will allow the Organization to return to its true path. He then called for a recorded vote on draft resolution L.45.

The representative of Bangladesh, in a point of order, expressed disappointment that the delegate of Syria had broken consensus on the resolution by calling for a vote. The language of the resolution was agreed upon and is in line with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation mandate, he said.

The representative of Syria, in response, said that the draft was voted on last year and thus the language cannot be considered agreed on.

The General Assembly then adopted the draft resolution, Cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (document A/73/L.45), by a recorded vote of 139 in favour to 0 against, with 6 abstentions (Armenia, El Salvador, Honduras, India, Israel, Syria).

The representative of Armenia, in explanation of vote, said his country spares no effort in deepening cordial relations with OIC members. He reiterated the importance of finding peaceful solutions to conflicts within international negotiation formats and called on the OIC to adhere to the language and regulations of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group related to Nagorno-Karabakh.

The representative of Canada disassociated her country from preliminary paragraph 4 of the resolution as it unfairly singles out Israel for criticism and politicizes the issue there, she said.

The representative of the United States disassociated his country from the preambular paragraph of the resolution regarding the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s program of action and its handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, calling it one-sided, political and unproductive.

The representative of Israel said the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s program of action contains biased and untrue information against Israel and thus disassociated from preambular paragraph number 4.

Right of Reply

The representative of Turkey, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that only a negotiated settlement will be sustainable in Cyprus. The Greek Cypriot community has been recognized by the European Union regardless of the vote to the contrary, he stressed, suggesting that the European Union will not be able to contribute to the conflict solution efforts in an unbiased manner. The program of action under discussion is in line with international law and the Charter of the United Nations and contains some components of a viable solution, he said, urging the European Union to play a facilitating role in that regard.

The representative of Saudi Arabia voiced his rejection of baseless allegations made by the representative of Syria. We are accustomed to hearing lies in Syria’s statements, he said, adding that the OIC defends the causes of the Arab people, including through support of United Nations resolutions on the Syrian Golan. The Syrian Government uses prohibited weapons, including toxic gases, on its citizens, he said, justifying Syria’s suspension from the OIC. Syria’s attempts to divert attention from its violations of human rights will not succeed.

The representative of Azerbaijan said Armenia’s continued aggression amounts to serious breaches of international law. As a result, the international community is committed to legally putting an end to those violations. The OIC has urged strict implementation of Security Council resolutions on the matter and for the complete withdrawal of Armenian forces from Azerbaijan. Armenia must realize that peace will be possible only if the consequences of its aggression are removed, he said.

The representative of Cyprus invited delegates to read the relevant resolutions of the United Nations, specifically Security Council resolutions 541 (1983) and 550 (1984) and decide for themselves on the issue. Turkey should contribute to finding a solution by withdrawing its troops and guarantees in Cyprus, she said, adding that occupied areas of Cyprus are a part of the European Union but remain suspended until reunification.

The representative of Syria reiterated that his previous statement pertained to objective matters regarding the method of work of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The delegate of Saudi Arabia made false and unfounded claims that reflect the unbalanced position it holds concerning the crisis in Syria, he said, suggesting that the country was a supporter of terrorist organizations. He called on the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to conduct a revision of its actions, given the grave danger the Middle East is in.

The representative of Armenia said the representative of Azerbaijan presents an upside-down reality and had failed to mention the principle of self-determination. He said the will of the international community related to Nagorno-Karabakh is reflected in OIC proposals.

The representative of Azerbaijan said Armenia’s statements are astonishing as the Security Council has condemned that country’s aggressions. On Armenia’s territorial claims, he said the Council has said Nagorno-Karabakh is an integral part of Azerbaijan.

Source: United Nations

Adopting 7 Resolutions, General Assembly Calls for Recorded Vote on Texts Addressing Global Health, Ties with Organization of Islamic Cooperation

As the General Assembly considered seven draft resolutions today on issues ranging from the return of cultural property to education for democracy, speakers held a contentious debate, resulting in a recorded vote on two texts tackling global health, as well as one on the fortifying of ties between the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

The General Assembly adopted the draft resolution titled Cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (document A/73/L.45) by a recorded vote of 139 in favour to 0 against, with 6 abstentions (Armenia, El Salvador, Honduras, India, Israel, Syria).

By the text, the General Assembly urges the United Nations system to cooperate with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in areas of mutual interest. It further invites the United Nations to consider providing increased technical and other forms of assistance to the OIC and its subsidiary organs. It also affirms that both organizations share a common goal of promoting and facilitating the Middle East peace.

The representative of Bangladesh, introducing the draft resolution, said the text reaffirms the shared objectives of the two organizations in conflict prevention and resolution, peacebuilding, mediation and the promotion of a culture of peace, especially with Muslim communities around the world. Protracted and emerging conflicts in the world make United Nations-OIC cooperation strategically important.

However, the representative of Syria � who called for a recorded vote on the text � urged a re-evaluation of OIC working methods after the comedy that took place when certain States were pressured to suspend its membership. That pressure, he warned, emanated from OIC’s host country, a State that is also imposing its agenda on the organization. The host OIC country, he stressed, is responsible for the creation of terrorist groups linked to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and the famine in Yemen.

The representative of Saudi Arabia, in exercise of the right of reply following the conclusion of all action, responded that he was accustomed to hearing lies in Syria’s statements, adding that the OIC defends the causes of the Arab people, including through support of United Nations resolutions on the Syrian Golan. The Syrian Government used prohibited weapons, including toxic gases, on its citizens, he said, justifying that country’s suspension from the OIC.

Following the vote on that resolution, a number of delegates also disassociated from language in the text that they said unfairly singled out Israel, with that country’s representative stressing that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s programme of action contains biased and untrue information against Israel.

The General Assembly also adopted the draft resolution titled Global health and foreign policy: a healthier world through better nutrition (document A/73/L.62) by a recorded vote of 157 in favour to 2 against (Libya, United States), with 1 abstention (Hungary).

By the text, the Assembly calls upon Member States to reinforce actions towards the improvement of nutrition, health conditions and living standards of populations around the globe as a key element of strategies for the eradication of all forms of malnutrition. It further calls upon Member States to consider ratifying or implementing, as appropriate, the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Brazil’s representative, introducing the draft resolution, highlighted that improved health and lifestyles are essential to accomplishing the Sustainable Development Goals. The draft recognizes the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger and malnutrition, he stated, adding that the text invites Member States to work with international organizations to convene action networks on nutrition.

Hungary’s representative, voicing her opposition to references in L.62 to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, introduced a draft amendment (document A/73/L.67). That draft text called for the deletion of preambular paragraph 22. The General Assembly rejected the amendment by a recorded vote of 117 against to 4 in favour (Hungary, Israel, Libya, United States), with 27 abstentions.

Still, following the voting, several speakers shared reservations regarding language in the resolution related to migrants, with the representative of Germany, on behalf of 26 European Union member States (with the exception of Austria and Hungary), saying that while she voted in favour of the text, its terms did not extend the rights of migrants beyond already agreed-upon terms in relevant international documents.

Countering those concerns was the representative of South Africa, who said that the international community’s pronouncements of equality are invalid if it can’t rise above what separates us, especially in the case of the treatment of migrants. Global health is a pressing issue and a telling indicator of the Sustainable Development Goals, she said.

The General Assembly also adopted without a vote a draft resolution, Return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin (document A/73/L.54). By its terms, the Assembly calls upon all relevant bodies, agencies, funds and programmes of the United Nations system to continue to address the issue of return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin and to provide appropriate support accordingly.

The international community shares a common responsibility to protect cultural property, said the representative of Greece while introducing the draft resolution. Noting that the past few decades were characterized by an increase in the illicit trafficking of such artefacts, she warned that conflict in the Middle East is leading to unprecedented destruction, looting and theft. In that regard, the text highlights the direct link between such illicit trafficking and terrorism.

Representatives of States that have seen their cultural property stolen took the floor to urge increased action that would ensure artefacts are returned to countries of origin.

Joining that call, the representative of Libya noted that over the past 500 years, his country has been subjected to plundering of its cultural heritage. Libyan artefacts are on display around the world, including pillars that adorn the garden of a certain European royal family, he pointed out.

By the terms of a draft resolution, Graduation of countries from the least developed country category (document A/73/L.40/Rev.1) � adopted without a vote � the General Assembly reaffirms that graduating from the category of least developed countries should not result in a disruption of development plans, programmes and projects. It also invites a number of Member States, following their graduation from the least developed country category, to prepare national smooth-transition strategies.

Egypt’s representative introduced the draft resolution on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China. He said graduation from the category of least-developed country by the States mentioned in the text � Bhutan, Solomon Islands and Sao Tome and Principe � is a clear sign that those countries are on track towards achieving sustainable development. Graduating countries must be put on a path that minimizes backsliding after graduation, he added, calling on development partners to provide country-specific support to those States.

Through the terms of another draft on Education for democracy (document A/73/L.50) � also adopted without a vote � the General Assembly reaffirms the fundamental link between democratic governance, peace, development and the promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms. The text recognizes that education strengthens the principles of democratic governance, peace, development and human rights, said the representative of Mongolia as he introduced the text.

The General Assembly also adopted � without a vote � a draft resolution and a draft decision linked to its seventy-fourth session, set for September 2019.

By the draft resolution titled Scope, modalities, format and organization of the high-level meeting on universal health coverage (document A/73/L.37), the Assembly decides that the one-day high-level meeting shall be held in New York a day before the start of the general debate of the General Assembly at its seventy-fourth session and that the meeting’s theme will be Universal health coverage: moving together to build a healthier world.

The General Assembly, by the terms of a draft decision High-level meetings of the General Assembly in September 2019 (document A/73/L.38) � as orally revised � decided that the general debate of the seventy-fourth session of the General Assembly will be held from Tuesday, 24 September, to Saturday, 28 September, and on Monday, 30 September 2019. It also sets out the dates for a series of high-level meetings.

The General Assembly had before it several reports and notes of the Secretary-General, including: Return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin (document A/73/390); Political declaration of the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on antimicrobial resistance and its corrigendum (documents A/73/393 and A/73/393/Corr.1); and Improving international coordination and cooperation to address the health needs of the most vulnerable for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (document A/73/414).

In other business, the General Assembly decided today to extend the work of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) until Friday, 21 December.

Also speaking today were representatives of Cyprus, United States, Thailand (for the Association of South-East Asian Nations), Saint Kitts and Nevis, Norway, Egypt, Australia, Austria, Switzerland, Chile, Tuvalu, Armenia, Canada, Azerbaijan and Turkey.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were Turkey, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Syria and Armenia.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 14 December, to consider the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance.

Return or Restitution of Cultural Property to Countries of Origin

MARIA THEOFILI (Greece) introduced the draft resolution, Return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin (document A/73/L.54). She said the past few decades were characterized by an increase in the illicit trafficking of cultural property. Further, conflict in the Middle East is leading to unprecedented destruction, looting and theft of cultural property. The internet has immensely enlarged the possibilities of the illegal trade, she warned, adding that the draft highlights the direct link between such illicit trafficking and terrorism. The draft further recognizes the leading role played by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in the fight against illicit trafficking. Identifying capacity-building as central to the success of efforts to return cultural property to countries of origin, she underscored that the international community shares a common responsibility to protect cultural property.

The representative of Libya, stressing the importance of cultural property to people, emphasized that the return of such property to countries of origin is complicated and requires concerted efforts by the United Nations. He commended UNESCO for its efforts to launch information campaigns and for its keen interest in the matter. Libya, over the past 500 years, has been subjected to plundering of its cultural heritage, he pointed out, adding that Libyan artefacts are on display around the world, including pillars that adorn the garden of a certain European royal family. Threats to cultural heritage are on the rise and cultural property is now being used to finance terrorism, he warned, adding that countries that hold cultural artefacts of other States are not adequately implementing relevant Security Council resolutions.

KORNELIOS KORNELIOU (Cyprus) said the protection of cultural property is a priority in Cyprus foreign policy, in part due to the aftermath of the military occupation that has been in place since 1974. Noting that approximately 60,000 objects were stolen from his country, he voiced his endorsement for the adoption of measures against the destruction and illicit trafficking of cultural heritage. At a national level, those include the digitization of cultural heritage and stronger, more comprehensive policing and monitoring. At an international level, those efforts include the establishment of the Group of Friends for the Protection of Cultural Heritage along with Italy; an initiative in Geneva for the adoption of the resolution of the Council of Human Rights and the Protection of Cultural Heritage; and the adoption of the Council of Europe’s Convention on Offences Relating to Cultural Property. He called on all Member States to become a party to that convention, describing it as an important and unique legal tool for the protection of cultural heritage and the return of cultural property.

The representative of the United States said that the protection of cultural property promotes regional stability and good governance. As such, the United States has supported efforts to protect cultural property in a variety of ways, including recently passed national legislations that protect such property. However, while the United States joins consensus on the resolution, he expressed his hesitation about preambular paragraph 5 and operative paragraph 11 on the jurisdiction of States as it relates to cultural property trafficking, noting that it is a different issue.

The General Assembly then adopted the draft resolution, Return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin (document A/73/L.54) without a vote.

Global Health and Foreign Policy

The representative of Brazil introduced the draft resolution Global health and foreign policy: a healthier world through better nutrition (document A/73/L.62). Draft resolutions on health-related matters have been introduced since 2008 to highlight the link between health and foreign policy. This year’s text focuses on nutrition, highlighting how improved health and lifestyles are essential to accomplishing the Sustainable Development Goals. The draft recognizes the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger and malnutrition, he stated, adding that the text invites Member States to work with international organizations to convene action networks on nutrition. Tackling the root causes of malnutrition is a complex task that demands sustained political leadership, he emphasized, calling on all Member States to support the draft.

The representative of Hungary, introducing an amendment to draft resolution L.62 (document A/73/L.67), said her country is fully committed to the goals of the draft resolution. However, we are not able to endorse preambular paragraph 22, she said, voicing her opposition to references to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. Hungary disassociated from the Compact, she noted, calling for the deletion of preambular paragraph 22 from the draft.

The representative of Brazil, in a point of order, expressed regret that the only paragraph relating to migration is being challenged. Great efforts were made to stay as factual as possible � given the sensitivity of the issue � and to accommodate concerns about the issue to find an agreeable balance on preambular paragraph 22. Thus, he called on delegations to vote against the amendment to the resolution.

VITAVAS SRIVIHOK (Thailand), speaking for the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the theme on nutrition is particularly important to his region, as many of its people die prematurely due to diet-related non-communicable diseases, including diabetes and obesity. In addition, many children continue to suffer from malnutrition and undernourishment, which hinders their growth and development, especially in rural areas. The ASEAN Post-2015 Health Development Agenda addresses 20 areas of priority in health and their related goals to promote good nutrition and healthy diets. It strives to ensure food safety and security and promotes healthy diets and lifestyles at the country and regional levels to achieve health across ASEAN member States by 2020.

In addition, ASEAN will address social, economic or environmental determinants and ensure greater access to health services in the face of rising morbidity and drug resistance, he said. In so doing, the health sector needs the highest and strongest level of political anchor, sustained investment and engagement from all relevant sectors. Speaking in his national capacity and aligning himself with Brazil, he expressed regret that the only annual health resolution proposed by the Foreign Policy and Global Health Initiative in the General Assembly will be put to a vote, when the aim of such resolutions is to address health-related challenges affecting all countries. Nonetheless, a unique, like-minded, cross-regional group like the Global Health Initiative will continue to advocate for global health in the international arena, despite countless obstacles it may encounter, as health is a key enabler for achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The representative of South Africa said that the international community’s pronouncements of equality are invalid if it can’t rise above what separates us, especially in the case of treatment of migrants. Global health is a pressing issue and a telling indicator of the Sustainable Development Goals. The resolution brings together the United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition with other topics. In South Africa � where health care is a universal right � the Government promotes healthy diet with taxation of unhealthy foods, food product labelling, and rules against the commercialization of unhealthy foods to children. Her delegation did not anticipate that such earnest efforts at consensus on this topic would erode the essence of diplomacy and mutual respect, she lamented, saying they had witnessed a concerted effort to shut down the issue because it threatens industry. She affirmed her commitment to the effort at hand, adding that she will thwart attempts to shut down dialogue on controversial issues. The role of nutrition cannot be overemphasized, she said, calling for Member States to vote in favour of the resolution.

The representative of Saint Kitts and Nevis said health is a precondition and an outcome of sustainable development. The multidimensional nature of global health can be seen throughout the 2030 Agenda. Her country is witnessing a dietary shift in its population and continues to fight against malnutrition and obesity which contribute to many diseases. Several national measures are addressing child health issues, including promoting breast feeding and working to prevent micronutrient deficiencies. Social protection programs are vital in that regard and the Government is encouraging the beneficiaries of cash transfers to invest in healthy nutrition and lifestyles. However, the advancement of agricultural systems and fisheries, which are crucial for health and food security, are threatened by climate change. As such, Saint Kitts and Nevis is creating disaster preparedness and mitigation plans as a means to protect the population from food insecurity, she said.

DANIEL FERNAN GIMENEZ (Norway), marking the tenth anniversary for the adoption of the Foreign Policy and Global Health resolution, said the backdrop, then and now, is the belief that health is one of the most important yet still broadly neglected foreign policy issues facing the international community. This year’s resolution on nutrition is essential in States’ endeavours to achieve a healthy population. However, he voiced his regret regarding the controversy surrounding some of the discussion on non-communicable diseases in operating paragraph 10, adding that the language in the text today was weaker than what was collectively agreed on in September. In order to achieve nutrition-related Sustainable Development Goals, consumption of healthy food must be ensured, which means avoiding consumption of food high in sugar, salt and saturated fats and trans-fats. The normative work of the World Health Organization shows that there are cost effective ways to achieve this, including taxation and restrictions on marketing to children. Underlining the need for improved nutrition, he stressed that health is the building block of any well-functioning society.

The representative of Egypt noted the high priority afforded to issues of global health and called for policy coherence in the fields of health and nutrition amid the increasing number of people suffering from hunger. The international community cannot stand by as 150 million children suffer from stunting, he said, adding that limited financial resources hinder individual ability to pursue healthier lifestyles. The international community must accelerate efforts to combat treatable diseases, he said, calling on all Member States to support the draft and its implementation.

The representative of Bangladesh said health is the foundation of human capital and pointed to Sustainable Development Goal 3 (Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages) as key to reaching the targets to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Moving forward, we must pursue policies that promote universal health coverage, he said, urging collective action on global health by all relevant stakeholders. He pointed to inequality as a major challenge in the promotion of health initiatives and said his country stands as an example of best practice in promoting good health at low cost. Bangladesh defies the expert view that economic strength is the key driver of good health, he asserted, noting that the country’s women’s empowerment strategy has been a main contributor to improving health indicators.

The representative of the United States, in explanation of position before action, said she regretted the need to vote against draft L.62. While the topic of nutrition is important, the draft appears to be a collection of general platitudes and extraneous topics, she said, adding it is loaded with as much unfinished business as possible. She said she would vote against the draft as a display of respect for drafts that are actionable and responsible, calling for resolutions to be as concise as possible. On preambular paragraph 7, the United States believes all women should have access to reproductive care but said abortion is not a method of family planning. She further voiced support for the dignity and value of human life and condemned attempts to have the term health services include abortion. She said references to the Global Compact on Migration represent efforts by the United Nations to circumvent national migration legislation.

The representative of Brazil, in a point of order, said every year the issue of global health and foreign policy is considered by the General Assembly and adopted by consensus. Expressing regret that a vote has been called for, he said the dedication of all stakeholders and negotiating parties to this resolution must be recognized. The resolution negotiations were held in an open and transparent manner and led to the best possible results. The text reaffirms the right of every human being to health, the essential role of food security and the importance of healthy diets in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Recalling several points in the resolution’s text, he stressed that it sets the tone on global health issues. He invited all delegations to vote in favour of the resolution as an indicator of the priority given to the issue.

The General Assembly then turned to the draft resolution, Scope, modalities, format and organization of the high-level meeting on universal health coverage (document A/73/L.37), adopting it without a vote.

Next, the Assembly took up the draft resolution, Global health and foreign policy: a healthier world through better nutrition (document A/73/L.62) and the related amendment (document A/73/L.67).

Acting on the draft amendment L.67, the Assembly rejected that text by a recorded vote of 117 against to 4 in favour (Hungary, Israel, Libya, United States), with 27 abstentions.

The Assembly then acted on the draft L.62, as a whole, adopting it by a recorded vote of 157 in favour to 2 against (Libya, United States), with 1 abstention (Hungary).

The representative of Germany, speaking on behalf of 26 European Union member States (with the exception of Austria and Hungary), said, in explanation of position, that she voted in favour of the draft as the text represents a compromise package. The draft did not extend the rights of migrants beyond already agreed-upon terms in relevant international documents.

The representative of Australia, acknowledging that all States have a responsibility to support refugees, said she does not conflate this resolution with the Global Migration Compact. She, therefore, abstained from the vote.

The representative of Austria said his delegation voted in favour of the resolution despite reservations on preambular paragraph 22. Austria decides on migration issues in a strictly national, sovereign manner, he said. As such, their vote cannot be seen as an acceptance of a change in position regarding the rights of migrants.

Switzerland’s delegate, in explanation of vote, expressed regret that the resolution lacked focus on the issue of nutrition. The text includes a variety of subjects not directly related to the topic that should be discussed in the appropriate forums, she said. An example is the issue of access to medicines in preambular paragraph 15. Switzerland takes a holistic approach, including all relevant factors that contribute to access to medical products and, given the many reports in that regard, does not see a reason to single out one reference, she said.

The representative of Chile registered her delegation’s reservations about preambular paragraph 22 of the resolution.

Organization of Work, Adoption of Agenda and Allocation of Items

Acting without a vote the General Assembly then adopted the draft decision, High-level meetings of the General Assembly in September 2019 (document A/73/L.38), as orally revised.

Report of the Economic and Social Council

The representative of Egypt, speaking for the Group of 77 developing countries and China, introduced the draft resolution, Graduation of countries from the least developed country category (document A/73/L.40/Rev.1). Noting that only five countries have ever graduated from the least developed country category, he urged that the graduation of the three countries included in the draft text be celebrated by the entire international community. Graduation from the category is a clear sign that those countries are on track towards achieving sustainable development. Graduating countries must be put on a path that minimizes backsliding after graduation, he added, calling on development partners to provide country-specific support to the graduating States.

The General Assembly then adopted the draft resolution, Graduation of countries from the least developed country category (document A/73/L.40/Rev.1) without a vote.

The representative of Tuvalu, in explanation of vote, observe that, while graduation from the list of least developed countries is a milestone on the way to development, it can cause fear and regret if countries are not fully ready. The process must be undertaken with caution as a gradual process rather than a cliff to protect the development process that led to the graduation in the first place. A slower graduation process is more likely to create sustainable conditions, he continued, pointing out that Pacific countries are subject to unique vulnerabilities and challenges, including economic shocks and natural disasters. As a result, they also struggle to attract financing and investment, he noted, calling on the international community to ensure that graduating countries develop the resilience they need.

Follow-up of United Nations Conferences in Economic, Social, Related Fields

SUKHBOLD SUKHEE (Mongolia), introducing the draft resolution titled Education for democracy (document A/73/L.50), reaffirmed the fundamental link between democratic governance, peace, development and the promotion and protection of human rights. The draft text recognizes that education strengthens those principles. Among other terms, the text notes that the Sustainable Development Goals, which are indivisible, call for expanded opportunities for all children. It also recognizes that education for democracy nurtures responsible and active learners. Acknowledging the contributions of civil society, academia and the private sector, he urged that unanimous support be given to the draft.

Acting without a vote, the General Assembly adopted the draft resolution Education for democracy (document A/73/L.50).

The representative of the United States, in explanation of position, said education is transformational and creates pathways towards peaceful democratic societies. A new education policy in the United States recognizes the role of civil society and the private sector in providing educational opportunities. While the United States joined consensus, he said it did so with the understanding that the draft is mindful of the governance framework of national education legislation.

Cooperation between United Nations, Organization of Islamic Cooperation

The representative of Bangladesh introduced the draft resolution, Cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (document A/73/L.45). The resolution is consistent with the spirit of resolution 3369 (1975) when the United Nations invited the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to be an observer. It reaffirms the shared objectives of the two organizations in conflict prevention and resolution, peacebuilding, mediation and the promotion of a culture of peace, especially with Muslim communities around the world. The draft resolution highlights the desire of the two organizations to work together on a number of shared concerns, including global security, self-determination, decolonization and combating terrorism. In its operative paragraphs, the resolution reaffirms the organizations’ shared common goals of facilitating the Middle East process, combating religious intolerance and preventing violent extremism. The protracted and emerging conflicts in the world make cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation strategically important.

The representative of Austria, on behalf of the European Union, spoke in explanation of position before the vote, expressing general support for the text. However, he noted his reservations about language regarding the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s program of action as it relates to Cyprus. The language is not supported or endorsed by any United Nations documents nor is it consistent with any Security Council or General Assembly resolutions, he said.

The representative of Syria said his country was a founder of OIC and will remain so despite the comedy that took place when certain States were pressured to suspend its membership. He noted his country’s friendly relations with most OIC member States and called for a re-evaluation of OIC activities due to the undemocratic suspension. The OIC host country is imposing its agenda on the organization, he said, voicing opposition to references to the situation in his country included in the draft. We have suffered from terrorism and Syrians have paid a heavy price. Our blood has been spilled and our infrastructure destroyed, he said.

He warned that certain countries were financing terrorism with the aim of forcing regime change in Syria and that the host OIC country is responsible for the creation of terrorist organizations linked to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and the famine in Yemen. He urged OIC members to conduct a true review of working methods to address the failures that emanate from its host’s actions. He clarified that his position does not reject the work of the OIC; instead it is meant to sound the alarm that will allow the Organization to return to its true path. He then called for a recorded vote on draft resolution L.45.

The representative of Bangladesh, in a point of order, expressed disappointment that the delegate of Syria had broken consensus on the resolution by calling for a vote. The language of the resolution was agreed upon and is in line with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation mandate, he said.

The representative of Syria, in response, said that the draft was voted on last year and thus the language cannot be considered agreed on.

The General Assembly then adopted the draft resolution, Cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (document A/73/L.45), by a recorded vote of 139 in favour to 0 against, with 6 abstentions (Armenia, El Salvador, Honduras, India, Israel, Syria).

The representative of Armenia, in explanation of vote, said his country spares no effort in deepening cordial relations with OIC members. He reiterated the importance of finding peaceful solutions to conflicts within international negotiation formats and called on the OIC to adhere to the language and regulations of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group related to Nagorno-Karabakh.

The representative of Canada disassociated her country from preliminary paragraph 4 of the resolution as it unfairly singles out Israel for criticism and politicizes the issue there, she said.

The representative of the United States disassociated his country from the preambular paragraph of the resolution regarding the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s program of action and its handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, calling it one-sided, political and unproductive.

The representative of Israel said the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s program of action contains biased and untrue information against Israel and thus disassociated from preambular paragraph number 4.

Right of Reply

The representative of Turkey, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that only a negotiated settlement will be sustainable in Cyprus. The Greek Cypriot community has been recognized by the European Union regardless of the vote to the contrary, he stressed, suggesting that the European Union will not be able to contribute to the conflict solution efforts in an unbiased manner. The program of action under discussion is in line with international law and the Charter of the United Nations and contains some components of a viable solution, he said, urging the European Union to play a facilitating role in that regard.

The representative of Saudi Arabia voiced his rejection of baseless allegations made by the representative of Syria. We are accustomed to hearing lies in Syria’s statements, he said, adding that the OIC defends the causes of the Arab people, including through support of United Nations resolutions on the Syrian Golan. The Syrian Government uses prohibited weapons, including toxic gases, on its citizens, he said, justifying Syria’s suspension from the OIC. Syria’s attempts to divert attention from its violations of human rights will not succeed.

The representative of Azerbaijan said Armenia’s continued aggression amounts to serious breaches of international law. As a result, the international community is committed to legally putting an end to those violations. The OIC has urged strict implementation of Security Council resolutions on the matter and for the complete withdrawal of Armenian forces from Azerbaijan. Armenia must realize that peace will be possible only if the consequences of its aggression are removed, he said.

The representative of Cyprus invited delegates to read the relevant resolutions of the United Nations, specifically Security Council resolutions 541 (1983) and 550 (1984) and decide for themselves on the issue. Turkey should contribute to finding a solution by withdrawing its troops and guarantees in Cyprus, she said, adding that occupied areas of Cyprus are a part of the European Union but remain suspended until reunification.

The representative of Syria reiterated that his previous statement pertained to objective matters regarding the method of work of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The delegate of Saudi Arabia made false and unfounded claims that reflect the unbalanced position it holds concerning the crisis in Syria, he said, suggesting that the country was a supporter of terrorist organizations. He called on the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to conduct a revision of its actions, given the grave danger the Middle East is in.

The representative of Armenia said the representative of Azerbaijan presents an upside-down reality and had failed to mention the principle of self-determination. He said the will of the international community related to Nagorno-Karabakh is reflected in OIC proposals.

The representative of Azerbaijan said Armenia’s statements are astonishing as the Security Council has condemned that country’s aggressions. On Armenia’s territorial claims, he said the Council has said Nagorno-Karabakh is an integral part of Azerbaijan.

Source: United Nations