The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) today approved 12 resolutions, voting on two of them, with one of the texts calling for enhancing the capacity of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to increase pandemic and disaster preparedness and resilience, as Member States strive to recover from COVID-19 and its impacts.

By the draft on “International trade and development”, the Assembly would emphasize the critical need for globally coordinated actions to ensure timely, affordable and equitable distribution of, and access for, all to COVID-19 vaccines, and to ensure that emergency trade measures do not create unnecessary barriers to trade or disruptions to global supply chains and are consistent with WTO rules.

The Committee approved the draft in a recorded vote of 162 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions.

Slovenia’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, said her bloc voted in favour of the resolution since a multilateral trading system under WTO needs to be strengthened now more than ever to better address global challenges, including COVID-19 recovery and climate change.  She called for sustained and dedicated support to the twelfth WTO Ministerial Conference and strengthened multilateral cooperation on trade and health.

The representative of the United States, however, said his country was unable to join consensus on language that attempts to prescribe the appropriate characteristics of trade in international systems that are independent of the United Nations, expressing regret about voting against the resolution for the fifth year in a row.  Language extending beyond the United Nations mandate and into the mandate of independent entities, such as WTO, is found in the resolution, and is ultra vires and not binding, he said.

The Committee also turned to a draft on “Eradicating rural poverty to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, approving it in a recorded vote of 120 in favour to 50 against, with 1 abstention (Turkey).

According to that text, the Assembly would emphasize that economic growth leaves rural dwellers behind and that, circa 2018, 80 per cent of people living in extreme poverty lived in rural areas and 40.2 per cent of the population in sub‑Saharan Africa lived on less than $1.90 per day.

Further to the draft, the Assembly would call on all stakeholders to strengthen digital, information and communications technology (ICT), science, technology and innovation cooperation, as well as emphasize the need to increase investment in rural infrastructure, especially in roads.

Addressing that text, the representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, expressed concern with language in the draft, stating that the formulation “win-win cooperation” is problematic as the connotation of that concept has changed substantially from the time it was inserted in the 2030 Agenda, to become a development cooperation tool calling for mutual economic gains to take precedence over the developmental needs of receiving countries.  She also expressed concern about the continued inclusion of national language that has been persistently rejected by many Member States, as it leads to unnecessarily long and unfruitful discussions.

In a similar vein, the representative of the United States, lamenting that the text undermines the international community’s efforts to eradicate poverty with politicized and unbalanced language, pointed out that several operative paragraphs reflect the political ideology of a single Member State.

India’s representative said his country has been implementing a comprehensive strategy to abolish rural poverty, lifting millions out of poverty over the last decade.  His country voted in favour of the draft, he said, but has reservations over language used in operative paragraph 19, with its worrying reference to a single Member State, echoing other delegations’ views, and will disassociate from that paragraph.

China’s representative, noting that 80 per cent of the extreme poor live in rural areas, said his country supported approval by consensus, expressing regret that some countries requested a vote.  Adding that “win-win cooperation” can bring huge gains in global poverty eradication, he stressed the importance of bridging the development divide, especially for African countries.

Drafts on the following topics were also approved:  financial inclusion for sustainable development; implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including through sustainable consumption and production; implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa; ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all; development cooperation with middle-income countries; follow-up to the second United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries; South-South cooperation for development; agriculture development, food security and nutrition; natural plant fibres and sustainable development; and towards global partnerships.

Also speaking today were representatives of Hungary, Belarus and Bangladesh.  An observer for the Holy See also made statements.

The Second Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 23 November, to act on further draft proposals.

Action on Draft Resolutions

The Committee first took up a draft on “International trade and development” (document A/C.2/76/L.27/Rev.1), approving it in a recorded vote of 162 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions.

By its terms, the General Assembly would emphasize the urgent need to combat protectionism in all its forms and to rectify any trade-distorting measures that are inconsistent with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, recognizing the right of countries, in particular developing States, to fully utilize flexibilities consistent with their WTO commitments and obligations.

Further to the text, the Assembly would also emphasize the critical need for globally coordinated actions to ensure timely, affordable and equitable distribution of and access for all to safe, quality, effective and affordable COVID-19 vaccines, and to ensure that emergency trade measures are targeted, proportionate, transparent and temporary, do not create unnecessary barriers to trade or disruptions to global supply chains and are consistent with WTO rules.  It would also call for enhancing the capacity of the multilateral trading system to increase pandemic and disaster preparedness and resilience, through a multifaceted response.

After action, Slovenia’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, said her bloc voted in favour of the resolution since now, more than ever, a strong and effective multilateral trading system under WTO needs to be developed and strengthened to better address global challenges, including COVID-19 recovery and climate change.  She called upon Member States for sustained and dedicated support to make Twelfth WTO Ministerial Conference a milestone of reform and strengthen multilateral cooperation on trade and health, among other objectives.

The representative of the United States expressed regret that his country had to vote against the resolution for the fifth year in a row, due to language from previous iterations that remains unchanged in the current resolution.  He said the United States was unable to join consensus on language that attempts to prescribe the appropriate characteristics of trade in an international system that is independent of the United Nations, underscoring that trade language negotiated or adopted by the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council has no relevance for the United States’ trade policy, its trade obligations or commitments, or agenda at the WTO.  Noting that language extending beyond the United Nations mandate and into the mandate of independent entities, such as WTO, is found in multiple paragraphs of the resolution, including in preambular paragraph 5, and operative paragraphs 5-8 and 10-11, he said the United States considers such language ultra vires and not binding.  He further clarified his country’s positions relating to certain operative paragraphs and, regarding its complete position on WTO, referred the Committee to its general statement delivered on 18 November.

Next, the Committee took up a draft titled “Financial inclusion for sustainable development” (document A/C.2/76/L.51), approving it without a vote, withdrawing a previous text.

According to that draft, the Assembly would acknowledge the important role that national financial inclusion strategies can play in identifying and overcoming financing gaps and binding constraints, including the lack of access to finance for micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises.

Further to the draft, the Assembly would encourage the international community, including Member States, the United Nations system, international financial institutions, regional and national development banks, domestic financial institutions and credit unions, among other stakeholders, to further develop financial literacy and financial education programmes.  Those programmes should include an emphasis on the impact of finance on sustainable development, in order to ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to access financial services, in particular, women and girls, farmers and those working in micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises.

After action, the representative of the United States referred the Committee to its general statement delivered on 18 November, regarding its position on illicit financial flows.

The representative of Hungary said her country is firmly committed to implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and recognizes the role of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda as an important framework in the field of sustainable development, development financing and financial inclusion.  Noting that Hungary is not in full agreement with the language in preambular paragraph 13 and operative paragraph 11, she said it would have liked a more general reference to marginalized groups and people in vulnerable situations, as some groups may be omitted, and others cited randomly.  The listing of certain groups of people in vulnerable situations, including migrants, should have been avoided, she said, and Hungary disassociates itself from those two paragraphs.

Following that, the Committee took up a draft titled “Towards the achievement of sustainable development, including through sustainable consumption and production, building on Agenda 21 — Item 20(a)” (document A/C.2/76/L.45), approving it without a vote, withdrawing a previous text.

By its terms, the Assembly would urge the international community to continue to assist developing countries in building their scientific and technical capacity to shift towards more sustainable consumption and production patterns.

After action, the representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, said his bloc proudly joined consensus on the resolution, which puts one of the most transformative issues for implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development into the centre.  The first consensus on the resolution, after many years of diverging views, marks a strong signal to commitment to revitalization of the Second Committee and its closer alignment with the 2030 Agenda.  Welcoming links made in the resolution between unsustainable consumption and production, and climate change and biodiversity loss, he looked forward to streamlining of certain paragraphs and expressed hope for a continued focus in 2022 on sustainable production and consumption.

The representative of the United States said his country remains concerned with the procedural history of the resolution, and joins consensus in 2021 in recognition of the importance of sustainable consumption and production to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.  With respect to the 2030 Agenda, he referred to his country’s general statement delivered on 18 November.

It then took up a draft on “Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa” (document A/C.2/76/L.48), approving it without a vote, withdrawing a previous text.

By that draft, the Assembly would encourage the public and private sectors to continue to invest in developing, adapting and scaling up the application of technologies, enabling policies, methods and tools to combat desertification, land degradation and drought in different regions, and to boost knowledge exchange, including of traditional knowledge with the consent of the knowledge holders, capacity-building and sharing of technologies, on mutually agreed terms.

The representative of the United States said his country strongly supports the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and its efforts to raise the priority of desertification, promote sustainable land use practices at the national level, and mitigate impacts of drought and desertification for more than 1 billion people worldwide living in dryland ecosystems.  The United States is pleased to join consensus, he said, adding that, with respect to the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, it refers the Committee to its general statement delivered on 18 November.

The Committee next turned to a draft on “Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all” (document A/C.2/76/L.50), approving it without a vote, withdrawing a previous text.

According to that text, the Assembly would strongly encourage Governments and other relevant stakeholders to take actions to achieve universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy, increase the global share of new and renewable energy, improve the inclusion of developing countries in energy sector cooperation, where relevant, and increase the rate of improvement in energy efficiency for a clean, low-emission, low-carbon climate-resilient, safe, efficient, modern, affordable and sustainable energy system.

Addressing that draft, the representative of the United States said his country supports sustainable development goals on energy and participated in a recent high-level dialogue on the topic.  The United States joined consensus on the draft, he said, but referred delegates to a statement his country made on 18 November, regarding international conferences and summits.

Following that, the Committee took up a draft on “Development cooperation with middle-income countries” (document A/C.2/76/L.47), approving it without a vote, withdrawing a previous text.

By its terms, the Assembly would recognize that, with 62 per cent of the world’s poor population concentrated in middle-income countries, development cooperation, policy dialogue and partnerships with those States can contribute to the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Sustainable Development Goals and targets.  It would also request the United Nations development system to ensure that it addresses the diverse development needs of middle-income countries in a coordinated manner through, inter alia, an accurate assessment of the national priorities and needs of these countries, considering the use of variables that go beyond per capita income criteria.

The representative of the United States drew attention to his country’s partnerships with middle-income countries, noting that the Addis Ababa Action Agenda included the most accurate statements on the group.  Adding that the international community must work to ensure that middle-income countries are properly addressed, he also referred to a statement the United States made on 18 November, regarding international conferences and summits.

Next, the Committee took up a draft on “Follow-up to the second United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries” (document A/C.2/76/L.46), approving it without a vote as orally corrected, withdrawing a previous text.

By that text, the Assembly would call on landlocked developing and transit countries to minimize disruptions to international transport, eliminating trade restrictions and facilitating movement of essential goods like food, medical supplies and personal protection equipment.  It would also call on them to ensure the transparency and availability of information about import, export and transit procedures, using trade facilitation standards and digital technologies.

Further to the draft, the Assembly would call on landlocked developing and transit countries to develop and upgrade international transport and transit corridors, including roads, railroads, inland waterways, ports and pipelines.  It would further underline the prominent role foreign direct investment (FDI) plays in accelerating development and poverty reduction, through employment and transfer of managerial and technological know-how, calling on landlocked and transit developing countries to promote an enabling environment to attract FDI and private sector involvement.

The representative of the United States stressed the importance of the draft, as it addressed the unique challenges for landlocked developing countries, again referring to a statement his country made on 18 November, regarding United Nations conferences and summits.

The observer for the Holy See noted that the pandemic and the measures adopted to halt its spread have further exacerbated pre-existing risk, reversing development gains landlocked developing countries have made in recent years.  The Holy See welcomed this year’s recognition of the effects of COVID-19 on achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, noting that landlocked developing countries are highly dependent on transit countries to access international markets and particularly vulnerable to cross-border restrictions, economic impacts of lockdown measures, commodity price shocks and global recession.

The Committee then turned to a draft on “Eradicating rural poverty to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (document A/C.2/76/L.9/Rev.1), approving it in a recorded vote of 120 in favour to 50 against, with 1 abstention (Turkey).

By that text, the Assembly would emphasize that economic growth leaves rural dwellers behind, that circa 2018, 80 per cent of people living in extreme poverty lived in rural areas and 40.2 per cent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa lived on less than $1.90 per day.  It would stress the importance of taking targeted measures to eradicate poverty by formulating rural development strategies with clear goals, strengthening national statistical capacity and implementing nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures.

Further to the draft, the Assembly would call on all stakeholders to strengthen digital, information and communications technology (ICT), science, technology and innovation cooperation, financial technology, affordable and reliable Internet connectivity, and digital infrastructure construction to keep food and agriculture supply chains functioning, particularly in rural areas.  It would further emphasize the need to increase investment in rural infrastructure, especially in roads.

Speaking after the vote, the representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, expressed concern with language in the draft, stating that the formulation “win-win cooperation” is problematic.  The connotation of this concept has changed substantially from the time it was inserted in the 2030 Agenda, to become a development cooperation tool calling for mutual economic gains to take precedence over the developmental needs of receiving countries.  As such, this insertion undercuts and reinterprets the spirit of the 2030 Agenda, which should be the guiding document for development efforts at the United Nations.  In a similar vein, the phrase “building a shared future for humankind”, as the idea of a community of nations, is already present in the Charter of the United Nations and should not be reinterpreted.  Further, the expression “putting people at the centre of the response”, in the way it is formulated in the text, remains unclear and therefore inappropriate for inclusion in resolutions.

She also expressed concern about the continued inclusion of national language that has been persistently rejected by many Member States, as it leads to unnecessarily long, unfruitful discussions.  The European Union can only support references to poverty eradication when they are unambiguously in line with the 2030 Agenda, which underpins a human-rights based approach that leaves no-one behind.  Also in line with the 2030 Agenda, her bloc supports a holistic approach, linking rural poverty and the preservation of the environment and biodiversity, the fight against climate change and health, according to the “One Health” approach.

The representative of the United States lamented that the text undermines the international community’s efforts to eradicate poverty with politicized and unbalanced language.  Several operative paragraphs reflect the political ideology of a single Member State, he said, objecting to the use of unilateral language that excludes best practices in the 2030 Agenda in areas like the rule of law and human rights.  Moreover, referring to operative paragraph 9, he said it is inappropriate for Member States to refer to WTO, which has its own mandate, and must not be interfered with.

The representative of India, stressing the importance of eradicating rural poverty in achieving the 2030 Agenda, said his country has been implementing a comprehensive strategy to abolish poverty.  That policy has lifted millions out of poverty over the last decade.  His country voted in favour of the draft, he said, but has reservations over language used in operative paragraph 19, with its worrying reference to a single Member State, and will disassociate from this paragraph.

The representative of the United Kingdom said his country voted against the draft, as it has concerns about an approach that separates out rural poverty.  He also expressed concern over operative paragraph 19 and its references to a single Member State.

The representative of China, noting that 80 per cent of the extreme poor live in rural areas, said his country supported adoption by consensus, expressing regret that some countries requested a vote.  Adding that “win-win cooperation” can bring huge gains in global poverty eradication, he stressed the importance of bridging the development divide, especially for African countries.

The observer for the Holy See lauded inclusion in the draft of up-to-date data about the global number of people the pandemic is expected to push into extreme poverty, with a specific focus on rural areas, as well as the reference to global inequities in access to vaccines.  He also welcomed the call to address the lack of access to adequate sanitation, food, nutrition, health care, education, the Internet, ICT and financial services.

Next, the Committee took up a draft on “South-South cooperation for development” (document A/C.2/76/L.52), approving it without a vote as orally corrected, withdrawing a previous text. 

By that text, the Assembly would call for continued South-South and triangular cooperation, as well as United Nations development support on COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, especially access to safe, effective and affordable health care, supplies and equipment, including diagnostics, therapeutics, medicine and vaccines.  It would further call on the United Nations development system and regional commissions to continue mainstreaming South-South and triangular cooperation into the Organization’s Sustainable Development Cooperation Frameworks.

The representative of the United States said his delegation joined consensus, as mainstreaming South-South cooperation is one of many means to help countries advance their development needs.  However, facilitating that cooperation should not be goal in and of itself, he added, also referring the Committee to a previous statement made on 18 November.

It then turned to a draft on “Agriculture development, food security and nutrition” (document A/C.2/76/L.49), approving it without a vote, withdrawing a previous text.

By that text, the Assembly would urge Member States and relevant stakeholders to advance actions to address the impacts of the pandemic on agriculture development, food security and nutrition by promoting sustainable practices to increase productivity and production, help maintain ecosystems and strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change.  It would further address COVID-19 impacts by strengthening adaptation to extreme weather events, drought and flooding, promoting sustainable soil management and addressing land degradation.

Also by the draft, the Assembly would stress the need to increase sustainable agricultural production globally, including by increasing public and private investments and partnerships in sustainable agriculture, land management and rural development.  It would also call for the strengthening of agriculture and food systems, including through ecosystem services and biodiversity preservation, and for poverty, hunger, food security and nutrition objectives to be incorporated into national climate change adaptation and mitigation plans.

The representative of Belarus, speaking before action, said the pandemic has worsened food security to a catastrophic degree.  Citing the negative consequences of thoughtless sanction pressure exerted on her State, she emphasized that unilateral coercive measures go against the grain of the main principles of international law.  Sanctions are futile and counterproductive and should be eradicated.

The representative of the United States noted his delegation joined consensus, and referred the Committee to a previous statement made on 18 November.

The observer for the Holy See welcomed concrete measures to address the impact of the pandemic on food security, as it has contributed to the largest single increase in hunger in decades.  It is therefore crucial to adopt a holistic approach to the issue.  He cited the reference to bolstering international solidarity, including towards health coverage, and the inclusion of comprehensive language to support farmers.

The representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, welcomed consensus on the text, noting unsustainable agricultural processes are a driver of biodiversity loss.  He expressed disappointment that a reference to the One Health approach was not included in the final text.

Next, the Committee took up a draft on “Natural plant fibres and sustainable development” (document A/C.2/76.L.8/Rev.1), approving it without a vote.

By that text, the Assembly would recognize that the producing, processing, applying, properly managing and exporting natural plant fibres could be advantageous to many developing economies for millions of small-scale farmers and low-wage workers, calling on Member States to help integrate small-scale holders into global production, value and supply chains for the sustainable production and use of natural plant fibres.

The Assembly would further underline the importance of stepped-up funding from all sources, including public and private, bilateral, multilateral and alternative, for sustainable, inclusive and resilient recovery, in sectors related to natural plant fibres.  This would include promoting reliable value chains, strengthening rural financial markets and technology transfer for developing countries.

The representative of the United States referred the Committee to a previous statement made on 18 November, regarding operative paragraph 9 on technology transfer.

The representative of Bangladesh noted that the resolution included a substantive preambular paragraph citing the steep decline in natural plant fibres due to the pandemic and extreme weather events, and also included two new operative paragraphs.  He reiterated a call to all stakeholders to invest more in overarching projects on plant fibres and to foster scientific research.

Finally, the Committee turned to a draft on “Towards global partnerships” (document A/C.2/76/L.13/Rev.1), approving it without a vote.

By that draft, the Assembly would stress that partnerships will be critical in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals for mobilizing additional human and financial resources, expertise, technology and knowledge.  It would emphasize the vital role Governments play in promoting responsible business practices, which should provide and ensure enforcement of necessary legal and regulatory frameworks, according to national legislation and development priorities.  The Assembly would also stress that greater effort is required to unlock new financial flows, including from mainstream institutional investors, as a complement to public finance and international development cooperation.

The representative of European Union, in its capacity as observer, said it is important to recognize the importance of partnerships in recovering from the pandemic, including lessons learned on the use of new technologies and shortening timelines.  The private sector has a pivotal role to play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, he said, highlighting the relevance of implementing the United Nations Global Compact Strategy 2021-2023, including the United Nations Global Compact Africa Strategy 2021-2023 and the United Nations Global Compact Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Strategy 2021-2023.  His delegation will revisit the item again in the seventy-ninth session of the General Assembly.

The representative of Slovenia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, corrected the record to reflect that the delegations of Armenia and Azerbaijan had not joined the statement on “L.9/Rev.1”.

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