Draft Texts on Atomic Energy Agency, Economic and Social Council’s Least Developed Country Category Unanimously Adopted
After unanimously adopting two draft resolutions pertaining to the Economic and Social Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today, the General Assembly also concluded its debate on equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council.
At the outset of today’s meeting, the representative of Bhutan, speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, introduced the draft resolution “Graduation of Bangladesh, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Nepal from the least developed country category” (document A/76/L.6/Rev.1), which the General Assembly then unanimously adopted. (For background, see Press Release GA/12378.)
By its terms, the Assembly noted with concern the negative impact on the vulnerable economies of the least developed countries from the global crisis triggered by the coronavirus disease COVID‑19 pandemic. It further decided to provide Bangladesh, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Nepal, on an exceptional basis, with a five-year preparatory period leading to graduation.
In the ensuing discussion, the three graduating countries called for enhanced support and solidarity from development partners, with the representative of Bangladesh emphasizing that that “graduation is not a punishment but a reward”. Highlighting the potential impact of loss of support measures for graduating countries, she called for an incentive-based structure with monitoring that is responsive to crisis.
The General Assembly also unanimously adopted a resolution on the report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) (document A/76/L.10), which had been previously introduced by the representative of the Republic of Korea. (For background, see Press Release GA/12386.)
Colombia’s representative, joining other delegates, highlighted the Agency’s central role in promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, as well as the transfer of knowledge applicable in areas crucial to development. Transfer of such knowledge and technology supports the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, she stressed.
Argentina’s representative outlined IAEA efforts to assist countries in combating the COVID‑19 pandemic, recalling that her country received equipment from the Agency to detect the virus. In addition, the Agency’s Zoonotic Disease Integrated Action (ZODIAC) created a global network to help laboratories detect and control zoonotic viruses, she pointed out.
Meanwhile, the representative of China called on the Agency to strengthen its safeguards regime, which should be implemented with a universal approach. In that context, she expressed concern about the activities of the United Kingdom, United States and Australia, arguing that they could pose a serious proliferation risk, and called for a debate on the issue within the Agency.
In other business today, the General Assembly resumed its consideration of the agenda item, “Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and other matters related to the Security Council”, with delegates calling for a Security Council reform in accordance with geographical representation as well as debating the limit on the use of the veto in the case of mass atrocities.
The representative of Viet Nam called for the expansion of Security Council membership in both permanent and non-permanent categories in order to improve equitable geographical representation for the underrepresented and developing countries. He also stressed that the veto should only be used by the Council in discharging its duties under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, with a view to the eventual elimination of that power.
Ethiopia’s delegate said that that inadequate African representation on the Council is a matter of injustice that should concern everyone. Expressing support for the Common African Position on the size of an enlarged Council, she said Africa must have no fewer than two permanent and five non-permanent seats in that event. As for the veto, she expressed support for the creation of a category of permanent members with no veto powers.
The Russian Federation’s representative also noted that the Council must better reflect contemporary geopolitical realities, with greater representation for Asia, Africa and Latin America. However, he underscored that any infringement on the institution of the veto is unacceptable, emphasizing that the threat of the veto has saved the United Nations from being called into dubious ventures.
Nonetheless, the representative of Estonia, noting his country is an elected member in the Council for the first time, from 2020 until the end of this year, pointed out that the use, or threat of use, of the veto has sometimes made the Council unable to react in situations where action is most needed.
Echoing that, Guatemala’s delegate emphasized that the Council’s permanent members should refrain from using the veto to block Council actions meant to prevent or end situations involving mass-atrocity crimes. To that end, he drew attention to the initiative by France and Mexico to limit the use of the veto in the case of mass atrocities.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Nepal, United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, Kuwait, Syria, Kenya, Serbia, Senegal, Switzerland, El Salvador, Latvia, Papua New Guinea and Germany.
The representative of Japan spoke in right of reply.
The General Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 1 December, to take up the Question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East.
Report of Economic and Social Council
The General Assembly resumed its consideration of agenda item “Report of the Economic and Social Council” to take action on draft resolution “Graduation of Bangladesh, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Nepal from the least developed country category” (document A/76/L.6/rev.1). (For background, see Press Release GA12378.)
The representative of Bhutan, speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, introduced the text, noting that negotiations on the draft had been fruitful and congratulating the countries graduating from the least developed category.
The resolution was unanimously adopted.
The representative of Bangladesh, speaking after action, said the adoption represents a milestone for his country. Graduation should not result in a disruption of development plans for countries. There is a need for enhanced support and solidarity from development partners and predictable incentives for graduating countries, he said, adding that “graduation is not a punishment but a reward”. Highlighting the potential impact of loss of support measures for graduating countries, he said it is imperative to ensure continued support for those States. The international community should aim to ensure an incentive-based structure for graduating and graduated countries, with enhanced monitoring that is responsive to crisis.
The representative of Lao People’s Democratic Republic welcomed the consensus on this significant resolution. Drawing attention to national socio-economic plan, including the specific target of reaching the goal and specific development situations in each period, she noted that the United Nations Programme of Action on the least developed countries has been streamlined into the national process. Her country will continue to face numerous challenges and graduation from the least developed countries status. Graduation should not be the end goal. Rather, quality graduation must be ensured, she asserted, noting that the adoption of this resolution is just the beginning, and calling for close cooperation with the international community and relevant stakeholders.
The representative of Nepal thanked Member States for unanimously adopting the resolution on the graduation of Nepal, Lao’s People’s Democratic Republic and Bangladesh from the list of least developed countries. The graduation is even more special for Nepal as it met only two of the three criteria for graduation, he noted. The pandemic has had socioeconomic consequences, calling into question certain achievements. However, he expressed his confidence that the Doha Declaration on the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will help to ensure a smooth transition for Nepal, which is determined to make sure that its graduation is irreversible and sustainable. Towards this end, he said his country is counting on improved support from the international community.
International Atomic Energy Agency
Ms. AL ALI (United Arab Emirates) underlined the central role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in supporting the peaceful use of nuclear technology and energy. She commended the Agency’s efforts to work through the pandemic and its development of a wide range of peaceful applications of nuclear energy, and its work to foster cooperation between States. The Agency’s Technical Cooperation Programme gives support to countries and will help them achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Noting that the Agency has helped the United Arab Emirates develop its nuclear energy infrastructure, she said her country was committed to maintaining the highest nuclear standards. To that end, the United Arab Emirates is developing the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant, which is the first plant in the region, and will help the country realize its climate goals. When all four reactors are finished, the plant will generate 5.6 GW and provide 25 per cent of the country’s energy demands, and will help reduce the country’s carbon emissions by 21 million tonnes annually. The Agency’s technical cooperation programme is a central tool to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, she emphasized, adding that the United Arab Emirates is committed to a productive partnership with the Agency.
MARÍA DEL CARMEN SQUEFF (Argentina), highlighting the efforts of the IAEA to assist countries in combating the COVID‑19 pandemic, recalled that her country received equipment from the Agency to detect the virus. In addition, the Agency’s Zoonotic Disease Integrated Action (ZODIAC) Programme created a global network to help laboratories detect and control zoonotic viruses. For its part, she said, her country, Argentina, supports the development of peaceful nuclear energy and considers it vital to achieving a sustainable future. Argentina’s nuclear sector champions a safeguard system that is grounded in technical knowledge, she noted, emphasizing that the IAEA plays an important role in the evaluation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
NOHRA MARIA QUINTERO CORREA (Colombia) said the Agency has a fundamental role to play in promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, as well as the transfer of knowledge applicable in areas crucial to development. Transfer of such knowledge and technology supports the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, she said, noting that the Agency has a pivotal importance in nuclear safety and security. Moreover, the IAEA plays a crucial function in verifying the exclusively peaceful nature of nuclear programs through the implementation of safeguards. Consequently, it plays a vital role in the disarmament and non-proliferation regime and contributes to international peace and security. Special mention should be given to its ability to meet the challenge arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, she underscored, adding that the Agency provided innovative responses to the needs of States, especially in the field of technical cooperation.
WANG YINGTONG (China) commended the Agency’s work in promoting nuclear technology, including in combating the COVID‑19 pandemic. Calling for the peaceful use of nuclear energy, she urged the Agency to continue its support for States, especially developing States, to make good use of that technology. Recalling the Fukushima accident in Japan, which had enormous consequences for the population, she noted that the IAEA was able to respond to the appeal of neighbouring countries. In that regard, until more information is published, it would be good practice for Japan to refrain from discharging contaminated water into the sea. She also called on the IAEA to strengthen its safeguards regime, which should be implemented with a universal approach. In this context, she expressed concern about the activities of the United Kingdom, United States and Australia, arguing that they could pose a serious proliferation risk, and called for a debate on this issue within the Agency. Similarly, the Agency must respect the principle of impartiality. In addition, she expressed her hope that collaboration continue between the IAEA and Iran in the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
ALEKSANDR V. SHEVCHENKO (Russian Federation), noting his support for the Agency’s positive work and for the resolution, said that IAEA is a unique agency, adding that his country supports the Agency’s many activities, including the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, its safeguarding activities, monitoring of the safe transportation of nuclear materials, and emergency preparedness work. In addition, the Russian Federation provides the Agency with support, including contributions, he said, also noting that the Agency can help countries combat climate change and use nuclear energy applications in various areas. Highlighting the Agency’s steps to implement safeguards during the pandemic, he stressed that its work should be depoliticized, technically sound and based on agreements between the Agency and parties. The Russia Federation supports the full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he said, adding that the Agency is a technical organization and its tasks should not fall outside its mandate.
PETER MOHAN MAITHRI PIERIS (Sri Lanka), recalling his country’s history of involvement in nuclear science, reported that its national regulatory body is responsible for facilitating the peaceful use of nuclear technology. Two new organizations in Sri Lanka are tasked with developing and implementing a regulatory regime to ensure security of radioactive resources and the protection of personnel and the environment. As a national policy, all nuclear activities are carried out exclusively for peaceful purposes, he said, pointing out that Sri Lanka does not operate nuclear power plants. Highlighting the legislative and technical assistance the IAEA has provided his country, he reported that the process of implementation of legal instruments regulating nuclear use is under way.
MOHAMMAD ALI JARDALI (Lebanon) commended the Agency for continuing its work during the COVID-19 pandemic and its efforts to strengthen safety standards. The Agency has played an important role in facilitating access to peaceful uses of nuclear energy and technology for States, while ensuring the highest level of nuclear safety and security. Reaffirming the importance of achieving the comprehensive safeguard agreement to ensure the credibility of the international nuclear disarmament regime, he reiterated Lebanon’s continued support for the Agency’s role in promoting safe and secure uses of nuclear technology.
MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait) recalled that his country became a member of the IAEA in 1964. Stressing the importance of nuclear cooperation with the Agency, he said that Kuwait participates in the work of the IAEA primarily to promote the peaceful use of atomic technology under “atom for peace, atom for development”. To this end, he said that Kuwait is ready to cooperate with IAEA initiatives such as the ZODIAC programme, to which his country contributed $300,000. The country has also donated $100,000 for the education of women in the nuclear field and $500,000 for the funding of the Agency’s laboratories. Warning against nuclear proliferation, he called on Iran to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. He also called on Israel to join the initiative to create a nuclear-weapon-free region in the Middle East.
The Assembly unanimously adopted the draft resolution on the Report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (document A/76/L.10).
Right of Reply
The representative of Japan, in exercise of the right of reply, responded to his counterpart from China, stressing that Japan will continue to take measures that meet international standards and international practices. The safety of the facility will be reviewed by the Agency. Further, the treated water is not contaminated and meets regulatory standards, he said, adding that Japan is using scientific methods and has scientific evidence.
Security Council Membership Reform — Equitable and Increased Representation
BASSAM SABBAGH (Syria) said the Working Group is the appropriate forum to ensure equitable and balanced representation on the Security Council. Today, the world is dominated by new patterns in conflict where some States take advantage of the United Nations to achieve their own agendas. Rejecting any imposed texts within the Working Group that would contribute to division, he emphasized the importance of equitable Council representation for developing countries. Moreover, negotiations should take place on all five clusters on an equal basis. Outlining several diverging opinions regarding the Council reform process, he said it is essential to ensure the separation of mandates between the 15-member organ and General Assembly while ensuring continued cooperation between all United Nations organs. Genuine reform will require transparency, integrity, and balance, and must be based on multilateral and preventative diplomacy, he said.
MD MONWAR HOSSAIN (Bangladesh), recalling that the last time the Council underwent reforms was 56 years back, said the COVID-19 pandemic has proved the urgent need for making the 15-member organ more representative and relevant. Agreeing that certain under-represented regions such as Africa ought to have due representation in the enlarged Council, he said that representation of small and developing countries also warrant due consideration. While there should be enlargement in both permanent and non-permanent membership of the Council, he cautioned that the expansion should not impact on the Council’s efficiency. In that regard, any size in the range of mid-twenties would perhaps do justice to the larger membership, he said, also pointing to the need for measures to ensure the judicious application of the veto, by limiting its application only for certain compelling situations.
NJAMBI KINYUNGU (Kenya), aligning herself with the Committee of Ten, stated that Africa’s goal remains to be fully represented in all the decision-making organs of the United Nations and, in particular, the Security Council. Kenya’s current membership at the Council has shown the importance of having the continent represented when considering decisions on African countries, she stressed, highlighting the growing support for the African Common Position. She reiterated the need to reflect this support in all intergovernmental negotiation documents while calling for the referencing of the 2015 framework document. In addition, intergovernmental negotiations deliberations should produce a broad consensus, she emphasized, adding that it is a necessary step to moving forward and ensuring a fit-for-purpose and responsive Security Council.
SANDRA PEJIC-GLYMPH (Serbia), said that, while no one would argue that the world needs a democratic, transparent and efficient Council, the question is how to achieve that goal. “How do we reform the Council and equip it to face the challenges that have evolved over the decades and now range from armed conflicts to cyber security to climate change?” she asked. Such reform takes patience and political will, she said, adding that it is important not to jeopardize the efficiency of the body, while righting the historic wrongs and allowing underrepresented continents and regions their rightful place at the table. Noting the great divergences between Member States on some of the key issues such as membership, veto power and methods of work, she said that setting deadlines, while consensus is still pending on many issues, would be harmful to the process.
VILAYLUCK SENEDUANGDETH (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) stressed that the United Nations needs to be more responsive and effective to address the emerging challenges that threaten international peace, security and sustainable development. She added her support for the reform of the Security Council through the intergovernmental negotiations process, which should remain the main mechanism for discussion. This reform should be based on consensus in order to maintain unity and solidarity among Member States. As well, taking into consideration the interests of both the developing and developed Member States with an equitable geographical representation is essential to finding a solution. In that regard, she reaffirmed her support for the expansion of permanent and non-permanent representations in the Security Council while ensuring equitable and balanced representation from each region.
MAMADOU SOULE GUEYE (Senegal) welcomed this new opportunity to discuss the current matter as it will allow for examining the very substance of the process and strengthen the need to remedy the historic injustice done to Africa. He noted with regret that, since the creation of the United Nations, the Security Council has not evolved in accordance with the changing geopolitical realities of the world. Despite the most urgent humanitarian crises, the Council has failed in its responsibility to maintain international peace and security. This fact demonstrates the need to reform the Security Council and make it more democratic and effective in taking in hand the crises facing today’s world. Stressing the importance of finding common ground for criteria for negotiations on the key issues of reform, he called upon Member States to find an agreement beforehand on the extent of the reform to be instituted. He further called for a more equitable regional balance in a future Security Council and for granting new seats to Africa in both permanent and non-permanent membership.
PASCALE CHRISTINE BAERISWYL (Switzerland) said that a more representative Security Council is essential in developing coherent and sustainable multilateral solutions. Noting her support for increasing members in the Security Council, she called for better representation of certain groups of countries, in particular African countries. In view of the stalemate resulting from evident differences within the context of the intergovernmental negotiations, she drew attention to the possibility of a third category of a very limited number of non-permanent but renewable seats. Such a category would allow the main regional actors to hold a longer-term position in the Security Council, she said, noting that each term should be a minimum of five and a maximum 10 years. Stressing that Switzerland is against additional veto rights and advocates voluntary constraints on existing veto rights, she said the role and authority of the intergovernmental negotiations depend on the willingness of States to move forward and to find common ground.
EGRISELDA ARACELY GONZÁLEZ LÓPEZ (El Salvador) noted that a multilateral system cannot emerge without a more transparent, democratic, and representative Security Council. She voiced support for a regional representation in line with today’s geopolitical realities, adding that an increase in the term of office to two years would enable the Security Council to be a more inclusive body. She also expressed her strong support for strengthening the working methods of the Security Council, particularly with regard to the relationship between the Council and the General Assembly. Recalling that in resolution 75/235, the timely presentation of the Council’s reports was welcomed, she emphasized that it is important that the report continues to be presented. On the subject of the right of veto, she added her support to the position of suspending this right in the case of mass atrocities.
ANDREJS PILDEGOVIČS (Latvia) noted that over the years, Member States have clarified and repeated their positions regarding various aspects of Council reform, but the international community has not achieved significant progress. Stressing the need for carefully tailored consensus and comprehensive political approval, he pointed to the increasing gap between the Council’s demanding agenda and its output. It is essential to build upon former discussions and the work already done in previous intergovernmental negotiations sessions. It is also time to start text-based negotiations focused on a single consolidated document reflecting everyone’s positions without further delay. “We have plenty of things that we agree on,” he said, adding that it is time to build upon those agreements. All regions must be adequately represented on the Council to ensure its legitimacy. Further, the reform should ensure equitable geographic distribution of both permanent and non-permanent seats in the Council, he emphasized.
DINH QUY DANG (Viet Nam) recalled his delegation’s repeated position included support for the enlargement of both categories of permanent and non-permanent members, with improved equitable geographical representation for the under-represented and developing countries. He also stressed that the veto should only be used by the Council in discharging its duties under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, with a view to the eventual elimination of this power. The relationship between the Council and the General Assembly should be enhanced in order to strengthen the work of both organs, with the latter as the Organization’s broadest representative body. The intergovernmental negotiation process should be efficient, focused and result-oriented, and address all five clusters of the Council reform. He welcomed all efforts to promote the negotiations process by exploring best ways, including through text-based negotiation. Good faith exchanges, based on mutual respect, carried out in an open, inclusive and transparent manner, can bridge differences and achieve tangible progress.
FRED SARUFA (Papua New Guinea), associating himself with the L.69 group of developing countries from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific, said the Council, with its archaic representation and working methods, is in dire need of an overhaul. “We the peoples of the United Nations deserve better,” he said, echoing the call for a single consolidated document to pave the way for real negotiations. Welcoming the new Co-Chairs of the intergovernmental negotiations process, he encouraged them to use their prerogative to be bold, pragmatic, transparent and result-driven within the entrusted mandate. Also calling on delegates to consider the question of whether the current framework is a reason for the prolonged delivery and how that might be improved on, he said: “We must better understand the root causes of the chasm that exists amongst Member States” and address them in an objective and inclusive way.”
DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) said that, while reform is long overdue, a universal solution that can satisfy most Member States is not yet in sight. There is no alternative but to continue the patient, incremental work. Noting that the Russian Federation is a permanent member, he said the Council should become more representative, including members from more developing States in Africa, Asia and Latin America. He expressed support for efforts to correct the historical injustice to Africa and for a compact, effective Council in which the numbers do not exceed beyond the low twenties in members. However, he underscored that any infringement on the institution of the veto is unacceptable, emphasizing that the threat of the veto has saved the United Nations from being called into dubious ventures. The reform process cannot be resolved by mere arithmetic. Numbers would not serve to increase the Organization’s efficiency. Negotiations should be carried out in a calm and transparent manner. There is no place for artificial deadlines, he stressed, adding that he did not want intergovernmental negotiations to create more divisions.
LEMLEM FISEHA MINALE (Ethiopia), aligning herself with the African Group, stressed that inadequate African representation on the Council is a matter of injustice that should concern everyone. Expressing support for the Common African Position on the size of an enlarged Council, she said Africa must have no fewer than two permanent and five non-permanent seats. Furthermore, the working methods of the Council must adhere to clear and transparent rules. As for the veto, she expressed support for the creation of a category of permanent members with no veto powers. She went on to acknowledge that negotiations on Council reform have taken a long time, adding that there is now an element of fatigue in discussions.
GUENTER SAUTTER (Germany), associating himself with the Group of Four (Brazil, Germany, India and Japan), stressed the importance of Security Council reform. To this end, one consolidated document will be needed. States will then need to proceed with text-based negotiations; this should happen in accordance with the rules of procedures. It is unacceptable that after more than 10 years, Member States have not even come close to the starting point of what will be a negotiation marathon. The intergovernmental negotiations might be reaching the end of its credibility, he warned, stressing the need to reach out across the lines and adopt positions maintained in the past. Ensuring adequate African representation in the Security Council is crucial to do justice for the people of Africa. It is also a question of dignity, he asserted, adding that although compromise will be necessary, the international community will only be able to do so if it embarks on meaningful negotiations.
LUIS ANTONIO LAM PADILLA (Guatemala) emphasized the need to improve the work of the Security Council by making it a more representative body with a greater rapprochement between it and the General Assembly, Economic and Social Council, Human Rights Council and Peacebuilding Commission. Adding his support for expanding the number of members in both categories, he said this expansion could include up to five permanent members and five additional elected members. The new permanent members would not need to have all the prerogatives of the current permanent members, in particular the right of veto, nor would the five current permanent members have to relinquish their prerogatives under the Charter. Stressing that it is important that Africa and Latin America have permanent representation on the Council, he called for transparency in the peacekeeping processes and the Council’s working methods. This included compliance with the three main principles of peacekeeping operations, such as the consent of the parties, impartiality, and the non-use of force, except in legitimate self-defence and in defence of the mandate. In reference to the right of veto, he reiterated his support for the initiative by France and Mexico to limit the use of the veto in the case of mass atrocities.
SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia), noting his country is an elected member in the Council for the first time, from 2020 until the end of this year, stressed that Estonia will continue to advocate for all States, particularly small States, to have the same opportunity. The veto question must be given careful consideration if the Council is enlarged. The use, or threat of use, of the veto has sometimes made the Council unable to react in situations where action is most needed. The Council’s permanent members should refrain from using the veto to block actions meant to prevent or end situations involving mass atrocity crimes. This vital commitment by all permanent members can be achieved on a voluntary basis right now with no amendments to the Charter. As a member of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, he said that Estonia actively supports the code of conduct that addresses the Council’s actions regarding genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. He called on more States to join the Group’s code of conduct and the Political Declaration on Suspension of Veto Powers in Cases of Mass Atrocity, launched by France and Mexico. Both were launched in 2015.
Right of Reply
The representative of Japan, in exercise of the right of reply, said that since the Second World War, Japan has been a peaceful and loving nation which has made contributions to the peace of the world. Japan will continue to make such contributions as a member of the international community, he stressed.