18 December 2012

U.N. General Assembly Adopts 2012 resolutions on decolonisation

18 December 2012
General Assembly

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York
Sixty-seventh General Assembly
59th Meeting (AM)



In other Action, adds South Sudan to Least Developed Countries List,
Reaffirms Support for Kimberley Process, Welcomes Cooperation with la Francophonie

The General Assembly today, acting on the recommendation of its Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization), drew divided support among its resolutions and decisions on decolonization and issues concerning Israeli practices and the United Nations Agency tasked with mitigating the plight of the region’s refugees, but attracted broad backing for drafts on the effects of atomic radiation, peacekeeping, outer space, information and University for Peace.

Against the backdrop of the grim escalation of Gaza violence in November, the Fourth Committee forwarded nine texts to the General Assembly on the Arab-Israeli conflict, similar to those on the topics submitted last year.  Among them were five resolutions contained in the report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian Peoples and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories.

By the terms of a text on the work of the Special Committee, the Assembly stressed the urgency of bringing a complete end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 and deplored those Israeli policies and practices that violated the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories.  It was adopted by a recorded vote of 98 in favour to 8 against (Australia, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau, Panama, United States), with 72 abstentions.  (For details of the vote, see Annex V.)

Among its other provisions, the Assembly commended the Special Committee for its impartiality, but expressed grave concern about the critical situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the Gaza Strip, as a result of unlawful Israeli practices and measures.  It called for the immediate cessation of all illegal Israeli settlement activities and the construction of the wall, as well as the excessive and indiscriminate use of force against the civilian population.

Other resolutions concerning Israeli practices obtained wider support, such as the text on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, as well as a text on the applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the protection of civilian persons in time of war, both of which required recorded votes.  (Respectively, Annexes VII and VI.)

The Assembly condemned all acts of violence, especially the excessive use of force by the Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians, particularly in the Gaza Strip, and expressed grave concernat the firing of rockets against Israeli civilian areas resulting in loss of life and injury, in a resolution it adopted by a recorded vote of 164 in favour to 8 against (Australia, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau, Panama, United States), with 6 abstentions (Cameroon, El Salvador, Honduras, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Vanuatu).  (Annex VIII)

Further to that text, the Assembly demanded that Israel, the occupying Power, cease all practices and actions that violated the human rights of the Palestinian people, including the killing and injuring of civilians, the arbitrary detention and imprisonment of civilians and the destruction and confiscation of civilian property.  It called on Israel, the occupying Power, to cease its imposition of prolonged closures and economic and movement restrictions, including those amounting to a blockade on the Gaza Strip.

Also requiring recorded votes were the four texts on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), concerning:  UNRWA’s operations (Annex III); persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities (Annex II); entitlement of the Palestine refugees to their property and income (Annex IV); and assistance to Palestine refugees (Annex I).

By the terms of the latter text, the Assembly affirmed the imperative of resolving the problem of the Palestine refugees for the achievement of lasting peace in the region.  It meanwhile noted with regret that the situation remained a matter of grave concern and that the refugees continued to require assistance to meet basic health, education and living needs.  It thus reaffirmed the need for the Agency’s continued work.  That resolution was adopted by a recorded vote of 170 in favour to 1 against ( Israel), with 8 abstentions ( Cameroon, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, United States).

Taking up the 11 texts on decolonization, the Assembly adopted six by consensus, including the omnibus draft resolution on Questions of American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands.

By its terms, the Assembly stressed the importance of the decolonization process by expediting the application of the work programme for the decolonization of each of the 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories on its list, on a case-by-case basis.  It reaffirmed that in the process of decolonization, there was no alternative to the principle of self-determination, which was a fundamental human right.

Also adopted without a vote were resolutions on measures by the administering Powers to ensure the widespread dissemination in their Territories of information relating to study and training offers; the search of a mutually acceptable political solution to the Western Sahara dispute; on question of New Caledonia; Tokelau; and a draft decision on Gibraltar.

A recorded vote was required for the adoption of the draft resolution on economic and other activities that affect Non-Self-Governing Territories, by which the Assembly affirmed the value of foreign economic investment undertaken in collaboration with the peoples of the Territories and urged the administering Powers to safeguard and guarantee the right of those to their natural resources and to ensure that no discriminatory working conditions prevailed in the Territories.

Also by recorded votes, the Assembly adopted resolutions concerning information from Non-Self-Governing Territories; implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples; implementation of the Declaration by United Nations specialized agencies; and the dissemination of information on decolonization. 

Moving on to outer space, the Assembly, acting without a vote, adopted a resolution on international cooperation in that field, and a decision to increase the membership of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, with the addition of Armenia, Costa Rica and Jordan.

Also acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted its annual resolution on peacekeeping, by which it, among other things, acknowledged the increase in the number and the complexity of special political missions and requested the Secretary-General to submit a report on all policy matters pertaining to those operations, including their evolution, trends and nature, as well as their role in activities of the Organization. 

The Assembly also adopted, without a vote, two resolutions and one decision on information.  By the terms of the annual wide-ranging text, it emphasized that public information and communications should be placed at the heart of the strategic management of the United Nations and that a culture of communications and transparency should permeate all levels of the Organization.  It stressed the importance of ensuring that the texts of all new public United Nations documents in all six official languages, information materials and all older United Nations documents are made available through the United Nations website and are accessible to Member States without delay.  The Assembly decided to appoint Oman as a member of that Committee, bringing its membership up from 113 to 114.

Adopting without a vote was a resolution on atomic radiation, by which it requested the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation to continue its work and to increase knowledge of the levels, effects and risks of ionizing radiation.  The resolution on the University for Peace, also adopted without a vote, requested that the Secretary-General expand the scope for using the University as part of his conflict-resolution and peacebuilding efforts.

Finally, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, a decision on the Fourth Committee’s programme of work for its sixty-eighth session.  It took note of the report on programme planning.

Finishing up its consideration of the reports of the Fourth Committee, the Assembly then took up a number of outstanding plenary matters, holding its annual review of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and the role of diamonds in fuelling conflict, and taking action on a number of draft resolutions.

On the Kimberley Process, the Assembly adopted a wide-ranging consensus resolution on conflict diamonds, introduced by the representative of the United States, which holds the Chairmanship of the Certification Scheme this year.

Also taking the floor during the brief debate on that topic were the representatives of Israel, Russian Federation, South Africa and Panama.  A representative of the Delegation of the European Union also spoke.

In other business, the Assembly, endorsing the recommendation of the Economic and Social Council, adopted a resolution by which it decided to add South Sudan to the list of United Nations-identified “least developed countries”.  That text was introduced by the representative of Kenya.

Finally today, the Assembly adopted a consensus resolution on strengthening cooperation with the International Organization of la Francophonie, which was introduced by the representative of Kenya.  The Observer of the organization made a statement following the Assembly’s action.

The Rapporteur of the Fourth Committee introduced that body’s reports.

The representatives of the United States and Azerbaijan spoke in explanation of positions on those texts.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply in that segment were the representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The General Assembly is expected to reconvene at 10 a.m., 20 December, to take up the reports of its Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural).

Read full report here 

New Puerto Rico Wind Farm Project Begins Operations

Facility located in  Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico

New Puerto Rico Wind Farm Project Begins Operations in Santa Isabel

Puerto Rico’s new Finca de Viento Santa Isabel wind project has begun operations and is now producing clean energy.

The Pattern Energy project, which was officially launched by Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuno this week, will produce up to 95 megawatts of renewable energy — 20 megawatts more than it was initially slated to produce.

The project will be producing enough energy to power the equivalent of 30,000 homes, according to the governor, “contributing to the production of cleaner, safer and cheaper energy for everyone in Puerto Rico.”

Fortuno’s administration has set forth a plan of generating 12 percent of Puerto Rico’s energy from green sources by 2015, 15 percent by 2020 and 20 percent by 2035.

“This is a major milestone for renewable energy production in Puerto Rico, an outstanding achievement five years in the making and one that we are very proud to have accomplished in close collaboration with our local partners, with the help of the good people of Santa Isabel and the full support of Governor Luis Fortuno,” said Hunter Armistead, executive director of Pattern Energy.

It is the latest green energy project on the island, following a solar project recently inaugurated in Guayama. Another wind farm, by Gestamp, is also slated to open in Punta Lima, Naguabo.

Fortuno said the Finca de Viento project had brought $250 million in private investment into the island’s economy, along with providing jobs for 350 Puerto Ricans.

The project includes 44 Siemens turbines. Pattern has entered into a 20-year power purchase and operating agreement with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.

See also:

Biodiesel plant slated to open in PR