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Intense Debate, Close Voting as Gender Identity, Sexual Orientation, Digital-age Privacy Take Centre Stage in Third Committee

Delegates Approve 12 Draft Resolutions for Action by General Assembly

Sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as issues of privacy in the digital age, were the subjects of close votes and contentious debate today in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) as it sent 12 draft resolutions to the General Assembly.

Among the texts most debated was a draft taking note of the Human Rights Council report and recommendations, approved as amended by a recorded vote of 94 in favour, to 3 against (Belarus, Israel, Mauritius), with 80 abstentions.  Its approval came after the narrow passage — by 84 recorded votes in favour, to 77 against, with 17 abstentions — of an amendment deleting the original text’s operative paragraph 2.

At issue was the Human Rights Council’s decision 32/2, taken in June, to appoint an Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Botswana’s representative, on behalf of the African Group, had submitted the original draft proposing to defer consideration of and action on that decision to the General Assembly’s seventy-second session to allow for more time for consultations.  Noting that the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” were not enshrined in international law, he said the independent expert mandate lacked the required specificity to be carried out fairly.

Countries mainly from Latin America and Western States opposed that deferral in an amendment deleting the draft’s call for it.  Discussion of the amendment opened a debate on the protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as on the potential procedural consequences of reopening a Human Rights Council decision.

Slovakia’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, warned that opening a decision of the Human Rights Council would undermine its functioning.  Liechtenstein’s representative, speaking on behalf of several other countries, supported the mandate of the Independent Expert, as it reflected a commitment to the prevention of violence.  Singapore’s representative, meanwhile, said the issue hinged on whether the General Assembly could pronounce on the work of the Council, a subsidiary body.  He opposed the amendment, as it was important to reaffirm the Assembly’s legitimacy to do so, explaining that his position was not a statement about the substance of the mandate.  Singapore respected all persons, regardless of gender identity.

In the afternoon, the Committee took action on 10 draft resolutions, putting to a recorded vote one on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, which passed by 170 votes in favour to 7 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and the United States), with 5 abstentions (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Honduras, Tonga and Vanuatu). 

A draft resolution on “Promotion of a democratic and equitable international order” was approved by a recorded 123 votes in favour to 53 against, with 6 abstentions (Armenia, Chile, Costa Rica, Greece, Mexico and Peru), while a draft on the right to development was approved by a vote of 138 in favour, to 3 against (Israel, United Kingdom, United States), with 39 abstentions.

Further, a draft resolution on Human rights and unilateral coercive measures was sent to the Assembly with 128 recorded votes in favour to 54 against, and no abstentions.  Another text titled “Globalization and its impact on the full enjoyment of all human rights” was also approved by a recorded vote of 128 in favour, to 53 against, with 2 abstentions (Greece, Lesotho).

The Committee also approved, without a vote, a draft resolution on the right to privacy in the digital age.  Brazil’s representative, co-introducing the text, said it underscored the negative impact that surveillance, interception of communications and the collection of personal data on a mass scale had on the exercise of the right to privacy.  Germany’s representative added that it highlighted the effects of violations of the right to privacy for women and children and called on businesses to respect that right.

On that point, South Africa’s representative expressed disappointment that the focus of the text had shifted from its initial purpose.  Its denial of the Intergovernmental Working Group’s role in regulating transnational cooperation and other business enterprises, holding them accountable for rights violations, was puzzling.  She dissociated from the text, while conveying her willingness to work with its sponsors to ensure it was returned to the right path.

Canada’s delegate added that the draft’s preoccupation with mass surveillance distracted from the bigger issue of the right to privacy, which often involved targeted surveillance on a discriminatory basis.

The Committee also approved the following four draft resolutions without a vote:  “Intensification of efforts to end obstetric fistula”; “Universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination”; “Intensification of efforts to prevent and eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls: domestic violence”; “Human rights and extreme poverty”; and “The Right to Food”.

The Third Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 22 November, to continue its action on draft proposals.

Action

The representative of Senegal, on behalf of the African Group, introduced a draft resolution on the “Intensification of efforts to end obstetric fistula” (document A/C.3/71/L.16/Rev.1).  Expressing hope that the draft text would be approved by consensus, she invited all to join as co-sponsors.

The observer of the Holy See said millions of women suffered from obstetric fistula, which was entirely preventable.  Support for the draft resolution was heartening.  The Holy See had reservations about terms such as “reproductive rights” and did not consider abortion as included in that term.

The Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote.

By its terms, the General Assembly would call on States to take all measures to ensure the right of women and girls to enjoy the highest attainable standard of health, including sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.  It would invite States to contribute to efforts to end obstetric fistula, including through the Campaign to End Fistula, as part of efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goals 3 and 5 by 2030, and to continue efforts to improve maternal health with the aim of eliminating obstetric fistula globally within a generation.

The representative of Slovakia, on behalf of the European Union, said the draft had a clear and achievable aim of ending obstetric fistula within a generation.  Adolescent girls were at particular risk, and child early and forced marriage was among the root causes of obstetric fistula.  Education remained one of the best means of prevention.  It was regrettable that the draft resolution did not contain some language achieved at the high-level meeting on HIV/AIDS, he said, underscoring the bloc’s support for the initiative and for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The representative of Norway explained that her country and Switzerland had decided to co-sponsor the draft resolution, though it did not contain all elements they might have wished for.  The text was not perfect, but few draft resolutions were.  It was sufficiently broad to show those working on the ground that there was support for their efforts to eliminate fistula.

The representative of Jamaica, on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said it had joined consensus due to its commitment to the health and well-being of women and girls.  The term “early marriage” was understood to be subject to the national laws of CARICOM Member States.

The representative of Iceland, also speaking on behalf of Australia, Argentina, Colombia, Liechtenstein, New Zealand and Mexico, said fistula could be addressed with an easy surgical intervention, but many women lived with the condition for decades because they could not access health care.  Commending UNFPA for leading the United Nations response to end fistula, he underscored that it was an issue of access to health services.  The text’s reference to “age-appropriate sex education” was unnecessarily restrictive.

The representative of Senegal explained how consensus had been achieved during negotiations, stressing that only battle worth fighting was to strengthen the international commitment towards eradicating fistula.  Regarding the reference to “age-appropriate sex education”, Senegal did not oppose sex education, which was taught in Senegal with respect for age-appropriateness.

The representative of India said it had joined consensus on the text, noting that age-appropriate sexual education should be taught via a culturally relevant approach.

The Committee deferred action on a draft resolution on the “Intensification of efforts to prevent and eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls: prevention and elimination of domestic violence” (document A/C.3/71/L.21/Rev.1) as the text was not ready.

The Committee deferred action on the draft resolution titled “Assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa” (document A/71/C.3/L.51), after a request by the representative of Botswana, on behalf of the African Group.

The Committee then turned to the draft resolution titled “Report of the Human Rights Council” (document A/C.3/71/L.46), as orally revised, and the amendment thereto (document A/C.3/71/L.52) which would delete operative paragraph 2.

An official from the Secretariat read out the oral revision to operative paragraph 2, as proposed by the African Group, which would have the Assembly defer consideration of and action on the Human Rights Council report until its seventy-second session.

He said, by the text, that the Assembly would take note of the report of the Human Rights Council and defer consideration of and action on Human Rights Council resolution 32/2 of 30 June 2016 on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, so as to allow time for further consultations to determine the legal basis upon which the mandate of the special procedure established by the Council resolution would be defined.

The representative of Brazil, on behalf of co-sponsors Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Mexico and Uruguay, introduced the amendment L.52, stressing that approval of the draft resolution as it stood would negatively affect the Human Rights Council and its responsibility to promote the universal protection of human rights.  Further, the oral revision read out by the Secretariat official did not address his concern.

A recorded vote was requested on the amendment.

The representative of Botswana, on behalf of the African Group, said in a general statement before the vote that a deferral to the seventy-second session had been requested to allow for more time for consultations.  His delegation did not question the work of special procedures nor intend to undermine the Human Rights Council’s work.  The Council was a subsidiary body of the General Assembly. 

He said precedents had been set for deferring work on specific mandates, notably through resolutions 61/178 of 2006, whereby the Assembly decided to defer consideration of and action on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to allow time for further consultations, and through resolution 68/144, whereby it decided to defer consideration of and action on Human Rights Council resolution 24/24 of 27 September 2013.  Further, the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” were not enshrined in international law.  As such, the independent expert mandate lacked the required specificity to be carried out fairly.  He urged delegates to vote against amendment L.52 out of respect for sovereignty and the Charter of the United Nations.

The representative of Slovakia, on behalf of the European Union, expressed his deep concern about opening a decision of the Human Rights Council, which had been made well within its scope.  Such efforts would undermine the Council’s functioning. The Council resolution in question had been adopted by a majority vote and the special procedure had been established in September 2016.  Concerns about that mandate were not sufficient to question that decision.  Discrimination occurred based on a number of qualities and it was the United Nations’ duty to counter such behaviour.

The representative of the United States strongly supported amendment L.52, stressing that the Council report should be approved in its entirety.  Seeking to open Human Right Council resolutions through legal means constituted interference in the Council’s work.

The representative of the Republic of Korea said the draft resolution containing operative paragraph 2 undermined the Council’s work, stressing that the aim must be to strengthen human rights mechanisms, not weaken them.

The representative of Mexico said Human Rights Council decisions should be respected, while also expressing respect for the desire to discuss such issues in the Third Committee.  While the matter was delicate, the draft resolution was about non-discrimination, which should never be questioned.

The representative of Japan focused on the independence of the Human Rights Council, which was provided by the General Assembly.  Questioning that independence set a dangerous precedent.

The representative of Egypt, speaking on behalf of Organization of Islamic Cooperation — “with one exception” — in explanation of vote before the vote, said the debate was an extension of discussions in the Human Rights Council.  His delegation upheld the protection of dignity and non-discrimination, he said, expressing deep concern about the introduction of a controversial concept which had not been accepted in many countries.  Recalling the “subsidiary nature” of the Human Rights Council, he clarified that relevant precedents had been set.  He rejected any interference in internal affairs and urged all to vote against the amendment, expressing his delegation’s intention to not cooperate with the mandate.

The representative of Thailand recalled the right of Member States to take up the issue in the Third Committee and, expressing support for the mandate, said it had been confirmed by the Human Rights Council.

The representative of Congo, associating herself with the African Group, said the Group’s concerns had been ignored, and she questioned the legal basis for creating the special procedure’s mandate.  More consultations were needed to reach a just outcome.

The representative of Singapore, reiterating his country’s strong commitment to the Human Rights Council, said the issue hinged on whether the General Assembly could pronounce itself on the Council’s work.  Indeed, the Assembly had the right and responsibility to do so, and as such, he opposed amendment L.52, as it was important to reaffirm the Assembly’s legitimacy to pronounce on those matters.  Deletion of operative paragraph 2 would imply that the Assembly’s role was merely symbolic.  He did not see deferral as a questioning of the Council’s work, and further consultations did not preclude a decision.  Rather, they would strengthen the human rights mechanisms.  His position was not a pronouncement on the substance of the mandate, he said, reiterating that Singapore respected all persons, regardless of gender identity.

The representative of Israel said States had reaffirmed their commitment to inclusiveness with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.  The Secretary-General had described the fight against homophobia and transphobia as a great neglected challenge.  Israel had co-sponsored the Human Rights Council resolution in June welcoming the mandate on sexual orientation and gender identity.  The international community should not back off.  Israel would vote in favour of the amendment and called on all to do the same.

The representative of Jamaica focused on the procedural effects of the decision before the Committee, noting that he would vote against the amendment in order to allow for more in-depth deliberation on the matter.

The representative of Yemen, associating himself with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the African Group, said the General Assembly had the right to discuss any matters within the scope of the Charter, including reviewing the mandates of subsidiary bodies to ensure they conformed with international law and the purposes of the United Nations.  The African Group had therefore asked to defer consideration of the Human Rights Council resolution in question.  He wondered how the Independent Expert could fulfil his mandate without international consensus on the definition of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The representative of Cameroon endorsed the statements by the African Group and OIC, noting that Human Rights Council had been created to promote the universal respect and protection of all human rights in a fair and equal manner, without seeking to establish “superior castes”.  Its founding resolution had established it as a subsidiary body of the General Assembly.  The Assembly’s authority was unquestionable and the Council’s work fell within its remit.  Stressing that the Council must create unambiguous mandates, she said sexual orientation and gender identity were undefined in international law.  States must engage in open dialogue without imposing anything on others.  Cameroon would vote against the amendment.

The representative of the Russian Federation said the way in which supporters of the amendment spoke adamantly about the need to respect subsidiary body mandates and to cooperate appeared to be a double standard.  Those same delegations had taken advantage of reviewing decisions made by the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, a subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Council.  The same delegations calling for respecting the mandate of the Human Rights Council were not prepared to respect the mandate of that Committee.  The African Group proposal to defer consideration of the Human Rights Council’s decision 32/2 to allow time to consult on the legal basis of the mandate was well-justified and in line with procedures governing the relations between main and subsidiary bodies.  The Russian Federation would vote against the draft amendment.

The representative of South Africa said his position was a principled one based on his country’s constitution.  The issue at hand was a sensitive one.  After years of painful struggle, black and white, “straight and not straight”, South Africa had come together to bury discrimination once and for all.  South Africa would fight discrimination everywhere, every time.  On the matter at hand, he disagreed with most others on the African continent, noting that South Africa was still healing wounds caused by discrimination and would not add fresh ones.  South Africa would vote based on its constitutional imperative.

The representative of Burundi endorsed the African Group position, highlighting his country’s commitment to the principles of non-discrimination.  Recalling Burundi’s membership on the Council, he said the African Group had requested time to achieve a solid resolution reflecting the will of the General Assembly.  The Human Rights Council was an Assembly subsidiary body, meaning that all its decisions must pass through the Assembly.  Those decisions could be reviewed and adjusted.  His delegation would reject the draft amendment.

The representative of Nigeria, endorsing the African Group’s statement, underscored the need for wider consultations on the topic of sexual orientation and gender identity.  The issue was not about discrimination, but rather, about defining how mandates should operate through a consensual agreement.  Nigeria would vote against the amendment.

Draft amendment L.52 was approved by a recorded vote of 84 votes in favour to 77 against, with 17 abstentions.

By its terms, the Assembly would delete operative paragraph 2 of the draft resolution calling for deferment of the Human Rights Council resolution 32/2 of 30 June 2016 on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The representative of Norway, also speaking on behalf of Australia, Canada, Liechtenstein, New Zealand and Switzerland, noted that an independent expert could help create an understanding that had not been previously achieved, adding that there were a dozen mandates which lacked an explicit treaty-based definition before their creation.  The adoption of those mandates had not been challenged to elaborate a legal basis.

The representative of Paraguay, in an explanation of vote after the vote, expressed full support for the mandate of the Human Rights Council as established by the General Assembly.  Paraguay had voted in favour of Council resolution 32/2 on the basis it would contribute to eliminating violence.  The African Group proposal did not undermine the Council’s role; it simply had requested more time.

The representative of Malaysia said the cultural beliefs had a bearing on societal and normative views of sexual behaviour, noting that he had voted against the amendment.

The representative of Chile said the result of the vote was of paramount importance, noting that all States had reaffirmed the Human Rights Council’s role and powers. 

The Committee then took up the draft resolution titled “Report of the Human Rights Council” (document A/C.3/71/L.46), as amended.   

The representative of the Russian Federation said her delegation had supported the draft resolution prepared by the African Group, which had proposed to defer consideration of the independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity in order to consider its legal basis.  That proposal was well-justified.  The notion of sexual orientation and gender identity did not exist in international law.  Therefore, well-founded questions had arisen about which legal norms would guide the legal expert in his mandate.  The Russian delegation did not recognize the mandate and would not cooperate with the Independent Expert on the protection against violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity, withdrawing its co-sponsorship.

The representative of Botswana, on behalf of the African Group, called the amendment’s approval a “neck-to-neck situation” similar to when resolution 32/2 was adopted at the Human Rights Council.  The effect of the approved amendments had changed the draft resolution completely and the African Group dissociated itself from the amendment.

The representative of Egypt on behalf of the OIC opposed the approval of the draft resolution and its establishment of an Independent Expert, stressing that OIC members were not in a position to cooperate with the Independent Expert’s mandate.

The representative of Nigeria objected to the introduction of norms into the Third Committee that did not have consensus.  Nigeria dissociated itself from the mandate and reminded delegates that its creation was not consensus-based.

The representative of Israel said all the Human Rights Council’s principles disappeared when it came to Israel.  Rather than focusing on real pressing human rights issues around the globe, the Council preferred to “trample in the political swamp”.  It was crucial that the Council finally focus on its mandate and immediately end resources for addressing its agenda item 7, which only served to single out Israel.  The Human Rights Council report displayed prejudice toward one of the Member States and therefore Israel would vote against the draft resolution.  

The representative of Liechtenstein, also speaking for Australia, Canada, Iceland, New Zealand and Norway, welcomed the deletion of operative paragraph 2 of draft resolution L.46, noting that any other outcome would have gravely affected relations between the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.  The mandate of the Independent Expert was supported, as it reflected a commitment to the prevention of violence.  She called on all States to cooperate with all special procedures, enabling them to conduct their work.  Liechtenstein had abstained from the vote on procedural grounds, as it was up to the plenary to take note of the Human Rights Council report.

The draft resolution was approved by a recorded vote of 94 in favour to 3 against (Belarus, Israel, Mauritius), with 80 abstentions.

By its terms, the text would call on the General Assembly to take note of the report of the Human Rights Council and its recommendations.

The representative of Slovakia, on behalf of the European Union, welcomed the vote in favour of the amendment, noting that the bloc had abstained from the vote. 

The representative of Costa Rica had abstained from the vote for procedural reasons, noting that the Human Rights Council report must be considered in the plenary of the General Assembly, and not in the Third Committee.  Assembly decision 60/251 creating the Human Rights Council had established that the Council would present its annual report to the Assembly, and that had been reaffirmed during earlier sessions.

The representative of the United Kingdom associated himself with the European Union, adding that his country would cooperate with the Independent Expert and his mandate.  Mandates generated in Geneva should not be reopened.  He welcomed action taken by the amendment’s co-sponsors, encouraging all to engage with the Independent Expert as they would with any other special procedure.

The representative of Nauru, while welcoming the draft resolution, said the Independent Expert mandate lacked the necessary specificity to be carried out, given the lack of international legal instruments on the topic.  Nauru disassociated itself from Human Rights Council decision 32/2 and did not recognize the Independent Expert created by that decision.

The representative of Singapore, in explanation of vote after the vote, said his country had always supported the African Group’s resolution on the Human Rights Council, and thus had voted in favour of the draft resolution as amended.

The representative of Belarus said the Human Rights Council was unique as the only body with the universal periodic review, which examined human rights situations without exception.  The Council continued to engage in politicized activity, and as such, Belarus could not support the draft resolution.

The representative of Botswana thanked all delegations that had supported the draft resolution, which was without prejudice to opposition to the amendment.

The representative of Mauritania reaffirmed his country’s support for the African Group and OIC, disassociating from the Independent Expert mandate.

The representative of Mali asked to correct his country’s vote to “yes”, as its national position was aligned with the African Group.

The representative of Iran said the Human Rights Council was expected to refrain from imposing non-consensual concepts.  The General Assembly had the authority to guide the work of its subsidiary bodies.  The African Group had asked for a one-year deferral.  All human rights should be respected, and despite the existence of the universal periodic review, certain countries continued their policy of confrontation.  Iran disassociated itself from the Human Rights Council report which included a report on the situation in Iran.

The representative of Jamaica said his vote in favour was an expression of its traditional support for the draft resolution.

The representative of Libya supported the African Group’s positon as well as that of the OIC, emphasizing her country’s commitment to instruments to which it was party.  Deploring all stereotypes, discrimination and violence, she voiced regret at desperate attempts to impose controversial concepts on United Nations resolutions.  Libya disassociated from Human Rights Council resolution 32/2 and boycotted the so-called mandate of the Independent Expert.

The representative of Uganda supported the African Group statements, expressing regret that the Committee had reaffirmed the Human Rights Council decision to appoint an Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity, a concept which had no legal basis in international law.  That would lead to further polarization.  Uganda disassociated itself from resolution 32/2.

The representative of Cameroon, associating herself with the African Group and the OIC, reiterated her country’s commitment to protecting human rights for all in all circumstances.  Nevertheless, Cameroon disassociated from the mandate established by the Human Rights Council decision. 

The representative of Yemen said it was regrettable that the amendment had been approved.  The voting result indicated international division over the Independent Expert mandate, which would be reflected in dealings with the Expert.  Yemen disassociated from Council decision 32/2 and would boycott the mandate of the so-called Independent Expert.

The representative of Sudan associated herself with the African Group and the OIC and disassociated from the Independent Expert mandate.

The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania associated herself with the African Group and disassociated from Human Rights Council resolution 32/2, saying her country would not cooperate with the mandate-holder.

The representative of Niger said she had voted against the amendment and in favour of the draft resolution.  Associating herself with the African Group and the OIC, she rejected the mandate established by Human Rights Council resolution 32/2 as the concept was not recognized in national legal systems.

The Committee then focused on took the draft resolution titled the “Universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination” (document A/C.3/71/L.49).

By its terms, the Assembly would declare its firm opposition to foreign military intervention, aggression and occupation, as those acts had resulted in the suppression of the right of peoples to self-determination.  It would call upon those States responsible to immediately cease their military intervention in and occupation of foreign countries and territories, as well as all acts of repression, discrimination, exploitation and maltreatment.  It would deplore the plight of millions of refugees and displaced persons uprooted as a result of those aforementioned acts.

The representative of South Africa expressed her strong support for the draft resolution, stressing that the right to self-determination was essential and attaching great importance to decolonization and non-violence.  The oppression of Palestinians which was reminiscent of Apartheid, she added.

The text was approved without a vote.

The representative of Spain expressed concern about the application of the right to self-determination and stressed that a number of territories had not been granted their full rights.  Gibraltar’s natives, for example, had been forced to leave and were replaced by settlements from the colonizing power.  Spain therefore sought co‑sovereignty for Gibraltar.

The representative of United States expressed her concern about the legal errors in the draft resolution.

The representative of Argentina expressed grave concern about the situation of people who had not been granted their right to self-determination, stressing that the draft resolution must be applied in line with relevant United Nations resolutions.

The representative of Papua New Guinea, welcoming the draft resolution, emphasized that decolonization has not been fully achieved for all territories.  The decolonization agenda must be revitalized with a view to achieving its full implementation.

The Committee took up the draft resolution on the “Intensification of efforts to prevent and eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls: prevention and elimination of domestic violence” (document A/C.3/71/L.21/Rev.1).

By its terms, the Assembly would emphasize that States should continue to adopt and implement legislation and policies addressing violence against women and girls in a comprehensive manner, not only by criminalizing such violence, but also by including protection and access to the effective remedies for victims.  It would call on States to prevent and eliminate domestic violence as a matter of priority, urging them to address the structural and underlying causes and risk factors.

The representative of France introduced an amendment to preambular paragraph 10 whereby only child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation would be listed as harmful practices, as agreed upon in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Domestic violence was widespread and among the least visible forms of abuse, therefore requiring focus.  While negotiations often had been heated, they reflected different cultural approaches, he said, stressing that the draft resolution placed the interests of survivors at its heart.

The draft resolution was approved without a vote as orally revised.

The representative of Saint Lucia, on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), stressed the importance of fighting domestic violence with respect to different cultural and legal systems. 

The representative of Egypt, on behalf of several countries, criticized the term “intimate partner violence” as vague, explaining that there was no international definition and that such terms contradicted certain cultural contexts.  She therefore disassociated from preambular paragraphs 10 and 19.

The representative of Yemen expressed disappointment that the term “intimate partner violence” had been included in preambular paragraphs 10 and 19, as it did not have a legal foundation in his country.  He disassociated from that term wherever it occurred in the text.

The representative of Djibouti, while supporting the need to fight violence against women, rejected the term of “intimate partner violence”, which contravened the laws and culture in his country.  He therefore disassociated with paragraphs containing that term.

The representative of Mexico stressed the need to eradicate domestic violence against women, voicing concern that rights could be eroded in the search for consensus. References to femicide had been diluted.

The representative of Qatar, on behalf of several States, expressed concern about biased cultural concepts in the text which had not been addressed during consultations.

The representative of Australia, on behalf of Iceland, New Zealand and Liechtenstein, described the wider social impacts of violence against women and welcomed the text’s focus on that aspect.

The representative of Iraq regretted that no true consensus had been achieved and he therefore disassociated from preambular paragraphs 10 and 19.

The representative of Nigeria called the draft resolution “tainted” by references to intimate partner violence and he therefore disassociated from preambular paragraphs 10 and 19.

The representative of Iran said he had joined consensus but expressed disappointment about the text’s reference to certain lifestyles and lack of reference to sanctions as contributing factors to violence against women.

An observer of the Holy See said that the home and family were a public and private good.  He expressed his concern about the focus on the individual and any references to sexual and reproductive rights, which were not considered morally acceptable by the Holy See.  He pointed out that gender identity was based on biology and that the rights of parents must be upheld.

The representative of Mauritania expressed reservations about controversial concepts expressed in the draft resolution.

The representative of the United States rejected all attempts to diminish some aspects of violence against women, which must be denounced without qualifications.  Such abuse was often perpetrated by intimate partners.  She welcomed the reference to “intimate partner violence”, stressing that women also had the right to decide about their sexual and reproductive rights.

The Committee then took up a draft resolution titled, “The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination” (document A/C.3/71/L.50).

The representative of Israel said peace must be negotiated, not imposed from the outside.  She expressed regret that the draft targeted Israel and encouraged Palestinians to take unilateral steps, rather than negotiate.  Calling for a vote, she said Israel would vote no.

The draft resolution was approved by a recorded vote of 170 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and United States), with 5 abstentions (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Honduras, Tonga and Vanuatu).

By its terms, the General Assembly would stress the urgency of achieving an end to the Israeli occupation, which began in 1967, and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement in compliance with relevant international agreements.  It would also urge all States and specialized United Nations agencies to continue to assist the Palestinian people in the early realization of their right to self-determination.

The representative of Argentina, speaking after the vote, explained that he had supported the draft resolution because he supported Palestinians’ inalienable right to self-determination.  Argentina recognized the State of Palestine and efforts made by its authorities to engage in negotiations to bring about an end to the conflict.  He believed in the right of all peoples to live in peace and security within their own borders.  That right extended to the State of Palestine.

An observer of the State of Palestine said the overwhelming support for the draft resolution clearly reaffirmed the international community’s unwavering commitment to the right of Palestinians to self-determination.  The principled position taken today sent a message to Israel that its false narrative of the situation and its violations of international law would not be tolerated.  The text was not obstructionist; nor was it unilateral, she stressed, noting that it had been put forward by the most multilateral institution in the world.  The right to self‑determination was inalienable to all; it was not up for negotiation.  Moreover, it was not up to Israel to decide whether Palestinians should enjoy that right.  Palestinians would never relinquish their right to freedom, self-determination, justice and peace.  Israel had abused its privileges as a Member States – a right that Palestine had been denied for too long. 

The Committee then turned to a draft resolution on human rights and extreme poverty (document A/C.3/71/L.22/Rev. 1).

The representative of Peru, introducing the draft resolution, said urgent measures were needed to eliminate extreme poverty, which threatened the full enjoyment of human rights and democracy.  He recalled that Agenda 2030 and Sustainable Development Goal 1 recognized the importance of eliminating poverty in all its forms.

The resolution was then approved by consensus.

By its terms, the Assembly would encourage the international community to strengthen efforts to address factors contributing to extreme poverty.  It would call upon States, the United Nations and stakeholders to continue to give appropriate attention to the links between human rights and extreme poverty.

The representative of the United States expressed support for the draft resolution, but expressed reservations about some aspects referring to international instruments to which not all States were a party.  The guiding principles on human rights and extreme poverty — referred to in the draft — would not apply in all cases, she said, and the text should not be understood to imply that States should become parties to instruments to which they had not acceded.

The Committee then took up the draft resolution titled “Promotion of a democratic and equitable international order” (document A/C.3/71/L.30/Rev.1).

By its terms, the General Assembly would express concern about States’ continued abuse of the extraterritorial application of their national legislation in a manner that affected the sovereignty of other States and the full enjoyment of human rights.  It would also express concern that the current global economic, financial, energy and food crises, resulting from a combination of macroeconomic and other factors.  It would urge States to continue to enhance international cooperation towards the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order.

The representative of Cuba said that a promotion of a democratic and equitable international order was essential for realizing all human rights and it must be based on equity.

A recorded vote was requested.

The representative of Slovakia, in explanation of vote before the vote on behalf of the European Union, expressed his belief in developing an international, democratic order.  Taking into account the work of the special procedures in that field, he said the draft resolution went beyond the scope of the United Nations human rights agenda.

The representative of the United States continued to have concerns about trade-related references in the draft resolution.

Taking action, the Committee then approved the draft by a recorded vote of 123 in favour to 53 against, with 6 abstentions (Armenia, Chile, Costa Rica, Greece, Mexico, Peru).

The Committee then took up the draft resolution on “The Right to food” (document A/C.3/71/L.31/Rev.1).

By its terms, the General Assembly would request all States, private actors and international organizations to consider the need to realize the right to food for all.  It would express deep concern at the number and scale of natural disasters, diseases and pest infestations, and at the negative impact of climate change, which had threatened agricultural production, and food and nutrition security in developing countries.  It would also urge States that had not yet done so to consider becoming parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

The representative of Cuba made an oral revision to footnote 13 for operative paragraph 12, adding Human Rights Council resolution 33/11, and urging that an international environment to guarantee the right to food be created.

The draft resolution was then approved without vote as orally revised.

The representative of the United States said her country was committed to addressing food security and welcomed the text’s references to gender equality and children.  She expressed disappointment, however, about language used in other areas and disassociated from operative paragraphs 27 and 10 in that regard, stressing that references to Doha did not supersede World Trade Organization agreements.  Expressing support only for voluntary technology transfers, she expressed concern about outdated language in the text and reference to a “global food crisis” which did not accurately reflect the current situation.  She recalled the international commitments of the United States, which she said should be reflected in the text.

The representative of Slovakia, on behalf of the European Union, said the bloc’s position on operative paragraph 27 was without prejudice to trade agreements and pending negotiations.

The representative of Canada welcomed the progressive realization of the right to food, noting that there was no established link between World Trade Organization agreements on intellectual property rights and food security.

The Committee then took up a resolution on the right to development (document A/C/3/71/L.32/Rev.1), introduced by the representative of Cuba.

By its terms, the General Assembly would stress the need for greater acceptance and realization of the right to development at the international and national levels, and call upon States to make the right to development an integral part of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.  It would also emphasize that the right to development should be central to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The representative of the United States, speaking before the vote, reaffirmed her country’s commitment to development.  However, her delegation had long-standing concerns about the right to development, which did not have an internationally agreed definition, and that it would be used to protect States, rather than individuals.  She would vote no on the resolution.

The representative of the United Kingdom said the primary responsibility for the right to development should be borne by States to their citizens.  He was not in favour of a binding international legal standard on the right to development.  Furthermore, he expressed concern that focus on such a right would detract from more pressing human rights concerns on the Human Rights Council agenda.

The representative of Switzerland said he welcomed international efforts for implementation of the right to development in conformity with the 1986 declaration on that topic and other relevant documents.  The Intergovernmental Working Group was the principal platform for discussing the right to development.  However, the Human Rights Council’s establishment of a special rapporteur on the right to development was not a recommendation of that Working Group and threatened to duplicate the Group’s efforts.  In addition, the draft contained factually incorrect elements.  Switzerland would therefore abstain from the vote.

The draft resolution was approved by a vote of 138 in favour, to 3 against (Israel, United Kingdom, United States), with 39 abstentions.

The representative of Slovakia, on behalf of the European Union, reiterated support for the right to development based on the indivisibility of all human rights.  The right to development required the full realization of civil, political and cultural rights.  He did not support the establishment of a binding legal standard.  Moreover, a common position on the right to development had not been reached and differences remained on the role of indicators, the content of the right, its implications and the appropriate instruments to realize it.

The representative of Mexico said he voted in favour of the draft, as his country promoted development at the international level.  However, he reiterated that efforts should not focus on a binding instrument, which would create divisions.  The best way promote such was to encourage dialogue that would allow all regions to play an active role.

The representative of Canada expressed support for a concept of the right to development that placed the individual at its core.  States had the primary responsibility to ensure fulfilment of the right to development.  She echoed the concerns of others about the implications of a legally binding instrument and therefore had abstained from the vote.

The representative of Bangladesh said the Declaration on the Right to Development had unequivocally established development as a human right.  The 2030 Agenda offered a unique opportunity to renew the resolve to translate that right into a reality for all.

The representative of Lichtenstein, on behalf of Australia, Iceland, New Zealand and Switzerland, said the Sustainable Development Goals offered an opportunity to explore the connection between the promotion of human rights and the right to development.

The Committee then took up the draft resolution titled “Human rights and unilateral coercive measures” (document A/C.3/71/L.33/Rev.1).

By its terms, the Assembly would express its concern about the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures.  It would urge all States to cease adopting or implementing any unilateral measures not in accordance with international law or international humanitarian law, requesting the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prioritize the present resolution in his annual report to the General Assembly.

The representative of Cuba stressed the negative effects of unilateral coercive measures and requested support for the text.

A recorded vote was requested, with the representative of Cuba asking who had requested it.

An official from the Secretariat clarified that the representative of Slovakia had requested the vote.

The representative of the United States, in explanation of vote before the vote, said the draft resolution had no international legal standing, reiterating that sanctions were legitimate tools.

The Committee then approved the draft resolution by a recorded vote of 128 in favour to 54 against, with no abstentions.

The Committee then took action on a draft resolution on “Globalization and its impact on the full enjoyment of all human rights” (document A/C.3/71/L.37).

By its terms, the Assembly would express its grave concern at the inadequacy of measures to narrow the widening gap between developed and developing countries, and also within countries.  It would call on States, the United Nations and civil society to promote inclusive, equitable and environmentally sustainable economic growth for managing globalization.  It also would recognize that responsible operations of transnational corporations could help promote, protect and fulfil human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as underline the need for analyzing the consequences of globalization on the enjoyment of human rights.

A recorded vote was requested.

The representative of Slovakia, in a general statement on behalf of the European Union, regretted that the bloc could not support the draft resolution, noting that it attached great importance to the globalization agenda and sought a more balanced and complex treatment of the issue.  Not all human rights were directly affected by globalization and a thorough assessment was needed, especially as the draft focused heavily on negative effects.

The Committee approved the draft resolution by a recorded vote of 128 in favour to 53 against, with 2 abstentions (Greece, Lesotho).

The representative of Mexico expressed his concern over the approach to business and human rights as reflected in the draft.

The Committee then turned to a draft resolution titled, “The right to privacy in the digital age” (document A/C.3/71/L.39/Rev.1), whose main sponsors were Brazil and Germany.

The representative of Brazil, introducing the resolution, called attention to an orally revised preambular paragraph 28, which would highlight the responsibility of businesses to respect human rights and applicable laws.  As with previous resolutions, the draft underscored the negative impact that surveillance, interception of communications and collection of personal data on a mass scale had on the exercise of the right to privacy.  Among its new elements, the text would recognize that the collection, processing and sharing of personal data had significantly increased and acknowledge that individuals often did not provide their free, explicit and informed consent to the sale of their personal data.

The representative of Germany, associating himself with his Brazilian counterpart, reiterated the growing need to protect human rights online, recalling aspects of the draft that went beyond previous years’ resolutions on the topic, such as a call for States to develop preventive measures, sanctions and remedies.  The draft also highlighted the particular effects of violations of the right to privacy for women and children and called on businesses to respect that right.

The representative of South Africa expressed disappointment that the focus of the draft resolution had shifted from its initial purpose.  The text’s denial of the Intergovernmental Working Group’s role in regulating transnational cooperation and other business enterprises, and holding them accountable for rights violations, was puzzling.  Globalization had most harmed developing countries, which were most vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.  She therefore dissociated from the text, while conveying her willingness to work with its sponsors to ensure it was returned to the right path.

The representative of Cuba said his delegation had traditionally supported the initiative on the right to privacy in the digital age, but this year he had concerns about preambular paragraph 9 and operative paragraph 5(g).  While he shared the view that women and children and other marginalized persons were vulnerable to abuses of their rights to privacy, other groups were more at risk.  He recalled that certain personalities and leaders engaged in international work had been targeted, but not mentioned in those paragraphs.  He expressed regret that this year’s resolution did not contain the same balance as the original.

The Committee approved the resolution by consensus.

The representative of the Russian Federation said her delegation had been a co-sponsor of the draft on the right to privacy in the digital age two years ago, but had not done so this year because the text had shifted its original focus to regulating the activities of private businesses.  She also raised doubts about the draft’s references to marginalized and vulnerable persons.  Human rights, including the right to privacy, should be safeguarded by Governments for all persons in equal measure, regardless of their belonging to any particular group.

The representative of the United States said her delegation had joined consensus because the draft resolution reaffirmed privacy rights and their importance for the exercise of freedom of expression.  She welcomed the text’s recognition that the rights people enjoyed offline should also extend to the online arena, noting that data analytics could have great benefits for societies, provided they were accompanied by adequate protections.

The representative of Canada reaffirmed that unlawful or arbitrary surveillance violated the right to privacy.  The international community must cast its consideration of privacy broadly and not just focus on surveillance.  The draft resolution’s preoccupation with mass surveillance distracted from the bigger issue of the right to privacy, which often involved targeted surveillance on a discriminatory basis.

News

CALENDRIER du 6 juin au 12 juin 2016

(Susceptible de modifications en cours de semaine)

Déplacements et visites

Lundi 6 juin

Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council (until 07/06), in Luxembourg.

European Parliament plenary session (until 09/06), in Strasbourg.

Ms Federica Mogherini in the United States of America: attends a briefing at the UN Security Council; meets with Mr Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations; delivers a speech at the UN Security Council (in New York); takes part in the Global Forum of American Jewish Congress (in Washington DC).

Ms Kristalina Georgieva in Prague, the Czech Republic: meets with Mr Bohuslav Sobotka, Prime Minister, and with Mr Lubomír Zaorálek, Foreign Affairs Minister; gives a keynote speech at the Prague European Summit “EU in a Time of Crisis: Better Together?”

Mr Andrus Ansip receives European Newspaper Publishers’ Association (ENPA).

Mr Maroš Šefčovič in Luxembourg: participates in the signature ceremony of the “Political Declaration on energy cooperation between North Seas Countries”.

Mr Valdis Dombrovskis in Paris, France: to discuss the European Semester with representatives from the Senate and the National Assembly.

Mr Johannes Hahn in Luxembourg: holds a series of meetings in the European Court of Auditors.

Mr Neven Mimica on official visit to the Pacific region (until 09/06), including New Zealand and Australia. He holds a series of bilateral meetings as part of his visit.

Mr Miguel Arias Cañete in Luxembourg: signs the “Political Declaration on energy cooperation between North Seas Countries”; meets with Mr Peter Žiga, Minister of Economy of the Slovak Republic.

Mr Karmenu Vella in Copenhagen, Denmark: delivers a speech at the 3GF Global Green Growth Forum; delivers a keynote speech at the Conference on “How do we Scale up Circular Economy?”; meets with Mr Esben Lunde Larsen, Minister for Environment and Food of Denmark; visits RGS 90 A/S, a treatment plant for soil, polluted industrial water, and used construction material.

Mr Vytenis Andriukaitis receives Mr Achim Irimescu, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Romania.

Mr Christos Stylianides receives Ms Marta Ruedas, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan.

Ms Margrethe Vestager in Copenhagen, Denmark: gives a keynote speech for the Copenhagen Rotary Club.

 

Mardi 7 juin

College meeting

Ms Federica Mogherini meets with Mr Giorgi Margvelashvili, President of Georgia, in Strasbourg.

 

Mercredi 8 juin

President Jean-Claude Juncker meets with Mr Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of NATO, together with Mr Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, in Brussels.

Ms Federica Mogherini on official visit to Canada (until 09/06).

Mr Maroš Šefčovič in Berlin, Germany: meets with Mr Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany; gives a keynote speech at the German Association of Energy and Water Industries – BDEW (Bundesverband der Energie- und Wasserwirtschaft e. V.).

Mr Valdis Dombrovskis delivers the opening remarks at the Brussels Economic Forum, in Brussels.

Ms Cecilia Malmström in Botswana for the signing of the SADC-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (10/06): meets with Botswanan leaders; visits the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat; meets with representatives of Debswana, the leading diamond company in partnership with the Botswanan Government (in Gaborone).

Mr Miguel Arias Cañete meets with Mr Sigmar Gabriel, Vice-Chancellor and Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy of Germany.

Mr Vytenis Andriukaitis in Amsterdam, The Netherlands: delivers a speech at the eHealth Week 2016.

Ms MarianneThyssen in Geneva, Switzerland: participates in the International Labour Conference of the International Labour Organisation (ILO); attends a ministerial lunch organised by the Dutch Presidency of the European Council on “Strengthening Workplace Compliance – Realising Decent Work in Global Supply Chain”; meets with international workers and employers organisations; participates in a diner of G20 labour and employment ministers, as a contribution to the World Day against Child Labour.

M. Pierre Moscovici à Paris, France: est en auditions à l’Assemblée nationale et au Sénat de la République française devant les Commissions des finances et des affaires européennes.

Ms Vĕra Jourová in Luxembourg: meets with Mr Félix Braz, Minister of Justice of Luxembourg; Mr Andrea Orlando, Minister of Justice of Italy; and with Mr Jean-Jacques Urvoas, Minister of Justice of France.

Mr Tibor Navracsics in Karlsruhe, Germany: visits the Joint Research Centre (JRC) site with Mr Günther Oettinger for the inauguration of new infrastructures. He also gives the opening remarks at the JRC event organised on site. 

 

Jeudi 9 juin

Justice and Home Affairs Council (until 10/06), in Luxembourg.

President Jean-Claude Juncker in Geneva, Switzerland: delivers a speech at the World of Work Summit organised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Mr Frans Timmermans receives Mr Giorgi Margvelashvili, President of Georgia.

Ms Kristalina Georgieva in Germany: delivers a keynote speech at the conference “Europe in a changing world: what should Europe do” (in Berlin); meets with Mr Stanislaw Tillich, Prime Minister of Saxony (in Dresden).

Mr Andrus Ansip in Bratislava, the Slovak Republic: participates in the Conference ITAPA 2016 (Information Technologies and Public Administration); meets with Mr Peter Pellegrini, Deputy Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic and with stakeholder specialised in Digital Single Market and e-commerce; has ministerial meetings and visits the National Council of the Slovak Republic.

Mr Maroš Šefčovič receives Mr Marco Alverà, CEO of the Snam Group.

Mr Valdis Dombrovskis in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia: attends the Asia-Europe meeting (ASEM).

Mr Johannes Hahn gives a keynote speech at Institution Building Days 2016, on the occasion of the TAIEX’s (Technical Assistance and Information Exchange instrument) 20th anniversary; participates in the Roma Integration 2020 Launch Event; receives Mr Giorgi Margvelashvili, President of Georgia, in Brussels.

Ms Cecilia Malmström in Kasane, Botswana: meets with Trade Ministers of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Mr Miguel Arias Cañete participates in the High-Level Round Table on Low Carbon Innovation, in Brussels; receives Mr Marco Alverà, CEO of Snam Group.

Mr Karmenu Vella in St Petersburg, Russia (until 10/06): participates in the 21st North Atlantic Fisheries Ministers Conference.

Mr Vytenis Andriukaitis delivers a speech at the European Feed Manufacturers’ Federation (FEFAC) and the EU Association of Specialty Feed Ingredients (FEFANA) EU Stakeholder Conference on “Innovation in Animal Nutrition”, in Brussels.

Mr Vytenis Andriukaitis in Eindhoven, The Netherlands: participates in a Citizens’ dialogue on E-Health.

Mr Dimitris Avramopoulos receives Mr Rob Bertholee, Head of the Counter-Terrorism Group and Director-General of the General Intelligence and Security Service of The Netherlands.

Ms Marianne Thyssen attends the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) Executive Committee.

M. Pierre Moscovici à Paris, France: rencontre M. François Villeroy de Galhau, Gouverneur de la Banque de France.

Mr Christos Stylianides receives Mr Jan Egeland, Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council.

Mr Phil Hogan in Portugal: visits the National Agriculture Fair; participates and delivers a speech at the International Conference “The Grand Challenges for Innovation in Agriculture”; meets with Mr Luís Capoulas Santos, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development of Portugal; meets with Mr Vasco Cordeiro, President of the Regional Government of Azores (in Santarém); attends the inauguration of the 1st water connection from Alqueva Irrigation Global System to the Irrigation Perimeter of Roxo; visits the Fruit Concentration Logistics and Shipping Platform of the water distribution system of the Alqueva dam (in Ervidel/Aljustrel).

Ms Elżbieta Bieńkowska delivers a keynote speech on circular economy in the textile industry at the EURATEX Industrial Dialogues event, in Brussels.

Ms Vĕra Jourová in Luxembourg: meets with Mr Heiko Maas, Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection of Germany.

Mr Tibor Navracsics in Pilsen, the Czech Republic: participates in the “OOPEN UP! Festival” conference focusing on the evaluation of cultural projects; meets with Ministers of Culture of the Visegrad Group (V4) countries and delivers the opening remarks for the Visegrad International Prize.

Mr Carlos Moedas in Lisbon, Portugal: delivers a speech and presents awards at the 11th European Inventor Award ceremony.

 

Vendredi 10 juin

Ms Federica Mogherini receives Mr Jiechi Yang, State Counsellor of China.

Mr Andrus Ansip delivers a keynote speech at European Dialogue on Internet Governance (Eurodig) event, in Brussels.

Mr Maroš Šefčovič in Barcelona, Spain: gives a keynote speech at the Eurogas General Assembly 2016.

Ms Cecilia Malmström in Kasane, Botswana: for the Signature Ceremonyof the SADC-EU Economic Partnership Agreement.

Mr Neven Mimica receives Mr Romuald Wadagni, Minister of Finance of Benin.

Mr Karmenu Vella in St Petersburg, Russia: participates in the 21st North Atlantic Fisheries Ministers Conference.

Ms Violeta Bulc in Athens, Greece: attends The International Shipping Exhibition “Posidonia” and meets with Mr Thodoris Dritsas, Minister of Shipping and Insular Policy.

Mr Tibor Navracsics in Budapest, Hungary: gives the closing speech at the regional workshop on “Education and the Investment Plan for Europe” organised by the European Commission in collaboration with the European Investment Bank.

Ms Margrethe Vestager in Sofia, Bulgaria: meets with Mr Rosen Plevneliev, President of the Republic of Bulgaria; Mr Boyko Borissov, Prime Minister; Mr Tomislav Donchev, Deputy Prime Minister for EU Funds and Economic Policies; Mr Vladislav Goranov, Minister of Finance; Mr Ivaylo Moskovski, Minister of Transport and with Ms Temenuzhka Petkova, Minister of Energy.

Mr Carlos Moedas in Berlin, Germany: participates in the Startup Europe Week.

 

Samedi 11 juin

Mr Neven Mimica in Windhoek, Namibia (until 12/06): attends the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (Africa Caribbean Pacific–European Union).

Ms Margrethe Vestager meets with the Executive committee of the Danish Liberal party, in Brussels.

 

Dimanche 12 juin

Mr Christos Stylianides in Rome, Italy (until 13/06): attends the World Food Programme Board.

Prévisions du mois de juin:

13/06 Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council, in Luxembourg.

16/06 Eurogroup, in Luxembourg.

22-23/06 European Parliament plenary session, in Brussels.

28-29/06 European Council, in Brussels.

Prévisions du mois de juillet:

04-06/07 European Parliament plenary session, in Strasbourg.

11/07 Eurogroup, in Brussels.

12/07 Economic and Financial Affairs Council, in Brussels.

18/07 Foreign Affairs Council, in Brussels.

18/07 Agriculture and Fisheries Council, in Brussels.

Prévisions du mois de septembre:

09/09 Eurogroup, in Bratislava.

12-14/09 European Parliament plenary session, in Strasbourg.

20/09 General Affairs Council, in Brussels.

29-30/09 Competitiveness Council, in Brussels.

Permanence DG COMM le WE du 4 au 5 juin:

Natasha BERTAUD, +32 (0)460 767 456         

Permanence RAPID – GSM: +32 (0)498 982 748

Service Audiovisuel, planning studio – tél. : +32 (0)2/295 21 23

News

Secretary-General Hails History-Making Ceremony as World Leaders from 175 Countries Sign Paris Agreement on Climate Change

Day-long Event Sees 14 States Parties to Treaty Deposit Ratification Instruments

World leaders from 175 countries gathered at United Nations Headquarters today for the official signing of the Paris Agreement on climate change, the historic accord reached last December, with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calling upon all States to quickly sign up to the treaty so it could enter into force as soon as possible.

“The poor and most vulnerable must not suffer further from a problem they did not create,” said Secretary-General Ban as he opened the high-level signature ceremony in the General Assembly Hall.  Climate action could help eradicate poverty, create green jobs, defeat hunger, prevent instability and improve the lives of girls and women.  However, the window for keeping global temperature rise below 2°C, let alone 1.5°, was closing and intensified efforts were needed to decarbonize economies, he said.

Noting that today’s event had made history, he said it had involved the largest number of countries ever to sign an international agreement on a single day.  Among them were the following 14 States parties that deposited their ratification instruments:  Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Fiji, Grenada, Jamaica, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Saint Lucia, Samoa and Somalia, as well as the State of Palestine.  The treaty must find expression in actions taken on behalf of the current generation and all future generations, the Secretary-General said.  “Young people are our future.  Our covenant is with them.”

Following his remarks, Getrude Clement, a youth leader from the United Republic of Tanzania who spoke on behalf of children, said they would feel the effects of climate change most acutely.  “This is not the future we want for ourselves,” she emphasized.  “We expect action, action on a big scale, and we expect action today, not tomorrow.”

In a similar vein General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft (Denmark) pressed Member States to take bold steps to make that transformation happen now.  Among others, he congratulated the leaders of France and Peru — Presidents of the two previous climate conferences — for having shepherded a remarkable breakthrough.

President François Hollande of France said that in the run-up to the Paris Agreement, important steps had been taken by Governments, business, local leaders, civil society and ordinary citizens.  And yet, since agreement on the treaty, temperatures continued to rise and disasters had occurred, including the cyclone that had devastated Fiji, spreading drought in Africa, the shrinking of Lake Chad, and rising sea levels that threatened small islands with disappearance under the waves.

On that point, Prime Minister Enele Sosene Sopoaga of Tuvalu lamented that an average of 62,000 people were displaced due to climate change each day, a staggering figure that should ring alarm bells.  He called for an Assembly resolution establishing a legal protection system for people displaced by climate change.

President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil said that developing countries like her own had achieved significant emission reductions and taken on even more ambitious targets.  She called for increasing climate financing beyond the annual $100 billion commitment, saying that international financial flows must be permanently reoriented to support measures that would facilitate solutions.

President Joseph Kabila Kabange of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, speaking for the least developed countries, said that category had been among the most progressive during the climate negotiations, with 47 of them having communicated their intended nationally determined contributions, although such efforts were not mandatory.

Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli of China said that, as a responsible, major developing country, whose people owned their commitments, China would work earnestly to implement the Paris Agreement, notably by early accession to the treaty.  The Government of China would finalize the domestic legal accession procedures before the Group of 20 (G20) Summit in September, he said.

John Kerry, Secretary of State of the United States, said the Paris Agreement’s power lay in the opportunity it created.  The deal had sent a message to the markets that innovation, entrepreneurial activities, allocation of capital and Government decisions would define the new energy future.  Investment in renewable energy had been at an-all time high of nearly $330 billion in 2015, he noted.

Anand Mahindra of India’s Mahindra Group said that addressing climate change was the responsibility of the private sector, given its role in contributing to the problem.  The Agreement gave business a chance to redeem itself from the “trust deficit” it faced.  Many companies had joined programmes to double energy productivity by 2030, or made a commitment to transition towards 100 per cent renewable energy in the future, he said.

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Coordinator of the Indigenous Women and Peoples Association of Chad, said climate change was “adding poverty to poverty”, forcing people to leave their homes in search of a better future.  “It is time to change your hope into promise,” she said, urging leaders to sign, ratify and implement the Agreement.  “We want you to act.”

The signature event extended throughout the day, in parallel with meetings in which Heads of State and Government offered updates on how they would integrate national climate plans into broader sustainable development programmes.  Opening the event was a brass quintet from the Juilliard School in New York City, joined by 197 children representing the States parties that have adopted the Paris Agreement.

Also speaking during the signature ceremony were the Presidents of Peru and Bolivia and the Prime Ministers of Canada and Italy.  The Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation also spoke, as did a royal Princess from Morocco.  United Nations Messenger of Peace Leonardo DiCaprio also addressed the ceremony.

Opening Remarks

GETRUDE CLEMENT, youth representative from the United Republic of Tanzania, spoke on behalf of young children in the opening ceremony, saying that climate change presented a big problem all over the planet, but it was children who would feel its effects most acutely, both now and in the future.  Climate change affected the lives of young people, their planet and their education, and children saw its negative results in their daily lives.  “This is not the future we want for ourselves,” she said, adding that children were leading their communities in taking action.  Youth leaders in the United Republic of Tanzania had visited many communities to talk about the effects of climate change and had learned how it impacted the lives of young people.  “We expect action, action on a big scale, and we expect action today, not tomorrow,” she emphasized.  “The future is ours, and the future is bright.”

BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, recalled that in Paris last December, the international community had adopted the world’s first universal climate agreement, with every country pledging to curb emissions and strengthen resilience to potentially devastating climate impacts.  Today, more than 165 Governments had gathered to sign the Paris Agreement.  “This is history,” he said, describing the largest number of countries ever to sign an international agreement on a single day.  He commended the 14 States parties depositing their ratification instruments:  Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Fiji, Grenada, Jamaica, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Saint Lucia, Samoa and Somalia, as well as the State of Palestine.  Noting that records were being broken inside the chamber today, he said they were also being broken outside — record global temperatures, ice loss and carbon levels.

“We are in a race against time,” he emphasized, urging countries to join the Agreement quickly so that it could enter into force as early as possible.  The window for keeping global temperature rise below 2 °C was closing, he warned.  The era of consumption without consequences was over and intensified efforts were needed to decarbonize economies and support developing countries in making that transition.  “The poor and vulnerable must not suffer further from a problem they did not create,” he stressed.  Climate action was not a burden.  Rather, it could help eradicate poverty, create green jobs, defeat hunger, prevent instability and improve the lives of women and girls and it was essential to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  He said he had worked towards this day since “day one” as Secretary-General.  “You are signing a new covenant with the future,” which must find expression in actions taken on behalf of the present and future generations to protect communities.  “The power to build a better world is in your hands,” he declared.

FRANÇOIS HOLLANDE, President of France, said 12 December 2015 had been a historic day for the whole international community.  The moment it had become clear that agreement had been reached had been an emotional one.  It was important to recall that the terrorist attacks on Paris had been the backdrop to the Agreement, he said, adding that world leaders had nevertheless demonstrated their ability to come together with a sense of partnership and responsibility to ensure that an agreement would be the fruit of the Paris meeting, as a symbolic act for the rest of the world.

In the run-up to the Agreement, important steps had been taken by Governments, business, local leaders, civil society and ordinary citizens, he recalled.  The success of the Paris meeting had compelled Governments to go even further than the promises and pledges made, and there was a need to ensure that words became actions.  Since 12 December, temperatures had continued to rise and further disasters had occurred, including the devastating cyclone in Fiji, the spread of drought in Africa, the continuing shrinkage of Lake Chad and the rising sea levels that threatened small islands at risk of disappearing under the waves.

Never in the history of the United Nations had it been possible to bring together 170 countries to sign an agreement, all together, on one day, he noted, emphasizing that there was no turning back now.  The world must accelerate action to implement low-carbon policies.  Noting that some $100 billion was needed between now and 2020, he said every country must set an example, particularly developed countries, by stepping up contributions for combating climate change.  “It is not just a question of States taking action, the entire world must come together,” he stressed.  “Everyone must feel that they have a stake in this.”

MOGENS LYKKETOFT (Denmark), President of the General Assembly, congratulated Governments for having demonstrated what true leadership was all about; society and business leaders, for keeping the pressure and momentum going; the leaders of France and Peru – Presidents of the previous two Conference of Parties – for having shepherded a remarkable breakthrough; and the Secretary-General, for his tireless commitment on the long journey to Paris.  “We must raise the level of ambition even further,” he said, calling for bold steps to make the transformation happen now.

OLLANTA HUMALA TASSO, President of Peru, said the Paris efforts went hand in hand with others under way at the heart of the United Nations, energetically promoted by the Secretary-General, to combat poverty and inequality, notably with the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals.  Against that backdrop, he said, he was grateful for his country’s important role in that process, and to the international community for its trust in his Government.  Recalling that the Lima Call for Action had been adopted in 2014, laying the foundations for the Paris Agreement, he said Peru had worked with France to craft a historic accord that must now be implemented responsibly.

The unprecedented presence of so many Heads of State and Government to sign — and some to ratify — the Agreement was proof of the worthy efforts deployed in reaching the accord, he said.  Peru had been motivated by the need to mobilize the greatest partnership in history for the benefit of climate and development.  Indeed, the Paris Agreement contained weighty obligations that the international community must assume under the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.  States would need to ramp up dialogue and cooperation, and ensure robust commitment was in place to push forward the climate financing needed for mitigation and adaptation efforts, and to shape low-carbon, climate-resilient economies.

In that context, he went on to point out the importance of the Lima-Paris Action Agenda, saying it must play a full part in the run-up to the twenty-second Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Marrakech, Morocco, which aimed to promote climate action at all levels of society.  For its part, Peru was working to become a climate-responsible country, having committed to reducing greenhouse gases by 30 per cent by 2030, and to enhance adaptation actions.  Those included reducing vulnerability in terms of access to water, agriculture, fisheries, forests and health, as well as across five sectors — disaster risk management, resilient public infrastructure, the fight against poverty, gender equality and promoting private investment.  The Paris Agreement represented the tangible expression of a desire to achieve fair, secure and sustainable development for all.  “Today, we can ratify the greatest partnership against the enemy — climate change,” he declared.

JOSEPH KABILA KABANGE, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, noted that the Group of Least Developed Countries had been among the most progressive in the climate negotiations and had played a significant role in building important components of the Paris Agreement.  For them, today was not merely a symbolic event; it was an important opportunity to reaffirm the positive spirit and narrative created in Paris.  Today was an opportunity to outline a timetable for ensuring the Agreement would have full force in international law and would be implemented.  Ministers from the least developed countries had met in Kinshasa earlier this month to reiterate their commitment to the Paris Agreement and had declared that their Governments would take all necessary steps required for ratification of the Agreement, as soon as possible.

The Paris Agreement created many challenges and opportunities for economies, he continued.  To reach many of the goals it set out, predictable and significantly increased financial flows and other resources would have to be put in place to enable robust action.  Resilience to the adverse effects of climate change and enhanced actions on adaptation would also be required.  The Democratic Republic of the Congo was fully aware of the need for a global effort to tackle global warming and had committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent between 2020 and 2030, he said.  That represented a considerable effort for a country that was resolutely working to rebuild itself and move ahead.  The transfer of technology, building capacity, securing financing, ensuring resilience in the face of climate change, and developing renewable energy were the main priorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said, noting that it had a significant and diverse range of natural resources that made it an important partner in the fight against climate change.  The development of hydroelectric power would help meet its own energy needs, as well as those of its neighbours and beyond, he said, emphasizing that States had a duty to overcome narrow self-interest and opt for proactive, mutually beneficial cooperation.

EVO MORALES AYMA, President of Bolivia, declared:  “The Earth is not an object that can be sold,” emphasizing that his community had taught him that land was “our mother, our home that should be protected”.  He described the main enemies of life as consumerism, mercantilism, the arms race and greed — in sum, the capitalist system, which should be eradicated.  The world was witnessing the most serious disasters — temperature rise, drought, hurricanes and other extreme events — and unless Governments lived up to their Paris commitments, temperatures would rise by between 5 and 6 °C, he warned.

He went on to state that the Paris Agreement could change that reality, depending on its implementation.  It marked an important step, but it was not sufficient to save Mother Earth.  He called for examining the structural causes of the climate crisis, stressing that the rights of Mother Earth were more important than individual rights.  The environment must be protected and, as such, it was essential to adopt a universal declaration on the rights of Mother Earth, and an international climate justice tribunal.  They would judge and punish States responsible for the climate crisis, as well as businesses that caused social and environmental damage.  “If we don’t change the capitalist system in the future, we will see the destruction of humankind,” he asserted.

DILMA ROUSSEFF, President of Brazil, said that the successful conclusion of the Paris Agreement represented an historic milestone towards creating the world humanity wanted — a world of sustainable development for all, with the full achievement of the Goals enshrined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Realizing the commitments made in Paris would demand converging action by all countries and societies towards lives and economies less dependent on fossil fuels and dedicated to sustainable environmental practices.  Developing countries like Brazil had achieved significant emission reductions and taken on even more ambitious targets, she said.  The challenge of tackling climate would require a gradual increase in the ambition of developed countries and the continuous mobilization of the appropriate means of implementation.

She went on to emphasize that it was necessary to increase climate financing beyond the annual $100 billion commitment.  International financial flows must be permanently reoriented to support measures that would translate into solutions.  Brazil was determined to intensify mitigation and adaptation actions, and in that regard, would work for a 37 per cent reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2025, and 43 per cent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels, she said.  The country would also achieve zero deforestation in the Amazon and neutralize emissions from the legal suppression of vegetation.  Another challenge would be the restoration and reforestation of 12 million hectares of forest and another 15 million hectares of degraded pasture, he said.  Those were indeed ambitious targets, but they were based on Brazil’s understanding of the grave, negative impacts of climate change.

ZHANG GAOLI, Vice-Premier of China, described the Paris Agreement as a milestone in the global response to climate change, which his country had actively worked to conclude.  In Paris, the President of China had put forward the country’s vision and proposals, and China had played a vital role in the negotiation process.  It was a responsible, major developing country, whose people owned their commitments, he said.  “We will work hard to earnestly implement the Paris Agreement,” notably by acceding early to the accord, and would finalize its domestic legal procedures on its accession before the Group of 20 (G-20) Summit in September.  China would work with the rest of the international community for early accession in order to ensure the accord’s early entry into force.

He said China would take actions at home to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, setting a peak by 2030 and making its best efforts to peak early.  Those efforts had been included in national development plans.  Under the national five-year plan, efforts would be made to cut carbon emissions by 18 per cent, control carbon intensity and launch near-zero carbon emission projects.  It would also put in place a strict accountability system for environmental protection and ensure implementation of all targets.  More broadly, China would enhance international cooperation against climate change by taking part in follow-up negotiations on the Paris Agreement, while deepening South-South cooperation on climate change.  New projects had been launched in 2016, especially those focused on enhancing the climate financing capacity of developing countries.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, Prime Minister of Canada, said climate change represented not only a challenge that must be met, but also an opportunity that must be grasped.  It was a challenge that Canada had already begun to address, he said, noting that his Government had met with a range of stakeholders to create a plan that would meet or exceed emissions targets, and taken steps towards clean economic growth.  Canada had encouraged actions to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and invested billions in a green energy fund.  It had also signed on to “Mission Innovation”, a global partnership that aimed to double Government investment in climate-change initiatives over five years, while encouraging a more prominent role for the private sector.

“These actions are just the beginning,” he said, emphasizing that the country was not making such investments to be “nice”.  Rather, Canada was doing so because it was the right thing to do for the environment and the economy.  The humanitarian case was also clear.  It was well known that climate change would hit the poorest citizens the hardest, making it more difficult for the international community to address other challenges, such as food insecurity and the growing needs of refugee populations.  The business case was also obvious, and there were tremendous opportunities in that regard.  Canada’s ambitions would not end with those planned steps aimed at addressing the issue at home.  The country would also play a prominent role in supporting developing countries, which should neither be punished for a problem they had not created, nor deprived of the opportunities for clean growth that developed countries were pursuing.  That was why Canada would investment $2.5 billion over the next five years to help developing countries move towards sustainable development, he said.

MATTEO RENZI, Prime Minister of Italy, asked delegates to close their eyes and imagine their sons and grandsons in the General Assembly chamber for the first time.  “Today, finally, we give a message of hope,” he said.  The Paris Agreement was important, but not only for a single issue.  Its most important aspect was its political message.  “We give the message that politics is able to give hope for the next generations,” he said, emphasizing that Italy would work for implementation of the Paris Agreement in the coming months.  The international community had demonstrated that it understood the importance of delivering a collective message, and Italy would consider that a priority for its presidency of the Group of Seven (G-7) and for its role in Europe.

ENELE SOSENE SOPOAGA, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, said “we need to take the Paris Agreement and mould it into an international call to action” — a “document of revival”.  Signature was the first step, to be followed by ratification to ensure its early entry into force.  He said that he had arrived today with Tuvalu’s instrument of ratification, and encouraged the legislatures of other countries also to ratify.  He welcomed the decision by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to develop a special report on the impacts of a 1.5 °C global temperature rise, saying he suspected that would have serious implications for small-island countries, such as his own.

More broadly, he said an average 62,000 people were displaced each day due to climate change, a staggering figure that should ring alarm bells.  Calling for an Assembly resolution to establish a legal protection system for people displaced by the impacts of climate change, he said that, since small island developing States required better access to climate financing, disbursement of the Green Climate Facility must be based on accessibility and level of vulnerability, rather than how well a State party could write its adaptation or mitigation proposals.  He also sought support for a Pacific island climate change insurance facility.

ALEXANDER KHLOPONIN, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, said today’s signing was a remarkable and important step by the international community towards achieving the goal of tackling global climate change.  The Paris Agreement created a reliable international legal framework that united actions of developed and developing countries, including the main emitters of greenhouse gases.  The quality of life of all of humanity and the move towards a more sustainable future depended on resolving climate issues.

The Agreement, he said, contained important provisions on the role of market-based mechanisms to provide incentives to Governments and businesses to take effective measures to address climate challenges.  His country was prepared to cooperate with all States and had laid out an ambitious set of intended nationally determined contributions, which included its intention to limit greenhouse gas emissions to 70 per cent of 1990s levels by 2030.  The preservation of forests was of major concern for the Russian Federation.  The potential of forests must be maximized, without artificial restrictions.  The Russian Federation had created a national plan to implement the Agreement, which included a long-term strategy of low-carbon development through 2050, and systemic efforts for the sustainable management of forests.  There needed to be innovative approaches based on technologies, with a particular focus placed on technical cooperation to address climate problems.  He concluded by highlighting a proposal by his Government to convene a scientific forum under the United Nations to discuss climate change challenges, including the depletion of natural resources.

JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State of the United States, recalled that he was a young organizer just back from Viet Nam on the first Earth Day in 1970, and a young Senator advocating in Rio de Janeiro for the first Earth Summit.  After having attended many Conferences of Parties, it was fair to say that all felt an “extraordinary sweep of joy” when 196 nations said in Paris that they would live up to their responsibility to future generations.  That meeting was a turning point in the fight against climate change, when the world had decided to heed the mountain of evidence, put to rest the debate of whether climate change was real, and instead, began to galvanize the focus on how to address the irrefutable reality that nature was changing rapidly due to our own choices.

The power of the Agreement was not that it guaranteed States would hold the global temperature rise to a target of 1.5 or 2 °C.  “It does not and we know it”, he said.  Its power was in the opportunity it created, the message it sent to the marketplace that innovation, entrepreneurial activities, allocation of capital and Government decisions would define the new energy future.  Its power lay in what it would do to unleash the private sector.  In 2015, renewable energy investment reached an-all time high of nearly $330 billion.  It was predicted that States would invest tens of trillions of dollars by the end of the century.  More of the world’s money was now being spent on fostering renewable technologies than on fossil fuel plants.

“None of what we have to achieve is beyond our capacity technologically,” he said.  “The only question is whether it was beyond our collective resolve.”  The urgency of the challenge was only becoming more pronounced.  The United States looked forward to formally joining the Agreement this year and called on all its international partners to do likewise.  Quoting former South African President Nelson Mandela, he said, “It always seems impossible until it is done.”

LALLA HASNA, Princess of Morocco, whose country would host the twenty-second Conference of the Parties in Marrakech, said collective efforts should focus on the Agreement’s effective implementation.  To honour its commitments, she said that Morocco would, by 2030, cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 32 per cent while meeting 52 per cent of its energy needs through renewable sources such as solar and wind farms.  It stood ready to share its know-how with others, particularly countries in Africa and the Middle East.

Noting how the next Conference would see the adoption of procedures and mechanisms for implementing the Paris Agreement, she emphasized the importance of a clear and predictable road map to raise funds for projects, thus fostering change in private investment patterns.  Countries needed to benefit from a full range of incentives, with developing States getting access to patented technology on preferential terms and solutions being found to environmental trade barriers.  Negotiations on implementing the Agreement had reflected a spirit of international solidarity and responsibility, she said, and with the commitment of all parties, the pledges made in Paris would result in specific objectives, effective mechanisms and concrete projects that would turn ambitions into reality.

ANAND MAHINDRA, private sector representative, said the transition to a greener way of life was happening after much “churning”.  Nevertheless, indisputably positive things were beginning to take place, starting with today’s signing of the Paris Agreement.  It was the first step towards visibly integrating the private sector’s future with the future of the planet.  Addressing climate change was the responsibility of the business sector given its role in contributing to the problem.  It gave businesses a chance to redeem themselves from the “trust deficit” it had faced following the Occupy Wall Street movement.  Many corporations were joining programmes to double energy productivity by 2030 or had committed to transitioning towards 100 per cent renewable energy in the future.  Investment in renewable energy options now outstripped that in conventional energy for the first time and represented an attractive business opportunity.  It would be on the best investment he, as a business leader, could make.  He welcomed the Agreement’s signing today as a sign that the inner conscious of nations and corporations had been stirred.

HINDOU OUMAROU IBRAHIM, civil society representative from Chad, said her people were nomadic pastoralists, where more than 10 million depended on a fragile ecosystem.  Thirty years ago, her mother used to walk 10 kilometres a day to collect water and food.  Today, young mothers were climate refugees.  They could not walk to Lake Chad because it was vanishing.  The land was being used by Boko Haram and her people’s rights and dignity were under threat.  “Climate change is adding poverty to poverty every day,” she said, forcing people to leave their homes in search of a better future.  Migration was a tragedy for those who had been left behind — women and children who must stay and fight the consequences of climate change on their own.  They fought for survival.

“Nature is our supermarket.  To protect it, we use our indigenous and science knowledge,” she said, noting that her people had developed a participatory treaty to help women and children manage the few resources left.  But their traditional knowledge could not solve everything.  It could not end fossil fuel or protect people from land grabbing.  Today, delegates had the responsibility to ensure international citizenship.  In her community, thousands of women and children had never used electricity.  They had seen the damage caused by fossil fuels and carbon.  For her people, true climate justice was renewable energy for all.  “Without adaptation measures, soon there will be no one to adapt.  In Paris, you gave us hope.  Now it is time to change your hope into promise,” she said, urging leaders to sign, ratify and implement the Agreement.  “We want you to act.”

LEONARDO DICAPRIO, United Nations Messenger of Peace, recalled how he had travelled the world over the past two years to document how climate change had altered the natural balance of life.  “All that I have seen and heard on my journey absolutely terrified me,” he said.  It was proven that climate change was a direct result of human action and would get astronomically worse in the future.  “You know what will happen if this scourge is left unchecked,” he warned, calling climate change a “runaway freight train” that threatened impending disaster for the world.

Although the Paris Agreement had been reached, he said, evidence proved that it would not be enough.  The planet would not be saved unless fossil fuels were left in the ground, where they belonged.  Reversing the course of climate change would not be easy, but the tools were in the international community’s hands, provided they were applied before it was too late.  Many of the steps that had been taken were already yielding fruit, but it was now incumbent upon world leaders to lead, empower and inspire.  Signing the Paris Agreement would mean nothing without bold, unprecedented action.  After 21 years of debate, it was time to declare — no more talk, no more excuses, no more 10-year studies, no more allowing fossil fuels companies to dictate the policies that will affect the future.  The United Nations was the body that could make a difference.  “The world is now watching.  You will either be lauded by future generations, or vilified by them,” he warned.  “You are the last, best hope for earth,” he concluded.

National Statements (A to L)

MOGENS LYKKETOFT (Denmark), President of the General Assembly, opened the segment, calling it an opportunity for Parties to the Convention to provide updates on how their Governments were implementing their national climate plans and integrating them into their overall sustainable development plans.  Speakers would also set out their countries’ road maps towards achieving the overall aim of limiting the global temperature rise to well below 2°C, and indicate their respective Governments’ timetables for ratifying the Paris Agreement.  In addition, he said, participants would indicate how their Governments would accelerate climate action before 2020 by drawing on the ingenuity, resources and efforts of all sectors of society.

JUAN MANUEL SANTOS CALDERÓN, President of Colombia, called climate change the greatest challenge faced by mankind.  The sooner the Paris Agreement was ratified, the faster the benefits would be seen, he said, adding that his country had recently concluded an agreement on climate change that called for effective and coordinated action, with a national policy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions as well as deforestation in the Amazon region.

He said his country was particularly vulnerable, having experienced in recent years some of the worst flooding and drought in its history.  Acting on climate change would benefit the environment, turn those who had been engaged in conflict into promoters of change, and help restore forests that had been impacted by conflict and drug trafficking.

ALI BONGO ONDIMBA, President of Gabon, called upon States to adopt economic development models that were low in carbon emissions.  Doing that would require new ways of cooperating internationally to combat climate change, he said, stating that Gabon stood ready to work with the international community to reduce global warming.  With 88 per cent of his country covered by forests, he said Gabon had opted for the mainstreaming of land management.

Politically, his State had sought to bring national legislation in line with the challenges of climate change, he said, reiterating a commitment to transition to renewable energy.  Implementation of the Paris Agreement should create a climate that was conducive to private sector investment, particularly in countries committed to a green environment.

ROSEN PLEVNELIEV, President of Bulgaria, calling the Paris Agreement a decisive step forward, said that there was “no turning back”.  Transformation would be made in all key sectors.

Having achieved its targets under the Kyoto Protocol, he said that his country had an ambitious national framework to meet the new targets it had set in compliance with the Agreement’s standards and regional goals, putting an emphasis on energy efficiency within energy networks.  It was now up to everyone to secure early ratification and implementation action.

KOLINDA GRABAR-KITAROVIĆ, President of Croatia, said that the next 10 years were critical for the future existence of the world.  Efforts to face it must not take a back seat.  Having fairly low levels of emissions, but being very vulnerable to climate changes, her country was already seeing irreversible changes in the ecosystem.

Early ratification and implementation was now a priority for the country under the standards of the Paris Agreement and action of the European Union, she said.  Strong partnerships must be built to support collective efforts; her country was participating in cooperation with countries in all regions, as climate change affected all no matter where they were located.

ALASSANE OUATTARA, President of Côte d’Ivoire, said that today was a demonstration of solidarity to deal with the effects of climate change.  His country had experienced warming and a decrease in rainfall, resulting in smaller agricultural yields and other effects.  For his country, implementing the Paris Agreement was an imperative.  A framework for that purpose was now being constructed in coordination with the country’s development plans.  The support of the international community was needed in those efforts, particularly for the dissemination of clean electricity.  Scientific and technological progress, for that purpose, must be made available to all.

JÁNOS ÁDER, President of Hungary, said that despite progress on climate agreements and investments in green technology, it appeared that climate change was accelerating.  The Earth continued to give daily warnings of the consequences of our current practices.  It was not yet time to celebrate; much progress must be made urgently.  For that reason, the largest emitters must take accelerated action.  Research into storing energy must also be a priority.  Noting that “time is our most precious non-renewable resource,” he urged all stakeholders to use it carefully.

DALIA GRYBAUSKAITĖ, President of Lithuania, praised the Paris Agreement as “a win” for the planet, the people and the economy, urging all stakeholders to take action to implement it.  Lithuania, she said, was fully committed to the European Union’s pledge to reduce emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2030 and was a clear example that rapid economic growth was possible without harming the environment.  In the last 25 years, national emission levels fell by almost 60 per cent, while gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 30 per cent.  She concluded with a warning that although nuclear energy could be a component of a clean energy strategy, the safety of all related infrastructure must be in line with international law and ensure cooperation with neighbouring countries.

FAUSTIN ARCHANGE TOUADERA, Head of State of the Central African Republic, said decisions needed to be taken on measures that would limit the effects of climate change.  He recalled the commitment that his country’s delegation had made at the twenty-first Conference of the Parties to work towards reducing carbon emissions, and noted the need for financing to protect the Congo Basin forest.  It was his country’s desire to see mechanisms established quickly so as to maintain the global ecosystem.

DAVID ARTHUR GRANGER, President of Guyana, said his country was a net carbon sink, with forests that sequestered more carbon than what its population generated.  With the world’s second highest percentage of rainforest cover, Guyana commanded important carbon stocks.  Nevertheless, he said his country was committed to limiting the rise in global temperatures with ambitious initiatives in the forest and renewable energy sectors, moving closer towards a 100 per cent renewable power supply by 2025.  It would invest in such measures as timber monitoring and alternative forms of power generation.

JOCELERME PRIVERT, President of Haiti, said that after Paris, there is now a race against the clock for implementation.  It was a matter of survival of the planet.  In Haiti, hurricanes had become more devastating and droughts more extreme.  In that light, his Government was committed to measures to reduce emissions by 31 per cent by 2030.  Energy reform, reforestation and strengthening human settlements would be among the priorities in that effort.  The climate regime must be implemented along with action to reduce poverty and inequality.  He appealed for that reason for stepped-up assistance to developing countries.

ANA HELENA CHACÓN ECHEVERRÍA, Vice-President of Costa Rica, said that her peaceful, unarmed country had placed its faith in multilateralism and in international agreements such as the Paris Agreement.  She urged its early ratification.  Costa Rica had long provided a model in renewable energy, forest preservation and other measures to reduce its carbon imprint, and was continuing plans to move towards a carbon neutral economy.  All measures were taken in line with the country’s human rights and development plan.  She pledged that her State would build on its achievements and urged all stakeholders to work along with it.

JOSAIA VOREQE BAINIMARAMA, Prime Minister and Minister for iTaukei Affairs and the Sugar Industry of Fiji, said the citizens of his country and other small and vulnerable developing States desperately needed help.  The Paris Agreement was a positive first step, but it was not enough, and for that reason the Pacific Islands Development Forum was seeking a new limit on global temperature rise to 1.5°C.  He went on to call for changes to current arrangements for funding climate change adaptation, as they impeded the ability of small and vulnerable nations to gain access to appropriate financial arrangements.

GASTON ALPHONSO BROWNE, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance and Corporate Governance of Antigua and Barbuda, said that Caribbean countries had accumulated high debt due to increased spending to address climate change.  Adequate and predictable financing was needed to enable the region to meet climate challenges.  He also supported a proposal to swap debt for climate change adaptation.  With the financial services sector of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member States under existential threat, he appealed for a halt to the destructive practice of delinking Caribbean countries from the international payment system.

ALPHA CONDÉ, President of Guinea, said that his country was ready to go into action to implement the Paris Agreement, particularly in respect to renewable energy.  In that area, the Agreement included a framework for assistance to his continent.  African States were waiting for a clear response in their appeals for such provisions of the Agreement to be operationalized in a timely manner.  Early implementation was critical for Africa and the world.

JIMMY MORALES, President of Guatemala, said that the Paris Agreement provided hope for developing countries that had been severely affected by climate change.  His country had been battered by severe weather in many forms, causing loss of much life and harming the national economy.  Signing the Agreement was just the first step.  All States must commit to implementation.  His country was committed to managing resources in a sustainable way and to promoting a green economy for development.  More must be done to assist Guatemala and other vulnerable States to adapt to climate effects and reduce poverty while mitigating emissions.

DEAN BARROW, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance of Belize, speaking on behalf of CARICOM, said that small island development States had long been weathering — “no pun intended” — severe climate events spawned by an industrial revolution not of their making.  The world knew in 2009 that survival was at stake, yet it took a veritable labour of Sisyphus to finalize an agreement.  To avoid Armageddon, it was essential to maintain unrelenting pressure, with everyone playing a part and major emitters carrying their commensurate share.  CARICOM was calling for an equitable climate financing architecture and saw promise in the Green Climate Fund as an effective model for implementation.  He also said that, by depriving their domestic financial institutions of correspondent relationships, the phenomenon of de-risking was threating to lock Caribbean economies out of international trade and finance.

FREUNDEL STUART, Prime Minister of Barbados, said his Government’s signing and ratification of the Paris Agreement sanctioned the consideration and acceptance of its first intended nationally determined contribution, which was submitted in 2015 to the Climate Change Convention.  In light of recent reports that 2015 was the hottest year on record and of the study that concluded that climate forecasts underestimated the sea-rise impact of Antarctic thaw, there was no time for complacency.  The contribution of fragile island nations like Barbados would be constrained by the development of operational methods to support the Agreement’s implementation, the outcomes of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report on the impact of the 1.5°C temperature rise above pre-industrial levels, and by the facilitative dialogue among parties, all of which would not occur until 2018.

PERRY GLADSTONE CHRISTIE, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance of Bahamas, said that his Government welcomed the commitments in the Agreement, including the aim to limit the annual average temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.  That ceiling was the only way to ensure the survival of low-lying islands such as the Bahamas.  His country was still recovering from Hurricane Joaquin.  Climate change was threatening its very existence.  Policies and programmes towards climate change adaptation and mitigation were in the early stages of implementation due to limited capacity and other constraints.  They would operate in the wider context of the national development plan, which aimed to decrease emissions by at least 30 per cent by 2030.  To implement it, the Government would continue making the necessary investments.  He called on developed countries to fulfil their financial aid pledges on concessionary terms.

KEITH C. MITCHELL, Prime Minister of Grenada, said the unique characteristics, particular vulnerabilities and special circumstances of small island developing States must continue to be a pillar in climate change deliberations.  Grenada had begun the process of integrating climate change into its national development plans and was assessing major national investments for their sensitivities to climate risks.  Grenada intended to increase emissions reduction targets over time and pursue action to fulfil commitments as an integral part of national development.  Grenada was fully committed to achieving common climate change objectives.  He presented Grenada’s instrument of ratification of the Paris Agreement with the hope that it would take effect in the not too distant future.

ANTONI MARTÍ PETIT, Head of Government of Andorra, said that his country had already put in place plans to reduce carbon emissions by 37 per cent by 2020 in comparison with earlier periods.  It was now focused on reductions in the energy and transportation sectors, which combined caused 90 per cent of emissions.  There was a plan of investment for renewable energy in place that amounted to 10 per cent of the gross national product (GNP).  Educational systems and the private sector would be engaged in the effort.

PAUL KABA THIEBA, Prime Minister of Burkina Faso, welcoming the signing of the Paris Agreement, said that ratificat

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Closing Data Gaps, Sharing New Technologies Will Bolster 2030 Agenda Gains, Speakers, Experts Tell Population and Development Commission

Closing data gaps and using new technologies were among the necessary steps to ensuring the successful achievement of all 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals, speakers said today as the Commission on Population and Development continued its general debate and held an interactive discussion with statistics experts.

Many delegates agreed that collecting reliable information was essential to informing responsive policies that targeted communities most in need and to fulfil the goals set in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development that was adopted in Cairo in 1994.  Others stressed the importance of carefully considering governance, the protection of privacy, transparency and rights as Governments adopted data collection approaches.

Yet, accessing the technology and tools needed to collect reliable data was an obstacle for many countries, speakers said.  Several delegates highlighted a persistent digital gap, with Swaziland’s representative describing his country’s current challenge in that regard.  While his Government had developed a national database, known as Swazi-Info, to harness the power of advanced information technologies to compile and disseminate development indicators, resource constraints had led to shortcomings, including the limited analysis of the collected data.

Echoing that sentiment, Sierra Leone’s delegate said her country, having experienced two decades of humanitarian crises, now needed every available form of assistance in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  Indeed, concerted efforts must aim at filling the existing gaps, some delegates said.  Turkey’s representative said scientific gaps between countries regarding survey methodologies and data sharing must also be narrowed for the effective implementation of the Cairo Programme of Action. 

Moreover, some speakers emphasized, accurate, disaggregated data was needed as a mechanism to measure benchmark achievements on the road towards achieving targets set in both the Cairo Programme of Action and the 2030 Agenda.  Sri Lanka’s representative said that demographic data would be at the heart of the efficient monitoring and evaluation of the 2030 Agenda and its goals and targets.  He recalled that, in 2012, when Sri Lanka had held its first national census in 31 years, the collected information had produced vital socioeconomic data.  Looking ahead, he said that as new data sources were becoming increasingly available, they could complement traditional methods.

Elaborating on that theme, Andrew Tatem, a professor at the University of Southampton, delivered a keynote address on the integration of traditional and new data sources and technologies.  While traditional data sets constituted the bedrock of information collection, he said, new sources such as geo-located household surveys, satellite and mobile phone data provided fresh opportunities.

Even though geo-located household surveys provided detailed population data in the absence of recent census figures, he said, satellite, mobile phone and geographical information system (GIS) data were sources for information on human population distribution, mobility, social networks and consumption.  When delegates asked for a price for some of those new technologies, Mr. Tatem explained that while costs for satellite data were difficult to assess, in some cases, imagery was being made available for free or at a greatly reduced fees.

Wasmália Bivar, of Brazil, Chair of the forty-seventh session of the United Nations Statistical Commission, said some States needed to bolster their data collection capabilities.  Via videoconference, Ms. Bivar told delegates that because global indicators for development agendas were not necessarily applicable in all contexts, it was crucial to strengthen national statistical capacities and generate reliable, accurate and regular statistics.  Moving forward, she said, developing a robust and high-quality indicator framework was a technical process that would need to continue and evolve over time.

Also participating in today’s debate were ministers, high-level officials and representatives of Belarus, Lebanon, Canada, Colombia, Madagascar, Maldives, Iran (also on behalf of the Friends of the Family), Botswana, Israel, Togo, Denmark and Cabo Verde.

The Commission will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow to continue its work.

General Debate

VALENTIN RYBAKOV, Deputy Minister of Vulnerable Populations of Belarus, reiterating his country’s support for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, warned against the trend of undertaking mainstream approaches when using demographic data.  While such approaches were suitable for countries with large numbers of youth, it was not appropriate for other countries with significant population declines.  In addressing the latter situation, the Government continued to work tirelessly to reverse population decline and had introduced relevant health programmes.  In addition, his country had improved social policies to support families.  Clubs and societies at the local and national level had provided training courses to families with a view to protect harmonious family relations and settle disputes.

HASSAN ABBAS (Lebanon) reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the full implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development that was adopted in Cairo in 1994.  For its part, Lebanon had adopted legislation that had provided quality sexual and reproductive health care and family planning, supported efforts to combat HIV/AIDS, incorporated population concerns into school curricula and addressed the needs of older persons and those living with disabilities.  In the face of alarming levels of forced displacement in the Middle East stemming from the Syrian crisis, Lebanon was hosting more than 1.2 million refugees.  As a result, host communities were experiencing immense social, demographic, environmental and economic pressure.  To ensure the continued implementation of the Cairo Programme of Action in Lebanon, the country’s needs included improved coherence and coordination between United Nations agencies and the provision of sufficient and predictable long-term development assistance to host communities, he concluded.

Ms. WISEMAN (Canada) emphasized the need to focus on the human rights of women and girls, children and adolescents in fulfilling the 2030 Agenda and the Cairo Programme of Action.  In March, Canada announced new funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) that would widen access to contraceptives and medicine for maternal health.  Child, early and forced marriage was a complex issue that called for the engagement of all sectors of society, better data and the inclusion of all voices.  Significant progress had been made on a resolution to make the Commission’s work more effective and Canada would join its international partners in reaching out to the poorest and most vulnerable.

AMRITH ROHAN PERERA (Sri Lanka) said the successful implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals depended on reliable data that accurately described the socioeconomic situation on the ground.  Demographic data would be at the heart of the efficient monitoring and evaluation of the development agenda.  Sri Lanka’s national census for 2012, the first such survey that had been conducted in 31 years, had produced vital socioeconomic data.  Sri Lanka was experiencing a demographic dividend, whereby the majority of the population was working age.  New data sources were becoming increasingly available, which could complement traditional methods.  Sri Lanka would continue to explore the possibility of utilizing multiple data sources at different locations and over various periods of time.  Equally important was the need to carefully consider other aspects of data collection, including governance, the protection of privacy, transparency and data rights.

CARLOS ARTURO MORALES LÓPEZ (Colombia) said the 2030 Agenda not only complemented the Cairo Programme of Action, but the two were mutually reinforcing.  As such, a renewed focus must be placed on the achievement of commitments made in 1994.  That would be the best contribution towards implementing and following up on the 2030 Agenda process.  Among the advances made since the last Commission session, Colombia’s constitutional court had legalized same-sex marriage, making it the twenty-sixth country in the world that had fully recognized all forms of the family without discrimination.  Despite various national efforts, teenage pregnancy continued to be a challenge that needed to be addressed by providing young people with access to health services and to the labour market.  Colombia would conduct its next census later in 2016.  It had already conducted a national household survey on the workforce and a national survey on quality of life issues.

SIBONISO DOUGLAS MASILELA (Swaziland) said successful efforts towards reducing poverty and inequalities and attaining sustainable development depended on the collection of statistical data and information to inform responsive policies.  His Government had undertaken surveys and censuses to improve its demographic and socioeconomic evidence base.  Noting that the next census would be conducted in 2017, he said the quality of data had improved over time, but further improvements could be made, including with regard to the late release of results, which was a major challenge.  The Government had developed a national database, known as Swazi-Info, which had harnessed the power of advanced information technology to compile and disseminate development indicators.  However, challenges, such as limited analysis of data collected, were largely due to resource constraints.  In that vein, he said, the global community needed to exchange knowledge and information to improve the availability, quality and timeliness of demographic and socioeconomic data.

MAMY RATOLOJANAHARY (Madagascar) stressed the importance of data in development.  To better follow up on Africa’s Agenda 2063, he underlined the need to collect high-quality statistical data through the use of available technology.  For its part, the Government was undertaking concrete measures to address a range of challenges.  In working on those initiatives, the Government was focused on meeting the needs and aspirations of citizens.  Despite its efforts, Madagascar had continued to suffer from the digital gap in terms of technology and available tools.  Turning to the 2030 Agenda, he said each nation had a responsibility to assure its success in its implementation and Madagascar, in that regard, was taking all the necessary steps to move forward towards achieving development goals.

HELEN KUYEMBEH (Sierra Leone) described how, working in partnership with UNFPA, her country had made a good start in generating baseline data from the 2013 demographic and health survey and the 2015 population and housing census.  A revised national population policy addressed such issues as youth employment and gender inequalities.  Key concerns included reducing maternal and infant mortality, lifting young people out of the poverty trap and addressing a high rate of teenage pregnancy, she said.  Having been the victim of humanitarian crises over two decades, Sierra Leone needed all available development assistance in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, she concluded.

AHMED SAREER (Maldives) said that in recent years, infant mortality rates had decreased and life expectancy had increased remarkably in his country.  Since the Cairo Programme of Action was adopted, national policies had been strengthened and better opportunities had been provided to women and youth.  However, there was still a much to be done to fully achieve all of the targets.  Calling the 2030 Agenda a once-in-a-generation opportunity, he stressed the need for Member States to join together and put an end to poverty.  On the theme of the Commission’s current session, he underscored that the international community must be able to identify the most vulnerable people in order to address their needs.

GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of the Family, said the family was the central player when it came to strengthening the demographic evidence base for the 2030 Agenda.  The successful implementation of both the development agenda and the Cairo Programme of Action depended on policies that promoted the role and stance of the family in all societies.  A strengthened family institution would certainly contribute in the flourishing of people and the ultimate well-being of societies.  The family continued to be the basic and primary provider for each individual.

Speaking in his national capacity, he said that over 31 per cent of Iran’s population was between age 15 and 29.  That dynamic represented an opportunity for rapid economic growth.  The Government remained committed to intensifying its efforts to end poverty, inequalities and disparities within societies.  Iran had also improved the status of women in the family and society by promoting equal opportunities for education, ensuring their access to necessary health services and offering economic incentives to female-headed households.  Iran had a strong national network that provided quality maternal and reproductive health-care services, even to the most remote parts of the country.  Since 2014, the health sector had undergone significant reforms to achieve universal health-care coverage and improve citizen satisfaction with related services.

JOYCE MASSIE (Botswana) said her country’s development agenda in the post-2015 period was centred on its continued fight against poverty, promotion and protection of fundamental human rights, provision of sexual and reproductive health services, creation of employment and protection of the environment.  The challenge was the availability of sectoral and programme-focused data and statistics, which informed national planning processes.  Botswana conducted population and housing censuses every decade and periodic surveys to update information.  It had also introduced the National Monitoring and Evaluation System and a national strategy for the development of statistics.  There was an opportunity for the country to further improve data generation and innovative approaches to their use, including through computer-assisted personal interviewing for data collection and analysis, an approach that significantly reduced the time between data collection and the production of reports.

DAVID YITSHAK ROET (Israel) said the 2030 Agenda was a bold, people-centred commitment to end poverty, achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, reduce inequalities and promote peaceful and inclusive societies.  As monitoring progress was crucial to guide future action, reliable and timely demographic data was necessary for planning and implementing policies and for tracking advances in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  A robust and comprehensive demographic evidence base must be used to identify and locate the most vulnerable people, as that was the only way to ensure no one was left behind.  For its part, the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics had developed plans responsive to the needs and values of each community.  Further, his country had recently established a coordination unit of the National Statistical System in order to enhance the quality of statistics.

VICTORIA BADOHOUN-WOMITSO (Togo) said despite progress achieved since the adoption of the Cairo Programme of Action, most African countries continued to face development challenges that undermined efforts to find lasting and effective solutions to the issues facing people and societies.  Togo was committed to undertaking efficient actions to improve the well-being of its population, despite its modest economic potential.  Togo had achieved tangible results over the last decade with regard to maternal and adolescent health and had also made progress in combating HIV/AIDS, which stood at about 2.5 per cent nationally.  To strengthen the demographic evidence base and support post-2015 development, demographic trends must be taken into account.  In that regard, it was essential to collect reliable data.  Togo had conducted its fourth overall census in 2010, which would be updated by 2020.

IB PETERSEN (Denmark) said the Cairo Programme of Action went beyond the goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda.  Women, men, adolescents and youth enjoyed the right to decide freely on matters related to their sexuality and reproductive health.  But, in many contexts, they did not.  It therefore remained crucial to review and follow up on the Cairo agenda.  With regard to strengthening the demographic evidence base, it was important to respect human rights when collecting data for monitoring progress on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

ÖZNUR ÇALIK, Member of Parliament of Turkey, reiterated her country’s support for the effective implementation of the Cairo Programme of Action, since it was the only international foundation for sustainable development for all.  For its effective implementation, scientific gaps between countries regarding survey methodologies and data sharing must be filled.  For its part, Turkey attached great importance to improving its population registration system, and the tenth National Development Plan aimed at monitoring up-to-date birth, death and immigration data.  Turning to recent statistics, she noted that the infant mortality rate had decreased from 31.3 per cent to 9.3 per cent.  As one of the first countries to sign and ratify the Council of Europe’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, known as the “Istanbul Convention”, the Government had also created and implemented national action plans with a view to combating violence against women.

FERNANDO WAHNON FERREIRA (Cabo Verde), aligning himself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China and the African Group, said the current session was timely and appropriate for the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  Prior to the adoption of Cairo Programme of Action, Cabo Verde had initiated an initiative targeting the protection of mothers and children.  In line with the Programme of Action, his country had a clear understanding that sexual and reproductive health and rights were vital for women’s empowerment, human capital and development.  Cabo Verde had legally recognized a woman’s right to freely decide on matters related to her sexuality and reproductive rights.  In addition, access to health-care services was guaranteed.  The Government had also undertaken various reforms with a view to overcoming challenges related to accountability, capacity-building and decision-making.  Despite efforts made, much more needed to be done to address data gaps and reinforce capacity-building of national statistical institutions.

Interactive Discussions

WASMÁLIA BIVAR (Brazil), Chair of the forty-seventh session of the United Nations Statistical Commission, then delivered a statement from Brazil via videoconference.  The Statistical Commission had agreed with the proposed global indicator framework containing 230 indicators for the goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda.  It had, however, recognized that developing a robust and high-quality indicator framework was a technical process that would need to continue over time.  Emphasizing that the global indicators were not necessarily applicable in all national contexts, she said the Commission had stressed that the implementation of the indicator framework would present a challenge in almost all countries.  To address that, appropriate efforts to strengthen national statistical capacities would be needed.

She went on to highlight that population would be the denominator for many indicators.  The 2020 census round of population and housing censuses represented one of the critical components in the process of building national statistical capacities and generating reliable, accurate and regular statistics.  The 2020 World Population and Housing Census Programme had urged each country to conduct at least one population and housing census in the 2020 census decade.  In that regard, the Statistical Commission had already adopted and launched a full set of revised principles and recommendations for such censuses and had mandated the development of accompanying handbooks and manuals.

When the floor opened, the representative of Cuba asked about the role of population in relation to the indicators.

Ms. BIVAR said that disaggregated data would be crucial for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  That process had begun with a whole range of indicators, which had been reduced in order to add sufficient focus to the future development agenda.  An inter-agency group of experts had worked to evaluate the links between the targets of the 2030 Agenda and the indicators.  In its next step, the group would review all methodologies that had been proposed in relation to those indicators, while also continuously evaluating each country’s ability to use available data.

ANDREW TATEM, a professor at the University of Southampton, delivered a keynote address on the theme of “integration of traditional and new data sources and technologies:  from censuses to big data”.  Emphasizing that national census data continued to be the most important data source, he said overcoming the data challenge was possible through conducting geo-located household surveys and using satellite and geographical information system (GIS) data and mobile phone data.

Geo-located household surveys provided readily available data within countries, he said, offering an example.  In Nigeria, on the one hand, 53.1 per cent of women were literate and a survey had mapped the proportion of literate women across regions.  Satellite and GIS data, on the other hand, provided high resolution data such as human settlements.  On mobile phone data, he said that it mapped new forms of characteristics, such as mobility, social networks and consumption.

The use of all available data, he went on to say, was required with regard to measuring progress on the Sustainable Development Goals that were aimed at ensuring that a certain percentage of populations had access to specific services or resources.  Satellite and GIS data could map human population distribution patterns and could be used, for example, in identifying how many people were within the range of a health facility.  Such data also provided information about buildings, settlements and cities from satellite imagery.

During the ensuing interactive discussion, delegates posed a number of questions related to data uses and collection challenges.

The representative of Cuba asked how countries could complement traditional data sets and combine newer methods of collecting data with existing methodologies.

Mr. TATEM said that traditional data sets would continue to constitute the bedrock of all data collected.  Traditional data was important for providing context and understanding the biases that may be contained within newer data sets.

In response to a request from Germany’s representative to provide an example of how his research had contributed to policy changes, Mr. TATEM pointed to work that was being done in Namibia where data had been collected for malaria risk mapping.  As a result of that data, officials had changed the way that counter-measures, such as mosquito spraying, were conducted by prioritizing the movements of people, he said.

Following a query from the representative of the United States about the challenges in accessing mobile phone data, he said that it was indeed a difficult process, but that agreements had been reached with mobile phone companies whereby certain information could be accessed based on anonymity.

Mr. TATEM then addressed a question raised by Afghanistan’s representative, saying it was difficult to assess costs involved with collecting satellite data.  In some cases, he continued, satellite imagery was being made available for free or at a greatly reduced cost, but that varied from country to country.

Also participating in the discussion were the representatives of Guinea, Japan, Russian Federation and Togo.