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Department of Public Information (DPI)
26 December 2008
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York
Sixty-third General Assembly
AMID MYRIAD GLOBAL CRISES, ‘BUSY, DYNAMIC AND CONSTRUCTIVE’ GENERAL ASSEMBLY
UNDERSCORED IMPORTANCE OF GENUINE SOLIDARITY TO ENSURE STABLE, SECURE WORLD
In a year dominated by economic tumult that upended marquee financial institutions to their knees, catalysed dramatic swings in food and energy prices, drove uneasy trade partners from the global negotiating table and spurred long-time adversaries into renewed conflict in Somalia, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the General Assembly used the main part of its sixty-third session to begin shaping the broad contours of a strong and unified response.
Summary of the plenary and Main Committees follows:
In a recorded vote, the Assembly adopted a resolution that reaffirmed the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and the population of the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources. The Assembly adopted that resolution by a recorded vote of 64 votes in favour to 8 against (Australia, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 5 abstentions (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu).
Tackling a broad agenda -- spanning political topics, such as self-determination and the question of Palestine, and important issues related to the work of the Secretariat, such as public information, outer space, atomic radiation and peacekeeping -- the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) drafted 23 resolutions and 3 decisions aimed at meeting emerging challenges even as they addressed the Organization’s historical mandate in each area.
In a resolution capping its week-long discussion of decolonization issues, the Committee reaffirmed that the existence of colonialism in any form was incompatible with the United Nations Charter and affirmed its support for the aspirations of peoples under colonial rule to exercise their right to self-determination. Genuine dialogue aimed at finding fresh, concrete and more creative ways to eradicate colonialism was, nevertheless, needed to fully implement the decolonization mandate, the Chairman of the Special Committee on Decolonization, R. M. Marty M. Natalegawa of Indonesia, said on 6 October.
At session’s end, the Committee addressed the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories. Although many countries criticized Israel’s blockade of Gaza, some expressed cautious optimism that the fragile Egypt-brokered ceasefire would bring real humanitarian relief and provide firmer ground for the peace process. Israel stressed that the most substantial negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians since 2000 had taken place in 2008 and called on its critics to take real constructive measures to support both sides as they attempted to end the conflict.
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