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A Busy Week At The United Nations

Important Decisions Being Made With Little Publicity

by Daniel Johnson


The most recent press release updating the activities of the UN General Assembly  is packed with important discussions that are happening over the heads of the public in every part of the world. 

  Canada's role seems to be focused on supporting the US in obstructing attempts to address vital environmental and human rights issues, so it's no surprise we hear little about it. 

Canada voted against adopting the important environmental report “Oil slick on Lebanese Shores” — 169 in favour to 6 against (Australia, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Palau, United States), with 4 abstentions (Cameroon, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Tonga) — and also against a measure to grant“permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources” — 168 in favour to 6 against, (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau, United States), with 9 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Honduras, Kiribati, Malawi, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Tonga)

One excepetion was the vote on a draft resolution to end “Unilateral economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries” which called upon the international community to condemn and reject the imposition of political and economic coercion on developing countries which passed by a recorded vote of 127 in favour to 2 against ( Israel, United States). 

Also discussed was a report regarding on-going discussions about how to implement the much-maligned 'Agenda 21', the long discussed but largely un-implemented plan to eliminate poverty and give environmental issues a key role in economic decisions, a plan that has been re-worked, discussed and re-worded since the Rio Summit of 1992, now having little resemblance to the original document much of the opposition is based on. 

Unfortunately, the humanitarian and ecologically concerned branches of the UN are still marginalized within the most important economic decision making processes, which are still dominated by banking and resource industry 'experts' who continue to promote the same trade liberalization agenda that ultimately undermines the positive work that the UN could be accomplishing. 

The report titled Macroeconomic policy questions: international trade and development  is typical of such reports, recommending a 'stay the course' attitude while acknowledging the problems created by the same course they advise the world to stay. 

The report is more of the same old 'free trade uber alles' ideology we have gotten used to hearing, no matter how wrong it's proven itself to be. 

"“Recognizing the importance of competition policies and legislation in order to enhance the international competitiveness of developing countries,  “Expressing deep concern about the adverse impacts, particularly on development, of the ongoing world financial and economic crisis, cognizant that the global economy remains in a challenging phase with significant downside risks, including the turbulence in global financial and commodity markets and widespread fiscal strains, that threaten the global economic recovery, and stressing the need to continue to address systemic fragilities and imbalances and the need for continuing efforts to reform and strengthen the international financial system,

“Noting that while some developing countries have been the main contributors to recent global economic growth, the economic crisis has reduced their capacity to withstand further shocks, recalling the commitments made to support strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth, and reaffirming the need to work cooperatively to meet development commitments to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, 

 “1. Takes note of the report of the Trade and Development Board and 
the report of the Secretary-General; 
 “2. Reaffirms that international trade is an engine for development and 
sustained economic growth, and also reaffirms the critical role that a universal, 
rules-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading 
system, as well as meaningful trade liberalization, can play in stimulating 
economic growth and development worldwide, thereby benefiting all countries 
at all stages of development; 
 “3. Emphasizes the need to resist protectionist tendencies and to rectify 
any trade-distorting measures already taken that are inconsistent with World 
Trade Organization rules, recognizing the right of countries, in particular 
developing countries, to fully utilize their policy space and other flexibilities 
consistent with their World Trade Organization commitments and obligations; 
 

References: 

http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2013/ga11478.doc.htm

http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/68/438/Add.1

http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/68/436/Add.1


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Regina Sask
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