After several months of negotiations, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted by consensus the draft resolution on ‘Follow-up and Review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the Global Level.' During the meeting to adopt the resolution, many UN Member States expressed disappointment that the principle of self-determination of countries and peoples living under colonialism and foreign occupation has been omitted from the text.
Several delegations also expressed dissatisfaction with the negotiation process, noting, inter alia, a lack of collegiality and good faith.
29 July 2016: After several months of negotiations, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted by consensus the draft resolution on ‘Follow-up and Review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the Global Level.’ During the meeting to adopt the resolution, many UN Member States expressed disappointment that the principle of self-determination of countries and peoples living under colonialism and foreign occupation had been omitted from the text. Several delegations also expressed dissatisfaction with the negotiation process, noting, inter alia, a lack of collegiality and good faith.
Throughout April, May and June 2016, Lois Young, Permanent Representative of Belize, and Ib Petersen, Permanent Representative of Denmark, co-facilitated a series of informal and informal-informal consultations with Member States and other stakeholders on follow-up and review. On 6 June, they issued a final draft resolution for approval via silence procedure, but announced on 16 June that a Member State had broken the silence and the ensuing consultations had not resulted in a consensual solution. On 21 July, UNGA President Mogens Lykketoft reported that he had consulted with “concerned parties” to encourage agreement, and responding to a request from the Group of 77 and China (G-77/China) to extend the consultation period, called on UN Member States to conclude intergovernmental consultation on the resolution “at the earliest possible date” within the 70th session of the UNGA, but in advance of 2 September 2016. Finally, in a letter of 27 July, Lykketoft informed Member States that a consensus had been reached on the draft resolution, as initially circulated under silence procedure.
Opening the meeting to adopt the draft on 29 July, Lykketoft said the Resolution (A/70/L.60) is a critical step “to get implementation of the 2030 Agenda off to the best possible start.” He thanked delegates for their considerable time and effort in the negotiation process, and expressed regret that technical discussions at times veered towards renegotiating some issues decided during the adoption of the 2030 Agenda in September 2015. He remarked that while certain aspects of the Resolution present challenges for some delegations, UNGA resolution A/RES/70/1 on the 2030 Agenda, together with other resolutions, provide the context for follow-up and review. He noted that through resolution A/RES/70/1, world leaders address the issue of peoples living under colonial and foreign occupation (paragraph 35), and the principles related to follow-up and review processes (paragraph 74).
Thailand, for the G-77/China, expressed deep disappointment that the principle of self-determination of countries and peoples living under colonialism and foreign occupation is omitted from the Resolution, recalling that “even a benign reference” to the right to self-determination and to the principles that uphold this right, as proposed by the Group, was rejected. He said the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda at global level, including through the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), shall take into account paragraph 35 of the 2030 Agenda, among other relevant paragraphs relating to countries and peoples facing specific challenges.
Ecuador noted that paragraph 11 of the Resolution, on recognizing challenges facing countries in conflict and post-conflict situations, implicitly includes countries and peoples living under colonialism and foreign occupation, and voiced concern that a “few countries” remain systematically opposed to including well-established language on these principles. Cuba said her delegation was displeased with the trend of imposing particular criteria on UN Member States during negotiations, and called for a return to traditional negotiations. She also warned against time limits and deadlines for drafting resolutions.
Venezuela said the 2030 Agenda is a universal plan based on solidarity, justice, equity, social inclusion, human rights and participation by citizens, and called for guaranteeing that all relevant resolutions reflect the sensitivities of all countries, especially developing countries. Nicaragua expressed regret that the negotiations had been deferred, and warned that impositions by the co-facilitators do not help to eradicate world poverty or implement the 2030 Agenda. She remarked that joining the consensus does not mean that Nicaragua agrees with omitting the rights of countries and peoples living under colonialism and foreign occupation.
Sudan underscored the voluntary nature of follow-up and review, adding that States must be able to direct their own sustainable development processes while taking into account their cultural specificities. Algeria said it is “deplorable” to hear voices raised against the principle of self-determination, which he said is enshrined in the UN Charter and many global conventions.
The EU remarked that while it has shown significant flexibility and good faith in the negotiation process, this has not always been reciprocated by other parties. He expressed reservation regarding paragraph 9, on updating the voluntary common reporting guidelines provided in the annex of the UN Secretary-General’s report on follow-up and review (A/70/684), saying the paragraph must be implemented in accordance with UNGA resolution 67/290 on format and organizational aspects of the HLPF. On paragraph 4, on discussing a set of SDGs and their interlinkages at each session of the HLPF under ECOSOC, he noted that each SDG is of equal importance, and emphasized that the relevant provisions of the 2030 Agenda are still valid, and not modified by Resolution A/70/L.60.
Japan expressed regret over the “unfortunate turn of events” in the negotiations, cautioned that agreeing to address several of the SDGs each year should not lead to a narrow or siloed approach, and called to minimize duplication of effort between the Economic and Social Council’s (ECOSOC) Forum on Financing for Development follow-up (FfD Forum) and the HLPF. The US expressed disappointment with how the final stages of the negotiation process unfolded, calling for a return to collegiality.
The Resolution adopted by the UNGA on 29 July decides that the themes for the HLPF under the auspices of ECOSOC will be: Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world (2017); Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies (2018); and Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality (2019). It notes that the HLPF under the auspices of ECOSOC will discuss a set of SDGs and their interlinkages, “including, if appropriate, with other goals,” at each HLPF session, with a view to facilitating an in-depth review of progress made on all Goals over the course of a four-year cycle, with means of implementation, including Goal 17 (Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development), reviewed annually. The set of SDGs is: Goals 1, 2, 3, 5, 9 and 14 (for 2017); Goals 6, 7, 11, 12 and 15 (for 2018); and Goals 4, 8, 10, 13 and 16 (for 2019).
The Resolution reiterates the call to major groups and stakeholders to report on their contribution to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, and requests the UN Secretary-General to enhance the effectiveness, efficiency, accountability and internal coordination of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), to avoid overlap of its work and ensuring that the work of the Department is organized in an integrated, cohesive, coordinated and collaborative manner.
Per the Resolution, the HLPF under the auspices of the UNGA and the HLPF sessions under the auspices of ECOSOC shall be closely coordinated to ensure coherence, especially when it is deemed appropriate to convene the HLPF under ECOSOC and under the UNGA in the same year. It states that the HLPF under the auspices of ECOSOC shall result in a negotiated ministerial declaration for inclusion in the report of the Council to the UNGA, except as otherwise provided, and invites the ECOSOC President, in consultation with the Bureau of the Council, to prepare a factual summary to reflect the discussions of the meeting. It also notes that UNGA 74 will review progress in implementing the Resolution, as well as Resolution 67/290 on format and organizational aspects of the HLPF. [UNGA President’s Letter] [Final Draft Resolution A/70/L.60] [Meeting Summary] [UNGA President’s Statement] [G-77/China Statement] [IISD RS Story on Request to Conclude Negotiations]