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Resolution 46/36 H, adopted by consensus, called upon states to “give high priority to eradicating the illicit trade in all kinds of weapons and military equipment." Resolution 46/38 D, entitled "The transfer of high technology with military applications," was also adopted by consensus. It called upon the UN Disarmament Commission to continue consideration of this issue at its 1992 session, with a view to concluding work in 1993.
Resolution 46/36 L established a UN register of conventional arms transfers, an initiative launched in the spring of 1991 by British Prime Minister Major and Japanese Prime Minister Kaifu and supported strongly by President Bush. The United States cosponsored the resolution, which was adopted 150 (U.S.) to 0, with 2 abstentions. The register was to be established January 1, 1992, with further refinements to be made prior to September 1992 by a UN experts panel. Additionally, the Geneva CD was requested to look into ways by which the register could be expanded.
Outer Space. Resolution 46/33 asked the Geneva CD to "intensify its consideration of an arms race in outer space," including establishment of an ad hoc committee "with an adequate mandate ... with a view to undertaking negotiations for the conclusion of an agreement ... to prevent an arms race in outer space." The United States explained that it:
has not identified issues appropriate for outer space arms control negotiations in any forum other than those issues under consideration in the bilateral nuclear and space talks between the United States and the Soviet Union. Environmental Modification Conference. Responding to the extensive environmental damage intentionally caused by Iraq as it withdrew from Kuwait, the General Assembly adopted by consensus resolution 46/36 A, “Review Conference of the parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques." The resolution noted the intent of the parties to hold a second review conference of the convention in September 1992.
Economic and Development Affairs
Chapter II of the UN Charter established the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) as the principal organs of the United Nations responsible for the issues covered in this and the next three sections. ECOSOC is vested by the Assembly with responsibility for discharging certain functions in the economic and social fields, including the promotion of higher living standards, full employment and development; solutions to international economic, social, health and related problems; international cultural and educational cooperation; and a universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
ECOSOC consists of its plenary body; five regional economic commissions; several functional commissions; and a varying number of subcommissions, working groups and expert groups. The regional economic commissions and many of the other bodies are covered in this section.
In 1991 ECOSOC held its organizational session on February 5–8 in New York. Its first regular session was held May 13–31 and was resumed June 17–28; the second regular session was held July 3–26. The year
1991 was the last in which ECOSOC would hold two sessions a year. The resumed 45th General Assembly in May adopted resolution 45/264 which calls for one substantive session annually, between May and July, to alternate between New York and Geneva. The substantive segment is to include a 4-day high-level segment open to all member states and with ministerial participation, and a 1-day policy dialogue on the world economy and economic cooperation, in which heads of international trade and financial organizations are to participate.
ECOSOC's limited membership (54 countries), however, has led developing countries to prefer the General Assembly and its subsidiary bodies, where they enjoy maximum voting strength, for substantive discussion and action on international economic
development issues. As a result, the General Assembly has created entities for substantive discussion and action on international economic development issues, for example, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
The General Assembly and its subsidiary bodies constitute the major fora for what traditionally has been called the North/ South dialogue between developed and developing countries. The North/South distinction, however, tends to mask significant differences within each group and the growing tendency for countries in these groups to move away from a single united approach and to define their interests instead in more independent, pragmatic ways. It also overlooks the high degree of economic interdependence which exists between developed and developing countries, and among developing countries themselves.
The General Assembly's Second Committee is responsible primarily for economic affairs, and the Third Committee for cultural, humanitarian and social affairs. The Second and Third Committees receive some of their issues directly, but most are passed to them by ECOSOC. Elements of the UN system primarily concerned with the issues in this section usually report to the General Assembly through ECOSOC; the latter is authorized only to comment on reports from other bodies before conveying them to the General Assembly.
In 1991 some of the major issues before the Second Committee were the external debt crisis and development, driftnet fishing, the 1992 Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), “The New Agenda for Africa for the 1990s," "Consequences of the Gulf War," entrepreneurship, economic coercion and the impact of East-West events on developing nations.
A major forum for dialogue in 1991 was the special 2-day session of ECOSOC devoted to high-level discussions. This year, these discussions featured the Gulf War, events in Eastern Europe and the South Commission Report.
The Second Committee adopted by consensus a U.S.-drafted resolution on driftnet fishing banning this practice effective December 31, 1992. For the first time ever, the U.S. entrepreneurship initiative realized a consensus resolution. The resolution embodied aspirations of many developing countries and Eastern European economies in transition, and directed the UN system to promote entrepreneurship and private sector development within its appropriate programs.
The United States was able again this year to join consensus in adopting a resolution initiated by the Group of 77 (G–77) on the external debt crisis and development. This year's debt resolution addressed a major U.S. concern to emphasize the need for structural reform and improved domestic economic policies, and to respect the independent mandate of multilateral financial institutions.
In the area of operational activities for development, deliberations examined the interrelationship among the various UN development agencies. A G-77 draft resolution, calling for an increase in donor resources to fund development activities and giving prominence to the concept of immediate national execution of UN-funded development activities, was considerably toned down before consensus was reached. The United States and other donor countries intervened to balance the resolution by reducing excessive calls for more resources, and by seeking more measured progress to national execution depending on a country's capacity to assume control of UN-funded development projects. G-77 states also accepted compromise language on the integrated programming of UN system development assistance, which they had strongly opposed previously. Lastminute changes in the national execution section of this draft resolution were required, however, before adoption by the General Assembly.
Economic and Development Issues
High Seas Large-Scale Driftnet Fishing
Responding to the strong national and international sentiment against large-scale driftnets used on the high seas, the United States in 1989 introduced UN General Assembly resolution 44/225 to underscore our concern that driftnet fishing posed a serious threat to the marine environment and that its continued practice was unacceptable.
After an assessment in June by the international community of the weight of the scientific evidence about profound environmental problems posed by this fishing method, the United States took the lead in pressing for General Assembly adoption of a resolution banning large-scale driftnet fishing on the high seas. This effort resulted in adoption of resolution 46/215 on December 20. Among other things, the resolution called upon nations to begin reduction of large-scale high-seas driftnet fishing on January 1, 1992; to continue to reduce fishing areas to achieve a 50 percent reduction by June 30, 1992; and implement