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Social and Humanitarian Issues
The Third Committee of the General Assembly is responsible primarily for cultural, humanitarian and social affairs. In 1991 the Third Committee covered the issues of electoral assistance, crime, drug control programs, human rights, racism, self-determination, advancement of women, social development and refugees. A major U.S. initiative resulted in passage of a strong resolution establishing a focal point in the UN Secretariat for electoral assistance. The Committee also passed resolutions strengthening the newly established UN International Drug Control Program (UNDCP) in Vienna and recommending that ECOSOC establish a UN Crime Commission.
The Third Committee also considered questions on human rights as well as on racism, refugees, narcotics, the status of women, social development and crime. It adopted resolutions on the human rights situations in Myanmar, Iraq, occupied Kuwait, El Salvador, Haiti and Afghanistan. The United States joined 57 other nations in sponsoring one resolution covering assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa. In past years, the General Assembly had adopted multiple resolutions covering specific refugee problems across the African continent; the United States had long advocated melding these into one comprehensive resolution.
In the Second Committee the United States joined consensus on a number of resolutions calling on the world community to provide increased assistance to developing countries in difficult economic circumstances and those hard hit by natural disasters. Among these were Somalia, Angola, Liberia and Haiti. The United States, however, cast a negative vote on three resolutions on Palestinian issues. These resolutions contained unwarranted criticisms of Israeli land, water and settlement practices and other actions which were alleged to have hindered economic development in the regions inhabited by the Palestinians. The language of the resolutions also implied Palestinian statehood.
The President of the General Assembly created a special working group to draft a major resolution on strengthening the
coordination of UN humanitarian emergency assistance. The resolution, passed by consensus, created a high-level coordinator to be appointed by the Secretary General, a central emergency revolving fund and a Standing Inter-Agency Committee to improve the UN ability to respond to natural and man-made disasters.
Crime Prevention and Control
A milestone was achieved during 1991 for the UN program on crime prevention and criminal justice with the recommendation to ECOSOC by the General Assembly that a new UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice be established. This new intergovernmental body will serve as a functional commission of ECOSOC to take over the crime program activities from the Committee on Crime Prevention and Control, which was dissolved.
The movement for creation of the new commission was led by the United States and other member states in order to establish genuine governmental supervision of the UN crime program. These states felt that crime prevention and criminal justice were inherently governmental activities, and that governments should therefore have direct involvement in setting priorities for the UN crime program and in formulating any future standards and norms in those areas.
UN crime program activities during 1991 were mandated by General Assembly resolution 45/108 of December 1990. This resolution, entitled, “Review of the function and program of work of the United Nations in crime prevention and criminal justice," called for an intergovernmental working group to elaborate proposals for a more effective crime prevention and criminal justice program. Later, proposals of the intergovernmental working group were to be considered by a ministerial-level meeting of all concerned states, whose recommendations would in turn be referred to the 46th General Assembly for action.
Intergovernmental Working Group. The IWG on the Creation of an Effective International Crime and Justice Program met in Vienna on August 5–9. It consisted of delegations from 29 countries chosen proportionally from the five UN regional groups. The U.S. Delegation was made up of participants from the Departments of State and Justice.
Primary U.S. goals for the IWG were replacement of the Crime Committee with a functional ECOSOC commission of governmental delegations, and modification of the role of the UN crime congresses which have met every 5 years. In the past, these congresses had reported directly to the General Assembly in a legislative and policy-making capacity; the United States sought to ensure that any future congresses would deal only with topics supplied by the new intergovernmental commission and report back to the commission. Both goals, shared by most of the Western delegations, were accomplished in a draft resolution which the IWG, by consensus, referred to the later ministerial meeting for endorsement and transmission to the General Assembly. The IWG also agreed that the reformed UN crime program, truly supervised for the first time by the member states through the new commission, would focus on practical activities beneficial to both developed and developing countries, rather than on drafting more new models and other international instruments.
Paris Ministerial. The ministerial meeting on reform of the UN crime program was held in Versailles, France, November 21-23. In statements before the ministerial meeting and in active bilateral consultations, members of the U.S. Delegation from the State and Justice Departments lobbied other delegations to endorse IWG recommendations as presented to them and to agree to establishment of the new commission as soon as possible. Although some delegations sought to maintain a consultative group of independent experts and to hold a final meeting of the Crime Committee during 1992 as scheduled, the United States and others opposed such attempts on the grounds they would deprive the new commission of financial resources needed for an early start to its practical activities.
In the end, consensus was achieved at the ministerial on a draft UN General Assembly resolution which would result in the dissolution of the UN crime committee and cancellation of its 1992 session, establishment of the new commission with sessions to be held annually, beginning in 1992, election of the 40 member states by ECOSOC early in 1992, redeployment of necessary funds during the 1992-1993 biennium, and limitation of the future role of independent experts and the crime congresses. The General Assembly, in turn, adopted the proposed resolution by consensus on December 18. (Resolution 46/152.)
Drug Abuse Control
The United States continued to pursue key international drug control goals through important initiatives in the General Assembly and other UN fora in 1991. The year's focus was on finalizing the structure and governance of the new UN Interna
tional Drug Control Program (UNDCP). The main thrust of the restructuring was to integrate three previously existing UN drug control bodies (the Division of Narcotic Drugs, the UN Fund for Drug Abuse Control and the Secretariat of the International Narcotics Control Board) based in Vienna, into a single program. Under the leadership of a single Executive Director, the UNDCP was expected to become a more efficient and effective organization.
UN International Drug Control Program
Under the mandate of UN General Assembly resolution 45/ 179 of 1990, the UN International Drug Control Program (UNDCP) came into being on January 1, 1991. Effective March 1, Giorgio Giacomelli (Italy) was appointed Executive Director, with rank of Under Secretary General. Under his leadership, the three existing drug bodies were combined into a single program with four substantive sub-parts: Treaty Implementation and Legal Division, Division for Operational Activities, Technical Services Division and Inter-Organization Cooperation Division.
Major U.S. goals were met during the restructuring process. Primarily, the United States sought to ensure a consolidated organizational structure for UN drug control programs, which, at the same time, would serve as central coordinator for international narcotics control activities within the UN system. In the process, requirements were met from all previous drug control mandates and treaties. The restructuring ensured that UNDCP would have adequate financial resources, within existing UN regular budget resources, and provided for the new Executive Director to have adequate managerial control and flexibility, including control over voluntary finances. Although a voluntary fund was established to replace UNFDAC, the UNDCP gained the ability to mobilize and diversify its sources of voluntary funds. Lastly, the technical independence of the International Narcotics Control Board was retained.
During the year, the UNDCP continued many of the important programs undertaken by the previous three units. UNDCP programs emphasized practical, technical and scientific assistance to member states. The Program continued its work to implement the International Drug Abuse Assessment System (IDAAS), a U.S. initiative made possible by a special contribution from the Department of State. This system would enable the UNDCP to analyze drug abuse data at national, regional and international levels, and facilitate worldwide cooperation in this
UNDCP also continued to expand its work in accordance with the 1988 UN drug trafficking convention. It helped member countries amend domestic legislation to promote rapid ratification and implementation of this important measure. UNDCP Fund for Drug Abuse Control
The UNDCP Fund for Drug Abuse Control (formerly UNFDAC) expanded program activities during 1991. About 170 technical cooperation projects were undertaken in 60 countries. In addition, the fund supported 55 global or regional projects. Increased voluntary contributions enabled the fund to enlarge its programs worldwide. Activities focused on reducing the supply of and demand for illicit narcotics, strengthening drug control measures (including law enforcement), and research. The majority of the fund projects were concentrated in the major drug producing areas of Latin America and Asia.
Fifty-seven countries pledged and/or contributed $76 million in 1991 to the fund. The United States pledged $4.51 million. The budget of the program from voluntary sources was $71 million. According to UNDCP, the fund spent an estimated $56 million in 1991 on a variety of drug-related activities, including crop replacement or alternative development in narcotics producing regions, training and provision of drug law enforcement equipment, drug prevention education and information, and treatment and rehabilitation of drug-dependent persons.
During 1991 the fund continued to develop joint operations between bordering states to attack production and trafficking problems. This more comprehensive, subregional strategy had been endorsed by the UN General Assembly's 1990 special session on narcotics as part of the UN Global Program of Action on drugs. Numerous subregional initiatives were launched, including joint programs between Myanmar and Thailand, and Myanmar and China.
The United States continued to play a leadership role in guiding the work of the fund. The United States targeted its 1991 contribution on projects that supported the subregional strategy approach. International Narcotics Control Board
The 1991 report of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), issued in January, assessed general trends in trafficking,