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15/8 - The environmental situation in the occupied Palestinian and other Arab territories (decision 15/8)

33. At the request of 12th meeting of the session, on 25 May, the Council had before a draft decision on this subject submitted by the Group of Arab


34. At the request of the representative of the United States of America, a vote on the draft decision was taken by roll-call. The draft decision was adopted by 28 votes to 1 with 18 abstentions. The voting was as follows:

In favour: Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Jordan, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Malta, Mexico, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lank, Sudan, Sweden, Turkey, Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Yugoslavia, Zimbabwe.

Against: United States of America.

Abstaining: Australia, Botswana, Canada, Chile, Côte d’Ivoire, France, Germany, Federal Republic of, Greece, Japan, Kenya, Lesotho, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Switzerland, Uganda, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Venezuela.

35. The observer for Spain, speaking in explanation of vote on behalf of the States members of the European Communities that were members of the Council, on behalf of Switzerland, said that those countries abstained in the vote because they believed that the decision touched on political issues which came within the purview of United Nations bodies other than UNEP. It was neither appropriate nor in the best interest of UNEP that the Governing Council should be burdened with political matters.

36. The representative of Canada said that her delegation understood the role of UNEP to be the discussion of key environmental issues falling within its mandate. The subject of the decision should be discussed in the appropriate forums.

37. The representative of Finland, speaking also on behalf of Sweden, said that Finland and Sweden had voted in favour of the decision, although it contained some elements which could be more appropriately handled by other United Nations bodies.

38. The representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran said that, although he had voted in favour of the decision, he wished to reiterate his delegation’s reservation about the terms used to refer to the Zionist entity.

39. The representative of the United States of America said that he regretted the injection of political issues into United Nations technical bodies, such as the Governing Council. Furthermore,. UNEP was not a technical assistance agency and should not be undertaking such activities as those called for in Governing Council decision 14/11. His delegation’s position did not, however, imply indifference towards the economic and social welfare of the Palestinian people, which should be improved through bilateral and multilateral assistance agencies, and he was glad to note that, in connection with the World Health orgnization, UNEP would participate in the project entitled “Training course on water supply, sanitation and health for environmental health officers working with the Palestinian people”. The United States endorsed the recommendation contained in paragraph 18 of the report of the Executive Director on the subject (UNEP/GC/15/5/Add.2) that an a political programme in the occupied territories should be considered for implementation by UNDP, the nations and local leaders.

40. The representative of Uganda later informed the UNEP secretariat that his delegation had intended to vote in favour of the draft decision.

41. The representative of the Republic of Korea later informed the UNEP secretariat that, had his delegation had time to consult with its Government before the vote was taken, it would have voted in f favour of the draft decision, as it had voted in favour of decision 14/11.

42. The representatives of Burundi and Senegal later informed the UNEP secretariat that had they been present during the voting, they would have voted in favour of the draft decision.