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Sanctions could curtail sustainable development in Zimbabwe: Mugabe

21 Sep 2016

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Robert G. Mugabe, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, addresses the general debate of the General Assembly's seventy-first session. UN Photo/Cia Pak

Ongoing sanctions against Zimbabwe could threaten sustainable development in the country, President Robert Mugabe told the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.

World leaders are reviewing progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as part of this year's General Debate.

It seeks to transform the world by eliminating extreme poverty, promoting greater equality and tackling the challenges posed by climate change.

Dianne Penn has the story.

President Mugabe said Agenda 2030 and Zimbabwe's own national development blueprint are practically the same.

However, he said the biggest impediment to achieving its objectives is 16 years of "punitive and heinous" sanctions.

The measures imposed by the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union include travel bans and asset freezes.

"Those who have imposed these sanctions would rather have us pander to their interests at the expense of the basic needs of the majority of our people. As long as these economic and financial sanctions remain in place, Zimbabwe's capacity to fully and effectively implement Agenda 2030 will be deeply curtailed."

The President also addressed reform of the UN Security Council.

The Council consists of five permanent members—China, France, Russia, the UK and the US—and 10 non-permanent members who serve for two years.

Mr Mugabe said although the issue has been raised over the past 20 years, the international community is no closer to realising any reform of the chamber.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’19″

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Press release – Human rights: Philippines, Somalia and Zimbabwe

Parliament condemns the current wave of extrajudicial executions and killings in the Philippines, deteriorating security and widespread intimidation in Somalia, and growing violence against demonstrators and breaches of human rights in Zimbabwe, in three resolutions voted on Thursday.

Extrajudicial executions and killings in the Philippines

 

MEPs strongly condemn the attack on a night market in the city of Davao, Philippines, on 2 September 2016, which left at least 14 people dead and 70 wounded, and convey their condolences to the victims’ relatives. They call on the EU Delegation to "monitor carefully the 'rule of lawlessness’” declared by the Philippine Government after the attack.

Drug trafficking and drug abuse in the Philippines remain a serious national and international concern, note MEPs. They understand that millions of people are hurt by the high level of drug addiction and its consequences in the country but are also concerned by the "extraordinarily high numbers killed during police operations in the context of an intensified anti-crime and anti-drug campaign": from 1 July to 4 September 2016, police killed a thousand suspected drug pushers and users and arrested more than 15,000 drug suspects, according to figures released by the Philippine National Police.

MEPs urge the Philippines government to put an end to the current wave of extrajudicial executions and killings, launch an "immediate investigation" into them and adopt "specific, comprehensive policies and programmes", in full compliance with national and international obligations and respect for human rights.

 

Killings, arrests, and widespread intimidation in Somalia

 

The European Parliament condemns the perpetrators of the recent terrorist attacks in Somalia, attributed to the Al-Shabab insurgent group, and also the many killings and arrests, widespread intimidation, closure of critical media outlets, confiscation of equipment and blocking of websites. The Somali authorities should urgently act to ensure that all violations of the right to freedom of expression are fully investigated, it says.

Parliament calls for a strengthening of the national security architecture and protection of the population, as Somalia is now in a crucial transition period, after two decades of civil war, absence of state control and terrorism. An "all-inclusive dialogue is needed between the country’s social sectors, including the clans and tribes that compose the Somalian nation", say MEPs, recalling that lasting stability and peace can be achieved only through "social inclusion, sustainable development and good governance based on the democratic principles and rule of law."

MEPs urge the African Union (AU) and troop-contributing countries to ensure that allegations of sexual violence by the African Union Mission in Somalia’s (AMISOM), the 22,000-strong African Union peacekeeping mission, are properly and thoroughly investigated and that those responsible are brought to justice. They call for better EU monitoring and capacity building to ensure accountability for abuses by AMISOM, especially given that the EU is responsible for the bulk of its funding.

 

Human rights breaches in Zimbabwe

 

MEPs express serious concern about the growing violence against demonstrators – informal traders, unemployed young people and, now, professional people – who have taken to the streets in urban centres across Zimbabwe to protest against job losses, mass unemployment and the government’s failure to meet people’s basic economic expectations. They also note with alarm the recently announced one-month ban on demonstrations. The "rise in the number of arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders" worries MEPs, who urge that the rule of law should be respected.

The Zimbabwean authorities should release all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally and not interfere with the independence of the judiciary, urge MEPs. They condemn the recent statements by President Mugabe attacking the judiciary.

The EU Council and Commission should consider reimposing certain EU restrictive measures against the Zimbabwe regime, while making it clear that these will be removed and that an assistance package will be made available once Zimbabwe is clearly on the path towards democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights, say MEPs, who believe that the lifting of the bulk of restrictive measures was premature.

 

Procedure: Non-legislative resolutions


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Joint motion for a resolution on Zimbabwe – RC-B8-2016-0995

Document stages in plenary

JOINT MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION
PDF 289k WORD 81k
14.9.2016

pursuant to Rules 135(5) and 123(4), of the Rules of Procedure

replacing the motions by the following groups:

EFDD (B8‑0995/2016)

ECR (B8‑0996/2016)

PPE (B8‑0997/2016)

ALDE (B8‑1000/2016)

Verts/ALE (B8‑1005/2016)

S&D (B8‑1006/2016)

ENF (B8‑1010/2016)

on Zimbabwe (2016/2882(RSP))


Cristian Dan Preda, David McAllister, Tunne Kelam, Davor Ivo Stier, Mariya Gabriel, Laima Liucija Andrikienė, Bogdan Brunon Wenta, Ivan Štefanec, Eduard Kukan, Thomas Mann, Therese Comodini Cachia, Pavel Svoboda, Patricija Šulin, Roberta Metsola, Romana Tomc, Milan Zver, Claude Rolin, Sven Schulze, Jaromír Štětina, Giovanni La Via, József Nagy, Maurice Ponga, Michaela Šojdrová, Tomáš Zdechovský, Luděk Niedermayer, Ramona Nicole Mănescu, Lefteris Christoforou, Adam Szejnfeld, Lorenzo Cesa, Csaba Sógor, Dubravka Šuica, Elisabetta Gardini, Anna Záborská, Eva Paunova, Andrey Kovatchev, László Tőkés, Deirdre Clune, Elmar Brok, Inese Vaidere on behalf of the PPE Group
Pier Antonio Panzeri, Victor Boştinaru, Knut Fleckenstein, Richard Howitt, Clara Eugenia Aguilera García, Nikos Androulakis, Francisco Assis, Zigmantas Balčytis, Hugues Bayet, Brando Benifei, Goffredo Maria Bettini, José Blanco López, Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, Simona Bonafè, Biljana Borzan, Nicola Caputo, Nessa Childers, Andi Cristea, Miriam Dalli, Isabella De Monte, Monika Flašíková Beňová, Doru-Claudian Frunzulică, Enrico Gasbarra, Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg, Ana Gomes, Maria Grapini, Sylvie Guillaume, Cătălin Sorin Ivan, Liisa Jaakonsaari, Eva Kaili, Afzal Khan, Cécile Kashetu Kyenge, Juan Fernando López Aguilar, Krystyna Łybacka, Vladimír Maňka, Louis-Joseph Manscour, David Martin, Costas Mavrides, Sorin Moisă, Victor Negrescu, Momchil Nekov, Norbert Neuser, Demetris Papadakis, Tonino Picula, Kati Piri, Miroslav Poche, Liliana Rodrigues, Inmaculada Rodríguez-Piñero Fernández, Siôn Simon, Monika Smolková, Tibor Szanyi, Claudia Țapardel, Marc Tarabella, Elena Valenciano, Julie Ward, Boris Zala, Damiano Zoffoli, Carlos Zorrinho on behalf of the S&D Group
Geoffrey Van Orden, Charles Tannock, Mark Demesmaeker, Branislav Škripek, Angel Dzhambazki, Monica Macovei, Jana Žitňanská, Ryszard Antoni Legutko, Anna Elżbieta Fotyga, Tomasz Piotr Poręba, Karol Karski, Ryszard Czarnecki, Ruža Tomašić on behalf of the ECR Group
Hilde Vautmans, Petras Auštrevičius, Beatriz Becerra Basterrechea, Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, Dita Charanzová, Ilhan Kyuchyuk, Louis Michel, Nedzhmi Ali, Gérard Deprez, Marian Harkin, Urmas Paet, Pavel Telička, Ramon Tremosa i Balcells, Javier Nart, Marietje Schaake, Johannes Cornelis van Baalen, Hannu Takkula, Carolina Punset, Martina Dlabajová, Cecilia Wikström, Marielle de Sarnez, José Inácio Faria, Ivo Vajgl, María Teresa Giménez Barbat, Paavo Väyrynen, Ivan Jakovčić, Frédérique Ries, Petr Ježek, Charles Goerens, Jasenko Selimovic, Kaja Kallas, Filiz Hyusmenova on behalf of the ALDE Group
Judith Sargentini, Jean Lambert, Maria Heubuch, Heidi Hautala, Jordi Sebastià, Bart Staes, Michèle Rivasi, Barbara Lochbihler, Ernest Urtasun, Bodil Valero, Igor Šoltes, Davor Škrlec, Bronis Ropė on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group
Ignazio Corrao, Fabio Massimo Castaldo, Piernicola Pedicini, Laura Agea, Isabella Adinolfi, Laura Ferrara, Beatrix von Storch on behalf of the EFDD Group
Louis Aliot, Laurenţiu Rebega, Mireille D’Ornano, Mario Borghezio, Jean-Luc Schaffhauser, Marcus Pretzell, Harald Vilimsky, Barbara Kappel on behalf of the ENF Group
AMENDMENTS

European Parliament resolution on Zimbabwe (2016/2882(RSP))   

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Zimbabwe,

–  having regard to the local EU statement on violence of 12 July 2016,

–  having regard to the local EU statement on the abduction of Itai Dzamara of 9 March 2016,

–  having regard to Council Decision (CFSP) 2016/220 of 15 February 2016(1) amending Decision 2011/101/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against Zimbabwe,

–  having regard to the Global Political Agreement signed in 2008 by the three main political parties, namely ZANU PF, MDC-T and MDC,

–  having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights of June 1981, which Zimbabwe has ratified,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of December 1948,

–  having regard to the Constitution of Zimbabwe,

–  having regard to the Cotonou Agreement,

–  having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the people of Zimbabwe have suffered for many years under an authoritarian regime led by President Mugabe that maintains its power through corruption, violence, rigged elections and a brutal security apparatus; whereas the people of Zimbabwe have not experienced true freedom in decades and many under the age of thirty have therefore only known lives of poverty and violent repression;

B.  whereas unrest is growing once again in crisis-ridden Zimbabwe against a background of cash shortages, widespread unemployment, state corruption and efforts by the authorities to suppress freedom of expression and political opposition; whereas the various groups are now positioning themselves in expectation of the post-Mugabe era;

C.  whereas, since the fall of the coalition government in 2013, the work of Tendai Biti in stabilising the economy and increasing government revenues has been undone by a return to the system of patronage and kleptocracy and a state of fear; whereas Zimbabwe is now experiencing the worst economic crisis since the hyperinflation of 2008; whereas the government is effectively bankrupt;

D.  whereas since May 2016 thousands of demonstrators – informal traders, unemployed young people and, now, professional people – have taken to the streets in a number of urban centres across Zimbabwe to protest against job losses, mass unemployment and the government’s failure to meet people’s basic economic expectations, namely a labour market that provides jobs, a public workforce that is paid on time, a trustworthy stable currency and an affordable price regime; whereas only the army are being paid regularly and with a currency of worth;

E.  whereas the protest movement led by clergyman Evan Mawarire, using the hashtag #ThisFlag, has drawn support from churches and the middle class, which had hitherto tended to steer clear of street politics;

F.  whereas on 6 July 2016 the opposition movement #ThisFlag called for a national ‘stay-away’ day in protest against the government’s inaction against corruption, impunity and poverty; whereas this resulted in a massive shutdown of most shops and businesses in the capital and led to a severe crackdown by the authorities;

G.  whereas Promise Mkwananzi, the leader of #Tajamuka, a social movement linked to the July stay-away, who was arrested and charged for inciting public violence, has been released on bail; whereas another #Tajamuka activist, Linda Masarira, was arrested during the protest in July and has remained in detention ever since;

H.  whereas many demonstrations are now organised through social media, and whereas the Zimbabwean authorities have blocked internet access and WhatsApp text messaging to obstruct protest;

I.  whereas hundreds of people have been arrested during demonstrations; whereas on 26 August 2016 bloody clashes took place in the capital, Harare, when the police ignored a court order and bludgeoned thousands of protesters who had gathered under the auspices of National Election Reform Agenda (Nera) to express their opposition to outstanding electoral reforms ahead of the country’s eagerly anticipated 2018 national elections; whereas many of those who were detained are still in custody, and the precise whereabouts of many is unknown;

J.  whereas President Mugabe has been in power since independence in 1980 and is seeking re-election, and whereas several members of his government have denounced calls for electoral reform ahead of the 2018 elections;

K.  whereas the veterans of the independence struggle, formerly close allies of Mugabe in the ruling party, boycotted his speech on 8 August 2016, denouncing his dictatorial drift and his failure to solve the grave economic crisis plaguing the country since 2000; whereas the President saw this boycott as a betrayal and, in retaliation, arrested three members of the National Association of Independence Veterans;

L.  whereas on 2 September 2016 the police invoked Statutory Instrument 101A to ban all demonstrations in central Harare, a few hours before 18 political parties were due to hold a major demonstration in the capital;

M.  whereas on 7 September 2016 the High Court suspended this ban for seven days and whereas this ruling came only a few days after President Mugabe interfered in the judiciary’s independence by blasting Zimbabwe’s judges for ‘reckless’ rulings which allowed demonstrations against his rule;

N.  whereas the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission has said that food aid, mobilised to assist hungry villagers affected by drought conditions across the country, was being distributed along party lines, with Zanu PF officials denying food aid to opposition party supporters; whereas the Government of Zimbabwe declared a state of disaster in February 2016, estimating that some 4.5 million people would need food aid by January 2017 and that up to half the rural population faced starvation;

O.  whereas 9 March 2016 marked the first anniversary of the abduction of human rights defender Itai Dzamara; whereas the High Court ordered the government to search for Dzamara and report progress to the Court every fortnight until his whereabouts were determined;

P.  whereas Zimbabwe is a signatory to the Cotonou Agreement, Article 96 of which stipulates that respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms is an essential element of ACP-EU cooperation;

Q.  whereas a small number of EU restrictive measures against the Zimbabwe regime were renewed in February 2016 until 20 February 2017; whereas the asset freeze and travel bans will continue to apply to President Mugabe, Grace Mugabe and Zimbabwe Defence Industries; whereas an arms embargo will remain in place; whereas the EU had previously lifted restrictions on 78 people and 8 entities;

R.  whereas the National Indicative Programme (NIP) for Zimbabwe has been allocated EUR 234 million for the period 2014-2020 under the 11th European Development Fund, to be focused on three main sectors, namely health, agriculture-based economic development, and governance and institution building;

1.  Expresses serious concern about the increase in violence against demonstrators in Zimbabwe in recent months; notes with alarm the recently announced one-month ban on demonstrations; calls on the government and all parties in Zimbabwe to respect the right to demonstrate peacefully in order to address genuine concerns, and urges the Zimbabwean authorities to investigate allegations of excessive use of force and other human rights abuses by elements within the Zimbabwe police, and to hold them to account;

2.  Is worried about the rise in the number of arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders and those engaging in peaceful and lawful demonstrations and urges that the rule of law be respected and that the constitution be upheld;

3.  Calls on the Zimbabwean authorities to release all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally;

4.  Condemns the recent statements made by President Mugabe attacking the judiciary of Zimbabwe and urges the authorities of Zimbabwe not to interfere with the independence of the judiciary;

5.  Recalls that, under the Global Political Agreement, Zimbabwe is committed to ensuring that both its legislation and its procedures and practices are in accordance with international human rights principles and laws, including the freedom of assembly, association and expression;

6.  Draws attention to the particular plight of many women in Zimbabwe and the need to respect women’s rights;

7.  Believes that the lifting of the bulk of restrictive measures was premature and that the Council and Commission should consider reimposing certain measures, while making clear that these will be removed and that a package of assistance will be made available once Zimbabwe is clearly on the path towards democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights, and specifying, in particular, that assistance will be provided to support a free and fair electoral process and police reform;

8.  Calls for a peaceful transition of power based on a free and fair electoral process, the rule of law and respect for human rights in order to develop a free, prosperous and pluralist democracy;

9.  Strongly condemns the obstruction of food aid for political gain; stresses its concern about any further measures that would damage agricultural production, and calls for steps to improve food security;

10.  Expresses its continued concern about the abduction of Itai Dzamara; demands that habeas corpus be respected and that those responsible for his abduction be brought to justice;

11.  Insists that the EU must ensure that the funding allocated to Zimbabwe for its National Indicative Programme effectively addresses the sectors concerned and calls on the Government of Zimbabwe to allow the Commission unhindered access to the EU-funded projects and to enhance its openness to technical assistance for jointly agreed projects and programmes;

12.  Stresses that it is important for the EU to start up a political dialogue with the Zimbabwean authorities under Articles 8 and 96 of the Cotonou Agreement, thereby confirming the EU’s commitment to supporting the local population;

13.  Urges the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Commonwealth to re-engage in helping Zimbabwe back onto the path of democracy;

14.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the European External Action Service, the Government and Parliament of Zimbabwe, the governments of the Southern African Development Community, the African Union, the Pan-African Parliament, the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.

(1)

OJ L 40, 17.2.2016, p. 11.

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Press release – MEPs back trade deal with six African countries

The European Parliament approved an agreement granting duty-free access to the EU for products from Namibia, Mozambique, Botswana, Swaziland and Lesotho, and improved market access for South Africa on Wednesday.

 “This agreement will help our African partner states to reduce poverty and can also facilitate their smooth and gradual integration into the world economy. There are also many safeguards in the deal to ensure that local people truly benefit from this cooperation. The language on human rights and sustainable development is one of the strongest that you will find in any EU agreement”, said rapporteur Alexander Graf Lambsdorff (ALDE, DE), before the vote.

MEPs approved the deal by 417 votes to 216, with 66 abstentions.

Free access to EU markets

The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with six member states of the South African Development Community (SADC) establishes a "positive discrimination", ensuring immediate duty- and quota-free access for their exports to the EU market. It also creates new regional opportunities through more flexible use of rules of origin.

The African countries will liberalise 86% of their trade with the EU (Mozambique 74%) over ten years with the exception of agricultural and fishery products. The deal replaces the previous interim agreements based on unilateral trade preferences and complies with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

Safeguards

While the agreement covers only trade and development cooperation, it leaves the door open for services, investment, intellectual property and public procurement. To mitigate potential negative impacts on the SADC countries, several safeguards were added to the deal. The EU undertook not to subsidize its agricultural exports to these countries.

The deal also lists trade-related areas that could benefit from EU development cooperation funding, but none is pledged at this stage.

Monitoring

In a July resolution, international trade MEPs advocated strengthening the monitoring of the agreement to ensure that “its benefits for the people are maximized”. The committee also tabled an oral question to the Commission for this plenary on parliamentary oversight and civil society monitoring.

Next steps: The deal will enter into force once the Council formally approves it and the national parliaments of the six African states ratify the text.

Note to the editors: in the Cotonou Partnership Agreement of 2000, African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and the EU agreed to negotiate reciprocal, though asymmetric, trade agreements to comply with WTO rules and to support these countries’ development and integration into the world economy.

Negotiations were to be concluded by the end of 2007, but the process took longer and the EU finished negotiations with six states of the SADC Group in July 2014. Angola finally decided not to enter into the agreement, but may join in the future. 

Negotiations with six SADC states ended in 2014. The other eight (Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Seychelles, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe) belong to other regional EPA groupings.

 

Procedure:  Consent

2016/0005(NLE)

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General Assembly Adopts ‘Milestone’ Reforms, Including Improving Transparency, Accountability of President’s Office

The General Assembly today adopted a consensus resolution outlining a number of “milestone” reforms to reinvigorate its work as it moved into its eighth decade, notably to improve the transparency and accountability of its President’s Office.

By the resolution, contained in the report of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the Work of the General Assembly (document A/70/1003), the Assembly decided that the president-elect would take an oath of office and observe a code of ethics — each detailed in annexes I and II of the text and to be attached to the Assembly’s own Rules of Procedures.

The world body, by the text, decided that Assembly presidents would provide financial disclosures on assumption and completion of their duties, and requested both the Ethics Office and Department for General Assembly and Conference Management to provide an induction briefing to all presidents and their Office members prior to their assumption of duties.  It also requested the Secretary-General to submit proposals to review the budget allocation of the President’s Office and make staff programme budget resources available from the date of the election.

“It points to the critical need to continue to strengthen the role and authority of the General Assembly and to improve its working methods,” said Mogens Lykketoft (Denmark), General Assembly President, congratulating the Ad Hoc Working Group for delivering another landmark resolution.

The text addressed the selection and appointment of the Secretary-General and other executive heads, he said.  It was, however, in relation to the transparency and accountability of the Assembly president where the resolution had made its greatest mark.  He had placed the highest priority on that issue, particularly in how he and his staff had discharged their responsibilities.

The text included an oath of office, he said, which his successor would take later today, and a code of conduct, which would apply to Office staff members.  There were also other measures, which, taken together, formed a substantive package of actions to strengthen the integrity of the President’s Office and, by extension, the United Nations itself:  mandated record keeping; financial disclosure requirements; vetting of trust fund contributions and comprehensive induction briefings for the President’s office staff.

As his Presidency was drawing to a close, Mr. Lykketoft said he had a sense of great optimism as to what the United Nations could achieve when working together.  A Secretariat representative then outlined programme budget implications for the biennium 2018-2019 arising from the text’s adoption.

After the adoption, the European Union’s representative said the significant new elements in the text would not have been possible without the flexibility shown by all Member States in the negotiating process.  The text was a milestone in strengthening the accountability, transparency and institutional memory of the Office of the President of the General Assembly.  On 18 July, the Council of the European Union had adopted its priorities for the General Assembly, reiterating the need for reform and the reinvigoration of global governance systems.

In a similar vein, Brazil’s delegate welcomed the “breakthrough” resolution, saying that measures such as the provision of financial disclosures by the President, among others, would help in observing the highest standards of transparency.  However, the text had fallen short of expectations concerning the overdue need to provide the President’s Office with meaningful resources from the regular budget.  The Assembly could not be a rubberstamping body.  Citing advances in paragraphs 44 and 45, he said the prescription that there should be no monopolies in the senior posts had come from previously agreed language in resolutions 46/232 and 51/241.  That principle must guide the new Secretary-General’s appointments from the outset, he said, advocating improvement in the Secretariat’s function.

Several speakers also focused on the selection process of the next Secretary-General.  Estonia’s representative, on behalf of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency (ACT) Group, said it would continue to advocate for the best-qualified person to be selected through a fair and transparent process.  He also called on the Security Council to live up to the expectations of the general membership concerning the new standards of openness and transparency with regard to the selection process.

Croatia’s delegate, who had served as co-chair of the Ad Hoc Working Group, called the resolution a “triumph of consensus” and a continuation of resolution 69/321.  While there was ample room for progress, creative improvements had been made in the selection and appointment of the Secretary-General and strengthening of the Assembly President’s office.  That the annexes would be immediately annexed to the Assembly’s Rules of Procedure spoke to the significance and reach of the actions taken today.

Colombia’s representative said “we’ve come a long way” in creating a more inclusive, democratic and transparent Assembly.  Recalling resolution 70/1003, which had highlighted the need for gender and geographic balance, she said there had been high female participation in the search for the next Secretary-General.  The Assembly had fine-tuned its procedures with the Security Council and Economic and Social Council so that all could function more efficiently.  She drew attention to the appeal in the text for more consistent alignment between the Assembly and the Sustainable Development Goals.

In other business, the Assembly — by a vote of 82 in favour, 9 against (Bolivia, Iran, Lesotho, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Syria, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Zimbabwe), and 21 abstentions — decided to include agenda item 130 titled “Global awareness of the tragedies of irregular migrants in the Mediterranean basin, with specific emphasis on Syrian asylum seekers” on the draft agenda of its seventy-first session. 

Speaking before action, Syria’s representative, who had requested the vote, said item 130 had failed to look objectively at all aspects of migration throughout the world or the main reasons for large migrant movements:  terrorism, Israeli occupation of Arab lands and unilateral economic sanctions.  It had also failed to address migrants from Afghanistan, Libya and Yemen.  Some 80 per cent of those coming to Europe were of African or Asian origin.  Focusing only on Syrian refugees would not provide the widespread solutions that were needed.  His delegation rejected the use of Syrian asylum seekers as political ploys. 

The representative of the Russian Federation said the problem of illegal migrants should be considered in the General Assembly in a broad, inclusive manner taking into account all aspects, including human rights.  Focusing on Syrian migrants seemed inappropriate and politicized.  He proposed excluding the reference to Syrian asylum seekers to avoid an unnecessary rift within the General Assembly.

A number of delegations advocated support for the item’s inclusion as originally conceived on the draft agenda of the seventy-first session, including from Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Haiti, Italy, Japan, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Turkey and the United States.

Several others favoured the Russian proposal to delete the reference to Syrian refugees, arguing that the issue should be considered comprehensively, including speakers from China, Cuba, Ecuador, Iran and Venezuela.

After the vote, Albania’s delegate explained she would have voted in favour of the item’s inclusion had she not missed the action.

Syria’s delegate welcomed genuine efforts to address the issue of Syrian refugees.  Noting that Syrians accounted for only 21 per cent of all asylum seekers, he said he had voted against inclusion on the agenda.  He expressed his appreciation to those who had voted in favour of not confining the issue to a Syrian one.

Singapore’s delegate supported the item’s inclusion on the agenda from a respect for States’ rights to make such proposals.  Irregular migration in the Mediterranean basin was a global concern.  While approaches to addressing large movements of migrants and refugees might differ, the Assembly was the forum where States could discuss that issue with a view to finding durable solutions.

The Assembly will reconvene at 3:00 p.m. to close its seventieth session.

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Motion for a resolution on Zimbabwe – B8-2016-0996

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Zimbabwe,

– having regard to the local EU statement on violence of 12 July 2016,

– having regard to the local EU statement on the abduction of Itai Dzamara of 9 March 2016,

– having regard to Council Decision (CFSP) 2016/220 of 15 February 2016(1) amending Decision 2011/101/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against Zimbabwe,

– having regard to the Constitution of Zimbabwe,

– having regard to the Cotonou Agreement,

–   having regard to Rule 135 of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas the people of Zimbabwe have suffered for many years under an authoritarian regime that maintains power through corruption, illegal violence and likely rigged elections; whereas the people of Zimbabwe have not experienced true freedom in decades and those under thirty have only known lives of poverty and violent repression; whereas the fear is that Mugabe’s death will leave a power vacuum that will lead to more internal conflict;

B.  whereas unrest is growing in crisis-ridden Zimbabwe against a background of cash shortages, widespread unemployment, state corruption and efforts by the authorities to suppress freedom of expression and political opposition;

C. whereas since the fall of the coalition government in 2013 the work of Tendai Biti in stabilising the economy and increasing government revenues, has been undone by a return to the system of patronage, kleptocracy and fear; whereas Zimbabwe is now experiencing the worst economic crisis since the hyperinflation of 2008; whereas the government is effectively bankrupt;

D. whereas since May 2016 thousands of demonstrators - informal traders, unemployed young people and now, professional people - have hit the streets in a number of urban centres across Zimbabwe to protest against job losses, mass unemployment and the government’s failure to meet people’s basic economic expectations: a labour market that provides jobs, a public workforce that is paid on time, a trustworthy stable currency and an affordable price regime; whereas only the army are being paid regularly and with currency of worth;

E.  whereas the protest movement led by clergyman Evan Mawarire, and using the hashtag #ThisFlag has drawn support from churches and the middle class which had hitherto tended to steer clear of street politics;

F. whereas on 6 July 2016 a general strike organised by #This Flag was heeded by an unusually large number of people;

G. whereas on 26 August 2016 bloody clashes took place in the capital Harare when the police ignored a court order and bludgeoned thousands of protesters who had gathered under the auspices of National Election Reform Agenda (Nera) to protest outstanding electoral reforms ahead of the country’s eagerly anticipated 2018 national elections;

H. whereas President Mugabe has been in power since independence in 1980 and is seeking re-election and whereas several members of his government have denounced calls for electoral reform ahead of the 2018 elections;

I. whereas the police invoked on 2 September 2016 Statutory Instrument 101A to ban all demonstrations in central Harare, a few hours before 18 political parties were due to hold a big demonstration in the capital;

J. whereas the High Court has suspended this ban on 7 September 2016 for seven days and whereas this ruling came just a few days after President Mugabe interfered in the judiciary’s independence by blasting Zimbabwe’s judges for ‘reckless’ rulings allowing demonstrations against his rule;

K. whereas many demonstrations are now organised through social media, and the Zimbabwean government has announced plans for a law that would tighten social media controls and target what it calls ‘cyberterrorists’;

L. whereas the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission said that the food aid, mobilised to assist hungry villagers affected by the El Niño-driven drought conditions across the country, was being distributed along party lines, with Zanu PF officials denying food aid to opposition party supporters; whereas according to the government half the rural population faces starvation;

M. whereas 9 March 2016 marked the one year anniversary of the abduction of human rights defender Itai Dzamara;

N. whereas the EU restrictive measures against the Zimbabwe regime wee renewed in February 2016 until 20 February 2017; whereas the asset freeze and travel bans will continue to apply to President Mugabe, Grace Mugabe and Zimbabwe Defence Industries; whereas an arms embargo will remain in place; whereas the EU has lifted restrictions on 78 people and 8 entities;

1. Expresses serious concerns about the increase in violence during demonstrations in Zimbabwe in recent months; calls on all parties in Zimbabwe to respect the right to demonstrate peacefully to address genuine concerns; and urges the Zimbabwean authorities to investigate allegations of excessive use of force and other human rights abuses by elements within the Zimbabwe Police, and to hold them to account;

2. Is worried about the rise of arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders and those engaging in peaceful and lawful demonstrations and urges that the rule of law should be respected and that the constitution should be upheld;

3. Urges the government of Zimbabwe not to interfere with the independence of the judiciary;

4. Reiterates that the EU restrictive measures against Zimbabwe can only be lifted if President Mugabe and the government build a more inclusive country based on the rule of law, respect for human rights and the consolidation of democracy;

5. Believes that the lifting of restrictive measures was clearly premature and that the Council and Commission should give consideration to re-imposing more restrictive measures, making clear that a package of assistance would be made available as soon as Zimbabwe was on the path towards democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights and in particular to provide assistance to support a free and fair electoral process and to reform the police;

6. Calls for a peaceful transition of power based on a free and fair election process, rule of law and human rights in order to develop a prosperous, pluralistic country;

7. Demands that Zanu PF stops manipulating food aid for political gain;

8. Is deeply disappointed at the lack of progress in the case of the abduction of Itai Dzamara and urges that those responsible for his abduction face justice;

9.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the governments and the parliaments of the Member States, the EEAS, the Government and Parliament of Zimbabwe, the governments of the South African Development Community, the African Union, the Pan-African Parliament, the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.

(1)

0J L 40, 17.2.2016, p. 11

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