26 October 1999

Press Release



Assembly Acts on Cooperations with League of Arab States, Observer Status for Portuguese-Speaking Countries

The failure of Member States to meet their financial obligations to the United Nations had its gravest effects on the Organization and was also a transgression of the principles of free consent and good faith, which were at the heart of international law and relations, President of the International Court of Justice, Stephen M. Schwebel, told the General Assembly this morning as he introduced the Court’s annual report.

The financial resources of the Court could not be divorced from the Organization that provided them, he continued, adding that “the financial fabric of the United Nations must be repaired” by Member States paying their assessments as determined by the General Assembly, in accordance with the Charter and affirmed by the Court in 1962.

In the future, the International Court of Justice would have to respond to the new challenge of cases coming in more rapidly than judgements going out, he continued. It had been seized of 18 new contentious cases during the past year, more than in any other 12-month period. He added that extended recourse to the Court was more noteworthy when the diversity of States submitting cases to the Court was considered. States currently submitting cases to the Court had been drawn from all of the world’s continents with African States at the lead in their resort to the Court.

The Court had recently embarked on revising its rules and practice to accelerate its work processes, as well as those of States parties. The Court’s permanent translation staff was tiny, he noted, and its request for a modest expansion had been honoured by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ). However, larger translation resources and the assistance of law clerks were required if the members of the Court were expected to handle its cases more speedily.

General Assembly Plenary - 1a - Press Release GA/9642 39th Meeting (AM) 26 October 1999

Several speakers this morning noted the growing role of the Court in maintaining international peace and security. They urged that the Court must be given more adequate resources to meet its needs, otherwise, guaranteeing world peace and security could be at risk.

The Assembly this morning also called on the Organization to intensify its cooperation with the League of Arab States in the priority sectors of energy, rural development, desertification and green belts, technology, environment, and information and documentation. It took that action by adopting, without a vote, a draft resolution on cooperation with the League.

By terms of the text, the Assembly also recommended that a sectoral meeting should be held between the two organizations at the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia in Beirut, in May 2000.

Also this morning, the Assembly, again acting without a vote, adopted a resolution, introduced by the representative of Angola, granting observer status for the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries in the General Assembly. By the terms of that draft, the Assembly decided to invite the Community to participate in its sessions and work as an observer.

Statements were made by the representatives of the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Zambia, Cameroon, Argentina, Pakistan, Cyprus, Russian Federation, Costa Rica, Peru and the Sudan on the report of the International Court of Justice. A statement on the cooperation between the United Nations and the League of Arab States was made by its representative, and the representative of Israel also spoke in explanation of vote. The representative of Brazil (on behalf of the Portuguese-Speaking Community) also made a statement.

The Assembly will meet tomorrow at 10 a.m. to consider implementation on the programme of action on the International Conference on Population and Development.

Assembly Work Programme

The General Assembly met this morning to consider the report of the International Court of Justice (document A/54/4), as well as the issue of cooperation between the United Nations and the League of Arab States. It also took up the issue concerning the granting of observer status for the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries in the General Assembly.

Report of International Court of Justice

During the period 1 August 1998 to 31 July 1999, the International Court of Justice had been seized of 18 new contentious cases including the Legality of the Use of Force -– Yugoslavia versus Belgium; Canada; France; Germany; Italy; Netherlands; Portugal; Spain; United Kingdom; and versus the United States; the Democratic Republic of the Congo against Burundi; Uganda; and against Rwanda; Croatia against Yugoslavia; and the filing of an application by Eritrea against Ethiopia concerning violation of the premises and staff of Eritrea’s diplomatic mission in Addis Ababa. According to its report, the Court had held 44 public sittings and a great number of private meetings. It also delivered a judgment in the case concerning fisheries jurisdiction (Spain v. Canada) and another in the case concerning the land and maritime boundary between Cameroon and Nigeria.

The International Court of Justice is the Organization’s principal judicial organ and it deals with cases submitted to it by Member States, as well as with requests for advisory opinions by the Organization’s organs or specialized agencies. On 31 July 1999, the 185 Member States of the United Nations, together with Nauru and Switzerland, were parties to the Statute of the Court. Also, 62 States had made declarations (many with reservations) recognizing the jurisdiction of the Court as compulsory.

The Court also rendered an advisory opinion in the case concerning the difference relating to immunity from legal process of a Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights, the report says. Orders were made on a request for indicating provisional measures in the case concerning LaGrand (Germany v. United States) and by Yugoslavia in the case against that country on legality of the use of force. Furthermore, orders were made on the counter-claims presented by Nigeria in the case against Cameroon, and the Senior Judge, Acting President made orders for the conduct of the proceedings in the cases concerning the questions of interpretation and application of the 1971 Montreal Convention arising from the Lockerbie incident, among others.

The report also mentions the opening of the Museum of the Court earlier in the year, as well as visits by the Secretary-General and various heads of State, its role, and its publications and documents.

Report of Secretary-General on Cooperation Between United Nations and League of Arab States

The Secretary-General' report (document A/54/180) details the cooperation between the agencies of the United Nations system and the League of Arab States in the political, social, economic, humanitarian and administrative fields. The report also notes other cooperative activities between the League and the United Nations Departments of Public Information and Economic and Social Affairs. Programmes produced by the Radio and Central News Service had covered many topics linked to the League, including the status of the Middle East peace process, the situations in Iraq and Somalia and the Lockerbie case. In addition, a project started by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs with the aim to strengthen the administration of the General Secretariat of the League had been completed.

According to the report, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) had intensified its cooperation with the League of Arab States, mainly in the field of technical assistance activities, electronic commerce, trade and environment. Turning to Palestine, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), had continued to benefit from the generous financial support of the League. The Agency's critical financial situation and its role had been the subject of considerable discussion at the League meetings during the period under review. The League of Arab States reiterated its support for the Agency's humanitarian activities, its concern over its repeated funding shortfalls and their implications for Palestine refugees.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) support to the League and its Population Research Unit had facilitated efforts to reinforce and consolidate the commitment of Member States to the recommendations of the international conferences and to mobilize the necessary financial and human resources for the implementation of the respective national plans of action. In cooperation with the Arab Centre for the Study of Arid Zones and Dry Lands, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) organized a training course on the application of geographic information systems and databanks for studying the environment and social impacts in integrated water projects. The report also notes the close collaboration between the Arab Labour Organization and the World Health Organization (WHO) in the provision of technical support to develop a database on occupational diseases and work accidents in member States. Cooperation also continued with regard to the environmental impact on industrial activity and on air quality guidelines.

The general meeting on cooperation between the United Nations system and the League of Arab States took place at Vienna, from 7 to 9 July. The meeting stressed the need to enhance the scope of their cooperation to pursue conflict prevention as an effective means for the removal of conflicts. It also underlined the role of regional efforts towards disarmament and confirmed that the initiatives of regional parties to establish nuclear-weapon-free zones were important contributions to non- proliferation, disarmament and international peace and security. The United Nations and the League agreed that the next sectoral meeting would be held at the headquarters of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, in Beirut, in the year 2000 on the subject of youth and employment.

Draft Resolution

By the terms of a draft resolution (document A/54/L.14), the Assembly would request the United Nations and the League of Arab States, within their respective field of competence, to intensify further their cooperation in strengthening international peace and security, economic and social development, disarmament, decolonization, and the eradication of all forms of racism. It would also request the Secretary-General to continue his efforts to strengthen coordination between the United Nations agencies and organizations and the League of Arab States and its specialized organizations in order to enhance their capacity to serve the mutual interests and objectives of the two organizations in the political, economic, social, humanitarian, cultural and administrative fields.

The General Assembly would call upon the specialized agencies and other organizations and programmes of the United Nations system to continue to cooperate in the follow-up of multilateral proposals aimed at expanding cooperation in all fields with the League of Arab States, to increase contacts and improve the mechanism of consultations regarding projects, to associate whenever possible with the League in the implementation of development projects in the Arab region, and to inform the Secretary-General, not later than 14 July 2000, of the progress of cooperation with the League.

The General Assembly would also call upon the organizations of the United Nations system to intensify cooperation with the League in the priority sectors of energy, rural development, desertification and green belts, training, technology, environment, and information and documentation.

It would reaffirm that a general meeting between the United Nations system and the League of Arab States should take place once every two years, and inter- agency sectoral meetings should also be organized once every two years on areas of priority in the development of Arab States. It would also reaffirm the importance of holding the next general meeting on cooperation between the representatives of the secretariats of the two organizations.

The Assembly would recommend that a sectoral meeting entitled “Youth and Employment” should be held between the United Nations and the League and their specialized organizations at the headquarters of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia in Beirut, from 22 to 26 May 2000.

Letter Regarding Observer Status for Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries in General Assembly

The Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries has written to the Secretary- General requesting that the General Assembly take up its request for observer status, pursuant to rule 15 of the rules of procedure of the Assembly.

Created on 17 July 1996, when the heads of State and Government of Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal and Sao Tome and Principe met in Lisbon, the organization sought to provide a response to the aspirations and appeals from some 200 million people who considered the Portuguese language a means of communication and an historic link, as well as a common heritage nurtured by their friendly relations throughout the centuries.

The seven countries involved considered it imperative to consolidate their relationship, experiences and cooperation built over the years; enhance their progressive international assertion as one body and reaffirm their commitment to strengthen their ties of solidarity and cooperation by taking concerted initiatives designed to promote the economic and social development of their countries, as well as develop the assertion and dissemination of the Portuguese language.

Through their shared experiences and language, the countries were determined to reinforce the human ties, solidarity and brotherhood of all Portuguese-speaking people and promote ways of making movement within the Community area easier. They would also encourage the dissemination and enrichment of the Portuguese language by strengthening institutions established for that purpose. The cultural exchange and dissemination of intellectual and artistic creation within the framework of the language would be enhanced and they would endeavour to establish concrete forms of cooperation in the fields of research and enhancement in certain member countries.

Political and diplomatic cooperation among member States would be widened in order to give greater expression to their common interests and needs within the international community. Cooperation in the academic, economic, vocational training, scientific research areas would also be developed. In short, the statutes of the Community would actively encourage, as well as promote, concerted action among its member States in order to establish a presence in international forums.

In addition to promoting cooperation among its members, the organization would also seek to establish cooperation with other international organisations and had already had some success in this area with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the North-South Centre and the International Organization for Migration, among others. On the political level, the Community had also made its mark; it was instrumental in re-establishing peace in Guinea-Bissau after the recent crisis in that country and had been involved, to a lesser extent, with events in East Timor. East Timor had been granted observer status in the Community.

A number of organs had been established by the Community in order to carry out its many tasks. Those included the Conference of Heads of State and Government, the highest body which would meet every two years to elect an Executive Secretary and Deputy Executive Secretary; the Council of Ministers, consisting of foreign ministers, would meet once a year; the Standing Committee for Consultation which would meet once a month and an Executive Secretariat which would be the central executive body of the Community.

The Community had set up a special fund which would be financed by public and private voluntary contributions, to provide financial support for its practical activities.

In order to further pursue its goals with greater efficiency, the Community considered that observer status in the United Nations General Assembly would be extremely beneficial.

Draft Resolution on Observer Status for Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries

By the terms of the draft resolution (document A/54/L.15), sponsored by Angola, the General Assembly would decide to invite the Community of Portuguese- Speaking Countries to participate in the sessions and the work of the Assembly in the capacity of observer.

The Assembly would request the Secretary-General to take the necessary action to implement the present resolution.


STEPHEN M. SCHWEBEL, President of the International Court of Justice, in introducing the Court’s report, said that from the judicial perspective of The Hague, the century that was about to close had been one of “great achievement and profound loss, of extraordinary scientific and technological advance and of atavistic reversion to barbarism”. He cited examples of the horrors of the two world wars, the “organized bestialities of the Holocaust whose obsessive scale gave rise to the General Assembly’s interdiction of the crime of genocide”, the purposeful and pervasive atrocities of Cambodia and Rwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo and Sierra Leone. Man’s knowledge had improved exponentially, but his character had not, he stated. The twentieth century had witnessed appalling acts of aggression, yet it had seen unparalleled advances in international law and institutions as well.

No international court could prevent war, he noted, but, a world court could fundamentally foster peace through adjudicated settlement of international disputes and developing the body of international law. The Court had justified that perception. During the current reporting period, the Court had rendered two judgments and one advisory opinion. It had issued orders on requests for provisional measures in 11 cases and had admitted counter-claims in one. In addition, it had issued orders concerning the conduct of proceedings in 19 cases. Of special note was the fact that the Court had been seized of 18 new contentious cases, more than had ever been filed before during a 12-month period.

He said that extended recourse to the Court was more noteworthy when the diversity of States submitting cases to it was considered. The Permanent Court of International Justice, the International Court of Justice’s predecessor, had been Euro-centred. But, States currently submitting cases to the Court had been drawn from all of the world’s continents, with African States at the lead in their resort to the Court. The extent of States’ resort was encouraging and it was to be hoped that it would, in turn, promote wider adherence to its compulsory jurisdiction. He also hoped that the number of States that would adhere to the Court’s jurisdiction would grow to a greater number than 62.

The range of issues raised before the Court increasingly included questions related to major international crises, he continued. During the past 12 months, cases concerning hostilities in Kosovo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo had been brought before the Court, joining sensitive cases as the Lockerbie incident and claims of genocide on the territory of the former Yugoslavia. Four cases of boundary delimitation -- a more traditional and successful area of the Court’s work -– had also been included on its General List. In a few weeks, the Court would announce a judgment on the river boundary between Botswana and Namibia and a small island in the river. Also, in the past year, resort to requests for indication of provisional measures stood out. Those take precedence over all other judicial business, he pointed out. In the LaGrand case, the Court had agreed unanimously on an indication of provisional measures within 24 hours of the application’s receipt. In the 10 applications filed by Yugoslavia against members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Court had acted rapidly.

The creation of specialized international tribunals was also to be welcomed, he stated. That development made international law more effective by endowing legal obligations with the means of their determination and enforcement. A greater range of international legal forums might mean that more disputes would be submitted to international judicial settlement. On the other hand, to minimize the possibility of conflicting interpretations of international law, there might be virtue in enabling other international tribunals to request advisory opinions of the Court. Those international tribunals that were not organs of the United Nations could ask the Assembly, perhaps through a special committee, to request advisory opinions of the Court. Furthermore, he said, a certain caution in the creation of new universal courts might be merited in respect of inter-State disputes. He added that the Court had demonstrated the capacity to deal with specialized, new, broader and more traditional problems.

He said the Court would have to respond to the new challenge of cases coming in more rapidly than judgements were going out. It had recently embarked on revising its Rules and practice so that it could accelerate its work processes, as well as those of States Parties. The drawing out of court proceedings slowed the Court’s work. The Court’s permanent translation staff was tiny, he noted, and its request for a modest expansion had been honoured by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ); however, larger translation resources and the assistance of law clerks were required if the members of the Court were expected to handle its cases more speedily.

He further stated that the financial resources of the Court could not be divorced from the Organization that provided them. “The fabric of the United Nations must be repaired” by Member States paying their assessments as determined by the General Assembly in accordance with the Charter and affirmed by the Court in 1962. Failure to meet that obligation had its gravest effects on the Organization. It was also a transgression of the principles of free consent and good faith which were at the heart of international law and relations, he stressed.

In concluding, he said that as the Court entered the first century of the third millennium, it stood for “international law, not international lawlessness; for the peaceful settlement of international disputes in conformity with international law, not with the will of the more powerful party”.

HWANG YONG-SHIK (Republic of Korea) said the sizeable array of cases contained in the report attested to the fact that the International Court of Justice was the legal forum where the most complex and significant themes in international law were being interpreted and applied. It also demonstrated that the Court, as the principal legal organ of the United Nations was effectively fulfilling its responsibilities.

The Court had developed quantitatively and qualitatively since its establishment in 1946 and there had been a substantial increase in the number of cases it had dealt with since the 1980s. That, he said, may be due to decolonization and the break-up of certain States which had dramatically expanded the Court’s client base. In addition, its subject matter had also widened to include a wide variety of issues. The work of the Court was fundamental to the maintenance of peace and security in today’s world..

He hoped practical measures would be taken as soon as possible to provide the Court with sufficient resources to continue its important work. He regretted the backlog in the publication of the Court’s Reports of Judgments, Advisory Opinions and Orders but noted that it was caused by a lack of resources. Concluding, he called for the Court to be made more responsive to the demands of a dynamic and changing world by pursuing a new and strengthened role for it, including expansion of its advisory functions and widening access to its contentious jurisdictions.

MANUEL TELLO (Mexico) said in recent years there was significant evidence of the increased workload of the Court. Between August of 1998 and July of 1999, 18 new cases and one request for an advisory opinion had been submitted. Each case required separate handling and special care in accordance with its particular circumstances. The existing cases also had to be added to the new workload. Those new developments caused mixed feelings. On the one hand, it was satisfying that the Court was increasingly being considered more as the ideal forum to settle disputes between States. An international intervening body guaranteed fairness. However, the increased activity was marked by financial restrictions. Procedures were not expeditious due to budgetary limitations. The settlement of disputes was a complicated task and the results were sometimes not immediately felt. Court procedures were slow and the lack of resources could result in counter-productive outcomes.

He said Mexico was receptive to the Court's appeal to increase its budget. However, it encouraged the Court to adopt all measures to make the processing of cases easier. Also, States before the Court should heed the judicial recommendations and do their utmost to facilitate the handling of cases. The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) should increase resources allocated to the Court since those currently proposed did not reflect the minimum needed by the Court. Much more still remained to be done. Some of the Court's judgments, particularly those relating to precautionary orders, were not always abided by the involved parties and, subsequently, put the Court's authority at risk. He therefore appealed to States to abide by the Court's decisions.

PETER KASANDA (Zambia) said the international community was regaining confidence in the International Court of Justice and its jurisdiction. The increased recognition of that jurisdiction had meant an increase in the Court's workload. Unfortunately, despite that increase, there had been no corresponding growth in the financial resources made available to the Court. While the momentum was there to utilize the Court, Member States should not be discouraged from resorting to it by having the resolution of cases delayed simply because there were no resources to deal with them.

He said it was therefore important that the Assembly authorize increased funding to the Court to ensure that it could discharge its duties effectively. He also appealed to all Member States who were in a position to do so to contribute to the Court's Trust Fund which assisted States in the judicial settlement of disputes. The Museum of the Court in the Peace Palace, which was inaugurated on 17 May, would serve as an invaluable source of history on the evolution of the Court and rich reference for the world's legal systems, he added.

MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon) said the Court determined major issues closely linked to the sacrosanct beliefs of States. It was therefore more difficult for it to fulfil its work when States’ vested interests which were at stake had to be taken into account. His country had a dream for an international community at peace, and wished for a firm resolution to spare no effort to realize that dream.

He said the Court had seen its role growing more important through the years. It had responded to more complex applications, as well as to new jurisdictions requiring its services. Hence, the question arose about the position that had been assigned by the international community to the principal judicial organ. That place could be indicated by the recognition of its legal bases and the ways its decisions were executed, among other determinants. It must be noted, he pointed out, that no State could be summoned before the Court without the State’s own prior consent. Universal acceptance of the compulsory jurisdiction of the Court remained a challenge that the international community should meet together, he continued.

Cameroon was convinced that international tribunals could be used best to settle disputes peacefully, he stated. For international law to obtain primacy there must be equity in rules that governed peace and war, cooperation and individual peace. Cameroon relied on the rule of law and considered it very important that disputes be resolved peacefully. His country’s position was further underscored by the affirmation that bringing a case to the Court was not a matter of hostility between States, but rather, an effort towards resolution. Decisions regarding the issue of defining frontiers and boundaries between States were of primary importance to Cameroon. The country understood that the Court’s decisions on matters of substance were never difficult to comply with, even those considered to be thorny.

ORLANDO REBAGLIATI (Argentina) said while the increased activity of the International Court of Justice should be applauded, it nevertheless involved certain dangers. The first of those was the lack of resources and adequate means to meet demands; that problem of lack of means was related to the second danger of the Court being used as political arena. He acknowledged that most legal disputes had a political aspect to them and vice versa, but it must always be the Court which decided whether a case was within its legal jurisdiction. States should refrain from using the Court as a political arena.

He expressed satisfaction with the work being done by the Court in interpreting international law. Argentina attached great importance to the Court and its decisions were always major points of reference in all decisions of law made by his Government. He was especially pleased that the international legal order had become stronger and more effective. States respected the legal process as was indicated by the number of cases on which they sought the Court’s decision. The Court had over the years dealt with questions of major norms and principles of international law, and cases submitted had involved disputes on the rule of force, genocide, territorial disputes, diplomatic protection and consular relations. That variety demonstrated that the Court was the forum which could consider complicated questions of international law. The Court had won the trust of States by its ability to preserve its authority, impartiality and independence.

JAMSHED A. HAMID (Pakistan) said that the success of the International Court of Justice, in dealing with some of the most difficult international disputes of our time, could be judged from the fact that the Court’s decisions had been accepted by the States concerned and their implementation had posed no difficulty. However, norms and principles of international law were not always respected and, sometimes, States resorted to methods which were either in violation of established international norms or in breach of a bilateral or multilateral agreement to which they were party. In those circumstances, the presence of the Court was a source of consolation for the aggrieved States who knew where to turn for the redressal of their grievances.

He said that the financial implications of participation in proceedings before the Court impeded some States from referring cases to it. Least developed and developing countries in particular, did not have sufficient financial resources to resort to the Court for the resolution of their legal differences.

He also stressed that the growth in the Court’s annual budget had not been proportionate to the increased caseload. It was important that the Court’s work should not be hampered by a shortage of funds. Therefore, he called upon the competent bodies of the United Nations to consider the question of an increase in the resources of the Court on a priority basis.

JAMES C. DROUSHIOTIS (Cyprus) said that the peaceful settlement of disputes within the framework of the United Nations Charter, required an integrated and coordinated approach, combining more than one category of strategies for dispute settlement. Therefore, a welcome development was the increasing recourse to the International Court of Justice, in parallel with other methods of dispute resolution. In that regard, he reviewed some points of Chapter IV of the report, including that “States may have recourse to the Court in parallel with other methods of dispute resolution, appreciating that such recourse may complement the work of the Security Council and the General Assembly, as well as bilateral negotiations” and that “in this combined process of dispute resolution, judicial recourse has helped parties to clarify their positions”.

He stated that Cyprus had consistently advocated third party compulsory dispute settlement procedures, entailing a binding decision, and in that regard it had accorded the highest respect for the Court as the principal judicial organ of the United Nations.

He also said that the increasing caseload of the Court placed great pressure on its human and financial resources. Therefore, the Court should be provided with the means it needed to function properly and effectively.

ALEXANDRE ZMEEVSKI (Russian Federation) said the activities of the Court were of the highest importance since it was one of the most important organs of the United Nations. It was called upon to be in the forefront to achieve the goals and purposes of the Charter in the quest for international peace and security. Collective legal reasoning could be more effective than the use of force in international affairs. It was also important to approach all enforcement measures very carefully and ensure that they did not become instruments of oppression to be used against States. International justice and law were necessary for maintaining peace. It was also peace that made it possible to mete out justice and law.

He said maintaining peace in the twenty-first century would involve the broader issue of follow-up to implementation measures and procedures to provide safeguards against efforts to circumvent provisions of the Charter. He called upon all to provide a broad-based, open dialogue on that issue. If the Court were to implement its potential, it needed to be provided with adequate resources to work intensively and effectively. The current budget allocated to it was insufficient when compared to bodies like the International Criminal Tribunal of the Former Yugoslavia.

BERND NIEHAUS (Costa Rica) said that differences between the law and facts could become threats to international security if they were politicized. As a result, recourse to the Court was fundamental in resolving disputes. The Court also played a key role in the progressive development of contemporary international law. In addition, it shed light for other States on controversial areas of the law. Its international role was an authoritative one, he stressed.

He indicated that Costa Rica was aware of the practical problems the Court had experienced in recent years. Those problems did not arise from the number of cases. Rather, they were due to budgetary constraints in the light of its increased workload. His delegation would support granting additional resources to the Court, however those resources could still prove inadequate. In future, greater resources should be allocated. Also, there were other areas in the Court’s work that required further improvement. For it to remain up to date, judges must limit the length of their dissenting opinions to five or 10 pages. It would also be appropriate if the State and other elected judges could understand the language. Costa Rica also felt that more women should be added to the Court’s panel.

FRANCISCO TUDELA (Peru) said that the decisions of the International Court of Justice had markedly contributed towards the progressive institutionalization of international law. Moreover, as for its consultative jurisdiction, the Court had also made an important contribution in the authorized interpretation of the United Nations Charter and in juridical matters that had arisen within the spheres of the activities of the General Assembly, the Security Council and the 16 organizations authorized for that purpose, through its 23 consultative opinions.

He expressed his concern about the financial situation of the Court. The Organization should consider with special care the legitimate demand to be provided with sufficient financial resources to handle adequately the logistic needs created not only because of the increase in the number of cases but by the need to maintain and increase the information service that the Court had provided through an Internet site. In that regard, the Internet site was showing constant improvement, while the universe of visitors that entered it included diplomats, lawyers, students, politicians and the general public. Therefore, he urged the Court, in particular its “computing committee” to continue with its efforts to use computer science to publicize its work.

SIDDIG M. ABDALLA (Sudan) said it was noteworthy that the presentation of the report before the General Assembly coincided with the Decade of International Law which promoted the means and methods for the peaceful settlement of disputes between States. This gave the report a special character since the Decade also coincided with the reasons for the establishment of the International Court of Justice. The Court stood for the principles of neutrality and justice, the true criteria of civilization.

He said that to date 62 countries had accepted the jurisdiction of the Court and the Sudan was honoured to be among them. He was also reassured by the 100 international conventions which provided guidelines for the settlement of disputes, as well as the growing role of the Court in international relations. He reiterated the call for all States to accept the jurisdiction of the Court.

He called on the United Nations to make the Court more effective by increasing its resources. The Court could not respond to its duties in considering cases with inadequate resources. Those resources, he insisted, should be made available to the Court regardless of financial constraints.

He noted that the report had made important reference to the fact that States resorted to the jurisdiction of the Court more often in times of peace than in times of tension and crisis. That often resulted in diffusing tension even before the disputes were settled and showed the potential of the Court in guaranteeing peaceful settlement. Full implementation of the provisions of the Charter would prevent the work of the Court being swallowed up by other bodies.

Cooperation with League of Arab States

HUSSEIN A. HASSOUNA, the Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States, said the cooperation between the United Nations and his organization, coupled with the modernization of the League's mechanisms and institutions, were all aimed at making that regional body one that was capable of dealing with the new regional and international realities. Much had been achieved in the contacts and consultations between both organizations in the pursuit of common goals. The successes achieved in the settlement of many crises, Somalia, Lockerbie, and Iraq, were all based on the constructive approach of the two side. The cooperation had taken another turn for the better this year. At meetings between the Secretariat, the League and specialized agencies of the United Nations, a closer look had been taken at the areas of cooperation to see where more could be done.

He said the international community should pay attention to all the factors that supported peace. In that regard he cited legitimate international resolutions including those of the Security Council, the principle of land for peace, the right to self-determination, affirmation of Israeli efforts to change the demography of Jerusalem despite various resolutions against such action, the issue of Palestinian refugees and new colonization activities by Israel. If Israeli violations continued there should be a new peace conference, especially if the illegal removal of Palestinian peoples continued. Israel also needed to withdraw fully from the Syrian Golan to the line of the fourth of June 1967, as well as withdraw from the West Bekka in Lebanon. Palestine should also be able to participate as a fully fledged Member State at the fifty-fifth session of the Assembly. In addition, the sanctions against Iraq and Libya should be lifted.

Raising other issues that needed to be addressed, he said the United Arab Emirates should also recover full sovereignty of the three islands in the Gulf, and the Middle East should become a nuclear-weapon-free zone. It was clear that the League should have same status as the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Organization of Arab States. That would equip his organization to discharge its duties and responsibilities more efficiently. The consensus which accompanied the draft up to this point reflected the positive approach of the Assembly to the cooperation with the League, he added.

Action on Draft

The Vice-President of the Assembly, LAMUEL STANISLAUS (Grenada) informed delegations that the Comoros and Iraq had become additional co-sponsors of the draft resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the League of Arab States (document A/54/L.14).

The Assembly then adopted the text without a vote.

Explanation of Vote

The representative of Israel said that country had seen new hope for progress on tracks based on bilateral relations between Israel and its neighbours, and international multilateral tracks. Israel called on its neighbours to resolve their multilateral relations lest they lose the diplomatic momentum they had been gaining. He expressed his country’s support for regional cooperation that had been based on the provisions of the Charter. However, it was regrettable that Israel remained excluded from that cooperation.

Israel was also pleased that this first resolution on the Middle East during the Assembly’s fifty-fourth session had been passed by a consensus vote. He pointed out that peace in the Middle East could not be gained by engaging in polemical discussions in New York and regretted having to echo that position. However, he noted, it must also be pointed out that there was presently an atmosphere of cooperation and growth in the region. AFONSO VAN-DUNEM "MBINDA" (Angola), speaking also on behalf of Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, and Sao Tome and Principe, said that the community of the seven Portuguese-speaking countries was determined to encourage the dissemination and enrichment of the Portuguese language and to enhance the cultural exchange and dissemination of the intellectual and artistic creation within the framework of the Portuguese language, and to establish concrete forms of cooperation between the Portuguese language and other national languages in the field of research. In addition, the community of the Portuguese- speaking countries had, among its objectives, the widening of cooperation among member countries in the field of political and diplomatic concerted action, particularly within the framework of international organizations, the development of the economic and entrepreneurial cooperation, and the mobilization of internal and external efforts aimed at assisting in the reconstruction and rehabilitation programmes and humanitarian and emergency actions in member countries.

He said that the community was very open in regard to national diversity and cultural richness in its member States, which also belonged to a multitude of other regional and multilateral bodies. It hoped that East Timor would join them as an independent Asian country, well-integrated into its own regional neighbourhood.

The community of Portuguese-speaking countries had always sought to cooperate, in an efficient and constructive way, with the United Nations and other relevant regional and subregional organizations. That had been the case, namely, in the search for solutions for the war in Angola, in the recent crisis in Guinea-Bissau and in the process of self-determination of East Timor.

He announced that Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, and Sao Tome and Principe had become co-sponsors of the resolution.

Action on Draft

The Assembly then adopted the resolution on Observer Status for the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (document A/54/L.15) without a vote.

Explanation of Vote

JOAO CLEMENTE BAENA SOARES (Brazil), speaking on behalf of the seven members of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries, thanked Member States for adopting the resolution. He pointed out that two years ago, the President of Brazil had brought the issue to the attention of the Assembly when he underlined the importance of the historic patrimony among the seven countries. The objectives and values of the Community were the same as those of the United Nations, he said.

* *** *