19/11/2002
Press Release
GA/10102



Fifty-seventh General Assembly

Plenary

52nd Meeting (AM)


ENDORSING UNCITRAL REPORT, GENERAL ASSEMBLY COMMENDS CONCILIATION IN TRADE


RELATIONS, STRONGER ENFORCEMENT OF SETTLEMENT AGREEMENTS


Also, Decisions on Cloning, World Criminal Court:  Texts among 21 Adopted

From Legal Committee; Plans Confirmed to Mark Law of Sea Convention Anniversary


The General Assembly this morning commended to States the Model Law of UNCITRAL on International Commercial Conciliation, contained in one of 21 texts adopted without a vote as the Assembly considered the reports of its Sixth Committee (Legal).


The Sixth Committee texts, including two draft decisions, covered issues ranging from human cloning and dispute settlement among States to protection of personnel on United Nations peacekeeping missions.


The Model Law, together with its Guide to Enactment and Use, was adopted by UNCITRAL at its 2002 session.  The 14-article Model Law would promote the use of conciliation, both internationally and domestically.  It would assist States in enhancing conciliation legislation, or in formulating it, and would also strengthen the enforcement of settlement agreements.


Since its establishment by the General Assembly in 1966, UNCITRAL has elaborated a number of other international legal texts.  Those deal with legal aspects of international trade, such as the International Sales of Goods, International Commercial Arbitration, Electronic Commerce and International Payments.


Three other UNCITRAL-related texts were adopted this morning.  One will enlarge the Commission's membership from 36 to 60.  By another, Member States were asked to assist in enabling the participation of least developed countries in the Commission's activities, by contributing to a voluntary fund for that purpose.  Finally, emphasizing the need for higher priority to be given to UNCITRAL's work, the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to consider measures to strengthen the Commission's secretariat within currently available resources, or during the 2004-2005 biennium.


The Sixth Committee's report on the Special Committee on the Charter and on strengthening the role of the Organization contained three resolutions adopted this morning.  By one, the Assembly urged States to make the most effective use of existing procedures and methods for preventing and settling their disputes peacefully, in accordance with the Charter.  The text was an initiative of Sierra Leone and the United Kingdom.


By the terms of another Special Committee-related text, the Assembly renewed its invitation to the Security Council to consider further mechanisms and procedures to assist third States whose economies had been affected by Council-imposed sanctions.  Finally, the Assembly requested the Special Committee at its next session in April to continue considering the question of maintaining international peace and security.


The Assembly, by another resolution, on the scope of legal protection offered by the 1994 Convention on the Safety of United Nations and associated personnel, urged the Secretary-General to continue to seek to include key Convention provisions in agreements related to peacekeeping operations.  One provision recommends the criminalization of attacks against such personnel.


By another resolution, the Assembly strongly condemned acts of violence against diplomatic and consular missions and representatives, as well as against parallel elements in intergovernmental organizations.  Still on the issue of diplomatic missions, the Assembly endorsed the recommendations and conclusions of its Committee on Relations with the Host Country, which requested the host country to take all measures necessary to prevent any interference with the functioning of missions accredited with the United Nations. 


Also, the Assembly decided that the Ad Hoc Committee on jurisdictional immunities of States and their properties would reconvene in February, to work towards an instrument on those immunities.


By adopting a resolution on the International Law Commission on its fifty-fourth session, the Assembly took note of the Commission's work and its decision to proceed on the issue of international liability for acts not prohibited by international law.  It also took note of the Commission's work programme, containing topics such as “Responsibility of international organizations”, “Shared natural resources” and “Fragmentation of international law”.


The question of reproductive cloning of human beings was kept on the General Assembly’s agenda for another year by a decision to convene a Sixth Committee working group on the matter.  It will meet from 28 September to 3 October2003, during the Assembly’s fifty-eighth session.


Terrorism was strongly condemned as criminal and unjustifiable by a resolution that urged the Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on the subject to urgently continue elaborating a draft convention on international terrorism at its scheduled meeting in March and April 2003.  The Ad Hoc Committee was urged to resolve outstanding issues impeding conclusion of an international convention on nuclear terrorism.


In another action, the Assembly welcomed the work of the Preparatory Commission for the Establishment of the International Criminal Court, which had laid the groundwork for the coming into being of the Court on 1 July this year.  The Assembly took note of the Secretary-General’s report on the Court, and of the proposed resumption of the first session of the Assembly of States Parties early next year, at which the Court’s judges and the prosecutor would be elected.


(page 1b follows)


The representative of the United States made a statement in explanation of its position.


Continuing, the Assembly adopted a resolution on the status of Protocols additional to the Geneva Conventions, concerning protection of armed-conflict

victims.  By it, the Assembly called for States to become parties to treaties concerning international humanitarian law related to protecting armed-conflict victims.


In other action, on completion of its work on the reports of the Sixth Committee, the Assembly granted observer status in its sessions and work to four intergovernmental organizations.  By a decision, it deferred action on the same request from another organization until its fifty-eighth session next year.


An official of the Asian Development Bank welcomed the acceptance of the Bank's request for observer status in the General Assembly.


In other action this morning, the Assembly adopted a draft resolution on the oceans and the law of the sea, related to the commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of the opening for signature of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  The occasion would be observed in the Plenary on 9 and      10 December.


The Assembly also resumed its consideration of its agenda item on assistance to mine action.  Statements were made by representatives of San Marino, Croatia, Switzerland, Nicaragua (on behalf of Central American Countries), Ethiopia and Ecuador.    


The Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m., tomorrow, 20 November to consider cooperation between the United Nations and regional and other organizations.


Background


The General Assembly met this morning to consider the reports of its Sixth Committee (Legal), containing recommendations on issues ranging from cloning to international trade law.  Other reports deal with, among other topics:  the establishment of the International Criminal Court; measures to enhance the protection, security and safety of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives; convention on jurisdictional immunities of States and their property; and observer status for intergovernmental bodies in the General Assembly.


The Assembly was also expected to take up a draft resolution on plenary meetings of the General Assembly to be held on 9 and 10 December, devoted to the consideration of the item entitled “Oceans and the law of the sea, and to the commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of the opening for signature of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea” (document A/57/L.19).  By its terms, the Assembly would decide to adopt the organizational arrangements for the plenary meetings on 9 and 10 December as outlined in the annex to the present resolution.  One plenary meeting, on 9 December, would be devoted to the commemoration; two plenary meetings, on 10 December, would be devoted to the consideration of “Oceans and the law of the sea”.


In addition, the Assembly was to consider assistance in mine action, for which it had before it the report of the Secretary-General (document A/57/430).  (For a summary of the report, see Press Release GA/10100, issued on 15 November.)


Sixth Committee reports


Before the Assembly is a report on the Status of the Protocols additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and relating to the protection of victims of armed conflicts (document A/57/559).  By terms of the draft resolution contained in it, the Assembly would appeal to all States to become parties to the Additional Protocols at the earliest possible date.  They would also be asked to make declarations providing for the establishment of an international fact-finding commission, as called for by article 90 of Protocol I.  Further, States would be called upon to become parties to the 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and to its two Protocols, as well as to other relevant treaties relating to the protection of victims of armed conflict.


The Secretary-General would be requested to submit to the General Assembly at its fifty-ninth session a report on the status of the Additional Protocols, as well as measures taken to strengthen the existing body of international humanitarian law.


The Sixth Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote on        22 October. 


By a draft resolution on Consideration of effective measures to enhance the protection, security and safety of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives (document A/57/560), the General Assembly would strongly condemn acts of violence against such missions and representatives.  It would also condemn such acts against missions and representatives of international intergovernmental organizations and officials.  It would urge States to take all necessary measures to prevent any acts of violence or abuse of diplomatic and consular persons and property.  States would be urged to ensure, with the participation of the United Nations, where appropriate, that such acts were fully investigated and the offenders brought to justice.


The Sixth Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote on  22 October.


By a draft on the Convention on jurisdictional immunities of States and their property (document A/57/561), the Assembly would decide that the Ad Hoc Committee on the topic would be reconvened from 24 to 28 February 2003.  At that time, it would make a final attempt to resolve outstanding issues, so as to elaborate a generally acceptable instrument.  The Ad Hoc Committee would be asked to recommend a form for the instrument and to report to the General Assembly at its fifty-eighth session on the outcome of its work.  The International Law Commission adopted draft articles on jurisdictional immunities of States and their property at its forty-third session in 1991.


The Sixth Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote on         5 November.


The Sixth Committee’s Report on the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) on the work of its thirty-fifth session (document A/57/562 and Corr.1) contains four draft resolutions.


UNCITRAL draft resolution I


Under the terms of the first resolution on the Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law at its thirty-fifth session, the General Assembly would, among other things, reaffirm the importance of UNCITRAL's training and technical assistance programmes in the field of international trade law, particularly for developing countries.  The Assembly would appeal to governments, relevant bodies of the United Nations system, institutions and individuals to support the programmes and to make voluntary contributions to the UNCITRAL Trust Fund for Symposia.


The Sixth Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote on        18 October.


UNCITRAL draft resolution II


By the terms of the second draft, on the Model Law on International Commercial Conciliation of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, the Assembly would express its appreciation to UNCITRAL for completing and adopting the Model Law contained in the annex to the draft resolution, and also for preparing the Guide to Enactment and Use of the Model Law.  It would request the Secretary-General to make all efforts to ensure that the Model Law, together with the Guide, became generally well known and available.  Finally, it would recommend that all States duly consider enacting the Model Law.


The Sixth Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote on        18 October.


UNCITRAL draft resolution III


The third draft resolution, on Enhancing coordination in the area of international trade law and strengthening the secretariat of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, would have the Assembly emphasize the need for higher priority to be given to the Commission’s work.  Taking note of recommendation 15 of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) in the report on the in-depth evaluation of legal affairs, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to consider measures to strengthen the Commission’s secretariat within the bounds of the resources available in the Organization.  If possible, that should be done during the current biennium and, in any case, during the  2004-2005 biennium.  


The Sixth Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote on  18 October.


UNCITRAL draft resolution IV


By the fourth draft resolution, on Enlargement of the membership of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, the Assembly would increase the Commission’s membership from 36 to 60 States.   The following distribution of seats among regional groups would then exist:  the Group of African States, the Group of Asian States and the Group of Western and Other States would each hold  14 seats; the Group of Eastern European States would hold 8 seats; and the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States would hold 10 seats.


In increasing the Commission’s membership, the Assembly would, by the text, bear in mind that it was a technical body whose composition reflected, among other things, the specific requirements of the subject matter.  Therefore, the regional representation resulting from the increase would not be a precedent for the enlargement of other bodies in the United Nations system, according to the draft text.


The Assembly would further decide that the 24 additional members would be elected for a term of six years, except for 13 members whose terms would expire before the Commission’s fortieth session in 2007.  The election would be held during the Assembly’s fifty-eighth session, and the new members would take office from the first day of the Commission’s thirty-seventh session in 2004.


The Sixth Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote on        24 October.


A resolution on the Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its fifty-fourth session (document A/57/563) would have the Assembly take note of the Commission’s decision to proceed with its work on “International liability for injurious consequences arising out of acts not prohibited by international law," as the Assembly had requested by its resolution 56/82 of 12 December    2001.  The Assembly would take note of the Commission’s decision to include in its programme of work the topics:  “Responsibility of international organizations”; “Shared natural resources”; and “Fragmentation of international law:  difficulties arising from the diversification and expansion of international law”.


The General Assembly would reiterate its invitation for Governments to provide the Commission with information on State practice concerning “Unilateral acts of States”, and also on their most relevant national legislation and decisions of domestic courts relevant to “Diplomatic protection”.  Doing so would assist the Commission in its work on those topics.


The General Assembly would also invite the International Law Commission to continue taking measures to enhance its efficiency and productivity, and would encourage the Commission to continue taking cost-saving measures at its future sessions.  Finally, the Assembly would decide that next year's session of the International Law Commission would be held in Geneva, from 5 May to 6 June and from 7 July to 8 August.


The Sixth Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote on         7 November.


Under the terms of a draft on the Report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country (document A/57/564, 564* -- reissued for technical reasons -- and Corr.1), the Assembly would endorse the Committee’s recommendations and conclusions.  It would express the view that the maintenance of appropriate conditions for the formal work of delegations and the missions accredited to the United Nations, and the observance of their privileges and immunities, was an issue of great importance.  It would request the host country to take all measures necessary to prevent any interference with the functioning of missions. 


Furthermore, the Assembly would take note of the United Nations Legal Counsel’s opinion concerning the Parking Programme for Diplomatic Vehicles and the positions expressed at the 213th meeting of the Host Country Committee, including requests from most speakers for the programme to be deferred.  It would take note of the host country’s commitment to maintaining appropriate conditions for the functioning of delegations and missions in a fair, non-discriminatory, efficient and consistent manner.  The Assembly would express its appreciation for the efforts of the host country.


The Assembly would note that, during the reporting period, the travel controls previously imposed by the host country on staff of certain missions and on Secretariat staff members of certain nationalities, remained in effect.  It would request the host country to consider removing them.


The Sixth Committee approved the draft without a vote on 7 November.


A draft text on the Establishment of the International Criminal Court (document A/57/565) would have the General Assembly, inter alia, call upon all States that have signed the Rome Statute of the Court to consider ratifying or acceding to it without delay.  They should also become parties to the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the Court.  The Assembly would welcome the important work accomplished by the Preparatory Commission for the Court in completing its mandate, and would welcome the holding of the first session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Statute.


In addition, the Assembly would take note of the Report of the Secretary-General on the establishment of the International Criminal Court.  In particular, it would note the indication that the Assembly of States Parties would, inter alia, resume its first session, from 3 to 7 February and 21 to 23 April 2003.  It would hold its second session from 8 to 12 September 2003, and the Committee on Budget and Finance would meet from 4 to 8 August 2003.

The Assembly would request the Secretary-General to expand the mandate of the Trust Fund for voluntary contributions to cover the participation of least developed countries in the work of the Assembly of States Parties.


The Sixth Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote on        28 October.


The report of the Sixth Committee on the Work of the Special Committee on the Charter and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization (document A/57/566) contains three draft resolutions.


Charter Committee draft resolution I


By a text entitled Report of the Special Committee on the United Nations Charter and on strengthening the Organization's role, the Assembly would ask the Special Committee, at its next session from 7 to 17 April 2003, to continue considering all proposals on the question of maintaining international peace and security.  The Special Committee would also be requested to continue to consider, on a priority basis, the question of the implementation of the provisions of the Charter on assistance to third States affected by the application of sanctions under Chapter VII of the Charter.


Charter Committee draft resolution II


By the second resolution, on Implementing the provisions of the Charter related to assisting third States affected by the application of sanctions, the Assembly would renew its invitation for the Security Council to consider further mechanisms or procedures for consulting with those third States, as early as possible, under Article 50 of the Charter.  Moreover, it would invite the Council, its sanctions committees and the Secretariat to take a number of measures, including an analysis of the likely and actual impact of the sanctions, in both pre-assessment and ongoing assessment reports.  The sanctions committees would be invited to provide opportunities for third States to brief them on the impacts they were experiencing, and on assistance needed to mitigate them.  Where economic sanctions were severe, special representatives could be appointed or fact-finding missions dispatched to assess the situation and identify ways of assistance.  Working groups could also be established to consider such situations.


The Assembly would request the Special Committee on the Charter to consider the question on a priority basis at its 2003 session.  The Assembly would also decide to consider elaborating measures to implement the Charter provisions within the Sixth Committee or in a working group within it.


Charter Committee draft resolution III


By the provisions of the third draft, on Prevention and peaceful settlement of disputes, the General Assembly would urge States to make the most effective use of existing procedures and methods for the prevention and settlement of their disputes.  It would urge the Secretariat to continue to improve the United Nations capacity to respond to matters relating to dispute prevention, including the development of a comprehensive early-warning plan.  States would be encouraged to nominate candidates for fact-finding services.  They would also be encouraged to

nominate conciliators and arbitrators provided for by certain treaties, including the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and the Convention on the Law of the Sea.


The Sixth Committee approved all three resolutions without a vote on        5 November.


The General Assembly would strongly condemn all acts, methods and practices of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable, wherever and by whomsoever committed, by terms of a draft resolution on Measures to eliminate international terrorism (document A/57/567).  In addition, the Assembly would urge States, as a priority, to consider becoming parties to relevant conventions and protocols dealing with terrorism.  The draft resolution would urge States to cooperate at every level to ensure that technical and other expert advice was provided to those States that requested assistance in becoming parties to those instruments.


The Assembly would decide that its Ad Hoc Committee on terrorism would continue, as a matter of urgency, to elaborate a comprehensive convention on international terrorism, as well as a draft international convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism.  The Ad Hoc Committee would keep on its agenda the convening of a high-level conference, under United Nations auspices, to formulate a joint international response to terrorism.  The Assembly would further decide that the Ad Hoc Committee would meet from 31 March to 2 April 2003, and that the work would also continue, if necessary, during the fifty-eighth session of the General Assembly, within the framework of a working group of the Sixth Committee.


The Sixth Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote on   7 November.


By the terms of a draft on Scope of legal protection under the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel (document A/57/568 and Corr.1), the General Assembly would recommend that the Secretary-General continue to seek to include key provisions of the Convention in status-of-forces, status-of-mission and host country agreements.  It would further recommend that the Secretary-General advise the Security Council or the General Assembly, where, in his assessment, circumstances would support a declaration of exceptional risk for the purposes of article 1(c)(ii) of the Convention.


By the text, the Secretary-General would be asked to prepare model or standardized provisions for incorporation into agreements between the United Nations and humanitarian non-governmental organizations or agencies.  If possible, he would be asked to report on progress before the next meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Convention established under General Assembly resolution    56/89.  The Assembly would decide that the Ad Hoc Committee would hold its next meeting from 24 to 28 March 2003, to continue discussion of measures to enhance the existing protective legal regime for United Nations and associated personnel.  It would be asked to submit a report on its work to the General Assembly at its fifty-eighth session.  The Secretary-General would also be requested to submit to the same session a report on measures taken to implement the resolution.


The Sixth Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote on   5 November. 


A draft decision on an International convention against the reproductive cloning of human beings (document A/57/569) would have the Assembly welcome the reports of the Ad Hoc Committee and of the Sixth Committee Working Group on the subject.  It would decide that a working group of the Sixth Committee would be convened from 29 September to 3 October 2003, during the next session of the General Assembly, to continue the work undertaken during the Assembly's present session.


The Sixth Committee, in approving the draft decision without a vote on      7 November, decided not to take action on any other proposals.


By a draft decision on Observer status in the General Assembly for the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (document A/57/570), the Assembly would decide to further defer, to its fifty-eighth session, the question of the Institute’s request to participate as an observer in the Assembly’s sessions and work.  (The organization first applied for observer status in 2000.  The Sixth Committee considered the request during the fifty-sixth session of the General Assembly.  Action was deferred to the current session of the Assembly).


The Sixth Committee approved the draft decision without a vote on     6 November.


A draft resolution on Observer status for Partners in Population and Development in the General Assembly (document A/57/571) would have the Assembly decide to invite the organization to be an observer in its sessions and work.  The Assembly would also ask the Secretary-General to take the necessary action to implement the draft resolution.  (The Sixth Committee considered the request of the Bangladesh-based organization first on 19 and 26 October, and again on       19 November 2001.  It recommended that the Assembly defer action to its fifty-seventh session, which was done.  The organization seeks to promote South-South cooperation in the field of population and development.)


The Sixth Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote on   7 October.


Observer status for the Asian Development Bank in the General Assembly (document A/57/572) would be recommended by a resolution on the issue.  By the text, the Assembly would also request the Secretary-General to take the necessary action to implement the resolution.  The Bangkok-based development bank cooperates closely with United Nations agencies.


The Sixth Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote on   7 October. 


The Assembly would decide to grant Observer status for the International Centre for Migration Policy Development in the General Assembly (document A/57/573) to participate in its sessions and work as an observer by a resolution on that matter.  The Assembly would also request the Secretary-General to take the necessary action to implement the resolution.  The Vienna-based intergovernmental organization promotes comprehensive and sustainable migration policies.


The Sixth Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote on  10 October.

A draft resolution on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (document A/57/574) would have the Assembly decide to invite the organization to participate in its sessions and work as an observer.  The Assembly would also request the Secretary-General to take the necessary action to implement the resolution.  (The Sixth Committee first considered the request on  19 and 21 November 2001.  At the time, the Committee had before it a report of the Secretary-General, document A/56/996, detailing the cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union since an agreement to cooperate had been signed in 1996.  At the recommendation of the Sixth Committee, the Assembly deferred action on the proposal to its fifty-seventh session.)


The Sixth Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote on         7 October. 

Consideration of Sixth Committee (Legal) reports


KARIM MEDREK (Morocco), Rapporteur of the Sixth Committee, introduced the Committee's reports.


Action on Sixth Committee (Legal) reports


The first report taken up was on the Status of the Protocols Additional to the Geneva Conventions (document A/57/559), containing one resolution.  The resolution was adopted without a vote.  Also adopted without a vote were the texts on Measures to enhance diplomatic and consular security (document A/57/560), and on the Convention on State jurisdictional immunities (document A/57/561).


Continuing, the Assembly considered the Committee's document on UNCITRAL's report (document A/57/562 and Corr.1), containing four resolutions.  Resolution I, on the UNCITRAL report itself, was adopted without a vote, as were Resolution II, on UNCITRAL's Model Law on International Commercial Conciliation; Resolution III, on Enhancing coordination in international trade law and strengthening UNCITRAL's secretariat; and Resolution IV, concerning the Enlarging of UNCITRAL's membership.


Moving on, the Assembly turned to The International Law Commission's report on its fifty-fourth session (document A/57/563).  The resolution was adopted without a vote.


The Report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country (document A/57/564 and Corr.1) was also adopted without a vote.


On the resolution on the Establishment of the International Criminal Court (document A/57/565), RAFAEL MARTINEZ (United States) said he was unable to join consensus, and would not participate in the adoption of the resolution.  The draft was adopted without a vote.


The Assembly then began considering the Committee's document on the Report of the Special Committee on the Charter and on strengthening the Organization's role (document A/57/566).  It contains three resolutions.  All were adopted without a vote.


Draft resolution I concerned the Report of the Special Committee on the Charter.  Resolution II was on Implementing the Charter provisions related to assisting third States affected by sanctions.  Resolution III related to Prevention and peaceful settlement of disputes.


Next, the Assembly took up Measures to eliminate international terrorism (document A/57/567), adopting the resolution without a vote.


The text on Scope of legal protection under the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel (document A/57/568 and Corr.1) was also adopted without a vote, as was a draft decision in the report on an International convention against reproductive human cloning (document A/57/569 and Corr.1).


On the cloning text, Mr. MARTINEZ (United States) said he was pleased to join the consensus on the procedural decision that would enable the Committee to continue discussing a convention on cloning at the next session of the Assembly.  Many States supported a total ban on human cloning.  Hopefully, work on a convention to ban all human embryo cloning would begin soon.  The reinscription of the item under its current title should in no way prejudge the outcome of future discussions, especially since many scientists had pointed out that all cloning that created human embryos was, in effect, reproductive.


He said the focus of the discussions had been, and would remain, the elaboration of a comprehensive convention banning human cloning.  There had been growing support for such a total ban.  That signalled a course-correction under way.  The trend towards a total ban was forging a clear path towards a convention that would prohibit all human embryo cloning.


The draft decision on observer status in the General Assembly for The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (document A/57/570) was adopted without a vote.  The texts on observer status in the Assembly for Partners in Population and Development (document A/57/571) and for the Asian Development Bank (document A/57/572) were also adopted without a vote.


KARTI SANDILYE, Regional Director of the Asian Development Bank, thanked the co-sponsors of the resolution related to the Bank.  He said the Bank’s purpose was to foster economic growth, development and cooperation in the Asia and Pacific region.  Strengthened cooperation between the United Nations and the Bank would help reach the Bank's goal of reducing poverty in its developing member countries, in line with the Millennium Development Goals adopted at the Millennium Summit.


Observer status in the Assembly for the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (document A/57/573) was then taken up, and the resolution was adopted without a vote.


Completing its work on the Sixth Committee reports, the Assembly adopted without a vote the resolution on the report on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (document A/57/574).


Oceans and the law of the sea


When the Assembly turned to its agenda item “Oceans and the Law of the Sea”, it was informed that Monaco and Nauru had joined as co-sponsors of the draft resolution on plenary meetings of the Assembly on 9 and 10 December, devoted to

the consideration of the item, and to the commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of the opening for signature of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (document A/57/L.19).


The text was then adopted without a vote.


Assistance in mine action


GIAN NICOLA FILIPPI BALESTRA (San Marino) said that while the Ottawa Convention laid down the substantial framework for both banning landmines and relieving countries polluted by mines and other unexploded ordnances, the United Nations should ensure the proper implementation of those commitments through the engagement of governments, civil society and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).  To reach concrete results in implementation, it was necessary to establish a defined roadmap where progress could be evaluated against the six main objectives identified by the Secretary-General in his report.


He said mine action-related activities should be integrated into national development and reconstruction plans of the afflicted nations.  The United Nations and its specialized agencies should continue to play an active role in providing technical support, while consolidating efforts with other political and non-political actors.


Despite its size and financial limitations, he said, San Marino recognized the importance of landmine assistance by way of both political and financial endorsement, and its contribution had taken the form of financial contribution for the dissemination of information in communities threatened by mines.  At the political level, the country had co-sponsored the draft resolution on “Assistance to Mine Action” to demonstrate the importance it attached to that issue, as well as its belief that only through international cooperation would the landmine problem be eradicated.


JASNA OGNJANOVAC (Croatia) said that her country was working steadily on implementing its National Mine Action Programme.  About 270 square kilometers of national territory were known to be mined, mainly along the former lines of demarcation, while a further substantial area of national territory was still marked as suspected to be mined.  Understanding the need to have those areas demined as soon as possible, substantial financial resources were allocated by the Government to the Programme annually.  Also, the Croatian Mine Action Centre had been active in helping to develop International Mine Action Standards, mainly in the field of general and humanitarian demining standards and guidelines.


She said that at the Second Review Conference of the Convention against excessively injurious weapons, Croatia had fully supported proposals for extending the scope of the Convention to internal conflicts by amending Article I of the Framework Convention, as well as supporting the establishment of an open-ended Group of Governmental Experts, with separate coordinators, to discuss ways and means to address the issue of explosive remnants of war, and to further explore the issue of mines other than anti-personnel mines.


Regarding mines other than anti-personnel mines, she said, Croatia still held the position that they did not present the same humanitarian problem that anti-personnel mines did.  They were not deployed in the same quantities as anti-personnel mines and, because of their size and material content, they were easier to detect.  She said she supported efforts in the framework of the Group of Experts to make all mines other than anti-personnel mines detectable, as well as raising the efficiency of self-deactivation/self-neutralization or self-destruction facilities in all mines other than anti-personnel mines, be it through a new or an existing legal instrument.


MARC-ALAIN STRITT (Switzerland) said the Ottawa Convention showed that multilateral instruments could make valuable contributions, not only to reducing the threat of anti-personnel mines, but also in the broader field of peace and international security.  Nevertheless, it was important not to forget the complex issue of non-State actors, which continued to produce and use landmines.  Progress to free the world from anti-personnel mines would be promoted by the commitment by such actors to renounce their use of those weapons, as established by the Ottawa Convention.  He urged all non-State actors to cease and renounce the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines, according to the principles and norms of international humanitarian law.


In order to strengthen mine action activities worldwide, Switzerland provided financial, human and material resources to programmes of the United Nations, as well as to qualified NGOs, he said.  In 2002, Switzerland financed demining projects or engaged experts in 15 countries, primarily in the Balkans and Africa.  In 2003, it would focus on demining activities in Angola and Mozambique, and new deployments were planned in Sri Lanka and Chad.  To ensure adequate and sustainable human resources in the future, Switzerland had established a pool of demining specialists for international deployments.  In addition, it provided materials, particularly devices for the contact-free destruction of unexploded ordnance.


EDUARDO JOSÉ SEVILLA SOMOZA (Nicaragua), speaking for Central American Countries, said the most disturbing thing about landmines was their indiscriminate impact.  Once placed, they remained active for an indeterminate time.  During several decades-long conflicts, of which Central America had been the scene, mines had been preferred weapons.  In some cases, no record of mine placement existed; the authorities had become aware of them only when they had exploded.  As they had often been placed near economic and military targets, such as telecommunications installations, electrical towers and bridges, many agricultural areas continued to lay fallow, while the population lived with uncertainty about restoring normal living conditions.


He said the Organization of American States had decided, in 1991, to implement a project, which would become the Programme of Assistance for Central American Demining, he added.  The organization had also established a mine registry for the hemisphere, while other organizations of the Inter-American system had cooperated on programmes for preventive education, physical and psychological rehabilitation of victims and the socio-economic rehabilitation of demined zones in Central America.


Each of the States on whose behalf he was speaking was party to the Ottawa Convention, he said, and had submitted the appropriate reports on the fulfilment of its provisions.  Furthermore, none of them had produced or imported mines in the last year.  Summarizing the situation with regard to mines in each country, he noted that the Dominican Republic, Panama and Belize had never used mines, not even for training.  However, mines had been used in weapons-testing in the Panama Canal Zone.

Calling for international cooperation to maintain technical assistance for all countries fulfilling the Ottawa Convention, he said that he was hopeful that all countries would cooperate to eradicate mines from the face of the Earth.


GEBREHIWOT REDAI (Ethiopia) said that, as the most heavily mined continent, conflict-ravaged Africa had been left with millions of maimed persons needing immediate support.  Ethiopia’s own exposure to mines was heaviest in the northern and northeastern regions of the country, where wide and intense disbursement had impeded post-war rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts.  More than340,000 persons displaced from border towns during the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea were still unable to return to their homes.  Between September 2001 and May 2002, 330 civilian casualties and injuries had been recorded.


Recognizing the humanitarian and socio-economic consequences of mines, the Government of Ethiopia had, in 1991, accorded demining the highest priority, he added.  The Ethiopian Demining Project had been established in 1995, but its work had been interrupted by the war.  The cessation of hostilities, however, had allowed the country’s mine action programme to be resumed.  Moreover, the Ethiopian Mine Action Office had been reorganized and effectively operating since 2001 to address the all-around challenges of mine-related issues. 


He said Norwegian Peoples Aid, with assistance from the Survey Action Center and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), was conducting a landmine survey in Ethiopia.  Furthermore, the joint United Nations landmine assessment mission had helped in the development of a national capacity for mine action and donor support.  Fully committed to making the country landmine-free, Ethiopia urged that international support for training, socio-economic impact surveys, rapid response teams, mine detection and awareness and victim assistance programmes be enhanced.


SILVIA ESPÍNDOLA (Ecuador) said the presence of mines generated grave economic and social consequences.  To consolidate peace after a conflict, it was crucial to deal with the tens of thousands of remaining mines.  The Ottawa Convention was a critical instrument to which Ecuador was a party.  The United Nations, aware of the grave consequences of mines, had adopted several measures which Ecuador supported.  The fruitful work of the mine action services of the United Nations required clear goals and concrete plans to determine the progress made over a period of time.  The delay of three years of funds promised to Ecuador for its mine action activities was unacceptable.


She said international rules for mine activities were a valuable support to establish the rules, guidelines and actions pursued nationally by countries.  Her country was fully aware of the gravity of the presence of such weapons.  It had completed the destruction of its stockpiles of mines in 2001.  As for the removal of planted mines, Ecuador was conducting intensive work.  Some work was still pending, because of the clearance of areas with difficult topography.


She said that cooperation with developing countries was essential to continue the work of demining and assisting victims; countries in a position to do so should to provide such assistance.  The challenges developing countries faced made it difficult for them to allocate additional funds in that area.  Demining was a humanitarian task that sought to rehabilitate and develop the land for the benefit of the population.  For that, the continued efforts of the international community were required.