17/11/2004
Press Release
GA/L/3269


Fifty-ninth General Assembly

Sixth Committee

26th Meeting (AM)


Terrorism, scope of legal protection for UN personnel under 1994 Convention


among issues addressed, as legal Committee approves EIGHT draft texts


The General Assembly would strongly condemn all acts of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable and would reaffirm that actions to combat them should conform to the United Nations Charter and international law, by one of eight resolutions the Sixth Committee (Legal) approved this morning without a vote, as it neared the end of its work for the fifty-ninth session.


Other drafts covered:  responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts; scope of legal protection under the 1994 Convention on the Safety of the United Nations and Associated Personnel; and the nationality of natural persons in relation to the succession of States.


Also approved were texts on the 2004 sessions of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country and the International Law Commission.  Two drafts on the 2004 report of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Role of the Organization were also approved.


By the terms of the text on terrorism, introduced by Canada, the Assembly would call upon States to cooperate to prevent and suppress terrorist acts and to ensure that nationals or others within their territory were punished for wilfully providing funds for terrorist activities.  States would be urged to become parties to relevant international conventions and protocols dealing with terrorism.


The Assembly would decide that its Ad Hoc Committee on terrorism would, on an expedited basis, continue its work on a draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism and to resolve outstanding issues relating to elaboration of an instrument for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism.


The representative of Cyprus introduced the report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country as well as the draft resolution on it.  By that text, the General Assembly would endorse the recommendations and conclusions of the Host Country Committee, which concerns among other issues, the continued review of the diplomatic parking programme that had begun in 2002, and the lifting of some travel restrictions on the staff of certain missions.


Statements on the issue were made by the representatives of the Netherlands (on behalf of the European Union), Malaysia, Indonesia, Cuba, and the Russian Federation.  The representative of the host country, the United States, also made a statement.


In one of two draft texts on the Special Committee approved today, the Assembly would decide that the next session of the Special Committee would be held from 14 to 24 March 2005.  Priority would be given to the question of implementing Charter provisions relevant to protecting third States affected by sanctions. By the terms of the other text, the Assembly would renew its invitation to the Security Council to consider establishing mechanisms for consultations with third States on their situation in accordance with Article 50 of the Charter.


By the draft on responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts, the Assembly would commend the relevant set of articles, adopted by the International Law Commission in 2001, to governments without prejudice as to their future adoption or action.  The Secretary-General would be requested to invite governments to submit written comments regarding future action and to compile decisions by international courts, tribunals and other bodies referring to the articles.


The Assembly would urge States to take all necessary measures to prevent crimes and punish perpetrators of such actions taken against the United Nations and Associated Personnel, by terms of a draft on the scope of legal protection under the 1994 Convention covering their safety.  The Ad Hoc Committee on the subject would be asked to reconvene from 11 to 15 April 2005 to expand the scope of the legal protection under the Convention, including by means of a legal instrument.  Work would continue during the Assembly’s sixtieth session within the framework of a working group of the Sixth Committee.  The resolution was introduced by New Zealand.


A draft on the nationality of natural persons in relation to the succession of States would have the Assembly encourage States to consider elaborating legal instruments to regulate questions of nationality to prevent statelessness.  The issue would be taken up again at the Assembly’s sixty-third session in 2008.  The draft was introduced on behalf of the bureau by the representative of Greece.


The draft on the report of the International Law Commission on the work of its fifty-sixth session (Geneva, 3 May to 4 June and 5 July to 6 August) was introduced by Hungary on behalf of the bureau.  By it, the Assembly would draw attention to the importance of the Commission having views of States on aspects of topics in its report, in particular:  the draft articles and commentary concerning diplomatic protection; and the draft principles allocating loss in the case of transboundary harm arising out of hazardous activities.  The Assembly would decide that the Commission would meet in Geneva again from 2 May to 3 June and from 4 July to 5 August 2005.


The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. Friday, 19 November, to conclude its work for the session by taking action on draft resolutions concerning the international criminal court and an international convention against the reproductive cloning of human beings.


Background


The Sixth Committee (Legal) met this morning to take up the report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country, as well as to deal with a number of draft resolutions.


The drafts expected to be introduced and acted upon cover the report on the Committee on Relations with the Host Country (document A/C.6/59/L.15), nationality of natural persons in relation to the succession of States (document A/C.6/59/L.24), report of the International Law Commission on the work of its fifty-sixth session (document A/C.6/59/L.23), measures to eliminate international terrorism (document A/C.6/59/L.19)and scope of legal protection under the Convention on the Safety of the United Nations and Associated Personnel (document A/C.6/59/L.20).


The other texts to be acted on include one on the responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts (document A/C.6/59/L.22) and two others on the report of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization (document A/C.6/59/L.17 and A/C.6/59/L.18).


Report of the Host Country Committee


Before the Committee is a report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country (document A/59/26) which contains an account of its meetings throughout the year on a range of issues, as well as the Committee’s recommendations and conclusions.  Topics covered in the report included use of vehicles, parking and related issues; acceleration of immigration and customs procedures; entry visas issued by the host country; and host country travel restrictions.


In its recommendations and conclusions, the Committee, as it has done in previous years, reaffirmed the Headquarters Agreement between the United Nations and the United States, as well as the provisions of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the 1946 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations.


Considering that the maintenance of appropriate conditions for delegations and missions accredited to the United Nations was in the interest of the United Nations and all MemberStates, the Committee expressed appreciation for the efforts of the host country to that end.  It anticipated that all issues raised at its meetings, including those referred to in its report, would be duly settled in a spirit of cooperation and in accordance with international law.


The Committee noted that the observance of privileges and immunities was an issue of great importance and emphasized the need for solving, through negotiations, problems that might arise in that regard for the normal functioning of delegations and the missions accredited to the United Nations.


Noting its efforts towards that end, the Committee said it anticipated that the host country would continue to take all necessary measures to prevent any interference with the functioning of the missions.  The Committee anticipated that the host country would enhance its efforts to ensure the issuance, in a timely manner, of entry visas to representatives of Member States as stipulated in the Headquarters Agreement, including for attendance at official United Nations meetings.


Noting that some travel restrictions on certain missions and staff members of the Secretariat of certain nationalities were removed during the year, the Committee urged the host country to remove the remaining ones as soon as possible.


The Committee conducted a detailed review of the first year of a new parking programme.  The review was to enable the Committee to address problems experienced by some permanent missions and to continuously ensure its proper implementation in a fair, non-discriminatory and effective manner consistent with international law.


The Committee on Relations with the Host Country was established by General Assembly resolution 2819 (XXVI) of 15 December 1971.  Non-members of the Committee participate in its work as observers.


A draft on the report of the Special Committee on the Charter and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization (document A/C.6/59/L.17) would have the Assembly decide that the Special Committee would hold its next session from 14 to 24 March 2005.  A priority to that meeting would be the implementation of Charter provisions relevant to protecting third States affected by sanctions.  The Special Committee would be asked to keep the peaceful settlement of disputes on its agenda, to consider proposals on the Trusteeship Council and to give priority to considering ways to improve its working methods.


Further, the Assembly would endorse the Secretary-General’s efforts to eliminate the backlog in publishing the Repertoire of the Security Council’s Practice and would request him to establish a trust fund to eliminate the backlog in the Repertory of Practice of the United Nations Organs.  He would also be requested to continue efforts to make all versions of the Repertory available electronically and to report on both the Repertoire and Repertory at the Assembly’s sixtieth session in 2005.


A text on implementation of Charter provisions related to assisting third States affected by sanctions (document A/C.6/59/L.18) would have the Assembly renew its invitation for the Security Council to consider establishing further mechanisms for such third States to consult with it as soon as possible under Charter Article 50.  The Assembly would strongly recommend that the Council continue efforts to enhance the effectiveness and transparency of the sanctions committee by streamlining working methods and facilitating access for representatives of such third States.  Where economic sanctions had caused a severe impact on third States, the Security Council would be invited to ask the Secretary-General to consider appointing a special representative or sending a fact-finding mission to assess the situation and identify forms of assistance.


The draft would reaffirm the importance of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC) in mobilizing and monitoring economic assistance efforts and in identifying solutions.  The ECOSOC would be asked to consider the question at its 2005 session.


By a draft resolution on measures to eliminate international terrorism (document A/C.6/59/L.19), the Assembly would strongly condemn all forms and manifestations of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable, wherever and by whomever committed.  It would urge States to punish nationals and others in their territory who provided or collected funds for the benefit of those participating in the commission of terrorist acts.  It would further urge States to become parties to relevant conventions and protocols, as well as to cooperate with all parties in providing technical and other expert advice to States needing assistance in becoming parties to those instruments.


In addition by the draft, the Assembly would urge States and the Secretary-General to make the best use of existing United Nations institutions in efforts to prevent terrorism.  It would decide that the Ad Hoc Committee on the matter shall continue elaborating a draft comprehensive convention and one on nuclear terrorism on an expedited basis, and that the question of convening a high-level conference on terrorism would be kept on the Assembly’s agenda.  The Assembly would also decide that the Ad Hoc Committee would meet from 28 March to 1 April 2005 to continue its work, also meeting if necessary during the Assembly’s sixtieth session within the framework of Sixth Committee (Legal) working group.


Finally, the Secretary-General would be requested to make a comprehensive inventory of the Secretariat response to terrorism and include it in his report on the issue.  The Ad Hoc Committee would be requested to report during the Assembly’s fifty-ninth session in the event of completing either of the instruments or to report on progress during the sixtieth session.


By the draft resolution on the scope of legal protection under the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel (document A/C.6/59/L.20), the General Assembly would urge States to take all necessary measures, in accordance with their international obligations, to prevent crimes against such persons, ensure that the offences do not go unpunished and that the perpetrators are brought to justice.


The Assembly would call upon all States to consider becoming parties to and to respect fully their obligations under the relevant international instruments, particularly the 1994 Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel.  (As of 9 November, 77 countries have ratified or acceded to the Convention, which entered into force on 15 January 1999.)


By other terms of the text, the Assembly would recommend that the Secretary-General continue to seek the inclusion of, and that host countries include, key provisions of the Convention in status-of-forces, status-of-missions and host country agreements negotiated between the United Nations and those countries.


The Ad Hoc Committee on the Scope of Legal Protection under the Convention would be asked to reconvene for a week, from 11 to 15 April 2005 with a mandate to expand the scope of the legal protection, possibly by a legal instrument.  Its work would be continued during the Assembly’s sixtieth session within the framework of a working group of the Sixth Committee and the topic will be included in the provisional agenda of the Assembly’s sixtieth session in 2005.


A draft on responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts (document A/C.6/59/L.22) would have the Assembly commend the relevant set of articles, adopted by the International Law Commission in 2001, to governments without prejudice as to future adoption or action.  The Secretary-General would be requested to invite governments to submit written comments regarding future action and to prepare a compilation of decisions by international courts, tribunals and other bodies referring to the articles.  Governments would be asked to submit their practice on the matter and the Secretary-General would be asked to report well before the question was considered again at the Assembly’s sixty-second session.


Before the Committee is a draft resolution on the Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its split fifty-sixth session (Geneva, 3 May to 4 June and 5 July to 6 August) (document A/C.6/59/L.23).  By it, the Assembly would take note of the report and of the Commission’s long-term work programme while also endorsing its decision to include in its agenda the topics “expulsion of aliens” and “effects of armed conflicts on treaties”.  It would draw governmental attention to the importance of the Commission having views on aspects of the topics contained in the report, in particular:  the draft articles and commentary concerning diplomatic protection; and the draft principles allocating loss in the case of transboundary harm arising out of hazardous activities.


It would invite them to provide information on bilateral or regional practice in allocating and managing groundwaters from transboundary aquifer systems for the topic of “shared natural resources” and state practice on the topic of “unilateral acts of States”.


Further by the draft, the Assembly would invite the Commission to take further measures to enhance its efficiency and productivity.  It would encourage cost-saving measures and welcome the Commission’s enhanced dialogue with the Legal Committee.  The Assembly would encourage States to be represented at the legal advisor level during the Commission’s report to the legal Committee and would affirm the indispensable assistance given to the Commission by the Codification Division of the Legal Office.


The Assembly would request the Commission to indicate specific issues on which governmental comment would be welcome, noting that consultations with legal experts and organizations could help governments formulate comments and observations.


Continuing, the Assembly would take note of the report with regard to the Commission’s cooperation with other bodies concerned with international law.  The Commission’s conclusion that summary records were an indispensable part of developing international law and codifying it would be approved, as would the conclusion that summary records were an essential part of the Commission’s work and its Yearbook.


The Assembly would express the hope that the International Law Seminar would continue, requesting the Secretary-General to provide it with adequate services.  The Secretary-General would also be requested to forward written materials to the Commission in accordance with established practice, while the Secretariat could be asked to circulate the Commission’s relevant documents and articles.


Finally, the Assembly would decide that the Commission would meet in Geneva for its fifty-seventh session from 2 May to 3 June and from 4 July to 5 August 2005.  The Committee’s debate of the Commission report would begin on 24 October.


A draft on nationality of natural persons in relation to the succession of States (document A/C.6/59/L.24) would reiterate the Assembly’s invitation for governments to take into account the provisions contained in the articles dealing with issues concerning natural persons in relation to the succession of States contained in an annex to Assembly resolution 55/153.  It would encourage States to consider elaborating legal instruments at the regional or subregional level that would regulate questions of nationality with regard to those involved with a view to preventing statelessness and would invite the submission of comments on the advisability of elaborating a legal instrument on the matter, including on avoidance of statelessness.  The question would be taken up again at the Assembly’s sixty-third session.


Introduction of Host Country Committee Items


ANDREAS MAVROYIANNIS (Cyprus), Chairman of the Host Country Committee, introduced its report (document A/59/26) and the associated resolution (document A/C.6/59/L.15).  He said the Committee had proved to be an open, transparent and flexible body.  All members had equal standing, the conduct of proceedings was consensual and any interested delegation was welcome to participate as an observer.  It was the only body mandated to consider matters in relation to the host country and to report on them to the Assembly.  An ongoing issue of interest was the review of the implementation of the New York City parking programme for diplomatic vehicles, which had been undertaken at the recommendation of Legal Counsel in September of 2002.  The Committee would remain seized of the matter.


The draft resolution covered that issue, he said.  It said the purpose of the review was to address problems experienced by some missions during the Programme’s first year of implementation and to ensure that the Programme was properly implemented in conformity with international law.  The draft also stated that the host country had lifted some travel restrictions on certain missions and nationals.  It requested reconsideration with regard to removing the remaining restrictions.  Finally, the draft expressed the Committee’s anticipation that the host country would enhance its efforts to ensure that visas were issued in a timely manner.


Statements on the Host Country Committee Report


CARL PEERSMAN (Netherlands), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said the Host Country Committee remained an important forum for discussing and resolving problems which might arise for the normal functioning of the delegations and missions accredited to the United Nations in New York.  The European Union took note of the various problems identified in the report of the Host Country Committee and the constructive consultations that took place between the Chairman of the Committee, New York City authorities and the host country mission.


The Union expressed the hope that the issues raised at meetings of the Committee would continue to be resolved in a spirit of cooperation and in accordance with international law.  It had full confidence in the host country’s commitment to take all measures necessary to prevent any interference with the functioning of the missions.


S.GANESON (Malaysia) said it continued to hope that the various shortcomings in the parking programme for diplomatic vehicles would soon be addressed by the City of New York.  He was happy to note that the City had taken steps to train and educate the police on the new parking program and the respect for diplomatic status.  He highlighted the increasing difficulties faced by diplomats in the clearance of their household effects by United States Customs.  He said that, while his delegation understood the need for the host country to take security measures to ensure that goods imported to the country did not pose a danger to the United States, he hoped that such measures applied to diplomats would conform to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.


JONNY SINAGA (Indonesia) said his country had experienced problems related to immigration and customs delays.  While it shared the wish of the host country to enhance security, it hoped that the process could be improved.  His delegation welcomed the recommendations and conclusions of the Committee.  It fully supported a proposal by the Russian Federation for the establishment of a working group to discuss problems related to parking problems of diplomatic missions.  He said the host country was in a position to provide better conditions and facilities to help facilitate the work of members of diplomatic missions, as guaranteed in the relevant conventions and the Host Country Agreement.


JUANA ELENA RAMOS RODRIGUEZ (Cuba) said the host country must implement the provisions of the instruments relevant to its relations between itself and the diplomatic community.  Certain sensitive matters were raised in the Committee, but remained unaddressed, particularly with regard to diplomatic parking and the timely granting of visas.  Last June, her delegation had been denied permission to travel to PrincetonUniversity for a meeting related to the International Criminal Court.  The policy of applying travel restrictions to Cuban diplomats was unjust, discriminatory and politically motivated.  The host country should reconsider its position with regard to restrictions on the Cuban delegation’s movements.  The review of the diplomatic parking programme should continue, since the programme contained controversial provisions.  The Committee should continue effectively playing its role in interpreting the headquarters agreement to the host country.


DMITRY LOBATCH (Russian Federation) said the Host Country Committee report again dealt with the same issues of parking, delays in the issuance of visas and travel restrictions.  Those issues were reviewed each year but the difficulties continued.  The problem was that there was no mechanism by which the host country could be measured as to the implementation of its responsibilities.  At times it took longer than three weeks to receive visas.  The issues were complex and delicate, but they could be resolved with political will.


PATRICK KENNEDY (United States) said implementation of the parking programme was a success.  The number of parking tickets received this year by the diplomatic and consular corps was a fraction of what the number had been in 2002 before creation and implementation of the programme.  Congestion by illegal parking had eased.  A small number of missions had noted problems with some aspects of the programme.  The United States Mission was firmly committed to working with New York City authorities to ensure the programme functioned as intended.


Further, he said, restrictions on private, non-official travel did not violate international law.  The host country met its obligations under the Headquarters Agreement to provide missions unimpeded access to the Headquarters District.  The host country was not required to permit individuals to travel to other parts of the country unless it was on official United Nations business.


The Committee then approved the draft on the report of the Host Country Committee (document A/C.6/59/L.15) without a vote.


Following adopting the text Cuba’s representative said the meeting held at PrincetonUniversity in June was part of the United Nations agenda on the International Criminal Court.  The host country’s practice with regard to her mission was discriminatory.  It was applied only to certain delegations and violated international customary law with regard to privileges of diplomats.


The Committee took up the draft on the report of the Special Committee on the Charter and on the Strengthening of the Organization’s role (document A/C.6/59/L.17), which had been introduced by Egypt on 8 November.


The Committee Secretary read out programme budget implications.  He said the Special Committee’s meeting from 14 to 24 March had already been included in the budget and no further appropriation would be required.  He pointed out that the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) had indicated that use of the phrase “within existing resources” should be avoided, since it had a negative impact on implementation of activities.


The draft was approved without a vote.


The draft on implementing the Charter provisions related to assisting third States affected by sanctions (document A/C.6/59/L.18) was approved without a vote.


The resolution concerning responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts (document A/C.6/59L.22) was approved without a vote.


On behalf of the bureau, the representative of Greece introduced the draft on the nationality of natural persons relative to the succession of States (document A/C.6/59/L.24).  The Committee approved the draft without a vote.


The representative of Hungary introduced the draft on the International Law Commission’s report (document A/C.6/59/L.23) also on behalf of the bureau.  The Committee approved the draft, as orally amended, without a vote.


The draft on the scope of protection under the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel (document A/C.6/59/L.20) was introduced by New Zealand, on behalf of the bureau.


Programme budget implications were read out by the Committee Secretary, stating that the one week meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee on the matter (Geneva, 11 to 15 April) had already been included in the budget and no additional appropriation would be required.


The draft was approved without a vote.


The representative of Canada then introduced the draft on measures to eliminate international terrorism (document A/C.6/59/L.19), again on behalf of the bureau.


The Committee Secretary read out the programme budget implications.  He said no additional appropriations would be required since provisions had been made in the budget for two activities called for in the draft.  The first was a five-day meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee on the item (New York, 28 March to 1 April).  The other was for the Legal Affairs Office to contact departments regarding their contributions to the Secretary-General’s annual report on the measures against terrorism.  Those departments included:  Political Affairs, Disarmament Affairs, Office on Drugs and Crime and Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights.


The draft was approved without a vote.


Speaking in explanation of position after action, Venezuela’s representative said he had gone along with other Committee members to preserve consensus.  However, it should never be forgotten that suppression of terrorism and the fight against it required that its root causes be addressed, including poverty, inequality and inequities.


Tunisia’s delegate recalled that his country had put forward an initiative for developing a code of conduct with regard to fighting terrorism.  He reserved the right to return to that initiative.


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