|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Ad Hoc Committee on Assembly
41st Meeting (AM)
CHAIRMAN OF AD HOC COMMITTEE COMMENDS ‘STRONG RESOLVE’ SHOWN BY DELEGATIONS
IN ADVANCING QUEST FOR CONSENSUS ON COMPREHENSIVE ANTI-TERRORISM TREATY
Although the Ad Hoc Committee established by General Assembly resolution 51/210 had not reached consensus on a draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism, the “strong resolve” shown by delegations to move the process forward was particularly encouraging, Rohan Perera (Sri Lanka), the body’s Chairman, said this morning as he closed its twelfth session.
Adopting its draft report on the session (document A/AC.252/2008/L.1), the Ad Hoc Committee recommended that the Sixth Committee (Legal) establish a working group, during the sixty-third session of the General Assembly, with a view to finalizing the draft comprehensive convention and continue to discuss the question of convening a high-level conference under the auspices of the United Nations.
The draft report, introduced by the Chairman, comprises three chapters and two annexes. Section A of annex I reproduces the Chair’s informal summary of general comments made during the exchange of views at the Committee’s fortieth meeting on 25 February; section B reproduces an informal summary of comments made in the general exchange of views in plenary, and the results of informal consultations on the draft comprehensive convention; and section C reproduces the informal summary of comments made during the general exchange of views in plenary and the results of informal consultations on the question of convening a high-level conference.
Section I of annex II contains a summary of the oral report made by Coordinator Maria Telalian ( Greece) on 25 February in relation to intersessional bilateral contacts and informal meetings on the outstanding issues of the draft comprehensive convention. Section II contains a summary of today’s oral report by the Coordinator on the bilateral contacts and informal meetings conducted during the session.
Presenting an overview of informal contacts conducted over the last two weeks, the Coordinator said she had tried to offer clarifications on the proposed text and was pleased at delegations’ willingness to show flexibility in finding solutions to issues surrounding draft article 18. The support expressed for the proposed elements and the interest shown in seriously considering those elements as part of an overall package was encouraging.
At the same time, she said she detected a tendency to “read specific situations” into the proposed text, and some delegations did not find the elements fully reflective of their concerns. The proposed elements had been drafted in such a way as to project principles that clarified the relationship with -- and safeguarded the application of -– other legal regimes, notably international humanitarian law.
“The draft convention will not exist in a legal vacuum,” she explained. It was a criminal law enforcement instrument and parties would be responsible for implementing it in the context of other rules. Essential for the purposes of interpretation was the principle that international humanitarian law was not prejudiced by the draft convention; it did not seek to restrain the development of that law. There was no impunity in respect of military forces of a State that might commit offences similar to those proscribed by the draft convention. Paragraphs 1 through 5 of article 18 fleshed out those principles.
She said she felt strongly that the solution on the table constituted elements of a viable package for completing the draft convention. “This is not an endless process.” It was the Ad Hoc Committee’s duty to seize the moment and respond resolutely.
Marko Rakovec (Slovenia), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said after the report’s adoption that the regional body was committed to reaching agreement on the draft convention, and that over the last two weeks it had participated actively in helping to resolve outstanding issues. The European Union had thoroughly considered the Coordinator’s proposals and, with efforts from all sides, hoped the draft convention could be finalized before year-end.
Andrés Apolinar Espinal ( Dominican Republic), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, emphasized that the draft convention, in its present form, was a good basis for preparing a final text. Discussions should be held in a multilateral environment and bilateral talks should complement that process. The Rio Group called on all to maintain a commitment to negotiations and for efforts to reach agreement. Hopefully the results would lead to the convening of a high-level international conference.
Nguyen Thi Thanh Ha ( Viet Nam), speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the General Assembly must continue to play a leading role, including in international norm-setting. The Committee had made progress, and it was essential to keep the momentum going. ASEAN supported the proposal to recommend that the Sixth Committee establish a working group with a view to finalizing the draft convention.
Muhammad Rafiuddin Shah (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), reiterated that the group would remain constructively engaged in finding a solution to all outstanding issues.
Muhammad Ali Sorcar ( Bangladesh), associating himself with the OIC statement, said the Committee had failed to reach consensus on the draft comprehensive convention. There was a deadlock that could only be broken through political goodwill, and it was important that any compromise take into account the OIC’s legitimate concerns. Bangladesh supported the convening of a high-level conference on international terrorism, but it should not be tasked with the conclusion of a comprehensive convention, as some had proposed. A conference could generate the required momentum to achieve political consensus.
Neeru Chadha ( India) expressed the hope that all outstanding issues would be settled during the present session of the General Assembly.
In closing the meeting, Chairman Perera said the Ad Hoc Committee had reached a “critical stage” of negotiations and that the outstanding issues around article 18 had occupied attention since 2001. The package presented by the Coordinator contained elements that sought to bridge the divergent views, and the Chair was confident that the proposed text, with clarifications presented during the current session, held the potential to facilitate agreement on elements of an overall package.
Given that, he encouraged delegations to remain active during the intersessional period, which was a “fertile” time for innovative thinking, and continue their bilateral contacts. “We need to be mindful of the expectations of the international community to bring this long negotiating process to a successful closure.” The Committee could not afford a failure in that important legislative task.
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