14 December 2009
General Assembly
GA/L/3383

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fourth General Assembly

Sixth Committee

27th Meeting (PM)


Legal Committee Approves Draft Resolution Recommending Observer Status


for Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean

 


Similar Draft Text on Council of General Assembly Presidents Withdrawn;

Committee Recommends Assembly Find Alternative Way of Using Unique Expertise


Acting without a vote, the Sixth Committee (Legal) today approved a resolution to grant observer status in the work of the General Assembly for the 25‑member Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean, while also deciding to request that the General Assembly consider how best the Council of Presidents of the General Assembly could contribute its unique expertise to the Organization’s work once a resolution on recommending observer status for the group was withdrawn.


Both resolutions were introduced on 9 December.  (For background, see Press Release GA/L/3382 of that date.)


In reference to the resolution relating to the Parliamentary Assembly (document A/C.6/64/L.19), it was noted on introduction that the Assembly was established in 2006 following 15 years of cooperation in the region through a formal process under the auspices of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which had been granted observer status in the General Assembly in 2003.  Established in Amman, Jordan, and headquartered in Malta, the Assembly had a membership comprised of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Palestine, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia, Syria, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tunisia and Turkey.


A procedural exchange took place before action on whether to go forward or defer action.  Speaking in favour of going forward immediately were the representatives of Malta, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, France, Colombia, Egypt and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


Iran’s representative, however, held that action should wait until the next session to ensure that delegations had time to consider the all aspects of the question.  He said the Legal Committee should not become a rubber stamp for organizations, particularly since there was already a blurring of criteria for observer status.  The Committee should also adhere to established work methods, including the achievement of consensus.  The unprecedented reopening of the Committee’s work to consider the recommending of observer status was a departure.  Also, the Committee usually gave delegations a week to ten days to consider resolutions.


Malta’s representative noted that the General Committee had taken overly long to make its recommendation on the question.  He said Iran’s intervention had focused on procedural, rather than substantive aspects of the question.  Therefore, since many delegations had spoken in favour of going forward with action, Iran should register its position and action should go forward as the majority decision.


Iran’s representative, in turn, said he had intentionally steered away from the substantive element in stating his position.  If he were pushed, however, he would say he had doubts that the Assembly met the criteria for observer status.  The granting of the status to the Inter-Parliamentary Union could not serve as a precedent, since that had been granted on an exceptional basis after two years of deliberations.  What would be the legal status of the action if he did not call for a vote, but also did not join consensus?


After clarification that there were only two ways to take action, either by calling for a vote or without a vote, Liechtenstein’s representative noted that the Committee was not convincingly acting in its usual fashion by talking until consensus was reached.  Rather, now there was no vote, but no consensus either. 


Uganda’s delegation pointed out that action could be taken by acclamation, as well.  He called for following due process and for not “ganging up” against a delegate who held a dissenting view from that of the majority.


The resolution was approved without a vote after a short recess at the recommendation of Egypt’s representative.  After action, the Chairman affirmed that Iran had dissociated itself from action in which the resolution had been adopted without a vote, but also without consensus and without prejudice to the right to register its position.


In explanation of position after action, Argentina’s delegate noted that he had joined consensus even though the Assembly was not an intergovernmental organization, but an Assembly of parliaments, which should not serve as a precedent in considering other requests for observer status.


Iran’s representative said he regretted being put in the difficult position of not being able to join consensus and he reiterated that his not having called for a vote did not mean he had joined consensus, since substantive issues were involved.  Given more time, perhaps his delegation could have joined the consensus.


With regard to the Council of the Presidents (document A/C.6/64/L.20), it was noted that, when the resolution was introduced that the Council was composed of individuals, rather than States or inter-governmental organizations.  That was in contravention of a 1994 General Assembly resolution that had set out strict criteria for observer status in the Assembly’s work.  It was also noted that a council composed of Assembly presidents could serve the Organization more substantially than at the level of observer status.


Today, it was decided that the Committee Chairman would forward the Committee’s recommendations to the current Assembly President, who would be asked to give further consideration to identifying appropriate ways of recognizing the unique expertise and institutional memory of former Assembly Presidents and make it available to the Organization.


Advisory status would be the appropriate mechanism, said the representative of Saudi Arabia, who was also speaking for Ukraine and Saint Lucia.  Iran’s representative said he appreciated the withdrawing of the resolution because of the legal and procedural difficulties presented by it.


As background, the notice of the allocation of the two additional items was contained in a procedural letter (document A/C.6/64/1/Add.1) related to the General Committee’s second report (document A/64/250/Add.1).


The Committee is expected to present its reports to the General Assembly at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 16 December.


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For information media • not an official record