9 November 2011
General Assembly
GA/L/3429

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

Sixty-sixth General Assembly

Sixth Committee

29th Meeting (AM)


Current Discussion on Measures against International Terrorism Ends

 

in Legal Committee; Form of Possible Convention Remains Issue

 


Draft Texts Approved; Committee Working Methods, Procedures Come under Review


The Sixth Committee (Legal) today ended its current discussion on the report of the Working Group on “measures to eliminate international terrorism”, and took action on five draft resolutions on different topics.  Delegates reviewed procedural methods for the Committee’s work and criteria for consideration of future requests for observer status in the work of the General Assembly.


Speaking for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the delegate of Syria stated his concerns regarding the report of the Chair of the Working Group on “measures to eliminate international terrorism”.  Although there was thought of putting the topic on a biennial schedule, he said that was not an issue meant to be discussed biennially.   Recalling the draft resolution that accompanied the Working Group report, he said that from a procedural point of view, OIC could not accept the presentation of any draft resolution in that manner.


During action on a total of nine draft resolutions, two drafts were deferred and two were withdrawn.  In one instance, the delegate of the Republic of Korea proposed deferring the request for observer status for the International Conference of Asian Political Parties.  However, the representative of Venezuela suggested that the observer request not be deferred but withdrawn, as the Conference was not intergovernmental.  Argentina’s representative emphasized the lack of difference between withdrawing a request and deferring a decision; the Committee would only encounter the same problems reaching consensus the next time observer status request was considered.


The drafts approved today related to criminal accountability of United Nations personnel on mission, report of Charter Committee, succession of States, universal jurisdiction and transboundary aquifers.


Also speaking today were representatives of the European Union, Cuba, Switzerland, Egypt, Czech Republic, France, Russian Federation, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Japan.


The Sixth Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Friday, 11 November, to take up the report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country, outstanding draft resolutions, and programme planning and revitalization of the work of the General Assembly.


Background


The Sixth Committee (Legal) met today to complete consideration of its agenda item “measures to eliminate international terrorism”, with delegation responses to the report of the Chairman of the Working Group on the issue.  For background, see Press Releases GA/L/3408 of 3 October and GA/L/3428 of 4 November.


The Committee was also to consider action on nine draft resolutions.  First considered would be the draft resolutions on criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission (A/C.6/66/L.16) and the Report of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization (A/C.6/66/L.17).  For background, see Press Release GA/L/3427 of 2 November.


The Committee would consider action on three new draft resolutions, with the first on the nationality of natural persons in relation to the succession of States (A/C.6/66/L.18).  For background, see Press Release GA/L/3428 of 4 November.


The second new draft, on the scope and application of the principle of universal jurisdiction (A/C.6/66/L.19), would, among other provisions, establish a Sixth Committee working group to continue discussion of the topic.  It would also invite States and observers to submit, before 30 April 2012, information on the matter, including applicable international treaties and domestic legal rules and practice, and would request the Secretary-General to devise a report based on that information.


The third new draft resolution related to the law of transboundary aquifers (A/C.6/66/L.24) and would have the General Assembly recommend that the draft articles annexed to its resolution 63/124 be considered by Member States when negotiating future agreements or arrangements for the management of their transboundary aquifers.  Further, it would have the Assembly encourage the International Hydrological Programme of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to offer further scientific and technical assistance to the States concerned.  Lastly, it would call for further examination on what form the draft articles should take.


Also before the Committee today were draft resolutions on observer status requests in the work of the General Assembly.  One of them was on Observer status for the Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking States in the General Assembly (A/C.6/66/L.2).  For background, see Press Release GA/L/3418 of 18 October.


The Committee would also consider draft resolutions on Observer status for the United Cities and Local Governments in the General Assembly (A/C.6/66/L.6); Observer status for the Parliamentary Assembly of Turkic-speaking Countries in the General Assembly (A/C.6/66/L.8); and Observer status for the International Conference of Asian Political Parties in the General Assembly (A/C.6/66/L.9).  For background on these drafts, see Press release GA/L/3409 of 4 October.


Comments on Working Group Report


MAZEN ADI (Syria), speaking for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said the organization had reservations on the content of the report given by the Chair of the Working Group on measures to eliminate international terrorism.  He then specified by paragraph his concerns.  Noting that the delegate of Greece had been declared Coordinator of outstanding issues relative to a draft convention on the subject, he said that, regardless of her title, “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”.  He said not all delegations accepted that the vast majority favoured a 2007 proposal for the draft convention.  He also thought it was unfair to quote one or two delegations that “consensus should not be an end to itself”.


On “biennial consideration” of the Working Group’s agenda, he said that although that was discussed, the item on “measures to eliminate international terrorism” was not meant to be discussed biennially.  Further, there should be a reference to the reaction to the proposal linking the draft convention to the high–level meeting, observing that many delegations rejected the idea.  He noted that the Coordinator and the Chair of the Working Group attached a copy of the draft resolution that they thought would be helpful towards concluding the convention; OIC had stated in that regard that it could not accept the presenting of any draft resolution from a procedural point of view and that required further discussion.  In another paragraph, the Coordinator had referred to an overall package.  OIC did not subscribe to having an overall package, he said, and thus could not say that the proposed draft resolution was part of that overall package.


The position of OIC had not been correctly represented, he said.  OIC was not in a position to consider the proposed draft.  It was an exaggeration in paragraph 31 that a clear majority would support the convention on the 2007 package.  He said he hoped his remarks on the report of the Chair of the Working Group would be taken into account.  OIC would reserve its position on the content of the report.


VERONICA SABBAG (European Union) who said she was speaking for the 27 Member States of the Union, said the Union remained firmly engaged in the negotiation process for a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, and was devoted to its conclusion.  The Union would, therefore, consider adopting the 2007 proposal without further negotiation if that would conclude the matter.  The spring 2012 session of the Ad Hoc Committee should be suspended, and the subject should again be discussed in the Sixth Committee at the next General Assembly session, and finalized thereafter.


Returning to the floor, Mazen Adi, the delegate of Syria, and LESTER DELGADO-SÁNCHEZ, Cuba’s representative, asked for clarification on procedural matters.  The Chairman of the Sixth Committee clarified those matters, noting that Syria’s earlier comments would be duly recorded for the Committee’s next session.


Action on Drafts


The Committee then took up the draft resolution on criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission (A/C.6/66/L.16), which was introduced by the representative of Greece and approved without a vote.


Speaking after the action, the delegate of Switzerland noted that, in terms of that issue next year, States were to provide information to the Secretary-General about jurisdiction over crimes committed by experts on mission.  In that regard, the Secretary-General’s report on the matter should be as informative as possible.


The representative of Egypt introduced the draft on the Report of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization (A/C.6/66/L.17), which was also approved without a vote.


Introduction, Action on Newly Introduced Drafts


The delegate of the Czech Republic introduced the new draft resolution on nationality of natural persons in relation to the succession of States (A/C.6/66/L.18), which was approved without a vote.


Speaking after the action, the representative of France said that while she recognized the importance of the resolution to the articles on the matter, that issue should still be on the Sixth Committee’s agenda during its next two sessions.  The delegate of the Russian Federation concurred, noting that at some point in time, the Sixth Committee should revisit the articles, with the view that they could take the form of an international agreement or convention.


The representative of the Democratic Republic of Congo then introduced and offered oral amendments to the new draft resolution on the scope and application of the principle of universal jurisdiction (A/C.6/66/L.19).  The draft was approved without a vote.


Speaking after the action, the delegate of Iran asked for clarification about the relevant observers who would be invited to participate in meetings on the matter.  In response, the representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo said all observers in the General Assembly could participate.


Requests for Observer Status


The Committee considered four requests for observer status, of which two were deferred and two withdrawn.


The delegate of Turkey requested that consideration of observer status for the Cooperation Council for Turkic-speaking States (A/C.6/66/L.2) be deferred to the next General Assembly session.  Representatives of Cuba and France, also speaking on the request, asked for clarification on procedure.  In response, the Secretariat said that the Sixth Committee would recommend to the General Assembly that it resume consideration of the request at its sixty-seventh session.


Speaking on observer status for the United Cities and Local Governments (A/C.6/66/L.6), the delegate of Turkey withdrew consideration of the request.


Speaking on observer status for the Parliamentary Assembly of Turkic-speaking Countries (A/C.6/66/L.8), the representative of Azerbaijan withdrew consideration of the request.


Speaking on observer status for the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (A/C.6/66/L.9), the delegate of the Republic of Korea proposed deferral of the request to the next General Assembly session.  The representative of Venezuela did not agree with that recommendation, and instead suggested that the request be withdrawn.  She said the Conference was not intergovernmental and consideration of its observer status should be within the Economic and Social Council.


In response, the Committee Chairman proposed to defer action on the item to the Committee’s next meeting on Friday, 11 November, after informal discussions were held.


Speaking further on the matter, the delegate of Japan supported deferral of the request to the next session, as well as, for now, deferral until Friday.  Argentina’s representative stressed that there was not much difference between withdrawing and deferring a decision; if the decision was deferred, the Committee would again have problems reaching consensus the next time it was considered.


Concluding discussion of the matter, the Committee Chairman confirmed his early proposal, deciding that the Committee would hold informal consultations on the request over the next couple of days and would take it up again on Friday.


Action on Additional Draft Resolution


The delegate of Japan then introduced and offered oral amendments to the new draft resolution on the law of transboundary aquifers (A/C.6/66/L.24), which was approved without a vote.


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For information media • not an official record