14 December 2012
General Assembly
GA/11328

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

Sixty-seventh General Assembly

Plenary

56th Meeting (AM)


General Assembly Upholds Rule of Law Principle through Consensus

 

Adoption of Sixth Committee Resolutions

 


Texts Urge United Nations Legal Bodies Must be Supported

To Successfully Implement Rule of Law into All Relevant Spheres


Underscoring the substantive work of the Sixth Committee (Legal) this year on the rule of law, the General Assembly stressed, through the consensus adoption of 17 resolutions, that support from the United Nations and compliance by States were critical to the principle’s successful integration into all components of society.


By way of a resolution on the rule of law at national and international levels, the Assembly also reaffirmed the imperative of upholding and promoting the rule of law, and heralded the convening on 24 September 2012 of the first ever High-level Meeting on the principle under the auspices of the United Nations.


The tenor of the resolution reflected the work of the Committee during its sixty-seventh session, during which delegations stressed that with an increasing need worldwide for assistance integrating rule of law into the development of new constitutions and the reform of existing institutions, it was now crucial that greater coordination and coherence among the Organization’s entities be ensured.


The same text also invited the International Court of Justice, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) and the International Law Commission to comment on activities in the field, and urged the Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group and the Rule of Law Unit to interact with Member States regularly.  However, to do so, those entities needed to be properly supported.


Rule of law activities, the Assembly noted in another consensus resolution, were at the core of the work of the Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law.  Yet, under the Programme’s current budget, such activities could not be sustained with the resources available, a situation of great concern to the Assembly. 


Authorizing the Secretary-General to finance and carry out a number of Programme activities from provisions in the regular budget, including fellowships awarded to qualified candidates from developing countries, the Assembly also reiterated its request that the Secretary-General provide to the 2014-2015 budget the necessary resources for the Programme.  This would enable continuation of Programme activities, in particular, the organization of United Nations Regional Courses in International Law, and the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law.


Yet, advocating for the rule of law did not just lie with the United Nations, as the resolution on the Geneva Convention and its Additional Protocols illustrated.  Through it, Member States were called upon, as widely as possible, to integrate the principle through the disseminating of knowledge and the application of international humanitarian law, especially in circumstances of armed conflict. 


The Assembly hailed the universal acceptance of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, and noted the trend towards a similarly wide acceptance of the two Additional Protocols of 1977.  It then urged States, who had not already, to become parties to instruments, such as those Additional Protocols so that the principle could be integrated into national, regional and international relations and systems.


Another highlight of the Sixth Committee’s efforts to promote rule of law was seen in the Assembly’s adoption of resolutions on the UNCITRAL, which played a critical role in upholding the principle.  The Commission, as the core legal body that addresses international trade law, offered technical assistance to States, particularly developing countries, in trade law reform and development.


The progressive development and codification of international law by the International Law Commission was another significant component in implementing the principles set forth in the United Nations Charter, the Assembly noted, as it adopted the corresponding resolution.  Also adopted without a vote was the resolution on the thirtieth anniversary of the Manila Declaration as a concrete accomplishment of the Special Charter Committee, which urged all States to observe and promote the Declaration in the peaceful settlement of their international disputes


Reflecting the Sixth Committee’s trademark consensus, other texts adopted without a vote included those on criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission that urged States to take measures ensuring crimes committed by such officials not go unpunished and that perpetrators be brought to justice; and effective measures to enhance the protection, security and safety of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives, which called upon States to strictly observe, implement and enforce the applicable laws governing diplomatic and consular relations, and to prevent violence against missions, representatives and officials. 


Consensus resolutions were also adopted on the Charter Special Committee that directed the Committee to continue addressing third States affected by the application of sanctions; the scope and application of the principle of universal jurisdiction, which recognized the need for further consideration of the concept for States to reach a better understanding; and the Committee on Relations with the Host Country, which among other provisions, requested that certain Member States’ banking issues be resolved through continued negotiations. 


In other business today, the Assembly elected El Salvador to the Committee for Programme Coordination, to fill a term of office beginning on 1 January 2013 and expiring on 31 December 2015.  The Assembly was reminded that the Economic and Social Council had postponed the nomination of one member of the Committee for Programme and Coordination from the Western European and Other States.


The Assembly also elected Canada to the Commission on International Trade Law, to fill a six-year term of office beginning on 8 July 2013.  According to an agreement between members of the Group of Eastern European States, the Czech Republic relinquished its seat on the Commission on International Trade Law to Belarus, to fill the unexpired term of office beginning on 8 July 2013.


The General Assembly will convene again on Monday, 17 December, at 10 a.m. to take up, among other items, matters regarding strengthening the United Nations system.


Background


The General Assembly met to consider the 18 reports of the Sixth Committee (Legal) and to take action on 17 draft resolutions and three procedural items contained therein.  Following that portion of its work, the Assembly was set to fill vacancies on, respectively, the Committee for Programme and Coordination and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law. 


Action on Texts


Committee Rapporteur PHAM QUANG HIEU (Viet Nam), introduced the reports, noting that the agenda items allocated to the Committee, with the exception of the election of officers, represented the Organization’s priorities in the legal sphere, including the promotion of justice and international law; drug control, crime prevention and combating international terrorism in all its forms and manifestations; and organizational matters and administration.


First taking up the report on criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission (document A/67/464), the Assembly adopted the resolution contained therein without a vote.  By the text, the Assembly strongly urged that States take measures ensuring crimes committed by such officials not go unpunished and that perpetrators be brought to justice.  Likewise, it encouraged States to consider establishing, where possible, jurisdiction over crime in their domestic legislation and, with international organizations, providing technical and other appropriate assistance to States asking for help with developing such legal measures.


Next addressed by the Assembly was the report of United Nations Commission on International Trade Law on the work of its forty-fifth session (UNCITRAL) (document A/67/465), which contained two resolutions, both of which were adopted without vote.


Through draft resolution I on the report of the work of UNCITRAL at its forty-fifth session, the Assembly, among other provisions in the text, endorsed the efforts and initiatives of the Commission as the core legal body within the United Nations system in the field of international trade law, and noted the role it played in promoting the rule of law at the national and international levels in that field.


By draft resolution II on recommendations to assist arbitral institutions and other interested bodies with regard to arbitration under the Arbitration Rules of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law as revised in 2010, the Assembly expressed its appreciation to UNCITRAL for having formulated and adopted those recommendations and encouraged their use in settling disputes arising in the context of international commercial relations.  It also requested the Secretary-General to transmit and publish the recommendations broadly.


The Assembly took up the report on the United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law (document A/67/466) and adopted the draft resolution contained therein without a vote.  By it, the Assembly noted with concern that under its current budget, the Programme’s activities could not be sustained with the resources available.  The Assembly would authorize the Secretary-General, from provisions in the regular budget and, when necessary, by voluntary contributions, to finance and carry out a number of Programme activities, including fellowships that would be awarded to qualified candidates from developing countries.


The resolution also reiterates the Assembly’s request that the Secretary-General provide to the 2014-2015 budget the necessary resources for the Programme of Assistance to ensure its continued effectiveness and further development, in particular the organization of United Nations Regional Courses in International Law on a regular basis and the viability of the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law.


Next, the Committee’s report on the report of the International Law Commission on the work of its sixty-third and sixty-fourth sessions (document (A//67/467) was taken up and the draft within it was adopted without a vote.  Through it, the Assembly emphasized the importance of furthering the progressive development and codification of international law as a means of implementing the principles set forth in the United Nations Charter.  The Commission was urged to continue giving priority to certain topics, including immunity of State officials from foreign criminal jurisdiction, and the obligation to extradite or prosecute (aut dedere aut judicare).  It was also urged to improve its working methods.


Considering next the 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/67/468), the Assembly adopted the corresponding draft resolution without a vote.


In that text, the Assembly called upon Member States to become party to those Additional Protocols, disseminate knowledge of international humanitarian law as widely as possible and press upon all parties to armed conflict to apply that body of law.  Additionally, while welcoming the universal acceptance of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, the Assembly urged States that had not yet done so, to become party to the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions, the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its Protocols, and Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict.  States were also encouraged to consider making use of the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission.


Also adopted without a vote was the draft resolution contained in the Committee’s report on the consideration of effective measures to enhance the protection, security and safety of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives (document A/67/469). 


By the similarly titled draft, the Assembly called upon States to strictly observe, implement and enforce the applicable laws governing diplomatic and consular relations, and to prevent violence against missions, representatives and officials.  States were further urged to prevent abuse of diplomatic or consular privileges and immunities and, among other recommendations, those States that had not yet done so were encouraged to consider becoming parties to relevant instruments on protection.  The Secretary-General was requested to invite States to inform him of their views on the matter.


The Assembly then went on to consider the Committee’s report on the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and the strengthening of the role of the Organization (document A/67/470), adopting without a vote the two draft resolutions contained within it.


By draft resolution I on the thirtieth anniversary of the Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes, the Assembly recognized the Declaration as a concrete accomplishment of the Special Committee.  It urged all States to observe and promote the Declaration in the peaceful settlement of their international disputes and encouraged all Member States to commemorate the Declaration’s thirtieth anniversary.


Through draft resolution II on the report of the Special Committee, the Assembly requested the Special Committee to continue its consideration of proposals concerning the question of maintaining international peace and security in order to strengthen the role of the United Nations.  Specifically, it should focus on the implementation of the provisions of the Charter related to assistance to third States affected by the application of sanctions and related proposals.  The Assembly also invited the Special Committee, at its session in 2013, to continue to identify new subjects for consideration in its future work.


The Assembly next took up the report on the rule of law at the national and international levels (document A/67/471), and adopted without a vote the corresponding resolution.


Noting its first-ever High-level Meeting held on the principle and the resulting Declaration, the Assembly, by the text, requested that the Secretary-General ensure greater coordination and coherence among the United Nations entities and with donors and recipients, with greater evaluation of the effectiveness of such activities, including possible measures to improve those capacity-building activities.


As well, the Assembly requested that the Organization systematically focus on the rule of law in its activities, and invited the International Court of Justice, UNCITRAL and the International Law Commission to comment in their respective reports on their current roles in promoting the rule of law.  In addition, by the draft resolution, the Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group and the Rule of Law Unit were encouraged to interact with Member States regularly.  It also urged that necessary support be provided to that Unit.


Continuing, the Assembly considered the report on the scope and application of the principle of universal jurisdiction (document A/67/472), containing one draft resolution that was then adopted without a vote.  It recognized the diversity of views expressed by States and the need for further consideration of the concept to reach a better understanding. 


In addition, the Assembly invited Member States and relevant observers to submit, before 30 April 2013, information and observations on, among others, relevant applicable international treaties, and their domestic legal rules and judicial practice.  The Secretary-General was requested to submit a report based on such information during the Assembly’s sixty-eighth session.  It also decided that the Working Group on the matter would be open to all Member States and relevant observers.


Taking up the report on measures to eliminate international terrorism (document A/67/473) the Assembly adopted without a vote the similarly titled resolution contained within, through which it called upon all Member States, the United Nations and other appropriate international, regional and subregional organizations to implement the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, as well as the resolutions relating to the first, second and third biennial reviews of the Strategy.


The Assembly also decided that the Ad Hoc Committee, on an expedited basis and at its mandated session in April 2013, would continue to elaborate a draft anti-terrorism convention and discuss the possibility of a high-level conference on the issue.  Further by the text, the Secretary-General was requested to provide the Ad Hoc Committee with the necessary facilities for its work.  Additionally, all Member States were encouraged to redouble their efforts during the intersessional period towards resolving any outstanding issues.


The Committee’s report on the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly (document A/67/474) was considered next, and the corresponding draft resolution was adopted without a vote.  By that action, the Assembly approved the provisional programme of work of the Sixth Committee for its the sixty-eighth session.


Pressing ahead, the Assembly turned to the Committee’s report on programme planning (document A/67/475) and took note of it. 


The Assembly then took up the report on the report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country (document A/67/477).  The similarly titled draft resolution within it was adopted without a vote.  Among the text’s provisions, the host country was requested to continue solving, through negotiations, problems that might hinder the work of delegations and missions to the United Nations.  It urges the host country to also continue to take appropriate action, such as training of police, security, customs and border control officers, with a view to maintaining respect for diplomatic privileges and immunities and, if violations occur, to ensure that such cases are properly investigated and remedied, in accordance with applicable law.


In addition, the Assembly requested the host country to remove remaining travel restrictions imposed on certain missions and to enhance the issuance of entry visas to representatives of Member States.  In response to the closing by JPMorgan Chase Bank of all bank accounts held by certain Permanent Missions, the Assembly also welcomed the efforts of the host country in facilitating the opening of bank accounts for permanent missions with other financial institutions.


The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, a draft decision to defer a request for observer status for the Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking States in the work of the General Assembly (document A/67/478) until its sixty-eighth session.  [The international organization aims to promote comprehensive cooperation among its four founding member States (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey.  It serves as a regional instrument for enriching international cooperation in the Central Asian and Caucasian regions.]


Addressing the report regarding observer status for the International Conference of Asian Political Parties in the work of the Assembly (document A/67/479), the Assembly, acting on the Committee’s recommendation, adopted without a vote the draft decision contained therein to defer the Conference’s request until its sixty-eighth session.  [The Conference, launched in Manila in 2000 by 46 political parties in Asia, seeks to build bridges of political cooperation, establish networks among mainstream political parties in Asia, promote regional cooperation and create an environment for sustained peace and shared prosperity in the region.]


On the report requesting observer status for the Andean Development Corporation in the work of the General Assembly (document A/67/480), the Assembly adopted the draft resolution contained within without a vote, inviting the Corporation to participate in its work.  [The financial agency has become the main source of financing for infrastructure projects in South America and an important generator of regional knowledge.  It also promotes sustainable development and regional integration by mobilizing resources for financial services in the public and private sectors of member countries.] 


The Assembly also had before it a report containing a draft decision to defer a request for observer status for the International Chamber of Commerce in the work of the General Assembly (document A/67/481) until the sixty-eighth session.  The draft decision was adopted without a vote.  [The organization is described as a world business organization that, by grouping together tens of thousands of member companies and associations from more than 120 countries, makes rules governing the conduct of business across borders.]


The Assembly completed consideration of the Legal Committee’s reports by adopting without a vote the draft resolution contained within the report on observer status for the European Organization for Nuclear Research in the work of the General Assembly (document A/67/556).  With that action, the Assembly invited the organization to participate in its work as an observer.  [The 20-member organization is a major particle physics research institution, focused on innovation, education and dialogue, and serves as a platform for collaboration among European States in nuclear research of a “pure scientific and fundamental character”.] 


* *** *


For information media • not an official record