16 December 2013
General Assembly
GA/11473

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

Sixty-eighth General Assembly

Plenary

68th Meeting (AM)


Adopting 21 Sixth Committee Resolutions, General Assembly Highlights


Significant Achievements in Development of International Law


Underscoring the substantive work of the Sixth Committee (Legal) this year on the advancement of international law, the General Assembly stressed, through the adoption of 21 resolutions, 3 decisions and 2 procedural items in 23 reports today, the crucial role of international law in maintaining peace and security.


Those reports reflected the wide range of issues debated by the Sixth Committee during its sixty-eighth session, including combating international terrorism, the law of transboundary aquifers, and universal jurisdiction, as well as new topics addressing environmental issues.


Delegations had, in those resolutions, highlighted significant achievements in the development of international law, noting the finalization of major texts addressing commerce, trade and treaties.  However, as in past years, the Committee underscored the critical financial situation of the Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law.


The finalization and adoption of the Rules on Transparency in Treaty-based Investor State Arbitration had been acknowledged in the report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), which contained four resolutions on the work of that body.  The texts had also urged the Secretary-General to publish, including electronically, the Guide to Enactment of the UNCITRAL Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency, part four of the UNCITRAL Legislative Guide on Insolvency Law and the UNCITRAL Guide on the Implementation of a Security Rights Registry to Governments and interested bodies.


Reflecting the Sixth Committee’s trademark consensus, the Assembly also had acknowledged the growing number of decisions by international courts, tribunals and other bodies that referred to the draft articles on responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts, a topic in which the International Law Commission had focused on for 40 years.  Noting those articles’ contribution to the development of international law, the Assembly had urged both the Secretary-General to update the compilation of such decisions and invited Governments to submit information on their practice in that regard.


A highlight of the Sixth Committee’s session had been the successful completion of the International Law Commission’s Guide to Practice on Reservations to Treaties, which had taken almost two decades to complete.  The Assembly, unanimously adopting resolutions on the Commission’s work, then encouraged the widest-possible dissemination that Guide. 


However, while the resolution on the United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law had been similar to texts on the matter adopted in past years, the Sixth Committee took into account the serious financial situation that threatened the continuation of the United Nations Regional Courses in International Law and the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law.


The need for more reliable funding, in particular for the Regional Courses and the Audiovisual Library, of Programme activities which contributed immensely to the development of international law had become critical.  Therefore, the Assembly authorized the provision of financing from the regular budget and, when necessary, by voluntary contributions.  It also reiterated its request to the Secretary-General to provide the necessary resources to the Programme budget for the biennium 2014-2015 in order to ensure its continued effectiveness and further development.


Representatives of Paraguay and Argentina also spoke in explanation of position after the action.


The General Assembly will convene again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 18 December, to take up, among other items, election of two members of the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission and agenda items on the Culture of Peace, the role of diamonds in fuelling conflict and reports of its Third Committee.


Background


The General Assembly met to consider the 23 reports of the Sixth Committee (Legal) and to take action on 26 draft resolutions and procedural items, contained therein.


Action on Texts


Sixth Committee Rapporteur TOFIG MUSAYEV (Azerbaijan) 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.


He told the Assembly that there would be no report in respect of agenda item 5, “Election of officers of the Main Committees”.  Consistent with previous practice, elections for the Sixth Committee’s sixty-ninth session would be taken up at a later stage in the course of the current session.


First, taking up the report, Responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts (document A/68/460), the Assembly adopted the resolution contained therein without a vote.  By the text, the Assembly acknowledged that a growing number of decisions by international courts, tribunals and other bodies referred to the draft articles on responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts.  It requested the Secretary-General to update the compilation of such decisions and invite Governments to submit information on their practice in that regard.


The Assembly next turned to the report, Criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission (document A/68/461), adopting the resolution contained therein without a vote.  By that text, the Assembly strongly urged States to take measures ensuring that officials committing such crimes would be brought to justice.  Likewise, it requested the Secretary-General to bring credible allegations of such crimes to the attention of those nationals’ States, and to request that those States provide the status of their investigative or prosecution efforts.


The Assembly next addressed the Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) on the work of its forty-sixth session (document A/68/462), which contained four resolutions, all of which were adopted without vote.  By resolution I, an omnibus of the report, the Assembly, among other provisions, commended the Commission for the finalization and adoption of its Rules on Transparency in Treaty-based Investor State Arbitration and welcomed the activities of the UNCITRAL Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific in the Republic of Korea.


In resolution II, on revision of the Guide to Enactment of the UNCITRAL Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency and part four of the UNCITRAL Legislative Guide on Insolvency Law, the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to publish, including electronically, those documents and transmit them to Governments and interested bodies.  It also recommended that States consider implementing the Model Law, and utilizing the Guide to assess the economic efficiency of their insolvency law regimes.


Resolution III, on the UNCITRAL Guide on the Implementation of a Security Rights Registry, had the Assembly request the Secretary-General to publish the Guide, including through electronic means, and to disseminate it broadly to Governments and other bodies, including national and international financial institutions and chambers of commerce.  The Secretary-General should also recommend that all States give favourable consideration to the Guide when revising relevant legislation, administrative regulations or guidelines.


In resolution IV, United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Rules on Transparency in Treaty-based Investor-State Arbitration and Arbitration Rules (as revised in 2010, with new article 1, paragraph 4, as adopted in 2013), the Assembly, among other things, invited Member States, which had included the rules in their treaties, to inform UNCITRAL accordingly.


The Assembly next took up the report, United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law (document A/68/463), adopting the resolution contained therein without a vote.  While the text was similar to resolutions adopted in past years on the matter, changes were included that took into account the serious financial situation threatening the continuation of the United Nations Regional Courses in International Law and the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law.


By that text, the Assembly concluded that there was a need for more reliable funding for Programme activities, in particular for the Regional Courses and the Audiovisual Library, for which it authorized the provision of financing from the regular budget and, when necessary, by voluntary contributions.  The Assembly also reiterated its request to the Secretary-General to provide the necessary resources to the programme budget for the biennium 2014-2015 in order to ensure the Programme’s continued effectiveness and further development.


The Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its sixty-third and sixty-fifth sessions (document A/68/464) was taken up next, with the two resolutions contained therein adopted without a vote.  By the text of resolution I, reservations to treaties, the Assembly welcomed the successful completion of the Commission’s work on the subject and its adoption of the Guide to Practice on Reservations to Treaties, including the guidelines and a detailed commentary thereto, and encouraged its widest possible dissemination.


While recommending the Commission continue its work on its current programme’s topics, the Assembly drew Governments’ attention in resolution II to the importance of informing the Commission of their views on various agenda topics.  It also stressed the desirability of further enhancing the dialogue between the Commission and the Sixth Committee, and underlined the importance of the records and topical summary of the Sixth Committee’s debate for the Commission’s deliberations.


Considering the report, Diplomatic protection (document A/68/465), the Assembly also adopted the corresponding resolution without a vote.  By that text, the Assembly commended the articles on diplomatic protection to the attention of Governments and invited them to submit comments to the Secretary-General, including on the Commission’s recommendation to elaborate a convention based on those articles.


Next before the Assembly was the report, Consideration of prevention of transboundary harm from hazardous activities and allocation of loss in the case of such harm (document A/68/466).  By the text of the resolution contained therein, also adopted without a vote, the Assembly commended to Governments the draft articles on transboundary harm from hazardous activities and the draft principles on the allocation of loss in the case of such harm.  It invited Member States to submit further comments on any future action, in particular on the form of the respective articles and principles.  It also requested the Secretary-General to submit a compilation of decisions of international courts, tribunals and other bodies referring to the articles and the principles.


Turning next to 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/68/467), the Assembly adopted the resolution contained therein without a vote.  Through that text, among other provisions, it commended the progress made in the preparation of studies for the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs, as well as the progress made towards updating the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council.  It further reiterated its call for voluntary contributions to the Trust Fund for the elimination of the backlog in the Repertory and for updating the Repertoire.


Also adopted without a vote was the resolution contained in the report, The rule of law at the national and international levels (document A/68/468).  In so doing, the Assembly reaffirmed its role in encouraging the progressive development of international law and its codification, and in urging States to abide by all their obligations under international law.  It also stressed the importance of adherence to the rule of law at the national level and the need to strengthen support to Member States, upon their request, in the domestic implementation of their respective international obligations.


In that context, the Assembly called for enhanced dialogue among all stakeholders on placing national perspectives at the centre of rule of law assistance.  Also, by that text, the Assembly encouraged the Secretary-General and the United Nations system to accord high priority to rule of law activities and stressed the need to provide the Rule of Law Unit with the necessary funding and staff.


The Assembly next took up the Committee’s report, The scope and application of the principle of universal jurisdiction (document A/68/469), and adopted the corresponding resolution without a vote.  By that text, it invited Member States and relevant observers to submit, before 30 April 2014, information and observations on the matter, including, where appropriate, information on the relevant applicable international treaties and their national legal rules and judicial practice, among other provisions.


The Assembly then went on to consider the report, The law of transboundary aquifers (document A/68/470), adopting without a vote the resolution contained within it.  The Assembly, by the provisions of the text, commended the draft articles to the attention of Governments as guidance for bilateral or regional agreements and arrangements and encouraged the International Hydrological Programme of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to continue offering assistance to concerned States.


In explanation of position after the action, the representative of Paraguay said her country had a 5 per cent share of the Guaraní aquifer and gave great weight to discussions on the topic in the United Nations.  While her delegation had been in consensus of the draft resolution, Paraguay’s legislation had not yet ratified the instrument contained therein.


By adopting without a vote the resolution contained in the report, Measures to eliminate international terrorism (document A/68/471), the Assembly called upon all Member States, the United Nations and other international, regional and subregional organizations to implement the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and to adopt further measures to prevent terrorism and to strengthen international cooperation in combating terrorism.


Among other provisions in the text, it also called upon States to refrain from financing, encouraging, providing training for or otherwise supporting terrorist activities, and urged them to ensure that their nationals or other persons and entities within their territory that wilfully provided or collected funds for the benefit of persons or entities who committed, or attempted to commit, facilitate or participate in the commission of terrorist acts were punished by penalties consistent with the grave nature of such acts.


Also by that text, the Assembly urged all States that had not yet done so to consider becoming parties to relevant conventions and protocols, calling for them to cooperate in preventing and suppressing terrorist acts.  It further decided to establish a working group with a view to finalizing the process on the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism.


The Committee’s report, Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly (document A/68/592) was considered next, and the corresponding resolution was adopted without a vote.  By that action, the Assembly approved the provisional programme of work of the Sixth Committee for its sixty-ninth session.


Pressing ahead, the Assembly took note of the Committee’s report, Programme planning (document A/68/472), which stated that the Committee had concluded its consideration of the item without taking action.


The Assembly then took up the Report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country (document A/68/474).  The 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 urged the host country to also continue to take appropriate action, such as the training of police, security, customs and border control officers, with a view to maintaining respect for diplomatic privileges and immunities, and if violations occurred, to ensure that such cases were 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.  It also noted with concern the continuing difficulties some Permanent Missions experienced in obtaining suitable banking services and welcomed the efforts of the host country in facilitating the opening of bank accounts for those missions.


In explanation of position after the action, the representative of Argentina said her country had supported the resolution and that, in regards to paragraph 8, her country had cooperated with authorities on a voluntary basis.  Her delegation’s comment in the Sixth Committee on the topic did not apply to the resolution.


The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, a 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/68/475) until its sixty-ninth 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.


The Assembly then took note of the report, Observer status for the International Conference of Asian Political Parties in the work of the Assembly (document A/68/476).  The sponsors on the matter had decided not to pursue the request at the current session, while reserving the right to present it at a future session.  Therefore, the Committee concluded its consideration of the item without taking action.  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.


The Assembly also had before it a report containing a decision to defer the request for Observer status for the International Chamber of Commerce in the work of the General Assembly (document A/68/477) until the sixty-ninth session.  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 work with four reports requesting observer status in the General Assembly.  The first, Observer status for the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law in the General Assembly (document A/68/478), was adopted without a vote.  The Institute, an independent intergovernmental organization comprising over 60 member States, was created by multilateral treaty, and formulates uniform law instruments, international instruments, principles and rules.


The second report, Observer status for the International Anti-Corruption Academy in the General Assembly (document A/68/479), was also adopted without a vote.  The Academy is presented as an international organization, with membership open to all Member States of the United Nations and international organizations.


Next was the report on Observer status for the Pan African Intergovernmental Agency for Water and Sanitation for Africa in the General Assembly (document A/68/480).  The Agency is described as an intergovernmental organization that meets in letter and in spirit the criteria for observer status set forth in General Assembly decision 49/426.  It was adopted without a vote.


The final report considered by the Assembly, Observer status for the Global Green Growth Institute in the General Assembly (document A/68/481), was adopted without a vote.  The Institute is the sole international organization dedicated to assisting developing States to create a green economy, as agreed upon at Rio+20.  With its core activity in green growth planning and implementation, it provides technical assistance and capacity-building and is currently working in 18 different countries.


* *** *


For information media • not an official record