|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-eighth General Assembly
10th & 11th Meetings (AM & PM)
Criminal Acts by United Nations Officials, Experts on Mission Must Not Go
Unpunished, Sixth Committee Told as Debate Begins
Delegates Conclude Consideration of International Trade Law Body’s Report
United Nations officials and experts on mission who committed serious crimes tarnished the Organization’s credibility and must be held accountable, delegates told the Sixth Committee today as they took up the Secretary-General’s report on the matter.
Cuba’s representative, speaking for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), emphasized that “We are at a pivotal time where more is expected of the Organization […] to meet the needs of those whose rights have been violated.” The consequences of criminal acts carried out by United Nations officials and experts on mission must not go unpunished. Further, dialogue must continue with the Secretary-General on how best to train officials and experts, prior to deployment.
The delegate of Ethiopia, speaking as a State that had experienced a peacekeeping mission on its territory, said his country remained concerned that crimes committed by some United Nations officials and experts not only damaged the integrity of the Organization’s mandates, but also belittled the sacrifices of most of its employees in peacekeeping activities. Privileges and immunities enjoyed by those officials and experts should not serve as a pretext or excuse to commit any nature of crime.
Indeed, the United States’ representative pointed out the “jurisdictional gap” which had allowed United Nations staff and experts to enjoy immunity for criminal acts committed by them in foreign jurisdictions. He urged Member States to take appropriate action when their nationals, serving in peacekeeping or other United Nations capacities, committed abuses. He also called for Member States to inform the Organization on the dispositions of pending cases, thus allowing for an accurate analysis of the actual gaps in jurisdiction and legislation.
Echoing that stance, South Africa’s delegate called on Member States to take the necessary steps, as his country had done, to close that “gap“. Applauding the measures implemented by the Organization in training and awareness raising and the protection of whistle-blowers, he suggested that the elaboration of a draft convention on criminal accountability should be considered as a long-term measure.
However, recalling the disagreement among Member States regarding the negotiation of such a multilateral convention, Israel’s delegate said that it would be more effective to focus on and address substantive and practical matters, while leaving the question of form for later.
Concluding deliberations on the report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), delegations continued to praise the Rules on Transparency. Nonetheless, Singapore’s representative noted that investor-State arbitrations were not commercial arbitrations, but governed by public international law, not the national law chosen by the parties. Thus, the paradigms, values and techniques of commercial arbitration could not apply.
The delegate of Belarus addressed the Commission’s working methods, stating her opposition to shifting the Commission’s decision-making to working groups or other mechanisms. The existing mechanisms allowed for a comprehensive, non‑discriminatory discussion of issues. At the same time, Indonesia’s representative urged greater participation in the Commission’s working groups, noting that he was often present at meetings surrounded by empty chairs.
In that vein, Commission Chairman Michael Schöll, in closing remarks, encouraged all States to participate in UNCITRAL’s work, noting that its rules of procedure made no distinction between how member States and observer States could contribute. The impact of the Commission’s work was universal.
The Committee today also heard seven requests for observer status in the General Assembly and a statement from the Chair of the Advisory Committee of the Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law on the Programmes’ financial circumstances.
Also participating during today’s debate were representatives of Japan, Kuwait, Philippines, Australia, Malaysia, Canada, United Kingdom, Republic of Korea, China, Russian Federation, Chile, Pakistan, Germany, Iran (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Cuba, Egypt (on behalf of the African Group), Canada (also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand), Thailand, Norway, India, Argentina, Venezuela, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cyprus, Turkey, Kyrgyzstan, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Viet Nam, France, Brazil, Mexico, Iran, Uruguay, Austria, Thailand, Burkina Faso, Uganda and Denmark.
A representative of the Delegation of the European Union also spoke.
The Committee will next convene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 17 October to conclude its deliberations on the Programme of Assistance and begin its deliberations on universal jurisdiction.
The Sixth Committee met today to conclude its deliberations on the Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) on the work of its forty-sixth session (for background see Press Release GA/L/3459).
It would then take up the Secretary-General’s reports on Criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission (document A/68/173) and the United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law (document A/68/521).
It would also consider seven requests for observer status in the work of the General Assembly. Those would include observer status for the Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking States (documents A/66/141 and A/C.6/68/L.2); observer status for the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (documents A/66/198 and A/C.6/68/L.3); observer status for the International Chamber of Commerce (documents A/67/191 and A/C.6/68/L.4); and observer status for the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (documents A/68/141 and A/C.6/68/L.5);
Also to be consider would be the observer status for the International Anti-Corruption Academy (documents A/68/144 and A/C.6/68/L.6); observer status for the Pan African Intergovernmental Agency for Water and Sanitation for Africa (documents A/68/145 and A/C.6/68/L.7); and observer status for the Global Green Growth Institute (documents A/68/191 and A/C.6/68/L.8).
Ms. TATARINOVICH ( Belarus) welcoming the Rules on Transparency, said it was important to prohibit any kind of abuse of rights to provide information by State of investor to arbitration court. As the current and future work by United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) on that matter could alter the specifics of international arbitration, a balance in applying rules must be reached by taking into account the interests of States receiving investment and of investors in protecting confidentiality of information.
She said that it would be desirable for UNCITRAL’s work to reflect global and regional regulation. However, she was opposed to shifting the Commission’s decision-making to working groups, or other mechanisms; existing mechanisms allowed for a comprehensive, non-discriminatory discussion of issues. There was a need to maintain the principle of consensus in UNCITRAL’s work when preparing its documents. Further, it was important to continue work building State capacity in the codification and progressive development of international trade law. UNCITRAL should draw more on the experience of other United Nations bodies and expand the practice of assessment visits and facilitate research for donors.
KENGO OTSUKA ( Japan) said all States would benefit from the guides on implementing a security rights registry and on the model law on cross-border insolvency, with its related recommendations and revisions. Regarding the new mandates for working groups I and V, he said he hoped for continued consideration of the new instruments, taking into account the need for coordination of the existing national legislation of individual States.
Hasan SH J Y A Abulhasan(KUWAIT) said that Kuwait had become a full member of UNCITRAL and was currently adapting its legislation to reflect that. He stressed the importance of electronic legislation, as the cost of electronic crime had totalled some $120 billion, with 69 per cent of users having been targeted. It was also important to follow efforts of the working group on conflict settlement as related to the internet. UNCITRAL’s role was one of the most effective ways to address international economic disputes.
JOHN ARBOGAST ( United States) noting the Commission’s significant accomplishments during the past year, welcomed the adoption of numerous instruments, including the Rules on Transparency and the related revision of the Arbitration Rules. In light of the financial situation affecting UNCITRAL and its m ember States, he said the United States had provided a paper that encouraged members to consider many aspects of the operation of UNCITRAL. He was pleased that the Commission had begun to address whether changes were needed, particularly in regards to criteria when considering projects to be undertaken by UNCITRAL, and the various tools through which it could introduce flexibility, and greater efficiency in its working methods, including the use of experts or special rapporteurs.
EDUARDO JOSE ATIENZA DE VEGA ( Philippines) said his delegation was pleased that the revised version of the Rules on Transparency had been published as a stand-alone text; a mere reference in a treaty to the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules would not call for its automatic application. Not only would that be consistent with the concept of party autonomy, it would also provide greater flexibility on the applicability of the rules on transparency to any other generic arbitration rules governing an arbitral proceeding.
Noting that micro, small and medium-sized enterprises constituted the bulk of economic activity in many developing countries, he said the international community should help engage them in trade at the international level by helping reduce the various legal obstacles they faced. In that regard, his delegation supported Colombia’s initiative for a working group focused on the enterprise life cycle in relation to such enterprises. It was necessary to build an enabling legal environment that would simplify and facilitate their business incorporation and registration.
RENA LEE ( Singapore) said that harmonization and modernization of international trade law was best achieved through legislative texts. Soft law instruments such as guides and notes had a place in that process, but could be more optimally formulated by UNCITRAL’s Secretariat working with experts, and being approved by the Commission, rather than by working groups. Turning to the Rules on Transparency, she noted that such arbitrations were not commercial arbitrations, but were governed by public international law, not the national law chosen by the parties. Thus the paradigms, values and techniques of commercial arbitration could not apply. She expressed concern over instituting processes which would facilitate interventions by non-governmental organizations in investor-State arbitrations. Further, noting the mandate to formulate a draft Convention on the application of Transparency Rules to existing treaties, she said that States should not be pressured to accede to that Convention.
JULIA O’BRIEN ( Australia) said close coordination efforts, such as between the Hague Conference on Private International Law and the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law, ensured a systematic and united development of the law of international trade. Regarding the adoption of the new UNCITRAL rules, she reiterated the importance of ensuring transparency in treaty-based investor-State arbitration. She also welcomed the opening of UNCITRAL’s Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific in the Republic of Korea, noting that it could play a significant role in the region.
NORSHARIN ALIAS ( Malaysia) said her country supported the recourse to mediation or conciliation as part of investor-State dispute settlement mechanisms. That aspect improved the efficiency of dispute resolution, including enhancing flexibility, consuming fewer resources and being favourable to the long-term working relationship between the parties while improving good governance and States’ regulatory practices.
KEITH BANEJEE ( Canada) said the guide on implementing the security rights registry would be useful to States seeking to modernize or establish a legislative regime for security interests. Regarding the online dispute resolution, he emphasized the importance of ensuring that the rules safeguarded consumer protection. His country was greatly interested in the discussion on issues relating to micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, which was a fruitful area for the development of harmonized rules.
JESSE CLARKE ( United Kingdom) said the Commission’s adoption of transparency rules marked an important contribution to the international investment protection system. Any additional funding for the Secretariat to undertake the role of a transparency repository must be made on a cost-neutral budgetary basis. Regarding working group V on the development of legislative guidance on directors’ duties, he said his country supported the proposal that the group’s forty-fourth session included the hosting of a colloquium on new topics. Group insolvencies were the most economically significant cross-border proceedings and completion of the existing mandate would be an important addition to the UNCITRAL insolvency texts.
Choi Yong Hoon( Republic of Korea) said that the Rules on Transparency and the Technical Legislative Guide on the Implementation of a Security Rights Registry were among the most significant of the Commission’s achievements during its recent session. Turning to the UNICTRAL Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific, opened in January 2012 in Song-do, Incheon, he noted that during its first year, it had hosted three international conferences: one on contracts for the international sale of goods; a second on e-commerce and dispute resolution; and the third on international commercial arbitration. Those conferences had promoted the sharing of UNCITRAL texts and relevant information across the region.
SHANG ZHEN ( China) said the Commission’s adopted Rules on Transparency, the model law on insolvency and the security rights registry guide were helpful in the improvement of relevant domestic legislation. The transparency rules enhance international investment arbitration procedures, helping to dispel apprehension that international arbitration tribunals tended to protect investors at the expense of public interest. They would also reinforce social monitoring while building the international community’s overall trust in investment arbitration mechanisms. The model law on insolvency would provide standardized guidance and recommendations to the consideration of cases and the enforcement of verdicts. Regarding the implementation of a security rights registry, it was mainly focused on building and improving a system to effectively protect the legitimate rights and interests of creditors with a view to reducing transaction risks and fostering trade development.
OHAD ZEMET ( Israel) said the efforts of working group 3 on the model law on insolvency would greatly benefit many countries, particularly prior to and during negotiations of large debt arrangements. Concerning online dispute resolution rules, a mechanism should be included to ensure finality in resolving disputes arising from such transactions, which would be crucial to enhancing consumer and business confidence in online international trade. Noting the concern of certain States about the compatibility of such a mechanism with applicable legislation, he said his country would continue to work closely with other UNCITRAL delegations to craft an adequate solution. He hoped that the future progress made in working group 3 would enable the finalization of a draft of rules to be adopted at the Commission’s next session.
SERGEY LEONIDCHENKO ( Russian Federation) said the Commission was one of the essential mechanisms that contributed to the progressive development of international law and the promotion of the rule of law at the global level. Further, it made an invaluable contribution to increasing the efficiency of commercial dispute resolution. Among the significant achievements made by the Commission last year were the transparency rules, which his country hoped would lend to the development of an agreed legal framework for international dispute settlement. The model law on insolvency was another important instrument, which would substantially help judges and contribute to the development of uniform practices in the matter. On future activities, he said it was important to update the Notes on Organizing Arbitral Proceedings and welcomed the preparation of a legislation instrument on electronically transferred records.
José Antonio Gonzalez(Chile), lending his delegation’s support to the statement made by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), praised UNCITRAL’s achievements, especially with regard to the Rules on Transparency, among others. The Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency was being harmonized into Chile’s national legislation. In addition, he expressed approval of the inclusion of the theme of micro-, small and medium sized financing. The regional centres were a demonstration of concrete action that could be taken with respect to trade law and played a role in identifying the priorities for further development of international trade law. He stated his support for all forms of technical assistance performed by UNCITRAL.
Mr. POETRANTO (Indonesia), noting his country’s recent membership in UNCITRAL, said that as the Commission relied on financial support to be able to respond to requests from States and regional organizations for technical cooperation and assistance, Indonesia, together with other countries, had made financial contributions to the UNCITRAL Trust Fund. Recalling the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit Meeting, he said the leaders of 21 Pacific-rim economies, amidst the backdrop of weakening global trade and slower growth in some regions, had pledged to implement prudent policies to maintain stability, declared the need to strengthen macroeconomic policies and agreed to guard against raising new trade and investment barriers. However, time and time again, his delegation had participated in the meetings of the Commission and the working groups with “empty seats surrounding us”. Noting that the level of participation in the working groups was especially alarming, he encouraged members of the Commission to improve their participation.
ABDUL HAMEED ( Pakistan) said that while the Rules on Transparency would help promote good governance, rule of law and fairness in investment and arbitration processes, he stated support for the relevant article on exceptions to transparency including confidential information based on public policy and protection of the arbitral process’ integrity. The Commission’s activities should not be restricted to the identification of important topics, preparation of texts and promotion of their use. Further, the provision of legislative technical assistance to developing countries needed to be on the priority list of the Commission. In addition, there was a need to integrate the Commission’s work with broader United Nations efforts for the promotion of rule of law at national and international levels.
Ms. KÖNIG ( Germany) expressed support for the establishment of a repository on the Transparency Rules, within available resources and for the Rules themselves.
MICHAEL SCHÖLL, Chair of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, expressed appreciation for the depth of the Sixth Committee’s interest in the Commission’s work. While membership in UNCITRAL was limited to 60 member States, its impact was universal. He noted that its rules of procedure made no distinction between how member States and observer States could contribute. In fact, what was of greatest importance was expertise rather than membership status. He encouraged all States to participate.
Statements on Criminal Accountability
Hossein Gharibi ( Iran), speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, pointed out that member States contributed over 87 per cent of peacekeeping personnel and at the same time were major recipients of such peacekeeping personnel. All United Nations personnel should perform their duties in a manner that preserved the image, credibility and integrity of the United Nations and emphasized the importance of a zero-tolerance policy in addressing all cases of sexual exploitation and abuse committed by peacekeeping personnel.
He went on to say that there was a need to implement without delay General Assembly resolution 61/291, which amended the draft Memorandum of Understanding. That process would strengthen accountability mechanisms and contribute to due process in investigations of sexual abuse. The full implementation by Member States of the relevant General Assembly resolutions could help bridge any jurisdictional gaps if they so existed. Reiterating that it was still premature to discuss a draft convention on criminal accountability, he said the Committee for the time being must focus on substantive matters and leave matters of form for a subsequent stage.
Tanieris Dieguez Lao (Cuba), speaking for CELAC, said the criminal acts carried out by United Nations officials and experts on mission must not go unpunished, but should be analysed in accordance with the principles of justice and international law, including due process. Impunity must be combated, the damage to victims be ameliorated and the credibility of the Organization restored. Noting that Member States had taken some steps to establish jurisdiction over serious crimes, it was clear that all must do more. Member States should provide the necessary information on such crimes and the numbers of officials and experts committing serious crimes must be accurately reflected in the report.
Noting efforts to standardize the behaviour of uniformed personnel on mission, she said the same should be done for United Nations officials and experts. “We are at a pivotal time where more is expected of the Organization […] to meet the needs of those whose rights have been violated,” she stated. Further, dialogue must continue with the Secretary-General on how best to train officials and experts, including on their immunities. Among areas for improvement, which should be discussed, she listed investigations in the field, the incorporation and evaluation of proof, and administrative and judicial proceedings.
IBRAHIM Salem ( Egypt), speaking for the African Group, said ensuring that criminal acts never went unpunished and perpetrators never exempted from the consequences of their acts was of paramount importance. Jurisdictional gaps should be eliminated as they could lead to more criminality and suffering. He welcomed efforts undertaken efforts by many Member States to establish jurisdiction, particularly over crimes of a serious nature committed by their nationals while serving as United Nations officials or experts on mission. Noting the readiness of many Member States to assist in criminal investigations and criminal extradition proceedings mainly on the basis of applicable multilateral and bilateral extradition and mutual legal assistance treaties, he said the African Group believed in the merits of cooperation among States through information-sharing, exchange of experience and legal assistance to help strengthen national capacity in judicial institutions.
EGLANTINE CUJO, European Union delegation, said that while upholding the privileges and immunities of United Nations officials and experts on mission, it was expected that those individuals respect the law and that no crime by them go unpunished. Impunity would have long-term detrimental effects on the Organization’s credibility and should not be tolerated. Training and awareness‑raising on United Nations standards of conduct should remain the centre of preventive measures adopted by field missions. A positive sign in that area was the decreased number of cases referred to States of nationality for investigation and possible prosecution during the last reporting period.
Cooperation between States and the United Nations in investigating allegations of criminal conduct was essential, as was the establishment of jurisdiction concerning the nationality of the relevant person, he stressed. The European Union supported the dual track approach, combining short- and long-term measures to deal with existing jurisdictional gaps. It also welcomed efforts to provide requesting States with technical and other assistance in developing relevant national legal measures.
GILES NORMAN ( Canada), speaking also for Australia and New Zealand, said it was imperative that all United Nations personnel set the highest standards of respect for and compliance with the rule of law. Member States were urged to continue cooperation with the Organization to process cases and called upon all States to respond to the General Assembly resolution 62/63 and to consider establishing jurisdiction over serious crimes committed by their nationals while serving as United Nations officials or experts on mission.
Towards a longer-term solution, he expressed support for the proposal for a convention that would require Member States to exercise criminal jurisdiction over their nationals who were participating in United Nations operations abroad. Such a convention could further strengthen the integrity of the United Nations system and further promote the highest standards of professionalism among United Nations personnel.
NEGASH KIBRET ( Ethiopia) said his country remained concerned that crimes committed by some United Nations officials and experts tarnished the Organization’s mandates and the sacrifices of most of its employees in peacekeeping activities. Privileges and immunities enjoyed by those officials and experts should not serve as a pretext or excuse to commit crimes of whatever nature. His country’s courts had jurisdiction over an Ethiopian official or expert on mission who could not be prosecuted at the place of the crime due to immunity.
The only precondition, he continued, was that the offence be punishable both under the Ethiopian criminal code and the law of the country where the crime had been committed. The Sixth Committee should defer the matter to the International Law Commission for the preparation of a draft article. The General Assembly also needed to adopt a comprehensive legal framework to resolve the challenge and that Member States continued to be informed of allegations of criminal activity or abuse by United Nations officials and experts on mission.
THEMBILE JOYINI (South Africa), associating his delegation with the statements made by the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, expressed support for a draft convention elaboration as a long-term measure on the matter. In the short term, he urged Member States to take the necessary steps, as his country had done, to close the “jurisdictional gap”, which allowed United Nations staff and experts to effectively enjoy immunity for criminal acts committed by them in foreign jurisdictions. He also welcomed the activities of the conduct and discipline teams, as well as the measures implemented by the Organization for training, awareness raising and the protection of whistle-blowers. He called on Member States to share information and, in a timely manner, respond to requests for reports between Member States and the United Nations in order to have a proper evaluation of the scale of criminal acts allegedly committed by the Organization’s officials and experts on mission.
Norachit Sinhaseni (Thailand), associating his delegation with the Non‑Aligned Movement, expressed support for the efforts of host States and other troop-contributing States to cooperate under the regimes of existing treaties and other arrangements on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters. He noted that it was the only way to ensure that offenders were brought to justice. He also said one of the ways to ensure the successful prosecution of those crimes was for States to adopt a more flexible test for satisfaction of the double criminality rule. In that regard, States should not focus on the terminology or the constituent elements of the offence, which could differ from one legal system to another, but rather on the totality of the acts or omissions alleged against the person whose extradition was sought.
JOHN R. ARBOGAST ( United States) pointed out that during the recent reporting period there had been nine cases of United Nations officials being referred to the official’s State of nationality for investigation and prosecution. That number was down by half from last year when there had been 17 referrals during a similar period. He urged Member States to take appropriate action regarding abuses committed by their nationals serving in peacekeeping or other United Nations capacities and to report to the United Nations on the disposition of the cases. That reporting should provide analysis of the actual gaps in jurisdiction and legislation. A multilateral convention that merely closed theoretical gaps in jurisdiction would not make a significant contribution to ensure prosecution of those crimes if other impediments to accountability, such as political will, the resources or expertise to prosecute cases effectively or local laws that did not address the age of consent adequately, still existed. He urged States to redouble their efforts to develop practical ways to address the need for accountability.
MARIA BERGRAM AAS ( Norway) said that while it was obvious that any cooperation in the criminal law field had to comply with domestic law, it was equally clear that current domestic law could not be a justification for refraining from cooperation. The cases of 47 United Nations officials, or experts on missions, involving credible allegations of serious crimes had been brought to the attention of their States of nationality. The Secretariat had received responses in only seven of the 47 cases, which included, among others, allegations of rape, and fraud and theft.
She said that only one of the responses indicated that a Member State was “taking action in respect of the case within its justification.” The international community needed to explore measures that the Assembly could adopt to improve Member States’ reporting. As a starting point, the Secretariat could include, in an annex to its reports from next year onward, a table detailing all relevant cases, the types of alleged crimes and other information. That could be done without naming the Member State and would help the Assembly be better informed on the situation.
NORSHARIN ALIAS (Malaysia), associating with the statement by the Non-Aligned Movement, said her country’s domestic laws allowed it to claim extra-territorial criminal jurisdiction on offences, such as terrorist offences, offences against the State, corruption, money laundering, drug trafficking and trafficking in persons. Malaysia’s Extradition Act 1992 and Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act 2002, together with its network of extradition and mutual assistance in criminal matters treaties had provided the legal basis for international cooperation between her country, other member States and the United Nations. The work of the Group of Legal Experts should not prevent the Sixth Committee’s criminal accountability working group from identifying substantive issues and exploring practicable solutions independent of the proposals in the draft text, especially since most of the target groups were already adequately regulated by domestic laws and the terms of United Nations Status of Forces arrangements as well as international humanitarian law.
Choi Yong Hoon( Republic of Korea) said criminal accountability was the cornerstone of the rule of law. Bringing United Nations personnel who committed crimes to justice was a crucial part of the ongoing fight against impunity. If serious violations were not appropriately prosecuted, the United Nations could send the false signal that its officials and experts could improperly abuse their privileges for their private benefit, leading to serious damage of the institution’s credibility and impartiality. Underscoring that it was the duty of the Secretary-General and the responsibility of the Member States to prevent offenses, he emphasized the importance of pre-deployment training. The Republic of Korea provided a three-month intensive training course for personnel selected for peacekeeping operations. Those in that programme were inspired by the stronger professional ethics gained through their training.
José Antonio Gonzalez(Chile), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and CELAC, said the issue was of great importance to his country as it had actively participated in peacekeeping operations and was a large troop contributor. Members of Chilean troops deployed in Haiti, as part of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) contingent, were subject to the jurisdiction of Chilean national courts for any crimes committed while they were in Haitian territory, as specified in the relevant agreement. If the number of cases involving criminal accountability continued to increase, States should consider the possibility of negotiating an international treaty, possibly based on the draft convention prepared by the 2005 Group of Legal Experts and contained in annex III of document A/60/980.
Vishnu Dutt Sharma (India) recalled the General Assembly resolution 67/88, which had urged all States to consider establishing jurisdiction over crimes committed by their nationals while serving as United Nations officials or experts on mission, at least where the conduct of the person amounted to a crime both in the host country and the country of nationality as well. The resolution’s implementation would help fill the jurisdictional gap in respect of Member States that did not assert extraterritorial jurisdiction over crimes committed abroad by their nationals.
On a national level, he said that, among others, the Indian Penal Code extended to extraterritorial offences committed by Indian nationals and offences committed by Indian officials or experts on mission while serving abroad, and were subject to the jurisdiction of Indian courts and were punishable under Indian law.
However, the topic on hand did not require the development of an international convention. What was required was Member States ensuring that their laws provided for jurisdiction and had adequate provisions for prosecuting any such conduct of their nationals serving as United Nations officials or experts, and that their laws had provisions for international assistance for the investigation and prosecution of the crimes committed.
EFRAT BOUGANIM ( Israel) welcomed the Organization’s three-pronged strategy to address all forms of misconduct, particularly sexual exploitation and abuse, through preventive measures, the enforcement of United Nations standards of conduct and remedial action. Recalling the disagreement among Member States regarding the negotiation of a new multilateral convention to address the issue, she said that it would be more effective to focus on and address substantive and practical matters, while leaving the question of form for later. In closing, she urged States to take all appropriate measures to develop practical ways to address the needs of accountability.
ABDUL HAMEED ( Pakistan) associating his delegation with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the issue was of utmost importance as it was linked with the image of the United Nations. As a troop-contributing country, he expressed support for pre‑deployment training of officials and experts going on mission, noting that Pakistan had developed training modules that formed part of the curricula for mandatory courses required in career progression of officials. He expressed willingness to share Pakistan’s experience in that regard. Further, he said that the implementation of General Assembly resolutions under the agenda item would go a long way in filling gaps, if they existed, in any national jurisdiction.
SERGEY LEONIDCHENKO ( Russian Federation) said that the General Assembly had taken a series of appropriate measures to address crimes by the Organization’s officials and experts on mission, and that criminal legislation of most States was sufficient to ensure effective cooperation in the area. The Secretariat should, in a timely manner, inform States of such crimes. However, improved channels of communication were needed. Accusations against United Nations staff should be in accordance with international law and handled in the country of their nationality. He was not opposed to establishing a legally binding instrument, such as a convention, on the matter, but did not believe there was a need for one at present.
Requests for Observer Status
The representative of Argentina said that in recent years some Member States had sought to establish a condition for nongovernmental organizations to be eligible for observer status, which was reserved for intergovernmental organizations. The treatment of those requests had naturally generated reservations, and there had not been consensus in the Sixth Committee to just disregard the requirements in the General Assembly decision 49/426.
More so, he stated, deferrals of requests were of concern; those organizations could already be contributing to the work of the United Nations if they had requested consultative status to the Economic and Social Council. Therefore, Member States presenting requests should first determine whether an organization met the General Assembly criteria
Several other delegations also addressed the issue of criteria, with Cuba’s delegate stressing the two requirements for observer status — namely, that the organization must be an intergovernmental organization; and that its activities must be in areas of concern to the General Assembly. Venezuela’s representative stating that when there was doubt the matter should then be put before the General Assembly, and urged better working methods to be sought, as deferring, year after year, was cumbersome.
Introducing the request for observer status for the Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking States (DOCUMENT A/C.6/68/L.2), a representative of Azerbaijan said the Cooperation Council fully deserved to be granted observer status since it met the established criteria and its main purposes corresponded fully with the United Nations goals and objectives. Representatives of Turkey and Kyrgyzstan echoed Azerbaijan’s representative, with Turkey’s representative adding that, given the request to delete the item from the agenda, they might be compelled to call for a vote on the matter.
The delegates of Armenia and Cyprus expressed concerns about granting observer status, noting that it was unclear whether the Cooperation Council met the criteria or not. Its Declaration, statements made by its members and its activities contradicted the principles of the United Nations Charter, and it should be removed from the agenda. Further, the Cooperation Council’s operations and aims were unclear. The Russian Federation’s representative said he would not be opposed to the request being removed from the agenda, as contacts with other delegations had demonstrated that achieving consensus on the matter was highly unlikely.
The Chair invited delegations to continue consultations on that item and said the Committee would revert to it at a later stage.
Cambodia’s delegate, introducing a draft resolution requesting observer status for the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (document A/C.6/68/L.3), said the Conference had been established in 2000 and had steadily grown since. An intergovernmental agreement had been concluded by many countries in the region, with others wishing to join. Representatives of several United Nations entities had participated in Conference activities and the Secretary‑General had sent messages to the Conference as well..
Also supporting observer status for the Conference were representatives from the Philippines, who noted its contribution to consolidating democracy, Japan, and Sri Lanka. Viet Nam’s delegate stressed that it had been founded to build bridges of cooperation throughout political parties. Azerbaijan’s delegate also supported observer status as did the representative of the Republic of Korea, who proposed further informal consultations among interested delegations. China concurred in that regard.
The representatives of Venezuela, Argentina and Cuba agreed that while the organization did good work, it did not meet the criteria for observer status; it was not an intergovernmental organization. The delegate of the Russian Federation expressed astonishment at efforts being made to advance the request. Although he stated that further consultations would not resolve the problem, his delegation was willing to participate in them.
A representative of France introduced the request for observer status for the International Chamber of Commerce (document A/C.6/68/L.4), underscoring that the Chamber contributed in a unique fashion to the work of the United Nations, particularly in light of today’s discussion of international commercial law. The Chamber had a specific key role that was linked to UNCITRAL, including the drafting of a number of conventions and providing to the Commission its e-commerce expertise.
However, despite that day’s debate on UNICTRAL, she pointed out that the Chamber could not be heard because it did not have the appropriate status. Its Economic and Social Council status did not correspond to the nature of its work. Yet it contributed to the work of the General Assembly, not just in the corridors or by going to the Secretariat, but by publicly speaking to all members of the Assembly. It was already a de facto part of the Assembly and wanted to be part of it on paper as well. Still, if no consensus could be reached, the Chamber and its cosponsors did not want to force a decision in the Sixth Committee as it wanted to be welcomed by the General Assembly with open arms.
Italy’s delegate introduced the draft resolution requesting observer status for the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (document A/C.6/68/L.5). The Institute was an independent intergovernmental organization, created on the basis of a multilateral treaty and comprised of over 60 member States. The Institute met all required criteria for observer status and, as the representative of South Africa noted, had a remarkable success rate in formulating uniform law instruments, international instruments, principles and rules. Others concur, including representatives of Brazil, Mexico , Canada, Cuba, Iran, Argentina, Pakistan, Venezuela, Chile and Uruguay.
The representative of Austria presented a draft resolution on the request for Observer Status for the International Anti-Corruption Academy (document A/C.6/68/L.6). The Academy was an international organization, with membership open to all Member States of the United Nations and international organizations and whose activities were complementary and of real interest to the Organization. Representatives of Thailandand Brazil agreed that the Academy met the required criteria for granting of observer status and expressed support for its request.
A representative of Burkina Faso, introducing the request for Observer status for the Pan African Intergovernmental Agency for Water and Sanitation for Africa in the General Assembly (document A/C.6/68/L.7), said the Agency was an intergovernmental organization that met in letter and in spirit the criteria set forth in General Assembly decision 49/426. Uganda’s representative said the agency fulfilled the established criteria and commended the draft resolution for the Committee’s support.
The representative of the Republic of Korea, introducing a draft resolution on observer status for the Global Green Growth Institute (document A/C.6/68/L.8), said that it clearly met the criteria as an intergovernmental organization whose activities were of clear interest to the General Assembly. It was 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 provided technical assistance and capacity building and was currently working in 18 different countries.
Representatives of Denmark, Ethiopia, Mexico, Australia, Viet Nam, Argentina and Chile all supported observer status for the Institute, with Ethiopia detailing the assistance his country had received. Venezuela’s representative said that her delegation would like to see the Statute of the organization to make sure that it met the requirements.
While Kenya’s delegate fully supported the Institute and its objectives, he said it would better serve its purpose if it were anchored in the High-level Political Forum, the Economic and Social Council or the United Nations Environment Assembly.
Programme of Assistance
KEN KANDA ( Ghana), speaking as Chair of the Advisory Committee on the Programme of Assistance, said the Programme was in a crucial state that required the support of Member States to ensure its continuance. Informal briefings had been held by the Advisory Committee, together with other delegates, particularly the Fifth Committee delegates to ensure constant and adequate financing since previous funding sources had proven to be very unreliable.
The Programme, he said, had made major contributions in teaching and disseminating international law for the benefit of lawyers and legal systems for almost half a century, in addition to the increasing demand for international law training. Programme activities, particularly United Nations regional courses on international law and the United Nations audiovisual library played an important role in furthering United Nations rule–of-law activities. However, continued insufficient funding for the Programme of Assistance was of concern. Voluntary contributions had not proven to be an adequate method for funding for regional courses and the audio visual library in particular. There was a need to provide more reliable financial support.
Consequently, he stated, the Advisory Committee had recommended that the Assembly reiterate its request to the Secretary-General to provide to the Programme budget 2014-15 resources necessary for the Programme of Assistance to ensure continued effectiveness and further development, in particular the organization of United Nations regional courses on international law and the viability of the audio visual library of international law. He expressed hope that the Committee would support those recommendations and send a strong signal to the Fifth Committee that essential tools, including regular budgetary funding, was made available for the effective implementation of all aspects of the Programme.
* *** *For information media • not an official record