15 November 2013
General Assembly
GA/L/3473

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

Sixty-eighth General Assembly

Sixth Committee

29th Meeting (AM)


Approving 16 Draft Resolutions, Legal Committee Continues Tradition


of Consensus in Session’s Final Debate

 


Speakers Urge Host Country to Resolve Visa Issuance, Banking Service Problems


Concluding its current session today, the Sixth Committee (Legal) continued its tradition of consensus and approved 16 draft resolutions, including a text on the report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country, which was also introduced to delegations.


The Committee approved without a vote draft resolutions on the responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts, criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission, and the rule of law at the national and international levels, among others.


Commenting on the report addressing relations with the host country, Sudan’s representative said he was concerned with the “great and deliberate violations” of the Headquarters Agreement, pointing out that his country’s democratically-elected President had been denied a visa by the host country and thus, had been unable to participate in the general debate.  Furthermore, certain Member States had been without banking service for almost three years.


For his part, the representative of the United States said his country took very seriously its duties as host to the United Nations and would continue to work towards resolving all issues, particularly those related to visa issuance and banking services. 


Cuba’s representative, speaking for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, addressed the working methods of the Sixth Committee, pointing out that delayed delivery of some reports had hindered delegations’ proper review and had impacted the quality of debates.  She also called for all regions to be able to participate in the drafting of resolutions, ensuring that those texts reflected the broad range of Member States’ views. 


Also speaking today were representatives of Cyprus, Argentina, Russian Federation, Germany, Denmark, France, Brazil, Mexico, Japan, Myanmar and the European Union Delegation.


Background


The Sixth Committee (Legal) met today to conclude its work for the sixty‑eighth session.  It would address several topics, including the Report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country (document A/68/26), programme planning and the election of its officers.

The Committee would also hear the introduction of and take action on a draft resolution entitled Report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country (document A/C.6/68/L.26).


Among a number of draft resolutions, which had been introduced 8 November, and were also to be acted upon were those on: responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts (document A/C.6/68/L.19); and criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission (document A/C.6/68/L.15).  For background, see Press Release GA/L/3472.


The Committee would also take action on several resolutions resulting from its consideration of the report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), which had also been introduced 8 November.  They were: report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law on the work of its forty-sixth session (document A/C.6/68/L.9); 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 (document A/C.6/68/L.10); the UNCITRAL Guide on the Implementation of a Security Rights Registry (document A/C.6/68/L.11); and 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) (document A/C.6/68/L.12).


Other draft resolutions introduced 8 November and awaiting action today related to: diplomatic protection (document A/C.6/68/L.16); consideration of prevention of transboundary harm from hazardous activities and allocation of loss in the case of such harm (document A/C.6/68/L.20); report of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization (document A/C.6/68/L.18); and the scope and application of the principle of universal jurisdiction (document A/C.6/68/L.17).


Also before the Committee were several draft resolutions that would be introduced and acted upon today, including: the report of the International Law Commission on the work of its sixty-fifth session (document A/C.6/68/L.24); Reservations to treaties (document A/C.6/68/L.23); the rule of law at the national and international levels (document A/C.6/68/L.22); the law of transboundary aquifers (document A/C.6/68/L.25); and provisional programme of work of the Sixth Committee for the sixty-ninth session (document A/C.6/68/L.21).


In addition, the Committee would address two requests for observer status in the work of the General Assembly, including the International Conference of Asian Political Parties and the International Chamber of Commerce.  For background, see Press Release GA/L/3460.


Committee on Host Country Relations


NICHOLAS EMILIOU ( Cyprus), Chair of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country, introduced the Committee’s report, noting that the Committee had continued to provide an environment where interested delegations could follow its work, raise issues related to its agenda and hold discussions in a constructive manner. 


He said concerns had been raised by certain delegations regarding the timely issuance of visas by the host country for participation in the General Assembly’s sixty-eighth session.  The host country had explained the complexities of each concerned case and the relevant considerations, and had stressed that it took its obligations very seriously in that regard.


As well, he said, some delegations had continued to express concerns regarding their inability to obtain suitable banking services, an issue that had been recurring on the Committee’s agenda since the sixty-sixth session.  The host country assured the Committee it would continue to work with the permanent missions concerned in order to find a bank that was willing to provide necessary banking services.


He thanked the Committee’s members, the host country, the New York City Mayor’s Office of International Affairs, observer delegations who had participated, the Secretary of the Committee and the Secretariat for their guidance and support during the reporting period. 


He then introduced the new draft resolution on the Report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country (A/C.6/68/L.26), which had considered the contents of the report as well as the views of Committee members.  The resolution endorsed recommendations of the Committee and noted, among others, concerns regarding the timely issuance of visas and the issue of obtaining suitable banking services, as well as the host country’s ongoing efforts to assist in both those matters.


Statements


GILLES MARHIC, representative of the European Union Delegation, said the practical issues that the Committee was mandated to address ranged from the security of missions and the safety of their personnel to transportation issues.  Such endeavours went to the heart of preserving the legal regime that defined the status of the United Nations and outlined the rights and obligations of diplomatic agents.  It was paramount to safeguard the integrity of relevant international law, particularly the Headquarters Agreement between the United Nations and the host country, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations.  In that context, he welcomed the host country’s continuing efforts to help missions obtain suitable banking services and endorsed the conclusions and recommendations in the report.


HASSAN ALI HASSAN ALI ( Sudan) said that the host country must eliminate all obstacles to missions’ performance of their duties.  That was particularly true on the matter of entry visas.  He expressed concern over the “great and deliberate violations” of the Headquarters Agreement in that regard.  The democratically elected President of Sudan, Omer Hassan A. Al-Bashirhad been deprived of the opportunity to participate in the general debate because the host country, in violation of that agreement, had denied him a visa.  Furthermore, the host country also applied arbitrary pressures on missions, depending on how close a country’s foreign policy was to that of the United States.  He noted, in that regard, the closing of several missions’ bank accounts.  Those missions had now been without accounts for some three years.


JOHN R. ARBOGAST ( United States) said that the country was proud to serve as host country to the United Nations.  That entailed a broad range of obligations of treaty law, which had been fulfilled in every respect since 1946. He expressed appreciation for the Committee, whose limited but representative membership had made it an efficient and unusually responsive General Assembly body.  Its deliberations over the past year had focused on visa issuance, safety and security of missions and on continuing to work with diplomatic missions on banking services.  He said that the United States would continue to work with the Committee to resolve all issues.


Action on Draft Resolutions


The Committee had before it a draft resolution on the report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country (A/C.6/68/L.26), introduced earlier by a representative of Cyprus.  It was approved without a vote.


In explanation of position after action, Argentina’s delegate said that, in relation to a request made by the local authorities of New York State regarding a local staff member of his country’s mission to the United Nations, the host country had effectively assisted the Argentinean Mission with those authorities on a strictly voluntary basis and without prejudice to its privileges and immunities.  In that regard, he wished to recognize the Permanent Mission of the United States for such assistance. 


Also before the Committee were draft resolutions on the responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts (A/C.6/68/L.19) and criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission (A/C.6/68/L.15), which had previously been introduced to the Committee.  Both were approved without a vote.


Speaking in explanation of position after action, the delegate of the Russian Federation endorsed the consensus on the resolution and clarified her understanding of the new language in paragraph 17.  Where it stated that cases should be submitted to appropriate authorities for prosecution, she said that would mean that such cases would be given to the State of the accused official.


Action on Draft Resolutions


The Committee next had before it four draft resolutions on the report of United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).  They were: report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law on the work of its forty-sixth session (A/C.6/68/L.9); 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 (A/C.6/68/L.10); draft resolution on the UNCITRAL Guide on the Implementation of a Security Rights Registry (A/C.6/68/L.11); and the 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) (A/C.6/68/L.12).  All had been previously introduced and were approved without a vote.


The Committee next took action on the draft resolution on diplomatic protection (A/C.6/68/L.16), which had been introduced at an earlier date by a representative of South Africa.  The text was approved without a vote.


The Committee then turned to a draft resolution on consideration of prevention of transboundary harm from hazardous activities and allocation of loss in the case of such harm (A/C.6/68/L.20), previously introduced by Chile’s delegate.  That was approved without a vote, as was the draft resolution 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.6/68/L.18), introduced at an earlier date by Egypt’s delegate.


Next, the Committee also approved without a vote the draft resolution on the scope and application of the principle of universal jurisdiction (A/C.6/68/L.17), which had been introduced earlier by Togo’s delegate.

Requests for Observer Status


The co-sponsors of the draft resolution on the granting of observer status for the International Conference of Asian Political Parties said they would not pursue that request at the current session.  However, they reserved the right to present it at a future session.  No action was taken on the matter.


France’s delegate, speaking in explanation of position before action on the draft resolution to grant observer status for the International Chamber of Commerce (A/C.6/68/L.4), noted that the request had not been challenged on the basis of legitimacy.  The granting of such status would provide the private sector the opportunity to present its views on matters before the General Assembly.  However, as there was no consensus on whether it met the legal requirements for observer status, he recommended deferring a vote on the draft resolution at present.


The Committee then decided to defer a decision on the request for observer status for the International Chamber of Commerce. 


Introduction and Action on Draft Resolutions


The representative of Brazil first introduced a draft resolution on reservations to treaties (A/C.6/68/L.23), by which the General Assembly would, among other things, take note of the Guide to Practice and encourage its widest possible dissemination. 


He then introduced a second draft resolution on the report of the International Law Commission on the work of its sixth-fifth session (A/C.6/68/L.24), which addressed administrative and other aspects concerning the proper and efficient functioning of the Commission.  It also would have the General Assembly take note of the Commission’s decision to organize a commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the International Law Seminar. 


The first draft resolution was approved without a vote.  Before action on the second draft resolution, a statement on the resolution’s financial implications was made by the Secretariat.  That draft resolution was then approved without a vote.


Mexico’s representative introduced a draft resolution on the rule of law at the national and international levels (A/C.6/68/L.22), noting that the content of proposals by delegations during informal consultations had shown how much importance States attributed to that fundamental principle.  The draft resolution was approved without a vote.


Japan’s representative introduced a draft resolution on the law of transboundary aquifers (A/C.6/68/L.25), by which the General Assembly would, among others, decide to include in the provisional agenda of its seventy-first session the item entitled “The law of transboundary aquifers”.  The draft resolution was approved without a vote.


Programme Planning


Noting that there were no documents before the Committee on the item, the Committee decided to conclude its consideration of the topic.


Action on Draft Resolution


The Committee had before it the draft resolution, provisional programme of work of the Sixth Committee for the sixty-ninth session (A/C.6/68/L.21).


In explanation of position before action, the representative of Cuba, speaking for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), expressed concern over the delay in the delivery of some reports, which compromised the quality of the discussions and hindered proper review by countries.  That was of particular importance with regard to the report of the International Law Commission.  She also called for a more interactive debate and closer link between the Committee and the Commission, again requesting that part of the Commission’s session be held in New York to facilitate those links.


She said that countries from all regions should be involved in drafting the texts of the Committee’s resolutions, as they should reflect the view of the broad range of Member States.  In addition, the allocation of time to agenda items must take into account the nature of each item.  That was particularly true regarding the granting of observer status.  She encouraged delegations requesting inclusion of agenda items on the matter to furnish a copy of the constitutive instrument of the organization concerned.  The revitalization of the General Assembly, she said in conclusion, was paramount for a genuine reform of the United Nations.  The performance of the Assembly and its role in the Organization were closely related to the credibility and work of the United Nations.


The Committee then approved without a vote the draft resolution.


Election of Officers


The Chair of the Sixth Committee then turned to the last item on the current agenda, that of the election of officers for the Committee.  He reminded delegations that all Main Committees must elect a full bureau at least three months before the new session.  He suggested that regional groups hold consultations in due course to ensure that the Committee would be able to elect its next Chairperson, three Vice-Chairpersons and a Rapporteur.


After acknowledging the representative of Myanmar for his kind words, the Chair then concluded the session, expressing gratitude to his colleagues in the Bureau, the Secretariat and all services that facilitated the Committee’s work during the session.


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