Press Briefing




Treaties responding to global challenges, such as international terrorism, will be highlighted at the annual event intended to encourage Member States to sign and ratify multilateral treaties, scheduled for 14 to 16 September during the General Assembly’s high-level summit meeting, said Palitha Kohona, Chief of the Office of Legal Affairs’ Treaty Section, at a Headquarters press briefing today.

In preparation for the treaty event, “Focus 2005:  Responding to Global Challenges”, the Treaty Section was introducing today a booklet of the same title containing information on 32 treaties, such as their States parties, if and when they entered into force, and what they are intended to accomplish, he added.

Mr. Kohona said the treaties chosen for 2005 reflected the fact noted in the report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change that “the central challenge for the twenty-first century is to fashion a new and broader understanding, bringing together all these strands, of what collective security means -- and of all the responsibilities, commitments, strategies and institutions that come with it if a collective security system is to be effective, efficient and equitable.”

This year’s treaty event and the booklet brought together core human rights treaties with those connected with armed conflict and conventions on refugees, as well as the Rome Statute, which established the International Criminal Court, Mr. Kohona continued.  Although none of the treaties had universal participation, it was anticipated that the Rome Statute, which currently had 99 parties, would achieve its 100th signatory during this year’s event.

In the foreword to the booklet, the Secretary-General wrote that “in crucial areas, we suffer from selective or incomplete implementation -- and sometimes, no implementation at all”, and that he urged all States to demonstrate their commitment to the rule of law with “concrete action to implement the obligations they have undertaken”.  He also encouraged States to sign, ratify and accede to the new Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, which would open for signature during the treaty event.

Mr. Kohona said the event would also seek to increase participation in the 1997 International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, as well as the 1999 International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, which were included in the booklet.  Also spotlighted are treaties on organized crime, human rights, refugees, climate change, disarmament, law of the sea, health, and the law of treaties itself.

The annual treaty event was initiated by the Secretary-General during the Millennium Summit in 2000 as a way to increase participation in the multilateral treaty framework, he said.  The Secretary-General was the custodian of more than 500 multilateral treaties, covering almost every aspect of international interaction.  To date, more than 930 treaty actions had taken place.

In response to a question during the briefing asking if he thought more States would sign treaties this September because of the sixtieth anniversary of the United Nations, Mr. Kohona recalled that during the Millennium Summit, 274 treaty actions were undertaken, whereas only about 100 were undertaken last year.  Judging from tentative inquiries his office had received, he said the prospects were “good” for a large number of treaty actions to be undertaken in September.

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