Terrorism, organized crime and human rights among the focus of 2005 treaty event at UN

23 May 2005 –

Treaties on terrorism, organized crime, human rights, penal matters, the environment, law of the sea, and the law of treaties itself will be highlighted this year at the annual United Nations event that encourages Member States to sign and ratify multilateral treaties, a UN legal official said today.

The theme for the event is "Focus 2005: Responding to Global Challenges," according to Palitha Kohona, Chief of the Treaty Section in the Office of Legal Affairs (OLA), who introduced a booklet on the subject at a press briefing at UN Headquarters in New York. The booklet contains information on the 32 treaties that will be highlighted during the event, which will take place from 14 to 16 September to coincide with the high-level summit prior to the General Assembly's sixtieth session.

"The central challenge for the twenty-first century is to fashion a new and broader understanding of what collective security means," he said. As States became more interdependent, he continued, there is a heightened need to strengthen the international rule of law, as Secretary-General Kofi Annan has been emphasizing. Treaties highlighted will also reinforce the other concerns of the Assembly session, most notably the review of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which aim to reduce or eliminate a host of socio-economic ills by 2015.

Among the international agreements to be featured is the Rome Statute, which established the International Criminal Court (ICC), Mr. Kohona said. Although none of the treaties has universal participation, it is anticipated that the Rome Statute, which currently has 99 parties, will achieve its one hundredth signatory during this year's event.

The event will 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.

The annual treaty event was initiated by Mr. Annan during the Millennium Summit of 2000. As custodian of the Multilateral Treaty Framework, the Secretary-General is responsible for more than 500 such accords, covering almost every aspect of international interaction. More than 930 signings, ratification steps and other treaty actions have taken place during previous events. Prospects were good, according to Mr. Kohona, for an active event this year.

It was important, he stressed, to remember that treaties right now are the main source of international governance. "Much of what we take for granted in our day-to-day lives is enshrined in treaties, whether you make an international telephone call or take a flight to a different country or send a parcel by FedEx," he said.

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