United Nations

A/53/306


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

27 August 1998

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH




                                                      A/53/306
       
                                                      Original: English
       
       
General Assembly
Fifty-third session
Item 22 of the provisional agenda*
Cooperation between the United Nations and the
  Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee

     * A/53/150.


     Cooperation between the United Nations and the Asian-African Legal       

                         Consultative Committee


                    Report of the Secretary-General


          Introduction


1.   The present report is submitted pursuant to paragraph
5 of General Assembly resolution 51/11 of 4 November
1996 entitled "Cooperation between the United Nations and
the Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee".

2.   The General Assembly, by its resolution 35/2 of 13
October 1980, had invited the Asian-African Legal
Consultative Committee (AALCC) to participate in its
sessions and its work in the capacity of an observer.
Subsequently, the permanent observer missions of AALCC
to the United Nations were established in New York and at
Vienna.

3.   On the occasion of the commemoration of the twenty-fifth 
anniversary of the Consultative Committee, the General
Assembly, in its resolution 36/38 of 18 November 1981,
requested the Secretary-General of the United Nations to
carry out consultations with the Secretary-General of
AALCC with a view to strengthening further and widening
the scope of cooperation between the two organizations.
The item had been considered by the Assembly annually
until its forty-first session and thereafter biennially. The last
time it was considered was at the fifty-first session.

4.   At the same session, in its resolution 51/11 of 4
November 1996, the General Assembly noted with
satisfaction the continuing efforts of AALCC towards
strengthening the role of the United Nations and its various
organs, including the International Court of Justice, through
programmes and initiatives undertaken by the Consultative
Committee. It also noted with satisfaction the commendable
progress achieved towards enhancing cooperation between
the United Nations and AALCC in wider areas. The
Assembly noted with appreciation the decision of the
Consultative Committee to participate actively in the
programmes of the United Nations Decade of International
Law and programmes on environment and sustainable
development. The Assembly decided to include the item
entitled "Cooperation between the United Nations and the
Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee" in the
provisional agenda of its fifty-third session.


        A.     Cooperative framework


5.   Pursuant to the cooperation framework agreed upon
by the two organizations, consultations have routinely been
conducted on matters of common interest, in particular
regarding representation at meetings and sessions, exchange
of documentation and information, and the identification of
areas where the supportive role of AALCC might be most
productive. During the period under review, meetings were
held during the fifty-first and fifty-second sessions of the
General Assembly between the Secretary-General of the
United Nations and the Secretary-General of AALCC. The
Legal Counsel of the United Nations also held meetings
with the Secretary-General of AALCC. On the occasion of
the thirty-sixth (Tehran, May 1997) and thirty-seventh (New
Delhi, April 1998) sessions of the Consultative Committee,
the Secretary-General of the United Nations sent messages
to those meetings highlighting matters of mutual concern
for both organizations.

6.   AALCC continues to orient its work programmes so
as to accord priority to matters that are of current interest
to the United Nations and to initiate actions with a view to
strengthening the role of the United Nations. Over the years,
the work programme of the Consultative Committee has
assumed a role supportive of the work of the United
Nations. The areas of cooperation, apart from the field of
international law, now cover matters in the economic,
environmental and humanitarian fields.


     B.  Representation at meetings and conferences


7.   During the period under review, AALCC was
represented at the nineteenth special session of the General
Assembly on the overall review and appraisal of the
implementation of Agenda 21.

8.   AALCC was also represented at various other
meetings and conferences held under the auspices of the
United Nations and its organs and agencies, including the
regular sessions of the General Assembly; the International
Law Commission, the United Nations Commission on
International Trade Law, the Preparatory Committee on the
Establishment of an International Criminal Court, the
United Nations Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries
on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court, the
second session of the Conference of Parties to the United
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the
second and the third Expert Group Workshops on
International Environmental Law (held in May and October
1996, respectively) and the International Environment
Conference on Codifying the Rio Principles in National
Legislation. AALCC was also represented at the second
session of the Commission on Enterprise, Business
Facilities and Development of the United Nations
Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

9.   To facilitate the participation of the delegates of
Member States of AALCC in the United Nations Diplomatic
Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an
International Criminal Court, the AALCC secretariat had
prepared an overview of the draft statute for an international
criminal court prepared by the Preparatory Committee on
the Establishment of an International Criminal Court.

10.  Representatives of various United Nations bodies
participated in the thirty-sixth and thirty-seventh sessions
of AALCC. These included the representatives of the
International Law Commission (ILC), the United Nations
Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), the
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees (UNHCR). The sessions were also attended by
representatives of the United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).


        C.     Strengthening the role of the United
               Nations and the United Nations Decade of
               International Law


11.  In 1985, AALCC prepared a study on "Strengthening
the role of the United Nations through rationalization of its
functional modalities with special reference to the General
Assembly" (A/40/726 and Corr.1, annex), providing an
overall assessment of the functioning of the United Nations,
and subsequently, prepared a set of recommendations on the
improvement of the functioning of the General Assembly
(see A/41/437, annex). Since then, AALCC has continued
to follow up on the implementation of the relevant
resolutions relating to this subject.

12.  Pursuant to General Assembly resolution 44/23 of 17
November 1989, in which the Assembly declared the period
1990 1999 as the United Nations Decade of International
Law, AALCC prepared a paper identifying a number of
issues involved and activities that might be undertaken
during the Decade. At its twenty-ninth session, held in
Beijing in March 1990, AALCC urged greater collaboration
with the United Nations in that regard. A report on the role
that AALCC can play in the realization of the objectives of
the Decade was thereafter submitted to the Secretary-General of 
the United Nations (see A/45/430, annex).

13.  In pursuance of the relevant resolutions of the General
Assembly, AALCC was invited to undertake activities in the
implementation of the programme for the third term of the
Decade and to provide information in that respect to the
Secretary-General of the United Nations for transmission
to the General Assembly.

14.  In 1996, AALCC had convened a special meeting on
the establishment of an international criminal court. During
the period under review, the secretariat of AALCC
organized, within the framework of its thirty-sixth session,
a special meeting on the interrelated aspects between
international humanitarian law and the international
criminal court, which served as a forum for an informal
exchange of views on the work of the Preparatory
Committee on the Establishment of an International
Criminal Court. The special meeting was organized in
collaboration with the International Committee of the Red
Cross (ICRC). The deliberations at the meeting are reflected
in the report on its work, which was published in document
form.

15.  Within the framework of its thirty-seventh session, the
secretariat of AALCC organized a special meeting on
reservations to treaties to consider the preliminary
conclusions on the reservations to normative multilateral
treaties including human rights treaties adopted by the
International Law Commission at its forty-ninth session. 1/
AALCC expressed its appreciation for the work done by the
Commission on this subject and noted its complexity. The
Consultative Committee emphasized universal acceptance
of the existing reservation regime as set out in the Vienna
Convention on the Law of Treaties and proposed that
ambiguities, gaps and lacunae should be filled through
commentaries to the relevant provisions of the Vienna
Convention. The proceedings of the special meeting were
thereafter submitted to ILC at its fiftieth session.


        D.     Promoting wider use of the International
               Court of Justice


16.  AALCC continues its efforts in promoting wider use
of the International Court of Justice. The Consultative
Committee had earlier prepared a study on the question of
possible wider use of the Court which focused on the
advantages to be obtained by using the Court or its special
chambers.

17.  Following the 1992 United Nations Conference on
Environment and Development and the adoption of
Agenda 21, AALCC had prepared a study on the enhanced
utilization of the International Court in matters relating to
the protection and preservation of the environment.

18.  A meeting of Legal Advisers of States members of
AALCC held at United Nations Headquarters in New York
in October 1996 was addressed by Judge Shahabuddeen of
the International Court of Justice.

19.  More recently, the President of the Court, Judge
Stephen M. Schwebel, addressed a meeting of Legal
Advisers of AALCC member States at United Nations
Headquarters in New York in October 1997.

20.  AALCC continues to follow closely the work of the
International Court of Justice and attaches great significance
to its work.


        E.     Measures designed to further the work of
               the Sixth Committee of the General
               Assembly


21.  In fulfilment of its function of rendering assistance to
its member States and with a view to facilitating their active
participation in the work of the General Assembly, AALCC
prepares on a regular basis notes and comments on selected
items of the agenda of the General Assembly, including
those related to the work of ILC and UNCITRAL.

22.  During the period under review, consultations were
arranged during the General Assembly sessions between
the representatives of AALCC member States and
representatives of other interested States to provide
opportunities for an exchange of views on matters of
common interest. During the fifty-second session of the
General Assembly, AALCC convened a meeting of Legal
Advisers which was attended by most of the Legal Advisers
participating in the work of that session. The President of
ICJ, the Chairman of the Sixth Committee, the United
Nations Legal Counsel, the Chairman of ILC, the Chairman
of the Preparatory Committee on the Establishment of an
International Criminal Court and the Chairperson of
the Working Group of the United Nations Decade of
International Law were among those who addressed the
meeting.

23.  AALCC continues to follow closely the work of ILC
and attaches great significance to the items on its agenda,
as they are of particular importance to its members. In
pursuance of a decision of the Consultative Committee at
its thirty-fifth session, the Secretary-General of AALCC,
in his presentation to ILC at its forty-eighth session,
suggested that the Commission should include in its agenda
a topic on "Diplomatic protection" and initiate a feasibility
study on "Law of environment".

24.  Collaboration between AALCC and UNCITRAL
continues. During the period under review, the AALCC
secretariat prepared notes and comments on the work of
UNCITRAL at its twenty-ninth and thirtieth sessions.


        F.     Measures for promotion of the ratification
               and implementation of the United Nations
               Convention on the Law of the Sea


25.  AALCC continues to monitor closely the work and
functioning of the International Tribunal for the Law of the
Sea and the International Seabed Authority and the organs
therefor. At its thirty-sixth and thirty-seventh sessions, the
Consultative Committee urged full and effective
participation of its member States in the Authority so as to
ensure and safeguard the legitimate interests of the
developing countries and to strengthen the principle of the
common heritage of mankind. It called upon its member
States to give timely consideration to the need to adopt a
common policy and strategy for the interim period before
the commercial exploitation of the deep seabed minerals
becomes feasible, and for this purpose urged member States
to take an evolutionary approach especially to the "initial
function" of the Authority so as to make it useful to the
international community and developing countries during
this initial period.

26.  Briefs of documents prepared by the AALCC
secretariat furnishing an overview of recent developments
in matters related to the law of the sea were considered by
the Consultative Committee at its thirty-sixth and thirty-seventh 
sessions. At the latter session, AALCC took note
of the work of the Legal and Technical Commission of the
Authority regarding the preparation of the Draft Regulations
on Prospecting and Exploration of Polymetallic Nodules in
the Area.

27.  "Oceans and law of the sea" is one of the items on the
agenda of the General Assembly for which the AALCC
secretariat prepares notes and comments with a view to
assisting the representatives of its member States in
preparing for its consideration by the General Assembly.


    G.  International economic cooperation for development


28.  During the period under review, the Consultative
Committee continued to monitor the progress in the work
of UNCITRAL. The AALCC secretariat prepared a progress
report covering the legislative activities of the United
Nations and other international organizations involved in
the development of international trade law which was
distributed for information to member States at the thirty-sixth 
and thirty-seventh sessions. A similar document will
be prepared for the thirty-eighth session of the Committee,
to be held at Accra in 1999.

29.  AALCC at its thirty-seventh session urged its member
States to take into account the UNCITRAL Model Law on
Insolvency as they developed or revised their legislation on
that issue. The Committee also urged its member States to
consider adopting, ratifying or acceding to treaties prepared
by UNCITRAL.

30.  Under a scheme developed by AALCC for the
settlement of disputes in economic and commercial
transactions, regional arbitration centres have been
established in Cairo, Kuala Lumpur, Lagos and Tehran to
assist in the promotion and implementation of the
UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules. Steps are being taken to
establish and make operational a similar centre in Nairobi
to serve the countries in eastern and southern Africa.

31.  At its thirty-sixth session (Manila, 1996), AALCC
considered a study prepared by its secretariat on "The
World Trade Organization (WTO) as a Framework
Agreement and Code of Conduct for world trade". The
study described the organizational structure and functions
of WTO and highlighted the importance of some of the
provisions contained in annexes to the WTO Agreement.

32.  This was followed by a study prepared by the
secretariat on the dispute settlement mechanism of WTO.
AALCC continues to be actively engaged in monitoring the
work and functioning of WTO and intends to organize, in
conjunction with the Government of India and WTO, a
seminar for the region.

33.  AALCC has also addressed the legal issues involved
in the privatization of public-sector undertakings and the
liberalization of economic activities as a means of
increasing economic efficiency, growth and sustainable
development in the context of economic restructuring
programmes. During its thirty-third session AALCC
convened a special meeting on developing legal and
institutional guidelines for privatization and 
post-privatization regulatory framework and published the
proceedings of the meeting.


        H.     Question of refugees


34.  AALCC has been actively engaged in the study of
refugee law and refugee problems and has been working in
close cooperation with UNHCR for that purpose. In
December 1996, with the financial and technical assistance
of UNHCR, AALCC organized a seminar in Manila to
commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the principles
adopted at Bangkok by AALCC concerning the treatment
of refugees. The seminar recommended that the text of the
Bangkok Principles and the two addenda thereto of 1970
and 1987 be amalgamated into one consolidated text. A
report on the seminar was thereafter published as a
document of AALCC.

35.  The above proposal was subsequently considered by
a meeting of experts organized with the financial and
technical assistance of UNHCR in Tehran in March 1998.
The recommendations of the meeting of experts were
subsequently submitted to AALCC for its consideration.


        I.     Other issues currently before the
               Consultative Committee


36.  AALCC continues its interest in the analysis of
international instruments adopted by the 1992 United
Nations Conference on Environment and Development. It
has also undertaken a study of the texts of the United
Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, the Framework
Convention on Climate Change and the Convention to
Combat Desertification in those Countries Experiencing
Serious Drought and/or Desertification, particularly in
Africa. At the thirty-third session, the AALCC secretariat
had been directed to continue to monitor the progress in
environmental matters, particularly towards the
implementation of Agenda 21.

37.  The item entitled "Legal protection of migrant
workers" has been on the work programme of AALCC since
1996. At the thirty-fifth session, the Consultative Committee
urged its member States to transmit their views to the
secretariat as to how legal protection to immigrant workers
could be effectively implemented. The item remains on the
work programme of AALCC with the objective of framing
a model legislation.

38.  The item entitled "Extraterritorial application of
national legislation: sanctions imposed against third parties"
has been on the agenda of AALCC since its thirty-sixth
session. At its thirty-seventh session, the Consultative
Committee considered the item and affirmed its significance
and complexity on the basis of a paper prepared by the
secretariat. There was general agreement that the validity
of any unilateral imposition of economic sanctions through
the extraterritorial application of national legislation must
be tested against the accepted norms and principles of
international law. The principles discussed included those
of sovereignty and territorial integrity, sovereign equality,
non-intervention, self-determination and freedom of trade.
The right to development and the permanent sovereignty
over natural resources were specifically mentioned. A report
on the deliberations was presented to the International Law
Commission at its fiftieth session.

39.  In a study prepared on the subject, the secretariat of
AALCC recognized that the extraterritorial application of
national legislation was necessary in certain instances and
that contemporary international law accordingly prescribed
the extraterritorial application of municipal legislation in
such instances as the performance of consular functions or
the control of drug trafficking. The secretariat study is not
restricted to the analysis of the legality or otherwise of any
particular legislation, nor is the scope of its inquiry
restricted to the examination of the municipal legislation of
any particular State. Rather, it concentrates on the general
principles of the jurisdiction of States, so that AALCC
might adopt its own opinion or set of views as to the limits
of the permissible exercise of jurisdiction and enunciate,
perhaps, the impermissible exercise of extraterritorial
jurisdiction. The AALCC secretariat continues to study the
legal aspects of this matter.


                            Note

          1/   Official Records of the General Assembly, Fifty-second
               Session, Supplement No. 10 (A/52/10), chap. V.C.

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