Rules of procedure
Annex II (a)
Methods and procedures of the General Assembly
for dealing with legal and drafting questions (b)
Recommendations of the General Assembly
The General Assembly,
- (a) That, whenever any Committee contemplates making a recommendation to the General Assembly to request an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice, the matter may, at some appropriate stage of its consideration by that Committee, be referred to the Sixth Committee for advice on the legal aspects and on the drafting of the request, or the Committee concerned may propose that the matter should be considered by a joint Committee of itself and the Sixth Committee;
- (b) That, whenever any Committee contemplates making a recommendation to the General Assembly to refer a matter to the International Law Commission, the Committee may, at some appropriate stage of its consideration, consult the Sixth Committee as to the advisability of such a reference and on its drafting;
- (c) That, whenever any Committee contemplates making a recommendation for the adoption by the General Assembly of any amendment to the rules of procedure of the General Assembly, the matter shall, at some appropriate stage of its consideration by that Committee, be referred to the Sixth Committee for advice on the drafting of such amendment and of any consequential amendment;
- (d) That, when a Committee considers the legal aspects of a question important, the Committee should refer it for legal advice to the Sixth Committee or propose that the question should be considered by a joint Committee of itself and the Sixth Committee.
Excerpts from the report of the Special Committee for the Consideration of the Methods and Procedures of the General Assembly for Dealing with Legal and Drafting Questions
Allocation of agenda items to the Main Committees
19. As to the first of those problems [namely, the allocation of agenda items to the Main Committees by the General Assembly at the outset of each session], the Special Committee recalled that rule 97 of the rules of procedure of the General Assembly provided that "Items relating to the same category of subjects shall be referred to the committee or committees dealing with that category of subjects ..." It also noted that a recommendation of the Special Committee on Methods and Procedures, approved by the General Assembly in resolution 362 (IV) of 22 October 1949 and annexed to the rules of procedure, provided that "... questions which may be considered as falling within the competence of two or more committees should preferably be referred to the committee with the lightest agenda".
20. In view of those provisions, the present Special Committee did not find it necessary to make any formal recommendation on the allocation of agenda items at the opening of each session. It was confident that the General Committee, in making recommendations to the General Assembly on the distribution of agenda items, would continue to bear in mind the Sixth Committee's function, laid down in rule 99 [Rule 98 of the present rules of procedure] of the rules of procedure, as the Legal Committee.
Drafting of complex legal instruments
29. During the course of the discussion [on the question of the drafting of complex legal instruments such as international agreements, statutes of tribunals, etc.] it was pointed out that the Special Committee on Methods and Procedures, in paragraphs 13 and 14 of its report, approved by General Assembly resolution 362 (IV) of 22 October 1949 and annexed to the rules of procedure [See annex I], made certain recommendations concerning the drafting of conventions, and concluded: "With regard to the drafting of legal texts, the Special Committee strongly recommends that small drafting committees should be resorted to whenever possible."
30. The Special Committee was in complete agreement with those recommendations and, in view of their previous approval by the General Assembly, did not find it necessary to adopt a new provision on the subject. However, the Special Committee considered it desirable that that point should be reaffirmed in its report. On that understanding, the United Kingdom withdrew its draft proposal. [This proposal (A/AC.604/L.18) provided: "That, in principle, the drafting of all clauses, texts or instruments of the following kinds should be either carried out, or, at some appropriate stage, reviewed, by a body of experts legally qualified to do so: "(a) Any regulation for adoption by the General Assembly; "(b) The terms of reference, functions and powers of subsidiary organs or tribunals hereafter set up by the General Assembly; "(c) Any convention, declaration, agreement or other similar international instrument drawn up under the auspices of the General Assembly, and the drafting of which is to be effected by the Assembly itself, including agreements or instruments to which the United Nations as an Organization is to be a party."]
Drafting of General Assembly resolutions
35. In addition to the above proposals [Proposal by El Salvador (A/AC.60/L.20) which was withdrawn in favour of a revised text (A/AC.60/L.20/Rev.1) incorporating amendments by the United Kingdom (A/AC.60/L.21), Belgium and Egypt. This revised text, which was worded as follows, was included in the recommendations of the Special Committee to the General Assembly: "(e) That, normally, the Chairman of a Committee shall, at the appropriate time, call upon the Vice-Chairman and the Rapporteur to join him for the purpose of proceeding, in consultation with the competent officials of the Secretariat, to examine the draft resolutions from the point of view of style, form and the use of technical terms, and, when appropriate, to suggest to the Committee such changes as they deem necessary."], the United Kingdom submitted a draft (A/AC.60/L.22) which provided for periodic meetings of the rapporteurs of Committees with the competent officials of the Secretariat to establish, insofar as practicable, common methods of drafting and to ensure that in general the drafting of resolutions was satisfactory from the point of view of style, form and the use of technical terms.
36. It was pointed out that there might be certain practical difficulties in arranging for periodic meetings of rapporteurs. The Special Committee decided to make no formal recommendation on the subject, nevertheless, the Committee believes that it is desirable that informal consultation should take place from time to time between the various rapporteurs and officials of the Secretariat for the purpose described in the United Kingdom proposal.
Reports of the Secretary-General under General Assembly resolution 362 (IV)
37. The United Kingdom submitted a draft proposal (A/AC.60/L.23) suggesting that the Secretary-General should be requested to furnish to the General Assembly an annual report on the matters dealt with by the Special Committee, indicating to what extent the Assembly or its Committees had succeeded during the year in realizing the objectives aimed at and suggesting any appropriate adjustments or improvements in the methods and procedures involved.
38. During the discussion, the representative of the Secretary-General recalled that the General Assembly, in paragraph 6 of resolution 362 (IV) of 22 October 1949, had requested the Secretary-General "to carry out appropriate studies and to submit, at such times as he may consider appropriate, suitable proposals for the improvement of the methods and procedures of the General Assembly and its committees ...". It was pointed out that the Secretary-General was much concerned with improving the procedures and methods of the Assembly and that there was no need for a new resolution requesting reports on that subject.
39. The Special Committee agreed that the points covered by the United Kingdom draft could be included when advisable in reports of the Secretary-General under resolution 362 (IV); such reports should be submitted at the appropriate times, and at reasonably frequent intervals. Consequently, the United Kingdom draft was withdrawn, and the Committee made no formal recommendation on the subject.
(a) By resolution 684 (VII) of 6 November 1962, the General Assembly, having examined the report of the Special Committee for the Consideration of the Methods and Procedures of the General Assembly for Dealing with Legal and Drafting Questions, established under resolution 597 (VI) of 20 December 1951, adopted certain recommendations on this subject and directed that the terms of these recommendations "shall be embodied as an annex to the rules of procedure of the General Assembly". The resolution further provided that "the said annex shall also set out, verbatim, paragraphs 19, 20, 29, 30, 35, 36, 37, 38 and 39 of the report of the Special Committee" (Official Records of the General Assembly, Seventh Session, Annexes, agenda item 53, document A/2174). The text of the aforementioned recommendations of the General Assembly is accordingly reproduced in part 1, and that of the specified paragraphs of the report of the Special Committee in part 2, of the present annex.
(b) The paragraph numbers refer to paragraphs of the report of the Special Committee. Subtitles as well as words in square brackets and footnotes have been inserted by the Secretariat for convenience of reference.