Back to top

Sixty-second session

Report of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization (agenda item 85)

Summary of work

Background (source: A/62/100)

The item entitled “Need to consider suggestions regarding the review of the Charter of the United Nations” was included in the agenda of the twenty-fourth session of the General Assembly, in 1969, at the request of Colombia (A/7659).

At its twenty-ninth session, the General Assembly decided to establish an Ad Hoc Committee on the Charter of the United Nations to consider any specific proposals that Governments might make with a view to enhancing the ability of the United Nations to achieve its purposes, as well as other suggestions for the more effective functioning of the United Nations that might not require amendments to the Charter (resolution 3349 (XXIX)).

Meanwhile, another item, entitled “Strengthening of the role of the United Nations with regard to the maintenance and consolidation of international peace and security, the development of cooperation among all nations and the promotion of the rules of international law in relations between States”, was included in the agenda of the twenty-seventh session of the General Assembly at the request of Romania (A/8792).

At its thirtieth session, the General Assembly decided to reconvene the Ad Hoc Committee as the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization to examine suggestions and proposals regarding the Charter and the strengthening of the role of the United Nations with regard to the maintenance and consolidation of international peace and security, the development of cooperation among all nations and the promotion of the rules of international law (resolution 3499 (XXX)).

Since its thirtieth session, the General Assembly has reconvened the Special Committee every year (resolutions 31/28, 32/45, 33/94, 34/147, 35/164, 36/123, 37/114, 38/141, 39/88, 40/78, 41/83, 42/157, 43/170, 44/37, 45/44, 46/58, 47/38, 48/36, 49/58, 50/52, 51/209, 52/161, 53/106, 54/106, 55/156, 56/86, 57/24, 58/248, 59/44 and 60/23).

At its sixty-first session, the General Assembly decided that the Special Committee should hold its next session from 7 to 14 and 16 February 2007 and requested it to submit a report on its work to the Assembly at its sixty-second session (resolution 61/38).
The Special Committee met at United Nations Headquarters from 7 to 15 February 2007.

Also at its sixty-first session, the General Assembly requested the Special Committee, at its session in 2007: (a) to continue its consideration of all proposals concerning the question of the maintenance of international peace and security in all its aspects in order to strengthen the role of the United Nations, and, in that context, to consider other proposals relating to the maintenance of international peace and security already submitted or which might be submitted to the Special Committee at its session in 2007; and (b) to continue to consider, on a priority basis and in an appropriate substantive manner and framework, the question of the implementation of the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations related to assistance to third States affected by the application of sanctions under Chapter VII of the Charter based on all of the related reports of the Secretary-General and the proposals submitted on the question; and requested the Secretary-General to submit to it at its sixty-second session a report on both the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs and the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council, and a report on the implementation of the provisions of the Charter related to assistance to third States affected by the application of sanctions (resolution 61/38).
Consideration at the sixty-second session

The Sixth Committee considered item 85 at its 8th, 9th, 27th and 28th meetings, on 16 and 17 October and on 12 and 19 November 2007. At the 8th meeting of the Committee, on 16 October, the Chairman of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization introduced the report of the Special Committee.

Statements were made by the representatives of the Dominican Republic (on behalf of the Rio Group), Portugal (on behalf of the European Union, the Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Serbia and the EFTA countries Liechtenstein and Norway, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, and Armenia align themselves with the declaration), Cuba (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Benin (on behalf of the African Group), Egypt, Turkey, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Zambia, Morocco, China, India, the Sudan, Cuba, Venezuela, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Algeria, Indonesia, Malaysia, United States of America, Belarus, Japan, the Russian Federation, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Kenya, Yemen, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic and Argentina.

Concerning the imposition of sanctions by the United Nation, some delegations expressed the view that sanctions constituted an important tool for the maintenance of international peace and security, but emphasized that they should be clearly defined, targeted, limited in duration and periodically reviewed. Others pointed out that sanctions should only be imposed in conformity with rules of international law, including the Charter of the United Nations, and as a last resort after all peaceful means of settlement of disputes under Chapter VI of the Charter had been exhausted.

Delegations expressed divergent views on the implementation of Article 50 of the Charter, especially regarding the obligation of the Security Council to assist third States affected by sanctions. Some delegations sought the establishment of a mechanism to assist third States at the time of the imposition of sanctions by the Security Council. Other delegations welcomed the progress of work of the Security Council Informal Working Group on General Issues of Sanctions. It was noted in this regard, that currently all sanctions imposed by the Security Council were targeted and that no State had requested assistance in the past 5 years. While acknowledging the efforts made in and outside the United Nations, the need to establish an effective mechanism for listing and de-listing procedures was underlined.

Some Speakers expressed their concerns about the use of unilateral sanctions against some developing States, which constituted breaches of international law. A delegation suggested that the International Law Commission should consider the unlawful imposition of sanctions in its work on the Responsibility of International Organizations.

Some delegations requested the Special Committee to continue to consider various proposals relating to sanctions. However, others questioned the usefulness and the relevance of keeping this issue on the agenda of the Special Committee, in view of the newly adopted measures and the necessity to avoid the duplication of work.

Some speakers expressed support for the consideration of the revised working paper introduced by the Russian Federation (A/C.6/62/L.6) in a working group to be established by the Sixth Committee for this purpose. However, the proposed working group could not be established during this session, and consequently, the proposal was considered in the format of informal consultations. 

Some delegations underlined the role and functions of the International Court of Justice in the peaceful settlement of disputes, as well as the principle of freedom of choice of means to resolve international disputes. The Secretary-General was requested to timely circulate, as official documents, advisory opinions requested by the principal organs of the United Nations.

It was emphasized that the General Assembly should play a key role within the Organization. In this regard, support was expressed to the continued consideration of the working papers submitted by Cuba and the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

The proposal of request for an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on legal consequences of use of force without prior authorization by the Security Council, except in the exercise of self-defence, received different comments. While some delegations expressed support for the proposal, others opposed it.

Some delegations expressed their wish to further improve the working methods of the Special Committee in order to enhance its efficiency. However, other speakers expressed the view that the shortcomings of the Special Committee were due to the lack of political will but not as a result of its working methods.

General support was expressed for the efforts made by the Secretariat to reduce the backlog in the publication of the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs and the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council, including through cooperation with academic institutions. Some delegations reiterated the importance of these publications, which had contributed to the institutional memory of the Organization and urged the Secretariat to continue their publication in electronic format, as well as in hardcopy.

Action taken by the Sixth Committee

At the 27th meeting of the Committee, on 12 November 2007, the representative of Egypt, on behalf of the Bureau, introduced a draft resolution entitled “Report of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization” (A/C.6/62/L.11). At its 28th meeting, on 19 November, the Committee adopted draft resolution A/C.6/62/L.11 without a vote.

This agenda item was subsequently considered at the sixty-third session (2008)