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Sixty-second session

United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law (agenda item 79)

Summary of work

Background (source: A/62/100)

The United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law was established by the General Assembly at its twentieth session, in 1965 (resolution 2099 (XX)). The Assembly authorized the continuation of the Programme at its annual sessions until its twenty-sixth session, and thereafter biennially (resolutions 2204 (XXI), 2313 (XXII), 2464 (XXIII), 2550 (XXIV), 2698 (XXV), 2838 (XXVI), 3106 (XXVIII), 3502 (XXX), 32/146, 34/144, 36/108, 38/129, 40/66, 42/148, 44/28, 46/50, 48/29, 50/43, 52/152, 54/102, 56/77 and 58/73).

In the performance of the functions entrusted to him by the General Assembly, the Secretary-General is assisted by the Advisory Committee on the United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law, the members of which are appointed by the Assembly.

At its sixtieth session, the General Assembly authorized the Secretary-General to carry out in 2006 and 2007 the activities specified in his report, including the provision of: (a) a number of fellowships in both 2006 and 2007, to be awarded at the request of Governments of developing countries, (b) a minimum of one scholarship in both 2006 and 2007 under the Hamilton Shirley Amerasinghe Memorial Fellowship on the Law of the Sea, subject to the availability of new voluntary contributions made specifically to the fellowship fund, and (c) subject to the overall resources for the Programme, assistance in the form of a travel grant for one participant from each developing country, who would be invited to possible regional courses to be organized in 2006 and 2007; requested the Secretary-General to invite Member States and interested organizations, as well as individuals, to make voluntary contributions towards the financing of the Programme or otherwise to assist in its implementation and possible expansion; and also requested the Secretary-General to report to the Assembly at its sixty-second session on the implementation of the Programme during 2006 and 2007 and, following consultations with the Advisory Committee on the Programme, to submit recommendations regarding the execution of the Programme in subsequent years (resolution 60/19).

The following 25 Member States are members of the Advisory Committee for a period of four years, beginning on 1 January 2004 and ending on 31 December 2007: Canada, Colombia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Ghana, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Italy, Jamaica, Kenya, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Portugal, Russian Federation, Sudan, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, United Republic of Tanzania, United States of America and Uruguay (resolution 58/73).

A new membership of the Advisory Committee will be appointed at the sixty-second session for a four-year period beginning on 1 January 2008.

Consideration at the sixty-second session

The Sixth Committee considered the item at its 27th and 28th meetings, on 12 and 19 November 2007. At the 27th meeting, the Chairman of the Advisory Committee on the Programme of Assistance, Mr. Robert Tachie-Menson (Ghana), introduced and orally revised a draft resolution entitled “United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law”, contained in document A/C.6/62/L.12. Statements were made by the representatives of Germany, Nigeria and the Russian Federation.

General support was expressed for the continuation of the Programme of Assistance and delegates commended the efforts made by the Office of Legal Affairs to expand and improve the activities under the Programme, within its limited resources, in particular the dissemination of international legal materials through websites and publications. The treaty events organized during the general debate of the General Assembly were welcomed as well as the new structure of the Secretary-General’s report on the item, which was considered to be of use in the coordination of rule of law activities undertaken within the United Nations system. The importance of the Programme of Assistance for developing countries was also emphasized and, in this regard, Member States were urged to make further voluntary contributions to it.

In addition, Sixth Committee delegates and legal advisers of Member States were given presentations of the pilot project of the revitalized United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law, which is currently being developed by the Codification Division, Office of Legal Affairs, under the framework of the Programme of Assistance. Strong support was expressed for the development of the project and it was recognized that this educational and research tool, which would be made available to all institutions and individuals around the globe free of charge via the Internet, would greatly enhance the dissemination and wider appreciation of international law. However, it was also observed that the development of the project would depend to a large extent on the availability of funding from voluntary contributions by Member States.

Action taken by the Sixth Committee

At its 28th meeting, on 19 November 2007, the Committee adopted draft resolution A/C.6/62/L.12, as orally revised, without a vote.

This agenda item was subsequently considered at the sixty-fourth session (2009)