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Sixty-sixth session

United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law (Agenda item 80)

Summary of work

Background (source: A/66/100)

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)), to contribute towards a better knowledge of international law as a means of strengthening international peace and security and of promoting friendly relations and cooperation among States. 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, 58/73, 60/19 and 62/62). At its sixty-fourth session, the Assembly decided to consider the item on an annual basis (resolution 64/113).
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 sixty-fifth session, the General Assembly reiterated its authorization for the Secretary-General to carry out in 2011 the activities specified in the report on the Programme of Assistance submitted to the Assembly at its sixty-fourth session, including the provision of a number of fellowships, to be determined in the light of the overall resources for the Programme of Assistance, and to be awarded to qualified candidates from developing countries to attend the International Law Fellowship Programme in The Hague and regional courses in international law in 2011. The Assembly also authorized the Secretary-General to award a minimum of one scholarship in 2011 under the Hamilton Shirley Amerasinghe Memorial Fellowship on the Law of the Sea, subject to the availability of voluntary contributions made for that fellowship. The Assembly requested the Secretary-General to continue to provide to the programme budget for the next and future bienniums the necessary resources for the Programme of Assistance to ensure the continued effectiveness and further development of the Programme, in particular the organization of regional courses in international law on a regular basis and the viability of the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law; to periodically invite Member States, universities, philanthropic foundations and other interested national and international institutions and organizations, as well as individuals, to make voluntary contributions towards the financing of the Programme of Assistance or otherwise to assist in its implementation and possible expansion; to report to the Assembly at its sixty-sixth session on the implementation of the Programme of Assistance during 2011 and to include in his report information on the request in paragraph 5 of the resolution that he continue to provide to the programme budget the necessary resources for the Programme of Assistance to ensure the continued effectiveness of the Programme in 2011; and following consultations with the Advisory Committee on the Programme of Assistance, to submit recommendations regarding the execution of the Programme in subsequent years (resolution 65/25).
The following 25 Member States are members of the Advisory Committee for a period of four years, beginning on 1 January 2008 and ending on 31 December 2011: 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 62/62).
In 2011, the General Assembly will appoint the members of the Advisory Committee for the period 1 January 2012 to 31 December 2015.

Consideration at the sixty-sixth session

The Sixth Committee considered the item at its 14th and 30th meetings, on 14 October and on 11 November 2011 (see A/C.6/66/SR.14 and 30).

Statements were made by the representatives of: Chile (on behalf of the Rio Group), Kenya (on behalf of the African Group), Viet Nam (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), New Zealand, Mexico, Ethiopia, India, Argentina, the Czech Republic, Israel, Thailand, the United States of America, the Russian Federation, Malaysia, Japan, South Africa, Ukraine, Ireland, Chile, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Nigeria, Ghana, Italy, Eritrea, Lebanon and the Republic of Korea.

Delegations welcomed the report of the Secretary-General (A/66/505) and emphasized the importance of the Programme of Assistance in the promotion of a better knowledge of international law as a means of strengthening international peace and security and promoting friendly relations among States. Some delegations emphasized that the Programme was a core activity of the United Nations that should be supported.

Appreciation was expressed for the efforts of the Codification Division in strengthening and revitalizing the activities under the Programme of Assistance in order to meet the increasing demand for international law training and dissemination in developing countries as well as developed countries. The importance of teaching international law for the observance of the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations was emphasized by some delegations.

With regard to publications, several delegations appreciated the efforts of the Codification Division with respect to its desktop publishing programme and on-line publications. Whereas the view was expressed welcoming electronic publications to increase dissemination, the continued publication and distribution of hard copies, in particular to developing countries where access to internet resources is scarce, was also stressed.

Some delegations commended the Codification Division for the creation and maintenance of 21 highly-valuable and user-friendly websites.

Several delegations emphasized the importance of the International Law Fellowship Programme for providing international law training for lawyers from developing countries. They commended the Codification Division for its cost-saving measures that resulted in an increased number of fellowships for the International Law Fellowship Programme. In this regard, the reduction from final appropriation of funds allocated for the International Law Fellowship Programme for the current biennium was noted with concern.

Delegations also emphasized the importance of the regional courses in international law and commended the efforts of the Codification Division to revitalize this activity in order to organize them on a regular basis. In this context, it was noted with appreciation that for the first time in ten years a course in international law was held in Africa in Addis Ababa in 2011 and that another one was planned in 2012. Nevertheless, it was noted with concern that it might not be possible to organize a second course in 2012 if the necessary financial resources were not available. Appreciation was expressed for the offers of Ethiopia, Thailand and Mexico for hosting these regional courses.

There was support for the continued development of the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law as a valuable research tool for providing high-quality, low-cost international law training on a global scale via the Internet.

It was observed that progress on the Programme was being hindered by its dependence on voluntary sources of funding. Some delegations expressed the view that it was crucial to ensure that the Programme had adequate resources to continue to meet the needs of the international community. In this context, several delegations emphasized that to be sustainable the Programme of Assistance must be adequately resourced from the regular budget. The Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions was encouraged to consider this matter. Some delegations expressed support for using revenue generated by the sales of the legal publications prepared by the Codification Division to fund its activities under the Programme of Assistance. 

Action taken by the Sixth Committee

At the 30th meeting, on 11 November 2011, the representative of the Czech Republic, on behalf of the Bureau, introduced a draft resolution entitled “United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law” (A/C.6/66/L.15) and orally revised footnote 2 by adding the following States: Argentina, Chile, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Sudan, Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago and the United Republic of Tanzania. At the same meeting, the Committee adopted draft resolution A/C.6/66/L.15, as orally revised, without a vote.

Under the terms of the draft resolution, the General Assembly would reaffirm that the Programme constitutes a core activity of the United Nations, and that there is an increase in the demand for international law training; and would authorize the Secretary-General to carry out the activities specified in his report (A/66/505) in 2012 and 2013. It would welcomethe efforts of the Codification Division to revitalize and conduct regional courses in international law as an important training activity, and would commend it for the cost-saving measures undertaken with regard to the International Law Fellowship Programme. The Assembly would also note with concern the reduction in the programme budget for fellowships; and would request the Secretary-General to provide to the programme budget for the next and future bienniums the necessary resources for the Programme of Assistance to ensure the continued effectiveness and further development of the Programme, in particular the organization of regional courses in international law on a regular basis and the viability of the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law. It would further recognize the importance of the United Nations legal publications prepared by the Office of Legal Affairs of the Secretariat, and strongly encourage their continued publication in various formats, including hard copy publications.

The General Assembly would appoint the following 25 Member States as members of the Advisory Committee for a period of four years, beginning on 1 January 2012 and ending on 31 December 2015: Canada, Chile, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Ghana, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Italy, Kenya, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Portugal, the Russian Federation, the Sudan, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, the United Republic of Tanzania and the United States of America.

In addition, the General Assembly would decide to include in the provisional agenda of its sixty-seventh session an item entitled “United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law”, as well as request the Secretary-General to submit recommendations regarding the execution of the Programme of Assistance in subsequent years.

This agenda item was subsequently considered at the sixty-seventh session (2012).