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Sixty-sixth 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 82)

Summary of work

Background (source: A/66/100)

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 considered the report of the Special Committee every year (resolutions 31/2832/4533/9434/14735/16436/12337/11438/14139/8840/7841/8342/157, 43/170,44/3745/4446/5847/3848/3649/5850/5251/20952/16153/10654/10655/15656/86,  57/2458/248,59/4460/2361/3862/6963/12764/115 and 65/31).

At its sixty-fifth session, the General Assembly decided that the Special Committee should hold its next session from 28 February to 4 March and on 7 and 9 March 2011; requested the Special Committee, at its session in 2011, 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 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 the Assembly at its sixty-sixth 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 65/31).

The Special Committee met at United Nations Headquarters from 28 February to 4 March and on 7 and 9 March 2011.

Consideration at the sixty-sixth session

The Sixth Committee considered the item at its 7th, 8th, 27th and 29th meetings, on 6 October and on 2 and 9 November 2011, respectively (see A/C.6/66/SR.7827 and 29).

The Vice-Chairman of the 2011 session 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 (A/66/33) at the 7th meeting, held on 6 October 2011. The Director of the Codification Division, Office of Legal Affairs, made a statement on the status of the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs. The Chief of the Security Council Practices and Charter Research Branch, Department of Political Affairs, made a statement on the status of the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council at the same meeting.

Statements were made by the representatives of Iran (Islamic Republic of) (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Chile (on behalf of the Rio Group), Egypt, Belarus, El Salvador, India, Cuba, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, Malaysia, China, Nicaragua, the United States of America, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Ghana, the Sudan, Iran (Islamic Republic of) and the Republic of Korea. The representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea also spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

In the context of maintenance of international peace and security, some delegations expressed concern with regard to sanctions. Some delegations expressed the view that sanctions should be considered as a last resort, imposed only with the existence of a threat to international peace and security or an act of aggression, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. It was noted that the objectives of sanctions regimes should be clearly defined, based on tenable legal grounds, imposed, for a specified time frame, with the conditions on which the sanctions are imposed clearly defined and subject to periodic review.  It was suggested that the Security Council pay greater attention to the humanitarian effects of sanctions. Some delegations noted the importance of considering the issue of compensation. The view was also expressed that it would be inappropriate for the Special Committee to devise norms concerning the design and implementation of sanctions. Some delegations welcomed the shift of the Security Council to targeted sanctions.

With regard to the implementation of the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations relating to assistance to third States affected by the application of sanctions under Chapter VII, some delegations urged the Special Committee to continue to analyze this topic on a priority basis. It was noted that the sanctions committee established pursuant to resolution 1970 (2011) concerning the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya had answered requests for guidance concerning the scope and implementation of the assets freeze and that the committee’s advice was required on how to minimize the negative effects of sanctions on third States. Substantive and procedural safeguards adopted by the Security Council to mitigate the adverse effects of sanctions on third States were welcomed.

Some delegations expressed interest in the proposal submitted by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to establish an open-ended working group to study the proper implementation of the Charter of the United Nations with respect to the functional relationship of its organs. The view was also expressed that consideration of this proposal should not be pursued.

Some delegations emphasized the importance of the peaceful settlement of disputes, underscoring that the Special Committee should keep this item on its agenda.

It was noted that the proposal submitted by Belarus and the Russian Federation to request an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the resort to the use of force by States without prior authorization by the Security Council except in the exercise of the right of self-defense remained on the agenda of the Special Committee. While some delegations expressed the view that such an opinion would help to clarify the legal principles governing the use of force under the Charter of the United Nations, the view was also expressed that the proposal should not be supported.

Delegations welcomed the progress made by the Secretariat in the preparation of the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs and the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council, in particular the efforts undertaken by the Secretariat in order to reduce the backlog of these publications and make them available on the Internet. It was observed that the Repertory and the Repertoire contributed to the institutional memory of the Organization and were important research tools. While some delegations called on the Secretariat to intensify its efforts aimed at the preparation of Volume III of the Repertory, the significant progress in its preparation was also welcomed.

On the issue of the identification of new subjects, some delegations welcomed the proposal of Ghana for the inclusion of a new subject on principles and practical measures/mechanisms for strengthening and ensuring more effective cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations on matters relating to international peace and security in areas of conflict prevention and resolution and post-conflict peacebuilding and peacekeeping. The view was also expressed that this proposal was duplicative of efforts elsewhere in the United Nations system. Whereas the right of all States to present relevant new proposals was emphasized, it was also suggested that long standing issues should be disposed of before considering new subjects. A view was further expressed that many of the proposals had already been taken up and addressed elsewhere in the United Nations and that new proposals should be practical, non-political, and not duplicate efforts elsewhere in the United Nations system.
Some delegations called for improvement of the working methods of the Special Committee. Of these delegations, some supported biennial meetings and/or shortened sessions.

Action taken by the Sixth Committee

At the 27th meeting, on 2 November 2011, 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.6/66/L.17). At the 29th meeting, on 9 November 2011, the Committee adopted draft resolution A/C.6/66/L.17 without a vote. Under the draft resolution, the General Assembly would, inter alia, authorize the Special Committee to meet from 21 to 28 February and 1 March 2012, with a view to continuing its consideration of all proposals concerning the question of the maintenance of international peace and security and to continue to consider, on a priority basis, 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, and ways and means of improving the Committee’s working methods and enhancing its efficiency.

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