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Sixty-seventh 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/67/100)

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 31/28, 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, 60/23, 61/38, 62/69, 63/127, 64/115 and 65/31).

At its sixty-sixth session, the General Assembly decided that the Special Committee should hold its next session from 21 to 28 February and on 1 March 2012; requested the Special Committee, at its session in 2012, 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-seventh 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 66/101).

The Special Committee met at United Nations Headquarters from 21 to 28 February and on 1 March 2012.

 
Consideration at the sixty-seventh session

The Sixth Committee considered the item at its 7th, 8th, 16th, 23rd, 24th and 25th meetings, on 11, 12 and 24 October and on 6, 9 and 16 November 2012 (see A/C.6/67/SR.7, 8, 16, 23, 24 and 25).

At the 7th meeting, on 11 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 (A/67/33). At the same meeting, 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, and 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.

Statements were made by the representatives of Iran (Islamic Republic of) (on behalf of the States of the Non-Aligned Movement), Egypt (on behalf of the African Group), Chile (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), the European Union (also on behalf of its Member States), the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, El Salvador, China, India, Tunisia, the Sudan, Ukraine, Algeria, Cuba, Libya, the Russian Federation, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, the United States of America, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Morocco, Iraq, Belarus, and Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of). The representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

In the context of the maintenance of international peace and security, several delegations expressed the view that sanctions should be considered as a last resort, and that they should be implemented in accordance with international law and the Charter of the United Nations. It was also 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. Some delegations stressed the importance of considering the legal consequences of arbitrarily imposed sanctions, including the question of compensation. A focus on minimizing the humanitarian effects of sanctions was suggested by several delegations.

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, several delegations urged the Special Committee to continue to analyze the topic, and stressed the need for concrete recommendations on ways to assist third States and for greater transparency in the work of sanctions committees. The establishment of a mechanism for assisting affected States was proposed. Other delegations pointed to the substantive and procedural safeguards adopted by the Security Council to mitigate the adverse effects of sanctions on third States, and called for the topic to be removed from the agenda of the Special Committee.

Several delegations expressed interest in the proposal submitted by Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) 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.

A continuing interest in the revised proposal submitted by Libya with a view to strengthening the role of the United Nations in the maintenance of international peace and security, as well as in the working paper submitted by Cuba at the 2012 session on the strengthening of the role of the Organization and enhancing its effectiveness, was expressed by several delegations. Other delegations spoke in opposition to the consideration of either paper.

Several delegations were of the view 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 should remain on the agenda of the Special Committee. Other delegations spoke in opposition to that proposal.

Several delegations emphasized the importance of the peaceful settlement of disputes, and encouraged the Special Committee to keep the item on its agenda. A number of delegations referred to the significance of the Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes and welcomed the commemoration of its thirtieth anniversary.

Several 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 those publications and make them available on the Internet. The Secretariat was again requested to intensify its efforts aimed at the preparation of Volume III of the Repertory. Several delegations spoke in favour of issuing the publications in all official languages of the United Nations.

On the issue of the identification of new subjects, while some delegations emphasized the right of all States to present new proposals, others pointed to the fact that many of the proposals before the Special Committee were duplicative of efforts undertaken elsewhere in the Organization. Support was expressed for the proposal by Ghana for the inclusion of a new item 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.

Several delegations called for the improvement of the working methods of the Special Committee. Suggestions included holding biennial meetings and/or shortened sessions; and holding thematic debates. A reduction in the duration of the session of the Special Committee was opposed.

Action taken by the Sixth Committee

At the 16th meeting, on 24 October, the representative of the Philippines, on behalf of the Bureau, introduced a draft resolution entitled “Thirtieth anniversary of the Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes” (A/C.6/67/L.3). At the 23rd meeting, on 6 November, the Committee adopted draft resolution A/C.6/67/L.3 without a vote. At the same meeting, the representatives of the Philippines and Armenia made statements in explanation of position after the adoption of the draft resolution.

At the 24th meeting, on 9 November, 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.6/67/L.11). At the 25th meeting, on 16 November, the Committee adopted draft resolution A/C.6/67/L.11 without a vote.

Under draft resolution A/C.6/67/L.3, the Assembly would encourage all Member States to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the adoption of the Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes.

By the terms of draft resolution A/C.6/67/L.11, the Assembly would, inter alia, request the Special Committee to continue its consideration of all proposals concerning the question of the maintenance of international peace and security and of 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 to continue to consider, on a priority basis, ways and means of improving the Committee’s working methods and enhancing its efficiency.

This agenda item was subsequently considered at the sixty-eighth session (2013).