Sixth Committee (Legal) — 73rd session
Consideration of effective measures to enhance the protection, security and safety of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives (Agenda item 84)
Summary of work
Background (source: A/73/100)
The item entitled “Consideration of effective measures to enhance the protection, security and safety of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives” was included in the agenda of the thirty-fifth session of the General Assembly at the request of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden (A/35/142).
The Assembly had the item on its agenda annually at its thirty-fifth to forty-third sessions, and biennially thereafter (resolutions 35/168, 36/33, 37/108, 38/136, 39/83, 40/73, 41/78, 41/79, 42/154, 43/167, 45/39, 47/31, 49/49, 51/156, 53/97, 55/149, 57/15, 59/37, 61/31, 63/126, 65/30, 67/94, 69/121 and 71/145).
At its seventy-first session, the Assembly allocated the item to the Sixth Committee, where statements in the debate were made by 18 delegations (see A/C.6/71/SR.11, 30 and 32). The Assembly requested the Secretary-General to submit to the Assembly at its seventy-third session a report containing information on the state of ratification of and accessions to the instruments relevant to the protection, security and safety of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives and a summary of the reports received from States on serious violations involving diplomatic and consular missions and representatives and actions taken against offenders, as well as of the views of States with respect to any measures needed or already taken to enhance the protection, security and safety of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives (resolution 71/145).
Consideration at the seventy-third session
The Sixth Committee considered the item at its 17th, 18th and 35th meetings, on 18 and 19 October and on 13 November 2018 (A/C.6/73/SR.17, 18 and 35). For its consideration of the item, the Committee had before it the report of the Secretary-General (A/73/189).
During the general debate on the item, statements were made by the representatives of El Salvador (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)), the Gambia (on behalf of the African Group), the European Union, on behalf of its member States (the candidate countries Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania, the country of the Stabilization and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, aligned themselves with the statement), Finland (also on behalf of Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden (Nordic countries)), Brazil, Cuba, Turkey, Israel, the Russian Federation, El Salvador, the United States of America, Eritrea, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Timor-Leste, Uruguay, Afghanistan, the Syrian Arab Republic, Iran (Islamic Republic of), and the Sudan. The representatives of the United States of America and of Ukraine made statements in exercise of the right of reply.
Delegations generally welcomed the Secretary-General’s report on the topic (A/73/189) and noted that an obligation to protect foreign emissaries had existed in the legal systems of all cultures across the centuries. The immunities thus enshrined in international law were a cornerstone of international relations and they were not designed to benefit individuals, nor were they meant to be abused by their beneficiaries. Several delegations highlighted the importance of the reporting mechanism established by the resolutions adopted by the General Assembly on this topic over the years. Reporting was important to raise awareness about violations against the security and safety of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives, as well as the measures taken thereupon.
Delegations generally urged States to strictly observe and enforce relevant customary international law and treaty law, including the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. They also stressed the need for those States that had not already done so to become parties to the relevant international conventions. States were also urged to take into account their special duties as host States.
Several delegations provided information on specific incidents involving their diplomatic and consular missions and representatives, as well as measures they had taken in relation to incidents occurring in their territory. In this regard, concern was voiced as to the increase in the number of such incidents, and delegations generally condemned violations and expressed solidarity with victims. Delegations also underlined the importance of avoiding impunity in cases of breaches of the security and safety of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives.
A number of delegations highlighted the particular threats posed by terrorist and other armed groups to diplomatic and consular missions. Some delegations reiterated their concern about the effects that State surveillance and the interception of their communications have on their diplomatic functions. A number of delegations restated their view that the General Assembly should address new challenges in the digital era and highlighted the need to ensure the respect for diplomatic and consular immunities, including those of archives, documents and communications. The view was also expressed that the protection and inviolability of the premises of diplomatic missions, consular premises, and premises of permanent missions with diplomatic status to international intergovernmental organizations, should be further underlined.
Archived videos of plenary meetings
17th meeting (18 October 2018, 10:00am – 1:00pm)
18th meeting (19 October 2018, 10:00am – 1:00pm)
35th meeting (13 November 2018, 10:00am – 1:00pm)
Action taken by the Sixth Committee
At the 35th meeting, on 13 November 2018, the representative of Finland, on behalf of Austria, Canada, the Central African Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, the Republic of Moldova, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and Uruguay, subsequently joined by Australia, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, introduced the draft resolution entitled “Consideration of effective measures to enhance the protection, security and safety of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives” (A/C.6/73/L.20).
At the same meeting, the Committee adopted draft resolution A/C.6/73/L.20 without a vote.
Under the terms of the draft resolution, the General Assembly would, inter alia, strongly condemn all acts of violence against diplomatic and consular missions and representatives, as well as against missions and representatives to international intergovernmental organizations and officials of such organizations, and emphasize that such acts can never be justified. The Assembly would also urge States to strictly observe, implement and enforce, including during a period of armed conflict, all the applicable principles and rules of international law. In addition, the Assembly would urge States to strictly comply with the applicable rules of international law governing the protection and inviolability of premises of diplomatic missions, consular premises and premises of permanent missions with diplomatic status to international intergovernmental organizations.
This agenda item will be considered at the seventy-fifth session (2020).
Full texts of replies (A/73/185)
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Full texts of replies (A/75/...)
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