The Sixth Committee is the primary forum for the consideration of legal questions in the General Assembly. All of the U.N. Member States are entitled to representation on the Sixth Committee as one of the main committees of the General Assembly.
Below is found basic information to date on the programme of work of the Sixth Committee for the fifty-second session of the General Assembly.
COMPOSITION OF BUREAU AND OTHER ELECTED OFFICIALS:
Chairman: Amb. Peter Tomka (Slovakia)
Vice-Chairman: Mr. Rolf Welberts (Germany)
Vice-Chairman: Mr. Craig J. Daniell (South Africa)
Rapporteur: Dr. Ghassan Obeid (Syrian Arab Republic)
Working Group Chairman (international terrorism): Mr. Philippe Kirsch (Canada)
Working Group Chairman (United Nations Decade of International Law): Mrs. Socorro Flores (Mexico)
AGENDA ITEMS AND MEETING DATES:
(1)Measures to eliminate international terrorism (working group established by General Assembly resolution 51/210 of 17 December 1996).....22 September-3 October. [previous report of the Ad Hoc Committee established by General Assembly resolution 51/210 of 17 December 1996 which met 24 February-7 March 1997 available - U.N. doc. A/52/37]
(2)Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law on the work of its thirtieth session..... 6-7 October. [report available - U.N. doc. A/52/17]
(3) Report of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization.....8-13 October. [report of the Special Committee on the Charter which met 27 January-7 February 1997 available - U.N. doc. A/52/33 and Corrigendum; report on the Repertory of U.N. Practice available - U.N. doc. A/52/317 and Corr.1; and report on Article 50 of the U.N. Charter on sanctions available - U.N. doc. A/52/308]
(4) United Nations Decade of International Law.....14-2 October. [report available - U.N. doc. A/52/363]
(5) Establishment of an International Criminal Court.....21-23 October. [previous reports available of the Preparatory Committee on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court regarding the meeting of 11-21 February 1997 - U.N. doc. A/AC.249/1997/L.5 and the meeting 4-15 August 1997 - U.N. docs. A/AC.249/1997/L.6, 7 & 8]
(6) Amendment to Article 13 of the Statute of the United Nations Administrative Tribunal.....24 October. [document available - U.N. doc. A/52/142 and Add. 1]
(7) Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its forty-ninth session.....27 October-7 November. [report available - U.N. doc. A/52/10]
(8) Convention on Jurisdictional Immunities of States and their Property.....10-11 November. [report available - U.N. doc. A/52/294]
(9) Measures to eliminate international terrorism (report of the working Group).....12-17 November. [Secretary-General's report available - U.N. doc. A/52/304 and Add.1/Corr.1]
(10) United United Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law.....18 November. [report available - U.N. doc. A/52/524]
(11) Report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country.....19 November. [report available - U.N. doc. A/52/26]
The report on the Protection of Diplomats, while not on the agenda this session, will be issued as A/INF/52/6 and Add.1.
BRIEF SUMMARIES OF WORK ON AGENDA ITEMS:
(1) Measures to eliminate international terrorismThe Sixth Committee met as a Working Group from 22 September to 3 October to discuss the draft convention on the suppression of terrorist bombings, as contained in U.N. doc. A/52/37. During this period, the Working Group received a number of proposals (see U.N. docs. A/C.6/52/WG.1/CRP.1 - CRP.46). On the basis of discussions, a series of draft texts were prepared and revised by a group of Friends of the Chairman for consideration by the Working Group. The Working Group made a number of recommendations to the Sixth Committee (see U.N. docs. A/C.6/52/WG.1/L.1 and Add.1).
[Report of the Working Group (Sixth Committee) available - U.N. doc. A/C.6/52/L.3]
(2) Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law on the work of its thirtieth session
The Sixth Committee met on 6-7 October to discuss UNCITRAL's report on the work of its thirtieth session (A/52/17). Various delegates made statements on the Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency, which was adopted last May by UNCITRAL. The Model Law was designed to assist States to formulate a modern, fair legislative framework to address more effectively instances of cross-border bankruptcies.
Also discussed were the legislative guide on privately financed infrastructure projects, the Draft Convention on Assignment in Receivables Financing, and the Draft Rules on Digital Signatures and Certifying Authorities in Electronic Commerce. Sixth Committee delegates also welcomed the U.N. Secretariat's plan of holding, on 10 June 1998, a commemorative session on "Forty years of the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards". It was also pointed out in the discussions that a greater effort should be made to make UNCITRAL texts known in developing countries in order to save governments the expense of relying on overseas experts to devise trade and commercial laws.
The Sixth Committee in its draft resolution on UNCITRAL's report recommended that the General Assembly, inter alia, commend the Commission for progress on its work, and express the desirability for increased efforts by the Commission with providing training and technical assistance to developing countries in the field of international trade law. In the draft resolution on the Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency, the Sixth Committee recommended that the General Assembly request the Secretary-General to transmit the text of the Model Law to Governments and other interested bodies.
[Report of the Sixth Committee available - U.N. doc. A/52/649]
(3) Report of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization
The Sixth Committee met from 8 to 14 October and discussed the reports in relation to the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization.
Regarding the issue of sanctions, the point was made that the overall effectiveness of sanctions must be preserved and the Security Council's power to implement Chapter VII provisions of the Charter should not be undermined. Other delegates spoke of the need to provide assistance to affected third States, and there was further debate on how best to accomplish this. An informal working group was established in this regard.
Proposals regarding the establishment of a dispute prevention and early settlement service; of basic principles and criteria of the work of the United Nations peace-keeping missions and mechanism for the prevention and settlement of crisis and conflicts; and on the extension of the International Court of Justice jurisdiction to disputes between States and international organizations were supported by some delegations. Others either requested more clarification or were of the opinion that what was proposed was not needed.
It was noted that the Trusteeship Council had completed its mandate, and several delegates suggested that the Council be abolished which would be effected by an amendment to the United Nations Charter. Other delegates were of the view that entrusting the body with other duties, such as ensuring the integrity of the global environment, should be considered.
Discussions were also held on the updating of the Repertoire of Practice of the Security Council and the Repertory of Practice of the United Nations Organs.
In a draft resolution, the Sixth Committee recommended endorsement of the proposal of the Secretary-General that an ad hoc expert group meeting be convened in the first half of 1998, with a view to developing a possible methodology for assessing the consequences actively incurred by third States as a result of preventive or enforcement measures, and further recommended that the Special Committee at its session in 1998 continue to consider on a priority basis the question of the implementation of the provisions of the Charter related to assistance to third States affected by the application of sanctions under Chapter VII of the Charter.
Another draft resolution recommended that work continue in the Special Committee on proposals relating to the peaceful settlements of disputes between States, including the proposal on the establishment of a dispute settlement service; proposals concerning the Trusteeship Council; and work on the preparation and publication of the supplements to the Repertoire and the Repertory.
[Report of the Sixth Committee available - U.N. doc. A/52/652]
(4) United Nations Decade of International Law
The Sixth Committee met from 14 to 17 October to discuss the issues related to the United Nations Decade of International Law (1990-1999). A proposal was introduced for developing a set of guiding principles for international negotiations, of which the Sixth Committee recommended continued consideration during the 53rd session. A proposal relating to action to be taken towards the entry into force of the 1986 Convention on the Law of Treaties between States and International Organizations was also introduced. In this connection, the Sixth Committee in a draft resolution, inter alia, recommended encouraging States to consider ratifying or acceding to the Convention.
Furthermore, two draft resolutions were submitted to the Committee on action to be taken dedicated to the 1999 centennial of the First International Peace Conference and to the closing of the United Nations Decade of International Law. The year 1999 will mark the 100 years anniversary of the first Hague Peace Conference which ushered in the age of multilateral diplomacy and codification of international law. The draft resolutions encourage the implementation of the Programme of Action.
[Report of the Sixth Committee available - U.N. doc. A/52/647]
(5) Establishment of an International Criminal Court (ICC)
The Sixth Committee considered the agenda item on the establishment of an international criminal court from 21 to 24 October. Although delegations were satisfied with the work accomplished, they also remarked on the work remaining to be done in the last two sessions of the Preparatory Committee on the ICC, to be submitted to a Diplomatic Conference in Rome in June 1998.
Many delegations underscored the important work of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on the ICC.
Issues which had not been resolved included the list of core crimes to be stipulated in the Court's Statute, the relationship between the future Court and the Security Council, the powers of the Prosecutor and the matter of the death penalty.
Delegates voiced the opinion that the ICC's jurisdiction should only be triggered when a national court would not, or could not, deal with the matter.
Delegates were appreciative of the establishment of the Trust Fund to allow for more participation of the developing countries. The view was expressed that the convention on the establishment of the ICC should reflect the major principles of all legal systems and be universally acceptable.
In its draft resolution, the Sixth Committee recommended that the U.N. Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court be held in Rome from 15 June to 17 July 1998. The draft resolution also recommended that the Secretary-General prepare the text of the draft rules of procedure for the Conference.
[Report of the Sixth Committee available - U.N. doc. A/52/651]
(6) Amendment to article 13 of the Statute of the United Nations Administrative Tribunal
The delegates met on 24 October, and supported the proposal of the Secretary-General to amend article 13 of the statute of the United Nations Administrative Tribunal to extend the competence of the Tribunal to the staff of the Registry of the International Court of Justice, to applications alleging non-observance of the Regulations of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund, and to any other international organization or entity established by treaty and participating in the common systems of conditions of service.
The Sixth Committee submitted a draft resolution to this effect to the General Assembly, and also recommended to the Assembly that a review of the statute of the Administrative Tribunal of the U.N. be included in the provisional agenda of the fifty-third session.
[Report of the Sixth Committee available - U.N. doc. A/52/654]
(7) Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its forty-ninth session
The Sixth Committee met from 27 October through 7 November to consider the report of the International Law Commission (A/52/10), which covered the Commission's forty-ninth session in Geneva, from 12 May to 18 July 1997.
Regarding the topic on nationality of natural persons in relation to the succession of States, as contained in chapter IV of the report, delegates welcomed the speedy completion of the first reading of the draft articles on the topic, and many expressed support for the human rights approach adopted by the Commission.
There was general support that the regime established by the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969 regarding reservations should be maintained and is applicable to all treaties, including human rights treaties, despite certain ambiguities and lacunae. There was also discussion on the role of treaty-monitoring bodies.
Regarding the topics of State responsibility and international liability, delegates expressed the need to give priority to completing these topics. At the same time, delegates welcomed the inclusion in the Commission's programme of work of the two new topics: diplomatic protection and unilateral acts of States.
The draft resolution submitted to the General Assembly reflected these views of the delegates, as well as noting the steps the International Law Commission is taking in enhancing its efficiency and productivity.
[Report of the Sixth Committee available - U.N. doc. A/52/648]
(8) Convention on Jurisdictional Immunities of States and their Property
The Committee met on 11 November to consider the draft articles on jurisdictional immunities of States and their property, which had been adopted by the ILC in 1991. It was noted that there remained several major issues to be resolved, before plans could be made for any diplomatic conference to adopt the convention.
The draft resolution contains the decision to consider this item again at the fifty-third session, with a view to the establishment of a working group at the fifty-fourth session.
[Report of the Sixth Committee available - U.N. doc. A/52/645]
(9) Measures to eliminate international terrorism
The Sixth Committee met from 13 through 14 November to consider this topic. The Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee reported on the progress achieved by the Committee and, subsequently, by the Working Group of the Sixth Committee on the elaboration of an international convention on the suppression of terrorist bombings. While some delegates were of the opinion that the only outstanding issue to be resolved was whether acts committed by military forces in peacetime should or should not be included within the scope of the convention, other delegates expressed the view that other unresolved issues remained.
Some delegates commented upon the insufficiency of the piecemeal approach taken by the U.N. in creating international conventions on terrorism, and stressed the need for a comprehensive legal framework which would address the phenomenon in all its aspects. Still others wished to draw a distinction between terrorism and acts performed in the struggle of peoples for national liberation.
The Sixth Committee recommended in its draft resolution, inter alia, that the Ad Hoc Committee on International Terrorism meet from 16 February to 27 February 1998 to continue its work, and further recommended that the work continue during the fifty-third session of the General Assembly from 28 September to 9 October 1998 within the framework of a working group of the Sixth Committee. Another draft resolution recommended that the General Assembly adopt the text of the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings and open the instrument for signing at U.N. Headquarters from 12 January 1998 until 31 December 1999.
[Report of the Sixth Committee available - U.N. doc. A/52/653]
(10) United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law
The Sixth Committee considered the topic on the U.N. Programme of Assistance on 18 November. The Chairman of the Advisory Committee on the Programme of Assistance introduced the draft resolution. Attention was drawn to the need to enhance the budget for the Programme activities given the increase in demand for that offered under the Programme, such as participation in the seminars. Funds were also needed for the new U.N. Audiovisual Library in International Law.
The draft resolution recommended the establishment of the U.N. Audiovisual Library in International Law; that the Secretary-General carry out in 1998 and 1999 the activities specified in his report; and that the Secretary-General provide the necessary resources to the Programme's budget in order to maintain the effectiveness of the Programme.
[Report of the Sixth Committee available - U.N. doc. A/52/646]
(11) Report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country
The Sixth Committee met on 19 November to consider the report, which covered the period from 22 December 1996 to 13 November 1997, on the issues of security of missions and the safety of their personnel; privileges and immunities; use of motor vehicles, parking and related matters; implementation of the U.N. Headquarters Agreement; and insurance and health care.
The Sixth Committee recommended in its draft resolution that the General Assembly request the Host Country Committee to review its membership, and request the host country (U.S.A.) to review measures and procedures relating to diplomatic parking and that any new parking regulations be worked out in consultation with the Host Country Committee.
[Report of the Sixth Committee available - U.N. doc. A/52/650]
The Sixth Committee submitted draft resolutions for the above agenda items to the General Assembly for adoption by that body. [See the individual Sixth Committee Reports for texts of the draft resolutions.]