F. Promotion of justice and international law
105. Throughout its history, despite many challenges and setbacks, the United Nations has fostered improved standards of justice and law. In the 2005 World Summit Outcome, Heads of State and Government reaffirmed their commitment to an international order based on the rule of law, which is essential for peaceful coexistence and cooperation among States. The Organization must continue to demonstrate its ability to promote effectively the interlinked goals of justice and international legal order.
106. The Charter of the United Nations assigns special responsibility for the development of international law to the General Assembly. This responsibility is exercised in various ways, including through the Sixth Committee of the Assembly, the International Law Commission, and international conferences that are held to formulate treaties on specific issues. The Office of Legal Affairs plays a key role in supporting the Organization's legal work and providing legal advice to United Nations organs, entities and Secretariat departments on a wide range of questions of public international law, private law and the law of the Organization. Its mandates have expanded greatly in scope and intricacy, either because of the expanded jurisdiction of United Nations organs or entities the Office services, or because the spectrum of legal issues they deal with has increased. This has stretched the capacity of the Office to respond effectively and efficiently to Member States. In addition, the growing focus by the United Nations on questions of transitional justice and the rule of law in conflict and post-conflict societies has increased the demands on the Office.
107. In recent years, other departments and offices, such as the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Political Affairs, have also carried out rule-of-law activities.
108. Although the need for rationalization of reporting is more acute in other priority areas of the Organization such as peace and security, it is also a necessity in the promotion of justice and international law. There is a need to streamline, simplify and consolidate reporting obligations, or to provide reports at different intervals. Member States continue to request annual comprehensive reports on developments relating to ocean affairs and the law of the sea and periodical special reports on fisheries and other topics of current interest. In 2006, for example, these topics will include four additional special reports. Member States may wish to consider the number, scope and frequency of special reports in addition to the annual comprehensive reports.
Institutional architecture for implementation
109. Creative effort is also required to reorganize the existing institutional architecture to enhance the Organization's overall effectiveness in this critical area. As noted previously, the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization has met annually since the thirtieth session. It examines suggestions and proposals regarding the Charter and the strengthening of the United Nations role with regard to the maintenance and consolidation of international peace and security, and the promotion of the rules of international law. The work of the Committee has resulted in the successful negotiation of several texts on the peaceful settlement of international disputes. In recent years, however, the mandate of the Committee has been duplicated by the work of other intergovernmental bodies such as the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, Security Council sanctions committees and the various processes and bodies related to United Nations reform. Therefore, Member States may wish to consider discontinuing the annual two-week deliberations of the Committee.
110. In an effort to contribute to the efficiency of the activities of United Nations organs, especially the General Assembly and its Main Committees, the Office of Legal Affairs will participate in the effort to consolidate and update the rules of procedure of the Assembly and make them available in all official languages, in print and online, as mandated in resolution 59/313 of 12 September 2005. In addition, with a view to ensuring uniform interpretation of the rules and avoid unnecessary delays in the conduct of business, I propose that the Office of Legal Affairs prepare briefing packages for the presiding officers of the organs, together with oral briefings before they take office, on the application and interpretation of the rules. I also propose making precedents and past practice available in the public domain with respect to rules and practices of the intergovernmental bodies of the Organization in conducting business, as compiled by the Secretariat.
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