GENERAL ASSEMBLY ELECTS RUUD LUBBERS NEXT UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES

26 October 2000
GA/9796

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ELECTS RUUD LUBBERS NEXT UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES

26 October 2000

Press ReleaseGA/9796

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ELECTS RUUD LUBBERS NEXT UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES

20001026

Also Adopts Resolutions Exempting 6 States from Sanctions For Unpaid Dues, and Condemning Unilateral Coercive Sanctions

The Former Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Ruud Lubbers was elected United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees without a vote by the General Assembly this morning when it considered the Secretary-General's recommendation on the subject.

The representative of the Netherlands said Mr. Lubbers would prove himself a worthy successor to the current High Commissioner, Ms. Ogata. He reminded the Assembly that, half a century ago, another Dutch national had been elected High Commissioner and that, three years later, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

In other action, the Assembly adopted, also without a vote, a resolution which exempts Burundi, Comoros, Georgia, Republic of Moldova, Sao Tome and Principe, and Tajikistan from Charter Article 19 sanctions that would deprive them of their vote in the General Assembly until 30 June 2001. Kyrgyzstan would also be permitted to vote until 30 June 2001, should its arrears reach the level where those sanctions would apply.

In a recorded vote of 136 Member States in favour and 2 against (Israel and the United States) with 10 abstaining, the Assembly adopted a resolution on elimination of coercive economic measures as a means of political and economic compulsion. By its terms, the Assembly repeated its call for the repeal of unilateral extraterritorial laws that impose coercive economic measures contrary to international law on corporations and nationals of other States, and, again, called upon all States not to recognize or apply extraterritorial coercive economic measures contrary to international law.

In introducing the revised draft of that resolution, Libya's representative said that the language expressed the views of the entire international community. The United States could submit the document to its legislative authorities to explain to them that they had been party to inflicting economical and political problems, and had embarrassed the United States Government before its allies and friends, he said.

The Assembly also decided to take note of the report of the International Court of Justice. Gilbert Guillaume, President of the International Court of

General Assembly Plenary - 1a - Press Release GA/9796 41st Meeting (AM) 26 October 2000

Justice, introduced the Court’s report. He said the current growth in litigation before it would require increases in staff. Unlike other United Nations organs, the Court could not adapt its programmes to its available resources. Resources must be adjusted to meet the legitimate expectations of the States who turned to it. The Court’s annual budget was now less than 1 per cent of the United Nations budget, he pointed out.

Most delegates supported providing the Court with the necessary means to continue its work. The representative of Guatemala said he found the Court's financial difficulties alarming. A cost analysis would show that it would be impossible to find a better way to spend money to promote the international community’s aims than through the Court.

The representative of Singapore emphasized the Court's critical role in the present world order. It was the primary organ for the development and application of international law. Its judgements and decisions were authoritative interpretations of the rights and obligations of parties to an international dispute, and enabled parties to resolve such disputes without armed confrontation.

The representatives of Costa Rica, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Lesotho, Qatar, Brazil and Mexico also spoke.

The representative of Japan addressed the Assembly on the appointment of Mr. Lubber.

Representatives of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, France (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Iraq, Armenia, Japan, Peru, Ecuador and Uruguay explained their votes on the resolution on elimination of coercive economic measures as a means of political and economic compulsion.

The Assembly will meet again at 3 p.m. to take up deliberation of oceans and the law of the sea.

General Assembly Plenary - 3 - Press Release GA/9796 41st Meeting (AM) 26 October 2000

Assembly Work Programme

The fifty-fifth regular session of the General Assembly met this morning to consider a draft resolution under its agenda item on the scale of assessments for apportionment of United Nations expenses, the election of a new United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the report of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), a draft resolution on the use of coercive economic measures, and two reports and a draft resolution on the oceans and the law of the sea.

Scale of Assessments

Before the Assembly was a draft resolution on requests for exemptions from Charter Article 19 sanctions, recommended to the Assembly by its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) (document A/55/521).

According to that draft, the General Assembly would exempt, until 30 June 2001, Burundi, Comoros, Georgia, Republic of Moldova, Sao Tome and Principe, and Tajikistan from Charter Article 19 sanctions that would deprive them of their vote in the General Assembly. Kyrgyzstan would also be permitted to vote until 30 June 2001, should its arrears reach the level where those sanctions would apply.

[By Article 19 of the United Nations Charter, a Member State in arrears in an amount equal to, or exceeding, its assessed contributions for the preceding two years shall have no vote in the General Assembly, unless the Assembly decides its failure to pay is a consequence of factors beyond its control.]

By other terms in the draft, the General Assembly would request the Secretary-General to review the implications of the way the calculation of those arrears are done, and report on this to its first resumed fifty-fifth session. It would decide, subject to certain qualifications, to compare arrears with the amount actually assessed and payable for the preceding two full years for the purpose of the application of Article 19 at the main part of its fifty-sixth session.

Among other terms, it would also ask its expert Committee on Contributions to consider incentives and sanctions for the payment of obligatory assessments, taking the experience of other United Nations agencies, and multilateral and regional organizations into account, and to give more detailed information on the reasons for its specific recommendations.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Also before the Assembly was a note by the Secretary-General on the election of a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (document A/55/519), proposing the Assembly elect Mr. Ruud Lubbers (Netherlands) as the new High Commissioner for Refugees for a three-year term beginning 1 January 2001. The current High Commissioner, Sodako Ogata, has served since 1991.

International Court of Justice

Also before the Assembly was the Report on the International Court of Justice (document A/55/4).

[The International Court of Justice is the United Nations principal judicial organ and the only universal international court with general jurisdiction. As of 31 July, the 188 Member States of the United Nations and Switzerland were parties to its Statute. Sixty-two States had recognized its jurisdiction as compulsory, and some 260 international treaties provide for it to have jurisdiction in disputes over their application or interpretation.]

According to the report, from 1 August 1999 to 31 July 2000, the Court had been seized of 23 new contentious cases. It held 29 public sittings, and delivered judgements on the land and maritime boundary between Cameroon and Nigeria, the case concerning Kasikili/Sedudu Island (Botswana v. Namibia) and the case concerning an Aerial Incident of 10 August 1999 (Pakistan v. India). Orders were made in a matter of armed activities (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Uganda and Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Rwanda).

The report also mentions the opening of the Museum of the Court earlier in the year, visits by the Secretary-General and various heads of State, its role, and its publications and documents.

Oceans and Law of Sea

The General Assembly had before it the Secretary-General's report on oceans and the law of the sea (document A/55/61) which notes that a comprehensive “constitution for the oceans” is now in place. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea sets out the legal framework, an international action plan for sustainable marine and coastal development is operational, and a large number of activities at the global, interregional, regional, subregional and national levels are being fostered and implemented by international organizations and national bodies.

Acknowledging the enormous challenges faced by the international community, it credits the Assembly with providing stewardship of the world’s oceans and seas since its inception. It is in a unique position, and is the appropriate body, to consider and review ocean affairs and the law of the sea, as was confirmed by the seventh session of the Commission on Sustainable Development. The Secretary- General’s annual reports on oceans and the law of the sea are at the core of the informal consultative process on oceans, addressing such issues as international policy formulation and implementation, standard-setting, capacity-building, project financing and information dissemination, and matters requiring further action.

The report notes that, in 1999, the General Assembly called on all States not party to the Convention to become parties, however, none had done so since the issuance of the Secretary-General’s 1999 annual report (document A/54/429). The total of States party, therefore, remained at 132.

The activities of three institutions created under the Convention -- the International Seabed Authority, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, and the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf -- are described in the report. It particularly notes the Tribunal’s consideration of five cases and the Commission’s explanation of its Scientific and Technical Guidelines.

The Secretary-General emphasizes the importance of the special Assembly session on sustainable development of small island developing States. He notes that previous Assembly resolutions had recognized the important role of such States as custodians of large areas of the world’s oceans, and had acknowledged landlocked countries’ rights of access to the sea and to freedom of transit.

The need for enhancing the safety of navigation is raised, noting that peace and security in the oceans encompasses not only political and military security, but also environmental and resource security. Crimes at sea posed a challenge which most States, especially developing and small island States, had not been able to meet, and he calls for intensified efforts from governments and industry in that regard.

In its discussion of the status of the implementation of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA), the report stresses the need to reduce and control pollution, identifying sewage as a major land-based source of pollution affecting human and ecosystem health, and asked the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to give priority to that particular pollutant source.

The Assembly also had before it a note transmitting a letter from the International Maritime Organization (IMO), concerning acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships and seafarers in various parts of the world. While appreciating the support of the General Assembly, the IMO states that additional assistance might be provided by other United Nations bodies to ensure seafarers and ships could safely and peacefully engage in international maritime activities.

The Assembly will consider a draft resolution (document A/55/10) on oceans and the law of the sea, sponsored by Australia, Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chili, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lesotho, Malta, Marshall Islands, Monaco, Mongolia, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Samoa, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States and Uruguay.

By its terms, the Assembly would call upon all States that have not done so to become parties to the Convention on the Law of the Sea, and on all States to harmonize national legislation with the Convention's provisions and to ensure their consistent application.

The Assembly would urge the international community assist developing countries and, particularly, small island developing States to acquire data and prepare charts or lists of geographical coordinates for publication under various articles of the Convention and to prepare information the Convention called for.

It would ask the Secretary-General to establish a voluntary trust fund to assist States to settle disputes through the Tribunal, invite contributions to it, and report annually to States party on the status of that fund. The Assembly would also call upon States to consider ratifying or acceding to the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the Tribunal and to the Protocol on the Privileges and Immunities of the Authorities.

It would ask the Secretary-General to establish another voluntary trust fund for training of technical and administrative staff, the provision of personnel, and technical and scientific advice to assist developing States in planning and providing information called for in the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf's Scientific and Technical Guidelines, and to report annually on the status of that fund.

By other terms, the Assembly would call on donor agencies to keep their programmes under review to ensure all States had the economic, legal, navigational, scientific and technical capacities and skills necessary for full implementation of the Convention on the Law of the Sea and the sustainable development of the oceans and seas, and, in doing so, to bear in mind the rights of landlocked developing States.

The Secretary-General would be asked, in cooperation with competent organizations and programmes, to review efforts to build capacity, as well as to identify duplication and the gaps, to ensure consistent approaches in implementing the Convention, and to include this information in his annual report on oceans and the law of the sea.

By other terms, the Assembly would urge States to continue development of a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) international plan of action on illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, as a priority, and to prioritize action on marine pollution from land-based sources. It would urge States to take all practical steps, in accordance with the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, to prevent pollution from ships and from dumping.

They would also be urged to take measures to prevent and combat incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea, including through regional cooperation, to investigate or cooperate in the investigation of such incidents wherever they occur, and to bring perpetrators to justice in accordance with international law. For that, it would call on States to cooperate fully with the IMO and to become parties to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation and its protocol.

The Assembly would recommend the second meeting of the Consultative Process organize its discussions around the areas of marine science, and the development and transfer of marine technology, as agreed. The Secretary-General would be asked to establish a voluntary trust fund for assisting developing countries to attend meetings of the Consultative Process and invite States to contribute to this fund.

Also before the Assembly was the Secretary-General's report on large-scale pelagic drift-net fishing, unauthorized fishing in zones of national jurisdiction and on the high seas, fisheries by-catch and discards, and other developments (document A/55/386). That report gives information on measures taken to address issues of unauthorized fishing in national jurisdictions and the high seas, and sustainable management and conservation of marine living resources, previously raised by the Assembly.

The Secretary-General provides information on large-scale pelagic drift-net fishing and measures to ensure full implementations of the global moratorium on all large-scale pelagic drift-net fishing on the high seas, including enclosed and semi-enclosed seas.

Among other elements contained in the report is a discussion of, and information on, unauthorized fishing in zones of national jurisdictions and on the high seas, support provided to developing coastal States to improve monitoring and control of fishing, and enforcement of fishing regulations.

The Assembly also had before it a report on the work of the United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea (document A/55/274). Part A of that report lists 13 proposed issues and elements for the General Assembly's consideration, including: the need for capacity- building to ensure that developing countries have the ability to implement the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and to benefit from it; the importance of concerted intergovernmental action to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing: improving the environment in which regional fisheries organizations function, to enable them to discharge their important tasks more effectively; the importance, for achieving sustainable development, of combating marine pollution and degradation; integrating action to combat the adverse economic, social environmental and public health effects of marine pollution and degradation from land-based activities into regional and national sustainable development strategies and their implementation; integrating action to prevent and eliminate marine pollution and degradation from land-based activities into main investment programs; and how to promote the safety of marine navigation against piracy and armed robbery at sea and against the threats of such crimes.

Part B of the report contains a summary of the body's discussions. Among the matters speakers raised during the consultations was the importance of fisheries and protection of the marine environment as key elements in the international efforts to preserve and manage oceans and their resources. Illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries, and marine pollution and degradation, were identified as among the most serious threats to marine biodiversity and coastal ecosystems. Speakers raised the central role the ocean played in the lives of people and their economic, social and cultural dependency on the marine environment. That fisheries and the protection of the marine environment still required the conclusion of detailed agreements at the regional and international level was mentioned, and various delegations referred to the importance of marine science, the need for adequate information based on marine scientific research and monitoring, and the importance of the precautionary approach.

Part C of the report contains proposed issues for consideration for future meetings. There is broad support for including marine science as an area of focus for the second meeting of the consultative process, it states. Other suggestions for discussion include capacity-building and regional cooperation; crime at sea; transfer of marine technology; implementation of IMO and International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions; marine protected areas; strengthening regional fisheries organizations; and strengthening regional seas programs. It reports some support for follow-up on deliberations on the two areas of focus at the current meeting -- responsible fisheries and illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries: moving from principles to implementation; and economic and social impacts of marine pollution and degradation, especially in coastal areas.

Annexed to the report is a statement by the United Nations Legal Counsel, Hans Corell, and a statement by Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Nitin Desai.

Before the Assembly was a draft resolution on oceans and the law of the sea: large-scale pelagic drift-net fishing, unauthorized fishing in zones of national jurisdiction and on the high seas, fisheries by-catch and discards, and other developments (document A/55/L.11), sponsored by Australia, Barbados, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Namibia, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Tonga and the United States.

By the terms of that draft, the Assembly would reaffirm the importance it attaches to the long-term conservation, management and sustainable use of marine living resources of the world’s oceans and seas, and the obligation of States to cooperate to this end, in accordance with international law. All States would be encouraged to implement the FAO International Plans of Action for reducing the incidental take of seabirds in longline fisheries, for the conservation and management of sharks and for the management of fishing capacity.

By other terms in the draft, the Assembly would urge those that have not already done so to reduce by-catch, fish discards and post-harvest losses.

The Assembly would call upon States and others entities to ratify or accede to it, and consider applying provisionally, the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks provisions of the Convention on the Law of the Sea, to take measures to deter reflagging of fishing vessels flying their flag to avoid compliance with applicable obligations, to ensure that fishing vessels entitled to fly their flag do not fish in areas under the national jurisdiction of other States, unless authorized, or fish on the high seas in contravention of conservation and management measures.

The Assembly would urge States to continue development of an FAO international plan of action on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, so that body's Committee on Fisheries will be in a position to adopt elements for inclusion in a comprehensive and effective plan of action at its twenty-fourth session.

The Assembly would also appeal to all concerned to promote the application of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries within their areas of competence. It would invite the FAO to continue its cooperative arrangements with United Nations agencies on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and to report on priorities for cooperation and coordination in this work to the Secretary-General for his annual report on oceans and the law of the sea.

The Assembly would call upon the FAO, the IMO, regional and subregional fisheries management organizations and arrangements, and others to take up the issue of marine debris as a matter of priority, and, where appropriate, to promote better coordination and help States to fully implement relevant international agreements.

By other terms, the Assembly would recommend that the biennial conference of regional and subregional fisheries management organizations and arrangements with the FAO consider measures to strengthen further the role of those organizations in all aspects of fisheries conservation and management, and that the FAO consider inviting intergovernmental organizations relevant to its work to join that biennial conference.

Coercive Economic Measures

The Assembly was also expected to take action on a draft resolution on Elimination of unilateral and extraterritorial coercive economic measures as a means of political and economic compulsion, sponsored by Libya (document A/55/L.9/Rev.1).

By the terms of that draft resolution, the Assembly would reaffirm that all peoples have the right of self-determination and that, by virtue of that right, they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

It would express deep concern at the negative impact of unilaterally imposed extraterritorial coercive economic measures on trade, and financial and economic cooperation, including at the regional level, because they are contrary to the recognized principles of international law and pose serious obstacles to the freedom of trade and the free flow of capital at the regional and international levels.

The Assembly would reiterate its call for the repeal of unilateral extraterritorial laws that impose coercive economic measures contrary to international law on corporations and nationals of other States, and again call upon all States not to recognize or apply extraterritorial coercive economic measures contrary to recognized principles of international law.

Statements

The General Assembly decided not to consider the report of the Fifth Committee under agenda item 122 entitled “Scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations” (document A/55/462). It did decide, however, to adopt the draft resolution without a vote contained in paragraph 7 of the report, and, then concluded its consideration of agenda item 122.

The Assembly then decided to declare Ruud Lubbers of the Netherlands elected United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for a period of three years beginning on 1 January 2001 and ending on 31 December 2003 without a vote. The President of the Assembly, Harri Holkeri (Finland) congratulated Mr. Lubbers with his election.

PETER VAN WALSUM (Netherlands) expressed his appreciation to the Secretary- General for nominating a national of his country, and to the Member States for endorsing the nomination. The Netherlands had always been very supportive of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Mr. Lubbers would prove himself a worthy successor to Ms. Ogata. He reminded the Assembly that, half a century ago, another Dutch national had been elected High Commissioner -- Gerrit-Jan van Heuven Goedhart. Three years later, the Office was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

SHOTARO YACHI (Japan) congratulated Ruud Lubbers on his election. He said that with his renowned leadership he would make himself an excellent leader and an excellent High Commissioner. He also congratulated the Netherlands on the election of its former Prime Minister. The Netherlands was one of the major donor countries to the UNHCR. He was convinced that Mr. Lubbers would be an able successor to Ms. Ogata, who had done an excellent job.

Report of International Court of Justice

The Assembly decided to take note of the Report of the International Court of Justice.

Mr. HOLKERI (Finland), the Assembly’s President, in his opening remarks, quoted the Millennium Declaration, in which heads of State and government had stated, “We resolve to strengthen respect for the rule of law in international as in national affairs”. He emphasized that it was now up to Member States to take action and implement the outcome of the Summit.

The ICJ had a prominent role in strengthening the international legal order and contributing to the peaceful settlement of disputes, he said. The report demonstrated that States were increasingly willing to submit disputes to it for consideration. He hoped that more States would place their trust in the Court by unilaterally recognizing its jurisdiction as binding.

He said the report’s account of the financial situation of the Court made it very clear that it needed more resources to cope with its increased workload. It would be consistent that the expansion of the scope of the Court’s activities, which had been demanded for so long, should now be matched by adequate funding.

Recent developments in international political relations had facilitated recognition of the jurisdiction of international courts, he said. There was a growing consensus that it was in the interest of all parties to have their disputes resolved through a binding third-party settlement. The ICJ had significantly strengthened the rule of law in international relations, and had contributed to respect for law and to international peace and security. It deserved the full support of all Member States of the United Nations, he said.

GILBERT GUILLAUME, President of the International Court of Justice, said that, at the current time, 24 cases remained on the docket of the International Court. Those disputes came from all over the world. Ten of them were between European States, one related to Latin America and two to Asia. Six were intercontinental in nature, and five related solely to African States. The Court was particularly pleased to note that African States were turning even more frequently to it. Much attention, he said, had been given to the reasons for the International Court’s renewed vitality. Various technical factors had been advanced, which had played a role, but he believed that the essential reason was to be found elsewhere. History showed that judicial settlement was more easily accepted and was in even greater demand, when the international arena was calmer. Conversely, in periods of heightened tension, States were less inclined to have recourse to courts. Today, the Court was more active than ever before. Aware of this development and anxious to adapt to it, the Court had been taking measures, within its power, to respond to the situation. It had set up a committee responsible for rationalizing the work of the Registry, and had been taking giant steps in modernizing its working and communication methods through use of new information technologies.

The Court had also sought increased cooperation from parties in the functioning of justice, he continued. In particular, it had informed them of its desire to see a decrease in the number of memorials exchanged, in the volume of annexes to memorials, and in the length of the oral arguments. In certain cases, that had the desired effect. The process of judges preparing written notes, setting out their opinions before deliberations, had been abandoned on a trial basis, and, on several occasions, the Court had begun consideration of several cases at the same time. Those steps would not, however, be enough to cope with the situation in the coming years. The Court’s financial and human resources were no longer sufficient for it to fulfil its tasks properly. If it did not receive necessary resources, it would find itself obliged to delay passing judgement in a number of cases. That was not an acceptable state of affairs. Long delays would not only impinge on the Court’s role in resolving disputes, but also its function in preventing them.

The Court was well aware of the financial difficulties encountered by the United Nations, he said. It had taken those into account, in the past, in limiting its requests, and was sincerely grateful to the Assembly for having granted it four additional posts in 1999. The current growth in litigation would, however, require greater increases in staff. Unlike other United Nations organs, the Court could not adapt its programmes to its available resources. Resources must be adjusted to meet the legitimate expectations of the States who turned to it. The Court’s annual budget was now slightly over $10 million. That was less than 1 per cent of the Organization’s budget, which was lower than the comparable percentage in 1946. To meet its needs, the Court would request supplementary credits, and a budget increase in the order of $3 million a year for the biennium 2002-2003. Its budget would, thus, increase to slightly more than $26 million and 38 posts would be added to its staff. He was obliged, he said, to sound an alarm today. In many countries, the judiciary presided in sumptuous historic monuments, but lacked the financial resources necessary for its mission. That was the case of the International Court of Justice. It was for the General Assembly to decide whether the Court -- the principal judicial organ of the United Nations -- was to die a slow death, or be given the wherewithal to live.

There were problems, he said, that his predecessors had pointed out, but which he would like to bring to the attention of the General Assembly today: the problems raised for international law and the international community by the proliferation of international courts. Whilst it reflected greater confidence in justice, and made it possible for international law to develop in ever more varied spheres, it brought with it several problems. First, it led to cases of overlapping jurisdiction, opening the way for applicant States to seek out those courts which they believed to be more amenable to their arguments. Overlapping jurisdiction also exacerbated the risk of conflicting judgements, as a given issue may be submitted to two courts at the same time, and they may hand down inconsistent judgements. The proliferation of international courts also gave rise to a serious risk of conflicting jurisprudence, as the same rule of law might be given different interpretations.

He asked what could be done to ensure that this situation did not give rise to serious uncertainty and did not ultimately restrict the role of international law in inter-State relations. Before creating a new court, the international legislature should ask itself whether the functions it intended to entrust the court could not properly be fulfilled by an existing court. Judges themselves must realize the danger of fragmentation in law. A dialogue among judicial bodies was crucial. Furthermore, the relationships among international courts should be better structured. With this in mind, it had been suggested that the Court should serve as a court of appeal or review for judgements rendered by other international courts. This would, however, require a strong political will on the part of States, and he was not certain that such a will existed. Another mechanism to reduce the risk of differing interpretations of international law would be to encourage the various courts to seek advisory opinions in some cases from the ICJ, by way of the Security Council or the General Assembly. This procedure could be adopted even for those international courts that were not organs of the United Nations, such as the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and the future International Criminal Court.

Mr. YACHI (Japan) said that the ICJ had firmly established its status as the world’s most senior judicial body. The importance of the rule of law in the international society could not be overstated, he said. The regrettable increase in the number of regional conflicts would, no doubt, lead to a further increase in the importance of the rule of law in the twenty-first century. World realities were changing at an increasing speed, and the role of the International Court of Justice as a credible mechanism for promoting international peace and security was essential. Since 1974, the importance of strengthening the ICJ had been stressed, he said. Last year, the General Assembly had adopted a resolution on that issue, but he wondered how much had really been achieved.

The value of fostering peace through the adjudicated settlement of international disputes and the development of the body of international law had become irrefutable, he said. As a country resolutely devoted to peace and firmly dedicated to respect for international law, Japan had been supportive of the various appeals made by the Court and other bodies that promoted the dissemination of international law. Since 1970, Japan had continuously made financial contributions to The Hague Academy of International Law and provided Japanese scholars to lecture at the Academy. Japan had also given a total of $228,000 in contributions to the Trust Fund to Assist States in the Judicial Settlement of Disputes through the ICJ.

Japan wished to continue making annual contributions to the Fund, he said; however, it must remain accountable to Japanese taxpayers. He requested the United Nations Secretariat to provide the General Assembly with annual reports on the activities of the Fund and its financial status. Only if transparency was maintained in the Fund’s operations would Japan be able to continue to support its worthy activities. He announced that Japan would present a new candidate for election to the Court in the year 2002 in a sincere desire to continue contributing to the International Court of Justice, whose noble mission would be all the more important in the new millennium.

BERND NIEHAUS (Costa Rica) congratulated Judge Thomas Buergenthal on his recent election to the Court. He had previously been a member and president of the Inter-American Court for Human Rights. Costa Rica believed that the judicial solving of disputes had become a driving element to promote peaceful relations between countries. Territorial disputes could lead to military escalation. For that reason, the ICJ played a fundamental role in reducing military tension and the peaceful settlement of disputes. He appreciated the contribution the ICJ made to global stability. It also played a central role in developing international law. Its case law taught States things with regard to unclear areas of international law.

He said the Court should continue to fulfil its role as the authorized interpreter of the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations. He was aware of the Court’s difficulties due to the increase in cases. That increase was a positive signal. He encouraged States to bring more disputes before the Court. It was indispensable to provide the Court with sufficient resources and staff, and he supported increases in staff. Despite his support for the Court’s budget, he felt the Court must continue its efforts to improve its working methods. He thanked the Court for its excellent dissemination work through the Internet and reiterated his trust and support for the excellent work it did.

CHRISTINE LEE (Singapore) said that, as a principal organ of the United Nations, the critical role which the ICJ played in the present world order could not be overstated. The Court was the primary organ for the development and application of international law. Its judgements and decisions were authoritative interpretations of the rights and obligations of parties to an international dispute. They enabled parties to resolve such disputes without the need for armed confrontation and, in that sense, the ICJ was also a primary forum for the preservation of world peace. As a small country, Singapore attached tremendous importance to the work of the Court. International law ensured that all actions of States were governed by the same legal rules.

Under law, all States were equal and entitled to the same rights and subject to the same obligations, regardless of size, economic wealth or military power, she said. As of the beginning of the year, there were 24 cases pending before the Court. That number may seem to be small when compared to the docket of a domestic court. However, it had to be noted that every one of those was a dispute between States, and they included disputes over maritime and land boundaries, the legality of the use of force, the arrest and detention of a foreign citizen and even the execution of a person with dual nationality. The increase of the Court’s workload was therefore a reflection of the increasing confidence that the international community, as a whole, had in the Court.

However, the increased workload had not been matched by a corresponding increase in resources, she said. In fact, the budget was relatively modest when compared to other United Nations agencies. It was clear that the ICJ was underfunded. All Member States must take the necessary steps to ensure that the Court was adequately provided for. It was difficult to explain a situation whereby the richest Member of the Organization was unable to pay its dues in full, on time and without conditions. She concluded by quoting Thomas Franck’s “Judging the World Court”: “The World Court was not the perfect instrument for an imperfect world … but it is in the national interest of the United States to encourage, rather than destroy, the only court with global reach.”

Mr. VAIKO (India) said that the recent period had seen the establishment of a number of specialized regional and international courts. The political process connected with the establishment of special international judicial bodies had been, on occasion, perceived as diminishing the role of the International Court of Justice in the field of international peaceful settlement of disputes. It may also be noted that legitimate questions had been raised about the legal basis of the establishment by the Security Council of ad hoc international criminal tribunals. However, even after all these developments, the International Court of Justice remained the only judicial body with legitimacy derived directly from the Charter, enjoying general jurisdiction and available to all States of the international community on all aspects of international law. Over the last 50 years, the Court had dealt with a variety of legal issues, he said. The issues presently before it were wide-ranging, and its judgements had played an important role in the progressive development and codification of international law. The Court had also clearly emphasized the role of international law in regulating inter-State relations, which were necessarily political. The phenomenal docket explosion of the Court during the 1990s stood testimony to the Court’s high standing and authority, not only in the United Nations system, but in the international community itself. It also indicated the increased relevance of, and respect for, due process of law, which States exhibited and was an affirmation of faith in the Court.

As mentioned in its report, he continued, even after taking various measures to rationalize the work of its Registry, making greater use of information technology, improving its working methods and securing greater collaboration from parties to reduce the time taken for individual cases, the Court would be unable to cope with the increase in its workload without a significant increase in its budget. Accordingly, the decision of the heads of State and government taken at the Millennium Summit to strengthen the International Court of Justice must be implemented urgently, by providing the Court with adequate resources to enable it to carry out its designated functions as the principal judicial organ of the United Nations.

ROBERTO LAVALLE-VALDES (Guatemala) said it was difficult to exaggerate the importance of the creation, in 1922, of the Permanent Court of International Justice, the predecessor to the International Court of Justice. The fundamental difference between the two Courts lay in the relationship between the current Court and the United Nations, which was much narrower than that of its predecessor with the League of Nations. The current Court was an integral part of the United Nations, and the Charter included the Court among its main bodies.

The relationship between the Court and the United Nations was a good thing, and the closer that relationship was, the better the efficiency of the Court, he said. The information contained in the reports of the last years had been complemented by subjective elements. He also appreciated the oral statement by the President of the institution this morning, sharing with the Assembly his ideas about what he saw as the most pressing issues. The index showed the great variation and importance of the subjects. Many delicate aspects were dealt with, such as the fight against international terrorism, the sovereignty of States, the use of force by States, the application of laws relating to genocide and so on. It was notable that litigants came from all parts of the world and included both developing and developed countries.

The Court was facing serious financial difficulties, which was alarming, he said. That was absolutely unacceptable. A cost analysis would show that it would be impossible to find a better way to spend money to promote the international community’s aims than through the Court.

ARTHUR C.I. MBANEFO (Nigeria) said his country attached great importance to the ICJ, given its pivotal role in the settlement of international disputes. As the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, the ICJ was the only international court of a universal character with general jurisdiction. It was encouraging that 62 Member States, out of 189 States party to the Statute of the Court, had subscribed to its compulsory jurisdiction. Nigeria believed that recognition of the Court's compulsory jurisdiction by all Members of the United Nations would not only reduce tension, but it would also encourage Member States to settle their differences by peaceful means.

He welcomed the progress made in streamlining the working methods of the ICJ's Registry, but asked for a review of the official languages of the Court, which currently were English and French. Since the ICJ was universal in its clientele, as States from Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Asia, Middle East and Australia submitted cases, it was therefore unhelpful to restrict the official languages to two. Nigeria felt the official languages of the Court should reflect the official languages of the United Nations as well. Although that would require additional financial resources, it was a cause worth pursuing, as it would "enable the Court to spread its gospel of peaceful settlement of disputes in many more languages".

The ICJ enjoyed immense prestige and trust, and had proved to be a useful tool for the development of international law, he said. The Court had more than justified the perception that a world court could foster peace through the adjudicated settlement of international disputes and the development of the body of international law. Nigeria, as a peace-loving nation, he said, would continue to support the ideals inherent in the establishment of the Court 54 years ago.

IRFAN YUSUF SHAMI (Pakistan) said the Court had delivered a judgement on the Aerial Incident of 10 August 1999 between India and Pakistan. The Court ruled that it had no jurisdiction to entertain an application, submitted by Pakistan in September 1999, regarding the shooting of an unarmed Pakistani naval aircraft by India inside Pakistani airspace. The ICJ’s decision was not based on the substance of Pakistan’s complain but on India’s reservation that excluded “disputes with the government of any State which is, or has been, a member of the Commonwealth of Nations” from the Court’s jurisdiction. The judgement of the Court noted that there was fundamental distinction between the acceptance of the Court’s jurisdiction and the compatibility of particular acts in international law and, that States remained, in all cases, responsible for acts attributable to them that violated the rights of other States, whether or not they accepted the jurisdiction of the Court.

The judgement also emphasized that the Court’s lack of jurisdiction did not relieve States of their obligations to settle their disputes by peaceful means and in that context referred to Article 33 of the United Nations Charter. Pakistan remained committed to peaceful settlement of all outstanding disputes with its neighbours through peaceful means, including recourse to the Court.

The problems faced by the Court because of the increase number of cases needed to be addressed, he said. For some unknown reason, the percentage of the annual budget of the ICJ vis-à-vis the overall budget of the United Nations had remained static. The current annual budget of the Court was about $10 million, which, in terms of the overall budget, represented a percentage lower than that of 1946. Compared with the annual budget of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia for the year 2000 -- $100 million -– the amount of $10 million did not seem appropriate, given the importance and stature of this principal judicial organ of the United Nations. Pakistan called upon the competent bodies of the United Nations to consider the question of an increase in the resources for the Court on a priority basis.

JORGE VALDEZ CARRILLO (Peru) said that Peru believed that the annual report of the International Court of Justice was very important, and was met with many expectations. The objective of harmonization and peace could not become reality without the International Court. As stated in Article 92 of the Charter, the International Court of Justice was the main judiciary body of the United Nations. It had made a valuable contribution to preserving peace, and in the modelling of the template for international behaviour. Over recent years the Court had been an important tool for consultation by students, lawyers, judges and the public through the introduction of its Internet site. That was an important advance in the dissemination of the work of the Court.

The Court was facing difficulties, he said. The first was the fact that the Court could not apply more law than it had. The process of globalization and technological advances made certain situations very challenging from a legal point of view. The second difficulty was a logistical one. There were budgetary difficulties due to the increase in cases coming before the Court. It was important for the Organization to pay particular attention to the ICJ’s financial resources. Peru considered that, in order to ensure the Court had appropriate resources, the international community should not skimp on it.

PERCY M. MANGOAELA (Lesotho) said the ICJ was a component not only of the Charter machinery for peaceful settlement of disputes, but also of the general system for the maintenance of international peace and security. It offered States a wide range of opportunities for promoting the rule of law in international relations. Lesotho noted that, because of its achievements in finding just and equitable solutions to legal conflicts between States, the ICJ continued to enjoy universal support and respect, as was reflected in a noticeable increase in the number of cases referred to it. The promotion of, and commitment to, peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with the Charter remained a cornerstone for Lesotho, which, as a small and vulnerable State, was dependent more on the law than on power in settling disputes. Thus, he remained keenly aware of the role that international law played in the search for solutions to the problems of an interdependent world.

The challenge for the international community was how to strengthen the international legal order and promote effective respect for the legal norms that governed the international community, he said. Lesotho supported universal acceptance of the ICJ's compulsory jurisdiction, but recognized that less than 50 per cent of Member States had made declarations accepting that compulsory jurisdiction. It was Lesotho's hope, he added, that unconditional acceptance of the Court's jurisdiction would further enhance the ICJ's preeminent role, not only as an interpreter of the legal obligations of States and in settlement of disputes, but also in the maintenance of international peace and security.

The annual review of the Court revealed that it was currently seized of far more cases than had ever been the case in any previous 12 month period. That trend that could only be expected to continue. Lesotho believed that the ICJ would not be able to handle the ever-increasing workload and remain an effective and efficient judicial means for the settlement of disputes unless it was given adequate resources. Therefore, he reiterated the call for an increase in the Court's resources, to enable it to fully and effectively respond to ever- increasing demands from the international community. He felt that strengthening the ICJ was the only way to realize the dream of "the domination of law in relations amongst people". NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER (Qatar) said that during the last 45 years, the International Court of Justice had been able to win the trust of the international community, due to its judges’ vast experience and impartiality. Their knowledge and experience had efficiently contributed to the gradual development of international law, and in addressing several legal questions that would affect the maintenance of world peace and security. The Court reached decisions in a manner consistent with the interests of justice, and according to the rules established by its Statute which provided for the full and equal participation of all members in its deliberations.

There was no doubt that the only obstacle endangering the future of the International Court of Justice was non-compliance with its final decisions and rulings, he said. The international community had a duty to provide for the future of the Court, not only through enhancing its human and financial resources to keep up with the increase in cases brought to its attention, but also through stressing the obligation of States to respect its decisions.

The settlement of international disputes did not end with the issuing of an international adjudication, he said. It also required a stage following the Court’s decisions, he said. The Court’s decisions were binding, final and without appeal. Accordingly, non-compliance with its decisions, in itself, constituted a threat to international peace and security and a clear violation of the United Nations Charter, as well as to the rules and norms of international law.

Mr. SOARES (Brazil) said last year the United Nations Decade of International Law had ended and the centennial of the first international peace conference had been celebrated. The underlying goal of those events was to promote the rule of law by fostering the use of recourse to peaceful settlement of disputes between States. There could be no better expression of the success in that task than the growing number of cases in the Court’s docket in recent years. There were different reasons for the increased recourse to the Court.

Efforts to improve its working procedures were now bearing fruit, he said. Rationalizing and streamlining measures had allowed the Court to operate its increased workload with maximum efficiency. The Court must therefore be adequately funded. A growing number of multilateral conventions now included clauses referring adjudication of disputes to the ICJ, and the Court’s advisory role in judicial proceedings had become more widely recognized. The Court was no longer seen simply as a last resort mechanism, but increasingly as a supplementary tool for the actions undertaken by other international bodies.

He said one answer to concerns over the consequences of the multiplication of international jurisdictions must involve investing the Court with a clearer advisory role. By retaining its central role as a universal jurisdiction, the Court might help preserve the fundamental unity and coherence of international law. The Court, as the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, must increasingly play a crucial role in assuring the United Nations continued to be a unique and indispensable universal instrument. He was convinced of its central role in developing international law and practice that ensured the renewed legitimacy and effectiveness of the international community’s response to challenges of fostering worldwide peace and justice.

MANUEL TELLO (Mexico) said that Mexico was happy to echo the usefulness of this discussion. The report of the International Court of Justice illustrated the volume of cases submitted to it. Although this was a fact, and it showed the confidence that States had in the Court, it had also led to a situation in which it was impossible to process cases efficiently unless an increase in funding was provided. This was not a new problem and the Court had been drawing attention to it for some time, for example through the Assembly’s Sixth Committee (Legal).

Assembly resolution 54/108, adopted last year on the initiative of Mexico, demonstrated that Member States of the United Nations were receptive to petitions from the Court, he said. Next year the Assembly would be adopting the budget of the Organization. Instead of just recognizing the problem of funding, the international community should adopt specific measures to solve it. Mexico would continue to push for an increase in funds and would urge other States to do so. Finally, Mexico would encourage the Court to maintain the ongoing revision of its procedures.

Elimination of Coercive Measures As Means of Political and Economic Compulsion

ABUZED OMAR DORDA (Libya), introducing the revised draft resolution on coercive measures (A/55/L.9/Rev.1), expressed his thanks to the Assembly for its agreement to postpone the vote on this matter until today. The additional time had allowed his delegation to engage in dialogue with other delegations. All concerns had been taken on board and he had accommodated all views and accepted all reasonable amendments and proposals. The language of today's draft expressed the views of the entire international community. The United States could submit the document to its legislative authorities and explain to them that those authorities had been party to inflicting economic and political problems, and had embarrassed the United States with its allies and friends.

To enact coercive legislation that was extraterritorially applied could never be in conformity with international law, the United Nations Charter and other international instruments. The capitalist system was based on the laissez- faire principle. The type of legislation the draft referred to did not concur with that principle and was an ideological embarrassment. The resolution was in the interest of all, and was not meant to be in the sole interest of Libya. He hoped the draft would be adopted by everybody.

JE RYONG HONG (Democratic People's Republic of Korea), speaking in explanation of position before the vote, said that imposing sanctions on other countries in order to pursue political interests was contrary to the promotion of friendly relations and international cooperation, and to the principles set out in the United Nations Charter. Resolution 53/10 had recognized the right of every State to choose its own political economic and social system. Therefore, he would vote in favour of the draft.

EMMANUEL LENAIN (France), speaking in explanation of position on behalf of the European Union, said that the European Union wished to take this opportunity to emphasize its categoric rejection of all attempts to apply national laws on an extraterritorial basis on third party States, which was contrary to international law. The Union had always rejected such attempts to place constraints on other countries to make them respect commercial measures decided in a unilateral way. In this context, it was necessary to mention legislation adopted by States which provided for the application of legal sanctions against individuals who did not fall within their national jurisdiction. Measures of this nature violated international law and the sovereignty of independent States.

The European Union was firmly opposed, both in terms of law and of principle, to the enforcement of secondary boycotts and unilateral extraterritorial laws against the nationals of third party States, he said. The European Community exercised the right to act as it deemed fit on measures which were contrary to international law. The Union had established a firm and definite distinction between unilateral extraterritorial measures and other forms of compulsion. It welcomed the fact that the text submitted had clearly respected this distinction.

MICHAEL JOHN POWLES (New Zealand) said he could have supported the draft resolution in its latest form. Apparently, it was the product of negotiations with Libya and other delegations, in particular, France. However, none of the participants in those negotiations had seen fit to inform other partners and he, therefore, would abstain from voting.

ROD SMITH (Australia) said, two years ago, Australia had abstained from voting on a resolution on the same subject because it had not differentiated between unilateral and Security Council sanctions. The new draft resolution addressed those concerns, which was a significant improvement. He had seen the revised draft only this morning, and had not been consulted or informed in a timely fashion. Regrettably, as a result of procedural failures, he had not option but to abstain.

ROSS HYNES (Canada) associated Canada with the concerns of New Zealand and Australia regarding the process that led to this draft. Libya had referred to dialogues, he said, but Canada had not been among those delegations consulted, and had seen the altered text only this morning. He had no alternative but to abstain. He added that it could scarcely be said that the text reflected the views of the entire international community, as Libya's representative had indicated. He hoped that, in the future, a more serious effort would be made to achieve that goal.

MOHAMMED AL-HUMAIMIDI (Iraq) said that Iraq was denied the right to vote because his country could not pay its contribution to the United Nations as a result of sanctions that had been imposed. It had tried to find a way to pay its dues. His country had knocked on several doors, and addressed messages to the Secretary-General and the Security Council, but, regrettably, all those attempts had faced the rejection of the United States of America. Were Iraq in a position to vote, it would have voted for the draft resolution.

The Assembly then adopted the resolution with 136 Member States voting in favour, 2 against (Israel and United States) and 10 abstaining. (See Annex for voting details.)

ARMAN AKOPIAN (Armenia), speaking in explanation of position after the vote, said he had voted in favour and condemned the continued use of those measures, particularly in the south Caucasus. The difficulties of developing countries and of countries in transition were exacerbated by those measures, as was the case for landlocked Armenia. Condemnation of such measures would have a positive impact on the region.

TAKAYUKI KITAGAWA (Japan) said, unlike last year’s resolution, this draft was concerned solely with unilateral measures contrary to principles of international laws, which his Government had been opposing. He had, therefore, voted in favour. He paid tribute to those delegations that had made efforts to get a resolution Japan could support.

Mr. CARRILLO (Peru) said Peru had voted in favour of the draft resolution, because it stressed the principles of the United Nations Charter and did not refer to measures authorized by the bodies of the Organization.

MARIO ALEMAN (Ecuador) said that Ecuador had voted in favour of the draft resolution for legal reasons that were detailed in the report of the Secretary- General (document A/55/300).

FELIPE PAOLILLO (Uruguay) said that Uruguay had abstained in the vote on this draft resolution. Between the time that the text had been received and the voting process, his delegation had not had time to consult with the capital. He hoped that this practice of presenting amendments in an accelerated way would not be continued.

(annex follows)

ANNEX

Vote on the draft resolution on Elimination of Coercive Measures as a means Of Political and Economic Compulsion

The resolution (document A/55/L.9/Rev.1) was adopted by a recorded vote of 136 in favour to 2 against, with 10 abstentions, as follows:

In favour: Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstain: Albania, Australia, Canada, Dominican Republic, Kyrgyzstan, Nauru, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Tonga, Uruguay.

Absent: Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Dominica, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Georgia, Grenada, Haiti, Kiribati, Latvia, Lithuania, Malawi, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu.

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For information media. Not an official record.