GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRAISES CONTINUED COOPERATION BETWEEN UNITED NATIONS, ASIAN-AFRICAN LEGAL CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE

25 October 2000
GA/9794

GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRAISES CONTINUED COOPERATION BETWEEN UNITED NATIONS, ASIAN-AFRICAN LEGAL CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE

25/10/2000
Press ReleaseGA/9794

Fifty-fifth General Assembly

Plenary

39th Meeting (AM)

GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRAISES CONTINUED COOPERATION BETWEEN UNITED NATIONS,

ASIAN-AFRICAN LEGAL CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE

The General Assembly this morning adopted, without a vote, an orally amended resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee.

By the terms of text, the Assembly noted with satisfaction the continuing efforts of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee towards strengthening the role of the United Nations and its various organs, including the International Court of Justice, as well as the commendable progress achieved towards enhancing cooperation between the United Nations and the Consultative Committee in wider areas.

Introducing the text, Egypt's representative said that, for more than 40 years, the Consultative Committee had earned a reputation for its excellent legal work.  The Consultative Committee had been active in various United Nations conferences dealing with the law of treaties and the law of the sea. In addition to annual meetings, there had been discussions and special sessions of the Committee on the establishment of the International Criminal Court and the treatment of refugees, and there would be further meetings concerning the world trade order and the settlements of conflicts.  Through its work, the Committee had defined the common interest of the two regions in international issues, thus contributing to a world legal order that was fair and just.

Also this morning, the Assembly discussed cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).  Benita Ferraro-Waldner, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Austria, speaking in her capacity as Chairperson in the Office of the OSCE, said the United Nations was one of that organization’s closest partners.  The OSCE was an integral part of interlocking institutions dealing with security, human rights and economic issues.  Among its challenges was South-Eastern Europe.  There would be no security in Europe as long as there was instability in that area.  The Serbian people had made clear that they wanted to live in a democratic country at peace with its neighbours.  She hoped the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia would soon become a part of the European family.  The OSCE would welcome a request from that Republic for formal membership.

Introducing the Assembly's agenda item entitled "The role of the United Nations in promoting a new global human order", the representative of Guyana said the time had come for the international community to create an alternative vision for development based on a more balanced relationship between the market and the state.  An urgent reconciliation of the widely divergent views of the partners on world economic and social issues was a prerequisite for success in any future negotiations.  The proposal for the new global human order was a serious attempt to find common ground for future international cooperation.  It should be considered as a complementary device for facilitating consensus.

In other action, the Assembly decided to authorize the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations and its working group to meet in New York during the main part of the fifty-fifth session of the General Assembly.

Representatives from Belarus, Croatia, Norway, France (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Ukraine, Russian Federation, Romania, Japan and Armenia spoke on cooperation with the OSCE.  India, France (on behalf of the  European Union and associated States), China, Iran and Indonesia spoke on cooperation with the Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee.  The Secretary-General of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee, Wafik Z. Kamil, addressed the Assembly as well.

The Assembly will meet again at 3 p.m. to continue its consideration of the role of the United Nations in promoting a new global human order.

Assembly Work Programme

The fifty-fifth regular session of the General Assembly met this morning to consider cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), cooperation between the United Nations and the Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee, adoption of the agenda and organization of work, and the role of the United Nations in promoting a new global human order.

The Assembly had before it a report of the Secretary-General on cooperation between the United Nations and the OSCE (document A/55/98).  Resolution 54/117 requested the Secretary-General to continue exploring with the Chairman-in-Office and the Secretary-General of the OSCE possibilities for further enhancement of cooperation, information exchange and coordination between the United Nations and the OSCE.

According to the report, observer status constituted the institutional parameters of cooperation between the United Nations and the OSCE.  On 24 and 25 February, the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva hosted the ninth high-level meeting of the United Nations-OSCE-Council of Europe tripartite process of informal consultations, focusing on the theme of peace and stability in South-Eastern Europe.  In light of the limited financial, material and financial resources made available by Member States, the United Nations and the OSCE have practised a division of labour based on the comparative advantages of the two organizations.  The United Nations has taken the lead in peacemaking efforts in Abkhazia, Georgia, and in Tajikistan, while the OSCE has retained the lead in the Republic of Moldova, South Ossetia, Georgia, and the conflict around the Nagorny Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.

The report states that a comprehensive strategic partnership has developed between the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the OSCE, notably on the prevention of mass displacement, the recognition of the critical linkage between  displacement and security, and the need to address the human dimension of conflict-resolution processes.  The UNHCR offices in the five Central Asian countries were in close cooperation with the OSCE counterparts, particularly in Tajikistan, where they monitored the human rights of returnees, and in Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Azerbaijan, where they consulted regarding the conflicts in those regions.  In the Russian Federation, the UNHCR had regular contact with the OSCE Assistance Group to Chechnya.

The report says that, after the establishment of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), the United Nations and the OSCE worked jointly to assist the people of Kosovo, with OSCE taking the main role in institution-building, including police education and development, media development, protection of human rights, the rule of law, democratization and the organization of elections.  Cooperation had also extended to judicial matters, in which the United Nations had the primary responsibility for the reestablishment of the judicial system, while the OSCE provided logistical support and supplies.  The two organizations worked jointly within the UNMIK structure to enhance minority protection and provide access to essential services for local non-Albanian groups.

The report also notes the constructive contacts between the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the OSCE.  The Office's field offices in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Kosovo consult with the OSCE counterparts on human rights issues, including the safeguarding of property rights, the right to return and the administration of justice.  In May, a joint mission to address human rights training needs in Kosovo was undertaken between the Office, the OSCE and the Council of Europe.

Furthermore, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Office and the OSCE, the latter having assigned a representative to the United Nations Human Rights Office in Abkhazia, Georgia, the mandate of which includes promoting respect for human rights, contributing to a safe and dignified return of refugees and internally displaced persons, and reporting on human rights developments.

As indicated in the report, cooperation between the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the OSCE is taking place in the context of United Nations operations in Georgia, Tajikistan and the Russian Federation.  In addition, the OSCE has cooperated with the Office on issues of mutual concern, specifically in attracting donor assistance to the region and regular liaison with the de facto authorities in situ.  Both efforts are aimed at facilitating the creation of humanitarian space, an environment within which agencies can operate and carry out both humanitarian and transitional programmes that may, in turn, facilitate and engender conflict resolution.

The General Assembly also had before it the report of the Secretary-General on cooperation between the United Nations and the Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee (document A/55/221) on the subject.  By its resolution 35/2 of 13 October 1980, the General Assembly had invited the Consultative Committee to participate in its sessions and its work in the capacity of an observer.  Since then, both organizations have worked together on matters of common interest, particularly international law, but also other matters relating to economic, environmental and humanitarian law and peaceful settlement of disputes.  In 1985, the Consultative Committee prepared a study on "Strengthening the Role of the United Nations through rationalization of its functional modalities with special reference to the General Assembly".  Subsequently, a set of recommendations on the improvement of the functioning of the General Assembly was prepared by the Consultative Committee secretariat (document A/41/437, annex).

Pursuant to General Assembly resolution 44/23 of 17 November 1989, in which the Assembly declared the period 1990 to 1999 as the United Nations Decade of International Law, the Consultative Committee prepared a paper identifying issues and activities that might be undertaken during the Decade.  According to the report, the Consultative Committee participated in the Preparatory Commission for the International Court, held in New York from 26 July to 13 August 1999.  In addition to its function of rendering assistance to its member States and with a view to facilitating their active participation in the work of the General Assembly, the Consultative Committee continued to follow closely the work of the International Law Commission and attached great significance to the items on its agenda.  Other measures that the Consultative Committee examined included the feasibility of compiling national legislation, jurisprudence and practices of the Member States on the items of jurisdictional immunities; the work and functioning of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea; and the preparation of progress reports covering the legislative activities of the United Nations.

The Consultative Committee has been actively engaged in the study of refugee law and has been working in close cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for that purpose.  The report states that the Consultative Committee also maintains a continuing interest in the analysis of international instruments adopted at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) (Rio de Janeiro, 1992).  Further, since 1996, the legal protection of migrant workers has been an item on the work programme of the Consultative Committee.  In its conclusion, the report gave attention to the item entitled "Deportation of Palestinian and other Israeli practices, among them the massive immigration and settlement of Jews in all Occupied Territories in violation of international law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949", which has been on the agenda of the Consultative Committee since 1989.

A draft resolution on cooperation with the Consultative Committee (document A/55/L.12)would have the Assembly note, with satisfaction, the continuing efforts of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee towards strengthening the role of the United Nations and its various organs, including the International Court of Justice, through programmes and initiatives undertaken by the Consultative Committee, as well as the commendable progress achieved towards enhancing cooperation between the United Nations and the Consultative Committee in wider areas.

By the same terms, the Assembly would decide to include in the provisional agenda of its fifty-sixth session the item entitled “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee” and request the Secretary-General to submit to the General Assembly at its fifty-seventh session a report on cooperation between the United Nations and the Consultative Committee.  It is sponsored by China, Cyprus, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Malaysia and Mongolia.

The Assembly also had before it a letter from the Chairperson of the Committee on Conferences, dated 16 August (document A/55/312/Add.1), which states that the Committee had no objection to the request from the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations and its Working Group to meet in New York during the fifty-fifth session of the General Assembly, on the strict understanding that such meetings would have to be accommodated within available facilities and services.

According to an explanatory memorandum attached to a letter to the Secretary-General, dated 11 August, from the Permanent Representative of Guyana concerning the role of the United Nations in promoting a new global human order, requesting the inclusion of the item in the agenda, the proposal for a new global human order is intended to prompt a re-examination of international cooperation and partnership, and to explore the prospects of a viable consensus on people-centred development as a central pillar of the work of the United Nations in development in the twenty-first century.

According to the letter, the proposal seeks to advance further action on three major fronts.  First, there is the fundamental need to facilitate a reshaping of the role of government in order to build the democratic instruments necessary for human development.  Secondly, it seeks to mobilize enhanced political support for development (such as United Nations official development assistance (ODA) and official debt relief).  Third, the proposal seeks to facilitate a genuine consensus on the promotion of social justice, ownership and good governance, at both the national and international levels.

A draft resolution on the subject (document A/55/L.15), sponsored by Ecuador, Guatemala and Guyana, would have the Assembly stress the need for a broad-based consensus for action within a comprehensive and holistic framework towards the achievement of the goals of development and poverty eradication, involving all actors, namely, governments, the international community, the private sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other relevant actors of civil society.

Also, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to seek the views of Member States on the elements of a new global human order, its practical and policy implications, and the possible options, instruments and mechanisms of implementation, and to prepare a report thereon for consideration by the Assembly at its fifty-sixth session.

The Assembly would decide to include in the agenda of its fifty-sixth session the item entitled, "The role of the United Nations in promoting a new global human order".

Cooperation between the United Nations and the OSCE

Statements

BENITA FERRARO-WALDNER, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Austria, speaking in her capacity as Chairperson in the Office of the OSCE, said the United Nations was one of the closest partners of the OSCE.  The special partnership was reflected in the status of the OSCE as a regional arrangement of Chapter VIII of the Charter.  No single institution or country was able to combat actively the threats of security in the region, which had become more complex since the end of the cold war.  The OSCE was an integral part of interlocking institutions dealing with security, human rights and economic issues.

Needless competition between institutions had to be avoided, she said.  The OSCE had responded to that challenge by developing the platform for cooperative security, which had been adopted by the OSCE summit in Istanbul in November 1999, to strengthen mutual relationships aiming at the promotion of comprehensive security in the area.  Especially in Kosovo, there was a new quality to the cooperation between the organization and the United Nations in a very difficult environment.  This year was a special one , being the twenty-fifth anniversary of the signing of the Helsinki Final Act.  It had initiated the Helsinki process, which held lessons for peace and stability.  Its aim had been achieving security and stability. 

The OSCE had proved to be a flexible instrument by evolving into a field organization with 20 missions after the cold war.  Poverty, ethnic conflict, serious violations of human and minority rights, among others, were often long-term causes of violent conflicts transcending the scope of ordinary military instrument.  South-Eastern Europe was a specific OSCE challenge.  There would be no security in Europe as long as there was instability in that area.  The Serbian people had made clear that they wanted to live in a democratic country at peace with its neighbours.  She hoped the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia would soon become a part of the European family, and would welcome a request from the Federal Republic for formal membership in the OSCE.

Conflict in the Northern Caucasus showed that the region was a long way from realizing a new era of democracy and peace for all people in the OSCE area, she said.  The OSCE could make a positive contribution to the alleviation of the suffering of the population in that area and to the search for dialogue.  It required the return of the OSCE to the region, however, which the Russian side had guaranteed.  Of particular concern were the frozen conflicts in the Republic of Moldova and the Southern Caucasus.  Some progress in the settlement of some conflicts had been reached in Georgia.  In the Republic of Moldova, she expected the first steps with regard to the withdrawal of Russian military equipment to start very soon.  Also, in Central Asia, the work of the OSCE was focusing on conflict prevention.  Terorrism and violent extremism, organized crime and illegal arms and drug trafficking, as well as the precarious situation in Afghanistan endangered the stability in the whole region.

The OSCE was a political platform supporting the efforts of other, specialized international actors, including those from the United Nations family, she said.  Its work also had an important human dimension.  It had put a specific focus on problems related to human security, such as children in armed conflicts.  Economic and environmental issues were of considerable relevance in pursuing an effective and broad approach to security policy.  The Rapid Expert Assistance and Cooperation Teams (REACT) Program should allow the quick deployment of highly trained civilian experts in the areas of policing, democratization and elections.  She hoped that a consensus on the resolution could be achieved.  The OSCE and the United Nations were natural partners in their common efforts for peace, democracy and prosperity.  It was in the interest of all to further strengthen the close partnership, she said.

SERGEI LING (Belarus) said that there was a special importance in the cooperation between the United Nations and major regional organizations, guided by Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter.  The OSCE remained a unique all-European forum.  The work of the OSCE was mainly based on the decisions taken in Istanbul in 1999 and the documents adopted, which highlighted the inseparability of European security with a view to its integration into the worldwide security and stability system.  The OSCE had an important task ahead in drafting and implementing mechanisms on the prevention of conflicts.  That would be a real test for the OCSE at the present stage, particularly with regard to the situation in the Balkans.  It was necessary to weigh the consequences of any action, until there had been elections in Kosova.  Any premature action could undermine the credibility of the OSCE.  The elections to be held required intensive discussions with Belgrade relating to the future of Kosova.

Parliamentary elections had been held in Belarus, where every social and political force had actively worked with the OSCE, he said.  The result of that work was an unprecedented document containing new provisions regarding the electoral code of Belarus.  Just before the election, there had been an agreement to assess the elections.  Despite a constructive approach, a negative assessment was released, which did not take into consideration the view of more than 100 independent observers.  He was concerned that it had happened as a result of the statement by the United States State Department.  He hoped that, at the end of the second election, the OSCE would give a positive view of the elections.  Attempts to not recognize the elections would have a negative impact on the country.  A real parliament was needed, not a shadow of the past.  Democracy was the first choice of the people of Belarus.  They had the right to exercise their democratic choice.

IVAN SIMONOVIC (Croatia) said that Croatia regarded cooperation between the United Nations and regional security organizations as an essential part of the ongoing process to stimulate and consolidate peacekeeping and peace-building initiatives.  His country had closely cooperated with and supported the OSCE activities in a variety of fields in Croatia.  Croatia believed that, after the recent decision taken by the Council of Europe to terminate its monitoring process in Croatia, the time was right to exclude Croatia from the mandate of the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Commission of Human Rights.

His country welcomed the restructuring of the OSCE Secretariat in order to attain better value from the services that it provided to its participating States.  In that context, Croatia supported the strengthening of the OSCE operational capabilities by creating REACT as a way for faster deployment of experts for traditional OSCE tasks, such as conflict prevention, and a new Operation Centre to further improve the effectiveness of the OSCE and facilitate new programs such as REACT.

Croatia attached great importance to the prevention of the recurrence of armed conflicts, he said.  The commitment of the international community must be coordinated and sustained over time, thereby addressing the economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems, which, if left unattended, could reignite a conflict.  He took the opportunity to support the recent invitation to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to apply for membership in the OSCE and the United Nations, respectively.  Membership of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in those organizations would benefit the prospects for stability in the region, especially if the OSCE re-established its mission to the whole of the Federal Republic.

HANS BRATTSKAR (Norway) said an important aspect of the relationship between the United Nations and the OSCE was a pattern of cooperation in the field, which had been established in the Balkans, the Caucasus and Central Asia, and was proceeding very well.  The OSCE in Kosovo had responsibility for institution-building and democratization.  The division of labour between the United Nations and the OSCE organizations ensured that limited resources were used in the most cost-effective way.  The running of the police force in Kosovo by the OSCE was a concrete example of that corporation.  Similar cooperative relationships had been established in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He said in Central Asia there was potential for developing the United Nations/OSCE relationship.  A number of United Nations agencies had established programmes in the countries, and one should look to enhance the cooperation.  The United Nations would be able to leave more of the crisis-management responsibilities in the region to the OSCE, although there would still be situations that could only be dealt with by resorting to the United Nations.  But, the OSCE would be increasingly in a position to contribute to security and stability, enabling the United Nations to concentrate on crisis management in other parts of the world.

The OSCE had field presences in the conflict areas, he said.  Those tasks fell under conflict prevention, management, and post-conflict rehabilitation.  As a result of the developments in Serbia, peace and stability in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia region was no longer a remote possibility.  That offered opportunities for close cooperation between the organization and the United Nations.  He believed that the OSCE would continue to be an essential partner of the United Nations in years to come, easing the burden of the world Organization.

JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union and the associated countries of Central and Eastern Europe, said that, one year after the meeting in Istanbul, the ministerial meeting would be an opportunity to draw a balance sheet for the OSCE.  It would enable the member States to look at the implementation of the operational functions of the organization, including in the settlement of conflicts.  There was a clear cooperative and security platform that was aimed at promoting the mutual strengthening of the United Nations and the OSCE.  The OSCE was involved in conflict-prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation.  The conflict in the Balkans had showed that the strengthening of security required a strengthening of the instruments of the OSCE.  The European Union hoped that the ministerial meeting would strengthen the capacity of the organization. 

If a direct mandate was given to the OSCE, it had the capacity to rapidly deploy experts, he said.  Within the framework of REACT, the OSCE had the capacity to recruit and deploy personnel efficiently.  A non-military response to crises was needed.  The Operations Centre, to which the member States had made available high-level experts, would facilitate new missions.  The European Union was participating actively, in order to provide the OSCE with a legal character.  That was vital not only in its daily operations, but also in countries receiving missions. 

The European Union was delighted about the cooperation between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the OSCE following the democratic changes in Belgrade, he said.  A positive attitude had been expressed about the OSCE by the new Yugoslav President.  In terms of cooperation, the United Nations and the OSCE had had an intensive cooperation in Kosovo.  The cooperation consisted of the physical preparation, and rapid and proper establishment of guidelines and campaign support.  He recalled a large number of positive actions resulting from cooperation between the two organizations.  The success in Croatia regarding the work of the police monitoring group illustrated that the work of the United Nations and the OSCE could complement each other in post-conflict normalization initiatives.  He also commented on the role played or that could be played by the OSCE in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Georgia, Central Asia and Chechnya.  Within those situations, a close cooperation between the United Nations, the OSCE and the European Union was essential. 

VOLODYMYR YEL’CHENKO (Ukraine) welcomed the meetings that took place between officials of the United Nations and the OSCE, as well as the ninth high-level meeting of the United Nations-OSCE-Council of Europe tripartite process of informal consultations, which was, for the first time, attended by a representative of the European Commission.  His Government supported the practice of expanding the format of consultative mechanisms between the United Nations and the OSCE, and other international bodies.

He said cooperation between the two organizations could be strengthened through a joint elaboration of a comprehensive strategy for conflict prevention, on the basis of preventive diplomacy and peace-building.  The implementation of that idea would be in consonance with the proposal to develop a comprehensive conflict prevention strategy for the United Nations, put forward by President Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine at the Millennium Summit and at the Security Council Summit.  A practical step towards developing such a strategy could be the creation and subsequent activity of regional centres.  Ukraine had proposed the establishment in Kyiv, under the auspices of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, a regional centre for ethnic studies.  The activities of such an ethnic study centre would also contribute to the implementation of the United Nations preventive strategy in cooperation with the OSCE.

His Government was concerned about the conflict settlement in the OSCE region, he went on.  With regard to Kosovo, while recognizing the achievements of the OSCE as one of UNMIK’s pillars in institution-building, he was convinced that much more was needed to make the peace process irreversible and to bring long-awaited stability to the entire Balkans.  The OSCE, with possible United Nations assistance, should also take a more active stance on the settlement of the so-called “frozen” conflicts in the post-Soviet territory, particularly in Abhkazia and South Ossetia of Georgia, in the Nagorny Karabakh region of Azerbaijan and in the Trans-Dneistrean region of the Republic of Moldova, in order to bring them to final solution.  Ukraine stood ready to contribute further to the achievement of those goals.

SERGEY V. LAVROV (Russian Federation) considered it essential to further improve and intensify United Nations cooperation with regional organizations in accordance with Chapter VIII of the Charter and consistently spoke in support of the institutionalization of forms of such interaction and cooperation.  It should be done while preserving the primary responsibility of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security.  All of that was applicable to the cooperation between the United Nations and the OSCE.  The OSCE had accumulated a unique experience in the processes of disarmament and arms control, implementation of confidence-building measures and promotion of democratization in the Euro-Atlantic area.

The OSCE should play a central, system-building and coordinating role in European matters, he said, not only in the sphere of preventive diplomacy and crisis settlement, but also to all other dimensions where the key OSCE advantage

-- a comprehensive approach to security problems and the wide span of its geographic coverage -- could be used.  It was necessary to maintain and strengthen the OSCE function in the sphere of making legal norms.  The OSCE should also play an active role in such issues as the implementation of the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe, taking into consideration both its experience and sphere of competence, including overall monitoring of that initiative.

The OSCE should concentrate its attention on its specific objectives, without substituting the United Nations in those spheres where the latter, due to its universal nature, provided effective coordination of actions by various organizations and institutions, he said.  He welcomed further strengthening of cooperation between the organizations in promotion of settlement of conflicts in Abkhazia, Georgia and Nagorny Karabakh, as well as post-conflict peace-building in Tajikistan.  He stressed the importance of adopting the upcoming resolution by consensus.  The draft should be focused on the framework policy of cooperation between the two organizations.  The resolution, co-sponsored by his country, would give an important additional impulse to increasing the practical returns from interaction between the United Nations and the OSCE.

SORIN DUCARU (Romania) said that Romania's OSCE chairmanship, in the year 2001, was one of its major foreign policy priorities.  In the field of conflict prevention and crisis management, one of Romania's priorities would remain the situation in the Balkans.  The recent political changes in Belgrade had created an important opportunity for a long-term stabilization of the area.  The focus would be on post-conflict rehabilitation and assistance in setting up democratic institutions and strengthening the rule of law.  Preventive diplomacy was also highly important in the region, and increasing interregional cooperation was a must, which should be complemented by the implementation of the Stability Pact.

In addition to the Balkans, he continued, the Caucasus would be a focal point of activities during the OSCE chairmanship, with a special focus on the situation in Chechnya and Nagorny Karabakh.  Implementation of the Istanbul Summit decisions concerning the withdrawal of foreign troops from Georgia and the Republic of Moldova were issues to which his country attached high importance as well.  The developments in Central Asia were also topical, with the view to strengthening the OSCE involvement in the region.

The task of the Romanian chairmanship would also include the participation of the OSCE in preparation and observation of elections in a number of participating States.  The Romanian chairmanship would also continue to address such issues as the prevention of torture, children in armed conflict, internally displaced persons and trafficking in human beings.  Last but not least, non-conventional challenges to European security would also be addressed.  That was why Romania had proposed that the 2001 OSCE Economic Forum should concentrate on the issue of "Transparency and good governance in economic matters".  Romania would make every effort to further enhance the relationship between the United Nations and the OSCE.

HIDEAKI KOBAYASHI (Japan) said that the OSCE had been contributing to the stability and peace of Europe and Central Asia, often in close cooperation with various bodies within the United Nations system.  His country had worked with the OSCE, particularly in its operations in South-Eastern Europe.  Since 1996 Japan had sent over 100 election observers to Bosnia and Herzegovina to supervise elections, contributing $4.5 million to that effort.  In addition, Japanese personnel were provided to the OSCE Spillover Monitor Mission to Skopje and to the OSCE Mission to Croatia.

Continuing, he also took note of Japan's participation in the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, in which it had contributed over $1 million in emergency assistance.  In support of the reconstruction and democratization process, Japan gave

$14.5 million for media activities in Kosovo through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Office for Project Services.  In conclusion, he supported cooperation between the United Nations and the OSCE, which could contribute not only to the stability of the region, but to international peace and security as well.  Japan felt that it was very important to further strengthen cooperation between both organizations and also reaffirmed its commitment to the activities of the OSCE.

MOVSES ABELIAN (Armenia) observed that "ten years ago, when the communist system collapsed, many small- and medium-sized countries such as Armenia could have been left in a political and security vacuum".  It was fortunate that the OSCE had the vision and the leadership to include those countries in its structure, permitting the small countries to anchor themselves in the community of European nations.  His country hoped that the integration process would be ongoing and comprehensive.  It represented both challenges and opportunities.  Armenia had a common destiny in the OSCE area, and believed in the guiding principles and commitments enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act.  Moreover, the Charter on European Security, adopted at the 1999 Summit of the OSCE, must be regarded as a cornerstone of future European security.

In his report, the Secretary-General stated that the United Nations and the OSCE had continued to practice a division of labour based on the comparative advantages of the two organizations and noted that the OSCE had retained the lead in the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.  Since 1992 the OSCE had been actively engaged in the Minsk process to define the elements for a durable peace and stability.  The Government of Armenia, as well as the authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh, had supported the recent proposals of the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group as a more realistic effort in addressing the issue of the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, with minimal prejudice to either of the competing claims.  Regretfully, Azerbaijan had rejected those proposals.  Nevertheless, his Government hoped that the intensified dialogue between the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan would enhance the peace process and help to bring about a lasting and comprehensive solution to the problem.

He stated that the contemporary history of conflict resolution reflected the changing nature of inter- and intra-State relations, clearly displaying the necessity of breaking through the framework of conventional perceptions of sovereignty.  Armenia was fully committed to the guiding principles of the OSCE.  His Government always supported and actively participated in all bilateral or regional initiatives aimed at developing relations of good neighbourliness and cooperation in the region.  In closing, Armenia believed that further strengthening of stability through conventional arms control would be decisive for future European security.

Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee

MOHAMMED MAHMOUD GOMAA (Egypt) introduced the draft resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee (A/55/L.12).  He said that Egypt was assuming the chairmanship of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee this year.  For over 40 years, the Consultative Committee had earned a reputation for its excellent legal work.  The Consultative Committee was active in various United Nations conferences dealing with the law of treaties and the law of the sea.  Egypt had hosted a session of the Consultative Committee in February this year, where all the participants had taken part in valuable deliberations, discussing contemporary issues in international law and the implementation of a world trade order.  In addition to annual meetings, there had been discussions and special sessions of the Consultative Committee on the establishment of an International Criminal Court and the treatment of refugees, and there would be further meetings concerning the world trade order and the settlements of conflicts. 

The reports of the Consultative Committee had become one of the important sources and references of international law, as well as a reflection of the view of the African and Asian States.  Through its work, the Committee had defined the common interest of the two regions in international issues, thus contributing to a world legal order that was fair and just.  Few working organizations had such a small annual budget.  The Committee had 45 member States, and planned to expand its membership even further.

The Consultative Committee provided expertise and specific advice regarding international law, he said.  However, activities could not be undertaken without the necessary resources and financing.  Contributions would help.  Despite financial constraints, the Consultative Committee was very well organized.  It had an excellent library, which needed improvement, so that in due time it could provide a documentation service for African and Asian States.  Cooperation between the Consultative Committee and the United Nations was imperative.  He hoped that Member States would continue to express strong support for the Consultative Committee.

PREM GUPTA (India) informed the Assembly that India and the Consultative Committee had signed the headquarters agreement in April, which represented a landmark in the relationship between the Committee and India as host country.  The Committee was established to:  promote international legal cooperation; develop and disseminate expertise in international law by organizing annual meetings, seminars and workshops; and contribute to the process of codification and development of international law.  While all endeavours in the field of international law had their political and policy implications, the Committee confined itself to areas of legal interest, leaving issues of political controversy to other forums.

He said that at the technical level, the Consultative Committee gave priority to:  the work of the International Law Commission; the International Court of Justice; evolving international criminal law; and legal issues arising from the multitude of international conventions under negotiation.  The Committee was also involved with the operation of the regime of the international seabed area, principles applicable to outer space activities and environmental law.

He said he was grateful to the Consultative Committee for taking initiatives in organizing special meetings on subjects of contemporary relevance in cooperation with the World Intellectual Property Organization and the World Trade Organization.  Those meetings had resulted in the publication of useful materials.  Last year, the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) held a joint initiative with the Consultative Committee to produce a handbook on environmental law, which was designed to provide its users with a comprehensive collection of important global and regional environmental law documents.  He closed by calling the Consultative Committee publications useful documents for building national and regional capacities to enhance compliance and implementation of global and regional agreements.

PHLIPPE BOSSIERE (France), spoke on behalf of the European Union and the associated States of Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta and Norway.  He said the consideration of the issue every two years provided an opportunity to review cooperation between the two organizations, which had intensified to a wide range of subjects, covering humanitarian and environmental questions, as well as the peaceful settlement of regional disputes.  The Secretary-General’s report had mentioned the numerous consultations between the Consultative Committee and various United Nations organizations over the last two years.  He emphasized the role of the Committee in the programmes of the United Nations Decade of International Law, and in the establishment of the International Criminal Court.

He noted the attention paid by the Committee to the International Law Commission in particular with regard to dispute settlement.  The Committee’s initiatives had also proved useful for the work of the Sixth (Legal) Committee.  Its contributions to the bodies of the Convention on the Law of the Sea and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), among other organizations, would certainly help to enrich their proceedings.  He hoped, therefore, that the cooperation would continue in the interest of the entire United Nations system.

QU WENSHENG (China) said that there was a growing cooperation between the Consultative Committee and the United Nations.  The Committee studied the latest developments in international law and highlighted the common interests in Asia and Africa, with positive results.  In addition, the Committee had contributed to the development and codification of international law.  Since becoming an observer at the General Assembly, the Committee's cooperation with the United Nations had grown even closer.  The Committee's cooperation with the International Law Commission stood out, as each year the Commission’s representatives were invited to attend the Consultative Committee's annual session and gave a briefing on its work.  The two organizations had a very satisfactory and fruitful cooperative relationship. 

The Consultative Committee's cooperation with the United Nations was expanding into the economic, social, environmental and humanitarian areas.  For example, after the decade of 1990 to 1999 was declared the Decade of International Law, the Committee compiled research material, decided on activities to be launched during the Decade and submitted a report to the Secretary-General on the possible role of the Committee in attaining the goals of the Decade. 

He said he was pleased to see the increasingly close and broad cooperation between the two organizations.  He hoped that they would strengthen their cooperation in areas of common concern in the new millennium, especially in the development and codification of international law, thus providing a good model of how global intergovernmental organizations and regional intergovernmental organizations could closely cooperate for world peace and development. 

HADI NEJAD HOSSEINIAN (Iran) said the Consultative Committee was a unique organization, in which a large number of Asian and African States actively participated in making the law that governed relations among nations and contributed positively to the promotion of the rule of law in international relations.  Since its foundation, the Consultative Committee had undertaken various studies on international legal subjects of common concern to the two continents and had also facilitated the exchange of views and information among its member States on developing international legal matters, while harmonizing the positions of Asian and African countries on major legal issues.

In particular, the Consultative Committee had done a systematic and consistent study of items that were on the agenda of the Sixth Committee and the International Law Commission from Asian and African perspectives, which resulted in commentaries and recommendations of the Consultative Committee being reflected in the proceedings of the United Nations legal organs.  There had been cooperation between the United Nations and the Consultative Committee since its inception in 1956.  In 1980 observer status in the General Assembly was accorded to the Consultative Committee.  Those cooperative efforts had proved to be fruitful and had served the mutual interests of both organizations.  The report illustrated in detail cooperation in areas outside of international law, which now included subjects relating to economic, environmental and humanitarian law and the peaceful settlement of disputes.

He pointed to the Committee's work in organizing several seminars and workshops to promote adherence by its member States to a number of instruments developed under the auspices of different bodies of the United Nations.  The Consultative Committee also provided technical assistance to its members that wanted to become parties to those instruments.  The promotion and the dissemination of the international instruments at the regional level were an essential factor for better understanding those documents, which in turn would facilitate their universal acceptance.  The Committee was also resolved to address the new challenges arising from globalization and closely monitored the legal developments relating to international economic cooperation for development.  In closing, he took note of the regional arbitration centres that had been established in Cairo, Kuala Lumpur, Tehran and Lagos, under the aegis of the Consultative Committee and designed to promote settlement of commercial disputes at the regional level.  The prospects for future cooperation between the United Nations and the Consultative Committee were promising, which was why Iran had co-sponsored the draft resolution.  He hoped it would be unanimously approved.

DONILLO ANWAR (Indonesia) said that the cooperative framework between the Consultative Committee and the United Nations had achieved considerable success.  Ever since the preparation of a study on "Strengthening the role of the United Nations through the rationalization of its functional modalities with special reference to the General Assembly" in 1985, the Consultative Committee had undertaken a number of initiatives to strengthen the role of the United Nations by promoting its activities among its Member States.  Similarly, there was no doubt about its tireless efforts in contributing to the success of the United Nations Decade of International Law.

It was also important, he said, to focus attention on its assistance to Member States, with a view to facilitating their active participation in the meetings of the Sixth Committee.  Furthermore, the assistance of the Consultative Committee in ascertaining the feasibility of compiling national legislation, jurisprudence and the practices of Member States was a worthy endeavour.  Over the years, his country had acknowledged the close monitoring of the work and functioning of the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea, the International Seabed Authority, as well as other related organs by the Consultative Committee.

As a developing country, Indonesia appreciated the work of the Consultative Committee on economic cooperation for development.  He was gratified that the Consultative Committee had organized, with financial and technical assistance, a one-day special meeting on "Electronic commerce: Legal Issues and its Impact on Developing Countries".  That was an item of particular importance in an electronic age of e-commerce, intellectual property and complex issues relating to contractual obligations.  Finally, it was a distinct pleasure to co-sponsor the resolution item and he hoped for unanimous support.

WAFIK Z. KAMIL, Secretary General of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee, said that in looking back at the events of the past century, one experienced both pride and shame:  pride because of the tremendous advances in the fields of industry, technology, science and medicine; but shame because of two world wars, the killing of millions of people and the use of weapons of mass destruction.  On the historic occasion of the Millennium Summit, more than 150 heads of State and government spoke for the common goal of international peace, security and nuclear disarmament, and the protection of human rights and freedom.  The Declaration, adopted by the Millennium Assembly, reaffirmed faith in the United Nations and its Charter as indispensable foundations for a more peaceful, prosperous and just world.

In regard to the existing cooperation between the United Nations and the Consultative Committee, he said that the Committee had been a major forum for cooperation among the States of the Asian-African region on international law matters.  In addition, the Consultative Committee made contributions in refugee law, human rights, international criminal court, environment, trade law matters and to the United Nations Decade of International Law.  It had been the constant endeavour of the Consultative Committee to promote wider acceptance of United Nations conventions.

The Consultative Committee wished to touch upon some of the pressing issues that needed urgent attention, the first of which was international terrorism, he said.  The illicit drug trafficking, the smuggling of small arms and nuclear terrorism were complex issues, which had been dealt with by the recently concluded Convention on Transnational Organized Crimes.  Another matter of basic concern of developing countries was the recognition of their right to development, giving priority to the eradication of poverty, the creation of better health conditions and the promotion of education and greater employment opportunities.  The Committee had made initiatives highlighting the importance of issues related to globalization, focusing on the work of the World Trade Organization and the World Intellectual Property Organization.  He emphasized the efforts of the Consultative Committee to establish a comprehensive programme on energy and environment-related matters.  The proposed environmental and energy law centre within the Committee Secretariat would also examine the implications of the privatization and measures to promote transfers of technology in oil-producing countries.  In conclusion, he said the Consultative Committee would be pleased to cooperate in the work of the United Nations and its agencies.

Action on draft resolution

Mr. GOMAA (Egypt) said in the operative paragraph 7, the phrase “fifty-sixth” session should be replaced by “fifty-seventh” session.

It was also announced that Japan and Sri Lanka had joined as co-sponsors.

The Assembly then adopted without a vote the draft resolution, as orally amended, on cooperation between the United Nations and the Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee.  (document A/55/L.12)

Adoption of the agenda and organization of work

The Assembly decided to adopt the Committee of Conference’s recommendation (A/55/213/Add.1) to authorize the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations and its working group to meet in New York during the main part of the fifty-fifth session of the General Assembly.

The role of the United Nations in promoting a new global human order

SAMUEL R. INSANALLY (Guyana) said that the concept of a new global human order was the brainchild of the late Dr. Cheddi Jagan, President of Guyana.  Committed to the promotion of the late President's vision, his country had decided to bring this proposal to the United Nations.  The time had come, he said, for the international community to create an alternative vision for development based on a more balanced relationship between the market and the State.  Before there could be a breakthrough in development, the core questions of political will and resources must be resolved.  An urgent reconciliation of the widely divergent views of the partners on world economic and social issues was a prerequisite for success in any future negotiations.

The absolute population living in poverty in both South and North was increasing, he said.  Economic growth and unprecedented technological progress had been, ironically, the harbingers of greater unemployment and declining human welfare.  In the political area, the ascendancy of democracy often meant not greater people participation and consensus, but the rule of the powerful and its manipulation of the majority.  Though often practised at the national level, the virtues of democracy were notably absent in the wider community of nations, creating isolationism among the rich, rather than solidarity among humankind.  Naturally, the proponents of globalization and trade liberalization would argue differently, convinced that the free market would remedy the imbalance in economic growth between countries.  But, who was right?

Yet another contradiction that bedeviled international cooperation, he said, was that which persisted between the Agenda for Peace and the Agenda for Development.  With the rapid proliferation of conflict in various parts of the world and the resulting increase in peacekeeping operations, there was a growing preoccupation among developing countries that, with the astronomical costs for implementing the Agenda for Peace, the Agenda for Development would be starved of resources.  Clearly, a sensible balance had to be struck between those two basic purposes of the Organization.  The proposal for the new global human order was a serious attempt to find common ground for future international cooperation.  It was not intended to conflict with other initiatives and proposals already in existence and currently being pursued.  It should be considered as a complementary device for facilitating consensus.

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For information media. Not an official record.