GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTS RESOLUTION ON IAEA, ADDS AGENDA ITEM ON SELECTION OF JUDGES FOR RWANDA TRIBUNAL

16 March 2001
GA/9860

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTS RESOLUTION ON IAEA, ADDS AGENDA ITEM ON SELECTION OF JUDGES FOR RWANDA TRIBUNAL

16/03/2001
Press ReleaseGA/9860

Fifty-fifth General Assembly

Plenary

96th Meeting (PM)

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTS RESOLUTION ON IAEA, ADDS AGENDA ITEM

ON SELECTION OF JUDGES FOR RWANDA TRIBUNAL

Acting without a vote this afternoon, the General Assembly adopted a resolution by the terms of which it would take note of the report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for 1999 and request the Secretary-General to transmit to the Director General of the Agency the records of the fifty-fifth Assembly session relating to the activities of the Agency.

During discussion on the text, which was introduced by the representative of Nigeria, speakers expressed their disappointment that it had not been possible to reach consensus on a substantive text, which would have more fully reflected, among other things, Member States' support for the work of the Agency.

The representative of the United States, speaking after the vote, said “If we did not have the IAEA today, we would need to create it, but recent deliberations clearly indicate that we almost certainly could not do so”.  The IAEA was a unique institution that could only remain effective if it received effective support from its members, including adequate staff and funding.  Unfortunately, any outside observer witnessing the debate over the resolution would be hard pressed to identify efforts to make clear the participants’ support for the Agency.  He called upon delegations to reaffirm their support for the Agency and pledge that, in the future, their focus on the IAEA would emphasize collective support for the organization, rather than dissolve into prolonged disagreement that served only to divide countries.

Iraq’s representative, also speaking after the vote, said he had worked seriously during the consultations in order to try to reach consensus on a substantive text.  Iraq had proposed that a substantive text should contain wording expressing satisfaction with the resumption of IAEA activities in his country, in accordance with the safeguard system.  His country would also have preferred that reference be made to Iraq’s cooperation with the expert team that had visited Iraq in January 2000.

Also this afternoon, the Assembly decided to include an additional item on its agenda for the current session regarding election of judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

Statements after the vote were made by Sweden (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Australia, Argentina, Canada, Brazil, New Zealand, Japan and Ukraine.  The representative of Egypt made a statement before the vote.

Background Information

When the General Assembly met this afternoon, it was expected to take action on a draft resolution on the Report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and to consider the organization of work of its fifty-fifth regular session, adoption of the agenda and allocation of items.

By the terms of the draft, sponsored by Nigeria, (document A/55/L.75), the Assembly would take note of the Agency's report and request the Secretary-General to transmit to the Director General of the Agency the records of the fifty-fifth session relating to the activities of the Agency.

[For a summary of the Agency's report and the Assembly's debate on it, see Press Release GA/9810 of 6 November 2000.]

Also before the Assembly was a note by the Secretary-General with a request for the inclusion of an additional item in the agenda of the fifty-fifth session regarding Election of judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Genocide and Other Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of Rwanda and Rwandan Citizens Responsible for Genocide and Other Such Violations Committed in the Territory of Neighbouring States between 1 January and 31 December 1994 (document A/55/239).

The note states that by its resolution 1329 (2000) of 30 November 2000, the Security Council decided to enlarge the membership of the Appeals Chambers of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.  In order that the increase in the membership of the Appeals Chambers might be effected at the earliest practicable date, the Council also decided that two additional judges should be elected as soon as possible as judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

The Secretary-General requested that the election of the judges be included in the agenda of Assembly's fifty-fifth session and that it be considered directly in plenary meeting.

Action on Draft Resolution

O.S. SHODEINDE (Nigeria) introduced the draft resolution on the report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) (document A/55/L.75).  She said her country appreciated the IAEA’s role in promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy and remained devoted to the ideals of the Agency.  She noted that the document was an agreed text that basically recognized the importance of the Agency’s work.  The resolution should be adopted without a vote.

REDA BEBARS (Egypt) said his delegation had always attached great importance to the role of the IAEA, because the Agency was one of the pillars designed to put an end to nuclear proliferation.  Egypt had, over the years participated in the various fields of activity carried out by the Agency and was a member of the governing board.  Egypt had also participated in the discussions on the report and the debates on the preparation of the draft resolution.  On the basis of its convictions, Egypt had proposed an amendment to an earlier version of the text to clarify the role of the Agency and bring it out in a precise way so as to avoid any doubts regarding the Agency’s safeguards.  To ensure that the resolution was a success, Egypt had decided to embark on negotiations with other delegations on the question.  This had made possible a compromise satisfactory for all.  He hoped that the adoption of such procedural resolutions on the Agency would be the exception.

The Assembly then adopted the text without a vote.

PER NORSTROM (Sweden) spoke on behalf of the European Union, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Turkey, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.  He said the Union reiterated its strong attachment to the work of the IAEA.  He stressed the fact that the Union had agreed to a procedural resolution in no way detracted from its support for the Agency and for the relationship between the Agency and the United Nations.  The Union found it most regrettable that it had not been possible to reach consensus on a substantive text, which the Union would have liked to co-sponsor.

STEPHEN METRUCK (United States) said that the debate over the past few months concerning the resolution before the Assembly clearly illustrated the difficulties of forging common ground over the issues that once had seemed less complicated.  Countries shared collective responsibility for managing the challenges that confronted them today, including the essential need to manage developments in the nuclear field safely and securely.  That was the challenge the international community could not fail to meet.  The stakes of common prosperity and even survival were simply too great.  One of the most important means of managing nuclear developments worldwide was through the work of the IAEA. 

Most important was the assurance provided by the Agency through its safeguards system, he said.  Knowing where nuclear material was and how it was being used across the planet was critical to all.  The IAEA’s work in nuclear safety was being conducted in a manner consistent with international guidelines and standards.  The Agency was working to reduce the prospect of any nuclear accident.  Its on-site safety reviews helped States pinpoint potential problems and implement effective remedies, thus helping to stop problems before they started.  The collective interest of ensuring the safety of nuclear technology was served daily by the IAEA.

It seemed that collectively, countries had lost sight of the reason for the yearly dialogue, he said.  Safety, security and prosperity were served well by the IAEA.  “If we did not have the IAEA today we would need to create it, but our recent deliberations clearly indicate that we almost certainly could not do so”, he said.  The IAEA was a unique institution, which could only remain effective if it received effective support from its members, including adequate staff and funding.  Unfortunately, any outside observer witnessing the debate over the IAEA resolution would be hard pressed to identify efforts to make clear the participants’ support for the Agency. 

In conclusion, he called upon the delegates to reaffirm their support for the Agency and to pledge that in the future, the focus of delegation on the IAEA would emphasize governments’ collective support for that organization rather than dissolve into prolonged disagreement that served only to divide the countries.

BRONTE MOULES (Australia) reconfirmed her country’s strong support for the Agency and its important work.  She wanted to register her delegation’s disappointment that it had not been possible after extensive negotiations to adopt a substantive resolution on the Agency’s activities this year.  She also thanked Nigeria in its capacity as Chair of the IAEA Board of Governors, for all its efforts during 

GABRIELA MARTINIC (Argentina) said her country supported the work of the Agency and actively participated in it.  She regretted that it had turned out to be impossible to adopt a more substantive resolution.

MOHAMMED AL-HUMAIMIDI (Iraq) appreciated the efforts of the Agency to carry out its objective of ridding humankind of the evils of nuclear weapons.  It had been customary to adopt a substantive text that contained reference to the various activities of the Agency.  This year, unfortunately, a procedural resolution had been submitted. 

He said Iraq had worked seriously during the consultations in order to try to reach consensus on a substantive text.  It had proposed that a substantive text should contain wording expressing satisfaction with the resumption of IAEA activities in his country, in accordance with the safeguard system.  His country would also have preferred that reference be made to Iraq’s cooperation with the expert team that had visited Iraq in January 2000. 

Iraq’s draft had been in line with wording used in various United Nations documents, he noted.  He added that the resolution of the general conference of the Agency clearly referred to Iraq’s cooperation with the Agency in accordance with the safeguard system.  Despite such reference dealing with cooperation, a resolution of substance had not been agreed.  Iraq had shown flexibility to achieve a balanced substantive resolution and reiterated its full willingness to cooperate with the Agency. 

Mr. GOSAL (Canada) said his country subscribed to the statement made by the Union regarding the need to fully support the Agency’s work.  He stressed that a substantive and technical resolution would more accurately reflect the work of the Agency.

SANTIAGO IRAZABAL MOURAO (Brazil) expressed gratitude for the efforts of the Nigerian Chair of the IAEA Board of Governors and said that it was hard to accommodate each point of view in the discussion.  He supported the draft and regretted that several months of negotiations had not resulted in a text that sufficiently reflected the role of the Agency.  No consensus could be reached on a number of points, but he hoped that in the next negotiations, the constructive spirit would be achieved, so that a swift outcome could be reached.

Mr. BURKHARD (New Zealand) joined other delegations in expressing gratitude to the Nigerian delegation for its efforts to reach consensus.  The Agency was one of the pillars of the international nuclear regime, and its essential contribution to nuclear safety was important.  He regretted that it had been impossible to reach consensus on the substantive resolution.  He hoped that in the future, the delegations would be able to agree on a text that could give credit to the Agency.

SHINGO MIYAMOTO (Japan) welcomed the fact that a resolution on the report of the Agency had been adopted.  He reiterated his strong support for the Agency and expressed gratitude to all delegations that had worked to reach consensus on the substantive resolution.  It was particularly regrettable that the consensus on the substantive text had not been achieved, for all but a few remaining paragraphs of the substantive text enjoyed support of everybody involved.  His delegation attached particular importance to the paragraphs of the text devoted to the model additional protocol.  He hoped that a substantive text would be adopted at the next session of the Assembly.

YURII V. ONISHCHENKO (Ukraine) said that as a traditional co-sponsor of the draft on the IAEA, his delegation regretted that it had been impossible to reach consensus on a substantive resolution.  He thanked Nigeria for its patient and tireless efforts to reach a consensus.  Supporting a procedural resolution, he remained committed to the Agency’s goals.

The Assembly then turned to the Secretary-General’s request to include an additional item on its agenda for the current session regarding election of judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

The Assembly, having agreed to waive the relevant provision of rule 40 of its rules of procedure, decided to grant the Secretary-General’s request. 

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For information media. Not an official record.