LEGAL COMMITTEE, REVIEWING REGULATION OF INTERNATIONAL TRADE, APPROVES TEXT OF MODEL LAW ON COMMERCIAL CONCILIATION

18 October 2002
GA/L/3217

LEGAL COMMITTEE, REVIEWING REGULATION OF INTERNATIONAL TRADE, APPROVES TEXT OF MODEL LAW ON COMMERCIAL CONCILIATION

18/10/2002
Press ReleaseGA/L/3217

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

Sixth Committee

17th Meeting (AM)

LEGAL COMMITTEE, REVIEWING REGULATION OF INTERNATIONAL TRADE,

APPROVES TEXT OF MODEL LAW ON COMMERCIAL CONCILIATION

Report on Measures against Terrorism is Introduced; Current

Debate on Possible Convention against Human Cloning is Concluded

A new model law on international commercial conciliation elaborated by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) was approved by the Sixth Committee (Legal) this morning for adoption later in the session by the General Assembly.  A draft text, to which the Model Law was annexed, was one of three related to the work of UNCITRAL approved by the Committee, without a vote.

By the text on the Model Law, the General Assembly would commend the instrument, together with its Guide to Enactment, to States for their consideration.  The Assembly would express the belief that the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Conciliation would significantly assist States in enhancing their legislation governing the use of modern conciliation or mediation techniques and in formulating it.

A draft text on a report of the Commission’s thirty-fifth session this year would have the Assembly stress the importance of UNCITRAL’s conventions being brought together for the global unification and harmonization of international trade law.  The text was introduced by the representative of Austria.

By the third draft, the Assembly would emphasize the need for higher priority to be given to the Commission’s work.  The representative of Mexico made a statement on the text.

Since its establishment by the General Assembly in 1966, UNCITRAL has elaborated a number of other international legal texts dealing with various aspects of international trade, such as the International Sales of Goods, International Commercial Arbitration, Electronic Commerce and International Payments.

Also this morning, a draft resolution on effective measures to enhance the protection, security and safety of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives was introduced in the Committee by the representative of Finland.  The text would, among other things, have the General Assembly strongly condemn acts of violence against such missions and representatives, and would call upon

17th Meeting (AM)

States to become party to the international instruments relevant to protection of diplomats and missions.

A report of the Sixth Committee’s working group on measures to eliminate international terrorism, was introduced by its chairman, Rohan Perera, Sri Lanka, who said delegations remained committed to the finalization of the text of the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism.  It was once more clear that the outstanding issues required political will and compromise for a consensus to be achieved.

Finally, the Committee completed its debate on an international convention against the reproductive cloning of human beings.

While still calling for consensus on a convention against reproductive cloning of humans, most speakers today called for a comprehensive ban as proposed by Spain and others.  The other proposal, put forward by Germany and France, called for an immediate ban of cloning for reproductive purposes while leaving the therapeutic cloning of embryos to be deal with in later instruments.

Until present pressing issues such as poverty were addressed, Fiji’s representative said, there should be no talk of subjects like cloning.  People in the developing world had many pressing problems.  They could not give careful consideration to the matter of cloning.  It should be banned entirely.

Kenya’s representative said both drafts before the Committee upheld the dignity of the human being by outlawing reproductive cloning but all forms of cloning should be banned due to problems of enforceability.

The issue was probably one of the most complex the Committee had had to deal with, said the representative of Singapore.  The subject was an important one requiring more studies before any rush to judgement; therapeutic research could always be regulated.

Statements on the item were also made by the representatives of Thailand, Netherlands, Sierra Leone, Italy, Argentina, Ethiopia, Panama and Bulgaria.

A representative of the United Nations Educational and Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) also spoke.

The Sixth Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 22 October, to take up its consideration of the Convention on jurisdictional immunities of States and their property.

Background

The Sixth Committee (Legal) met this morning to continue its consideration of an international convention against the reproductive cloning of human beings.  (For background on this item, see Press Release GA/L/3216 of 17 October.)

In addition, a draft was expected to be introduced on measures to enhance the protection, security and safety of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives (document A/C.6/57/L.18).  The Committee had first considered the item on 26 September, based on a report of the Secretary-General in response to a General Assembly request for information on the status of ratifications and accessions to the various relevant legal instruments, as well as reports from States on violations against consular missions and representatives.

Also, the Committee was expected to consider the report of the working group on measures to eliminate international terrorism (document A/C.6/57/L.9).

Finally, the Committee was expected to take action on three draft resolutions related to the work of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).

UNCITRAL draft texts

The first draft resolution, relating to the work of UNCITRAL, Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law at its thirty-fifth session  (document A/C.6/57/L.12), is sponsored by 74 States.

By its terms, the General Assembly would note with satisfaction the completion and adoption by the Commission of the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Conciliation.

The Assembly would stress the importance of bringing into effect the conventions emanating from the Commission’s work for the global unification and harmonization of international trade law and would, to that end, urge States to consider signing, ratifying or acceding to them.  Reaffirming the mandate of the Commission as the core legal body within the United Nations system in the field of international trade law, the Assembly would commend the Commission for the progress of its work on arbitration, insolvency law, electronic commerce, privately financed infrastructure projects, security interests and transport law.

The Assembly would reaffirm its appeal to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other bodies responsible for development assistance, such as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and regional development banks, as well as to governments, to support the Commission’s training and technical assistance programme.

Also by the text, the Assembly would reiterate its request to the Secretary-General to strengthen the Commission’s secretariat to enhance the effective implementation of its programme, possibly during the current biennium or the years 2004-2005.   

A draft resolution on Model Law on International Commercial Conciliation of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (document A/C.6/57/L.13), would have the General Assembly recommend that all States duly consider the instrument, which is annexed to the text.

The General Assembly would ask the Secretary-General to make all efforts to ensure that the Model Law, together with its Guide to Enactment, becomes generally well known and available.

The Assembly would express the belief that the Model Law would significantly assist States in enhancing their legislation, governing the use of modern conciliation or mediation techniques and in formulating such legislation.

A third UNCITRAL-related draft concerns Enhancing coordination in the area of international trade law and strengthening the secretariat of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (document A/C.6/57/L.14).  By the text, the General Assembly would emphasize the need for higher priority to be given to the work of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law.  This was because of the increasing value of the modernization of international trade law for global economic development and, consequently, for the maintenance of friendly relations among States.

The Assembly would take note of the recommendations of the Office of Internal Oversight Services that the Office of Legal Affairs review the requirements of the Commission’s secretariat.  (The recommendations are contained in document E/AC.51/2002/5 (15)).  

Working Group’s report on terrorism

A report of the working group on measures to eliminate international terrorism (document A/C.6/57/L.9) was to be introduced by Rohan Perera (Sri Lanka), the Chairman, who also chairs the original Ad Hoc Committee (on terrorism) established under General Assembly’s resolution 51/210 of 17 December 2001.

The Ad Hoc Committee continued elaboration of a draft comprehensive convention on terrorism and another text on an international convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism from 25 January to 1 February this year.  The Ad Hoc Committee’s work was continued on 15 and 16 October by a working group of the Sixth Committee.

The report recommends that work should continue with the aim of finalizing the text of the two conventions, building upon the work accomplished during the meetings of the Working Group.  The Chairman of the Working Group in his own conclusion, said that the key issue in relation to the comprehensive convention on terrorism which had to be resolved, continued to be the text of article 18 of the draft instrument.  [Article 18 deals with the exclusion from the scope of the draft conventions of certain activities of the armed forces, as well as military forces of States in conflict situations.]  If agreement was reached on that article, he believed solutions could be found for the other pending articles.  Agreement on that article should also facilitate finalization of the convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism, he stated.

Annexed to the working group’s report are a list of written amendments and proposals submitted by delegations.

Draft on protection, security and safety

The representative of Finland introduced the draft resolution on effective measures to enhance the protection, security and safety of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives (document A/C.6/57/L.18).  He said one of the core elements of the draft was the reporting mechanism for violations against missions and representatives, as well as against those with diplomatic status to international intergovernmental organizations.  Until now, States had been requested to report and the Secretary-General had been requested to issue a report.  Now the reporting mechanism was incorporated into the draft resolution to facilitate implementation.  The Secretary-General was also requested to report biennially, instead of annually, in line with the aim of streamlining the reporting system in the United Nations in general.

He said, the preambular part of the draft stressed that respect for the principles and rules of international law governing diplomatic and consular relations was a basic prerequisite for normal conduct of relations among States.  In the operative part, violence against missions and representatives was strongly condemned.  States were urged to observe, implement and enforce international law in the field and investigate violence where appropriate.  States were called upon to cooperate with each other in all these regards.

Action on International Trade Law Drafts

The Committee took up the draft resolution on Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law at its thirty-fifth session (document A/C.6/57/L.12), which had been introduced by Austria.  The resolution was adopted without a vote.

Also adopted without a vote was the draft, introduced by the bureau, on the Model Law on International Commercial Conciliation of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (document A/C.6/57/L.13).

Finally, the Committee took up the resolution on Enhancing coordination in the area of international trade law and strengthening the secretariat of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (document A/C.6/57/L.14).  The representative of Mexico, who said her country had become a co-sponsor, called on UNCITRAL to consider the additional work placed on the Secretariat, as noted in the last preambular paragraph.  The draft was adopted without a vote.

Statements

The committee resumed its debate on reproductive cloning.

MANASVI SRISODAPOL (Thailand) said reproductive cloning of human beings by researchers and medical doctors was prohibited in his country under a regulation issued by the Thai Medical Council.  The Thai National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology had appointed a bio-ethics team to develop appropriate guidelines for therapeutic cloning, which it was believed could provide important answers in the treatment of diseases.

Thailand, in principle, supported a draft international convention against reproductive cloning of human beings.  It re-echoed the views expressed by many other delegations that issues related to other forms of cloning should be subject to further examination and deliberation.

CARL PEERSMAN (Netherlands) said a universally acceptable norm must be sought on the issue of reproductive cloning of human beings.  There should be a temporary ban on such activities.  A definitive prohibition on human reproductive cloning was a controversial norm, he said.  His delegation supported the French-German proposal on the question.

ALLIEU I. KANU (Sierra Leone) said his country, as a member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), associated itself with the statement made by the representative of the Sudan on behalf of that group.  It was his delegation’s priority that a swift mandate which addressed, for the first time, the issue of the prohibition of reproductive cloning of human beings, should be adopted.  It should not, however, preclude the possibility of the adoption or the maintenance of stricter regulations on the prohibition of other forms of cloning.

For that reason, and in a spirit of compromise, his delegation would support the French-German proposal, even though it did not reflect its position on cloning in general.  Sierra Leone would continue to defend the dignity of the individual and oppose the cloning of human beings.  It would work for the adoption of further measures both at national and international levels to prevent the use of all other cloning techniques, which constituted, in essence, a form of reproductive cloning.

GIUSEPPI NESI (Italy) said many delegations in the working group had pointed out the lack of consensus on reproductive cloning of humans.  Why spend time, he asked, on a topic on which all States agreed when there was another closely related topic on which there was great divergence, namely the total ban on human cloning?  Compromise language on the French and German draft did not seem possible.  Most were accepting that draft because it was realistic and seemed to satisfy the need on an urgent matter.  But did it really satisfy the need?  Only through a comprehensive ban on human cloning, at both the national and international level, and through a moratorium, would the international community send the message that it was not acceptable to clone human beings, that no experiments on human cloning would be tolerated.

RICARDO LUIS BOCALANDRO (Argentina) said he was firmly against any attempts at human cloning, even for research.  The United Nations was the centre to safeguard the fundamental values that comprised civilization and all aspects of human dignity.  A graduated approach was unacceptable.  The United Nations must stand resolutely against the creation of creatures that would be created only to be destroyed to help others.  Human cloning violated the basic principles of humanity.  The United Nations must protect those basic values.  His country was co-sponsoring the resolution put forward by Spain.

DANIEL KOTTUT (Kenya) said the two drafts before the Committee concerning cloning upheld the dignity of the human being by outlawing reproductive cloning.  However, all forms of cloning should be banned.  Otherwise, problems of enforceability would arise.  The best approach was to ban the use of embryos for research because that in effect eliminated reproductive cloning of humans.  The cloning of animals had already caused untold abnormalities.

He said the use of embryos to advance a medical solution for diseases involved the growing of spare body parts for medical purposes.  The practice was abhorrent to medical research.  No human life should be cannibalized or extinguished for the benefit of another.  Embryonic research had many side-effects.

KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) said his delegation favoured a consensus approach to the important question of reproductive cloning of human beings.  The issue was probably one of the most complex the Committee had had to deal with.  Committee members must respect each other's point of view.  Insufficient information had contributed to diversion from the important substantive issues at stake.  The subject was an important one requiring more studies before any rush to judgement.  Therapeutic research could be regulated; it was easy for people in good health to oppose such research.

He said his delegation supported agreement on the banning of reproductive cloning of human beings.  There was a huge amount of disinformation on the subject circulating around the Committee, he said, adding that that was not the right way to approach the question.  A consensus could be reached in the tradition of the Sixth Committee, he said.

BIRHANEMESKEL ABEBE (Ethiopia) said life was the domain of God.  A comprehensive draft on cloning was the only adequate response to the possibility of it.  It must be banned because it upset the social order concerning parenthood and the nature of a child.  Human beings had the right to be born and not be the object of some experiment.  The draft put forward by France and Germany did not make that point.  Human cloning should not be high on the list of scientific researchers.  The draft put forward by Spain did not ban scientific experimentation, just cloning of humans.

MARY MORGAN-MOSS (Panama) said she stood firmly by the draft her country was co-sponsoring with Spain.  Human cloning was unethical and against fundamental natural law.  Human beings should not have the exact characteristics of another, and cloning would be done only by a relatively few who could afford it.  That concept brought back some previous dark days when human cleansing had been attempted.

MS. BELEVA (Bulgaria) said the best way to prove that the dignity of the individual had some defence was to take immediate action with regard to the reproductive cloning of human beings.  There was too much at stake to risk waiting until irreversible action had been taken.

ORIO IKEBE of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), speaking on behalf of the UNESCO Director-General, said cooperation had already begun between her organization and the Ad Hoc Committee on the international convention against the reproductive cloning of humans.  UNESCO had gathered information and had amassed expertise since the 1997 adoption of the Declaration on the human genome.  UNESCO had made available to the Ad Hoc Committee a number of documents presenting the views of experts in the area of cloning; one of them gave an overview of national legislation regarding cloning.  With its International Bioethics Committee, comprising 36 experts, UNESCO was ready to carry out a study of bio-ethical implications of cloning, if invited by the Committee to do so.

ASENACA ULUIVITI (Fiji) said cloning was a complicated and multifaceted science.  Until pressing current issues such as poverty were addressed, there should be no talk of subjects like cloning.  Science had a responsibility to human life and the life cycle.  What would happen if life were to be preserved perpetually?  Horrible terrorism had been unleashed, as had happened last week in Bali.  Those were the issues to be addressing.

She said cloning must be approached in a comprehensive manner in line with the draft proposed by Spain.  It was an issue whose parts should not be considered piecemeal.  Indigenous scientists had provided information for the UNESCO convention on the human genome, and they deserved to be consulted on the matter of cloning.  Developing countries had much pressing work ahead of them and since they could not give due consideration to the subject of cloning, the practice should be banned for now.

Introduction of working group report

ROHAN PERERA (Sri Lanka), chairman of the Working group on measures against international terrorism, introduced the report of the group.  He said it reflected the progress achieved on the elaboration of a draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism, and on outstanding issues relating to the elaboration of a draft international convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism.  The working group also kept on its agenda the question of the convening of a high–level conference under United Nations auspices to formulate a joint organized response of the international community to terrorism in all its forms and manifestation.  Ambassador Richard Rowe of Australia had coordinated the informal consultations on those issues, he said.

Although no finality was reached, he said it was clear that the consultations afforded delegations an opportunity to note the different preferences of others on the key issues and the rationale for them.  It was also evident that delegations were prepared to approach the complex issues before them constructively and with an open mind, in order not to unravel the achievements of the working group and to consolidate and build upon them for its future work.

He said the discussions revealed that delegations remained committed to the finalization of the text of the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism.  That augured well in moving forward, towards the completion of the task before the working group.  It was once more clear, he said, that the outstanding issues required political will and compromise for a consensus to be achieved.  It was his expectation, that a consensus would indeed be reached in the future, and he urged delegations to work towards that end with relentless commitment.

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For information media. Not an official record.