ASSEMBLY’S LEGAL COMMITTEE, ENDING TERRORISM DEBATE, TURNS TO WORK OF CHARTER REVIEW GROUP, JUSTICE SYSTEM WITHIN UNITED NATIONS, RULE OF LAW
ASSEMBLY’S LEGAL COMMITTEE, ENDING TERRORISM DEBATE, TURNS TO WORK OF CHARTER REVIEW GROUP, JUSTICE SYSTEM WITHIN UNITED NATIONS, RULE OF LAW
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-first General Assembly
5th & 6th Meetings (AM & PM)
assembly’s Legal committee, ending terrorism debate, turns to work of charter
review group, Justice system within United Nations, rule of law
Methods of Applying Sanctions Are Discussed; On Terrorism, Syria Says
Islam is ‘Religion of Tolerance’, War of Civilizations Must Be Avoided
The Sixth Committee (Legal), at two meetings today, dealt with several topics on its agenda: international terrorism; requests for observer status in the General Assembly; reorganizing the internal justice system of the United Nations; the work of the Committee on the United Nations Charter; and the rule of law internationally and nationally.
Three draft resolutions were introduced requesting observer status in the General Assembly for, respectively, the OPEC Fund for Development, the Indian Ocean Commission, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
As it wound up its discussion of measures to eliminate international terrorism, the representative of Syria told the Committee that the war on terror could not be won by naked force. Indeed, force alone only worsened terrorism as was being seen in his region. A war between civilizations must be prevented. Intransigent fundamentalists were turning their back on true religion. Islam was a religion that preached tolerance. Islam could not be both a sacred religion and a terrorist religion. He said the international community must come to understand the root causes of terrorism and address them together.
Other speakers on the issue were the representatives of Iceland, Cambodia, Zambia, Sri Lanka, Yemen, Morocco, Nepal, Iran, Israel and Azerbaijan (on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference). The Permanent Observer of the Holy See also addressed the Committee on the topic of terrorism.
On the item of administration of justice at the United Nations, which concerns the internal justice system governing staff, speakers spoke of some confusion arising from the agenda item being assigned by the Assembly, without stated priority, to both the Fifth and Sixth Committees. The topic relies on a report from a panel of experts who described the administration of justice at the United Nations as costly, ineffective and not meeting international standards of law.
The Sixth Committee Chairman, Juan Manuel Gómez Robledo (Mexico), recommended that, since the comments of the Secretary-General to the Report on the Redesign Panel, as well as its financial implications, would not be issued until March 2007, the Sixth Committee hold consultations on how to proceed with consideration of the item.
Speaking on the issue were the representatives of Canada (also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand), United States, South Africa (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Russian Federation, Pakistan, Egypt, Syria and Germany.
The representative of Canada said it was in the interest of all States to ensure that the internal justice system of the United Nations enhanced accountability and was based on transparent processes that were fair and timely. South Africa’s representative said the system had been under discussion in the Fifth Committee for the past 10 years. He suggested that some of the Sixth Committee’s resources for the session be postponed in order to have a resumed session, next March, after the Fifth Committee had taken action on the report. However, the United States representative said that, while she agreed that proposed changes in the internal system of the United Nations might be useful and bring about much-needed reform, the United States had a number of questions and concerns about the specific proposals contained in the report. Any changes should be considered carefully and enjoy widespread support.
Most speakers on the report of the Special Committee on the Charter and Strengthening the Role of the Organization, which was introduced by its Chairman, Eduardo Sevilla Somoza ( Nicaragua), focused on its priority consideration, that of assistance to third States affected by the application of sanctions.
The Gambia’s representative, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said there should be strict adherence to Article 50 of the Charter which provided for recourse to the Security Council for redress for hardships resulting from sanctions. The Group supported possible payment of compensation to target third States for damage done by sanctions found to have been unlawfully imposed.
The United States speaker said Article 50 provided a mechanism to discuss the effects of sanctions, but did not require the Council to take any specific action. The Council continued to impose targeted sanctions measures, which helped to minimize unintended economic problems for States. The United States recognized that compliance did, in some cases, entail costs, however, and would continue to consider those costs through appropriate mechanisms, such as the international financial institutions.
Also speaking on the report were the representatives of Finland (on behalf of the European Union) Guyana (on behalf of the Rio Group), India, Sudan, Algeria, Myanmar, Libya, Japan, China, Egypt, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, Cuba, Belarus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Viet Nam, Russian Federation, Republic of Korea and Syria.
On the Committee’s new topic of the rule of law, Finland’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, strongly urged the Secretary-General to follow up on his stated intention to create a dedicated rule of law assistance unit in the Secretariat. She said the unit was necessary to coordinate the work of the United Nations on the rule of law, which was currently divided among numerous departments and agencies within the United Nations system.
Also speaking on that issue were the representatives of New Zealand (also on behalf of Australia and Canada) and Pakistan.
The Sixth Committee will meet again tomorrow, Tuesday, 17 October, at 10 a.m. to continue its discussion of the rule of law at the international and national levels.
The Sixth (Legal) Committee met this morning to conclude its debate on international terrorism and to take up these agenda items: Requests for observer status in the General Assembly by three organizations; administration of justice at the United Nations and the annual report of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization, which reviews its 2006 session at United Nations Headquarters from 3 to 13 April.
The Legal Committee may later begin consideration of a new item on its agenda -- the rule of law at the national and international levels.
Requests for observer status
The Committee had before it requests for observer status in the General Assembly by three organizations, named in draft resolutions.
By draft resolution A/C.6/61/L.3, the Assembly would decide to invite the OPEC Fund for International Development to participate in its sessions and work as an observer. The Secretary-General would be requested to take the necessary action to implement the resolution.
An explanatory memorandum accompanying the OPEC Fund’s request, submitted on its behalf by the Permanent Representative of Saudi Arabia (document A/61/141), states that, for more than three decades, the Fund has been engaged in international development issues and has, on numerous occasions, supported United Nations missions and activities. It further states that the Fund’s participation as an observer at the proceedings of the General Assembly would enhance further cooperation between the two bodies and facilitate the OPEC Fund’s work as an intergovernmental and international development organization.
By another draft resolution, (document A/C.6/61/L.2) the Assembly would invite the Indian Ocean Commission to participate in its sessions and work as an observer. By the text, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to take the necessary action to implement the resolution.
A memorandum accompanying the request, submitted by the Permanent Mission of Mauritius (document A/61/487) says the Commission, established in January 1984, aims at providing a regional platform for cooperation. Among the objectives of its programmes –- similar to the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations -- are the reduction of poverty and the general promotion of the welfare of the people of the region. The Commission closely collaborates with neighbouring regional organizations, according to the memorandum.
By draft resolution A/C.6/61/L.4, the General Assembly would similarly invite the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to participate in its sessions and work as an observer. It would request the Secretary-General to take the necessary action to implement the resolution.
A memorandum submitted by the Permanent Representative of the Philippines in support of the request (document A/61/510) states that the aims and purposes of ASEAN are, among others, to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region, and to promote regional peace and stability. It states that ASEAN’s participation in the Assembly’s work as an observer would serve to further enhance cooperation between that body and the United Nations.
Administration of justice at the United Nations
A report of the Redesign Panel on the United Nations system of administration of justice (document A/61/205) recommends a completely new, decentralized, streamlined and ultimately cost-effective system of internal justice for the Organization by a resolution of the General Assembly.
It states that if the resolution is approved, the new Office of the Administration of Justice in the United Nations could become operational on 1 January 2008.
The report states that the new system will be professional and independent and, if well resourced, will both reduce conflicts within the Organization through more effective informal dispute resolution, and ensure the expeditious disposal of cases in the formal justice system.
The Redesign Panel found that the United Nations internal justice system, as presently constituted, is outmoded, dysfunctional and ineffective, and that it lacks independence. The costs to the Organization of the system – financial, reputational and other -- are enormous. “Effective reform of the United Nations cannot happen without an efficient, independent and well-resourced internal justice system that will safeguard the rights of staff members and ensure the effective accountability of managers and staff members”, the report observes.
The Panel recommends the strengthening and decentralization of the Office of the Ombudsman, with a merger of the existing Office of the Ombudsman in the Secretariat and funds and programmes. It proposes the replacement of the Joint Appeals Board and the Joint Disciplinary Committees with a new decentralized United Nations Dispute Tribunal presided over by independent professional judges with power to issue binding decisions. It further proposes that the United Nations Administrative Tribunal should become a mainly appellate court for the internal justice system, with professional and decentralized legal representation for staff members.
Special Committee on report of Charter
According to its report (document A/61/33), the Special Committee on the Charter approved four recommendations for submission to the General Assembly covering the question of the maintenance of international peace and security; peaceful settlement of disputes; the Repertory of Practice of United Nations organs and the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council; and the Special Committee’s own working methods.
On the question of the maintenance of international peace and security, in particular the strengthening of the role of the Organization and enhancing its effectiveness, the Special Committee, in its recommendations, said that it recognized the value of considering measures within the United Nations to ensure the revitalization of the General Assembly to effectively and efficiently exercise the functions assigned to it under the United Nations Charter.
With regard to the issue of the peaceful settlement of disputes, the Special Committee recommended the approval of a draft resolution on “Commemoration of the sixtieth anniversary of the International Court of Justice”, by which the General Assembly would, among other things, encourage States to continue to consider recourse to the Court and acceptance of its jurisdiction in the settlement of disputes. The Assembly would stressthe importance of promoting the Court’s work, and would urge the continuation of efforts to encourage public awareness of the teaching, study and wider dissemination of the Court’s activities in the peaceful settlement of disputes.
A draft resolution adopted by the Special Committee would, among other things, have the General Assembly commend the Secretary-General for the progress made in the preparation of studies of the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs, including the increased use of the United Nations internship programme and the wider co-operation with academic institutions. The Assembly would also commend the Secretary-General for the progress in updating the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council, and would reiterate its call for voluntary contributions to the trust funds for work on the two publications.
The Special Committee adopted a decision on a working paper concerning its working methods.
A report from the Secretary-General (document A/61/153) on the two publications urges the Assembly to consider the recommendations of the Special Committee related to them.
Another report by the Secretary-General, Implementation of the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations related to assistance to third States affected by the application of sanctions (document A/61/304) highlights the measures taken for further improvement of the procedures and working methods of the Security Council and its sanctions committees. It also deals with recent developments on the role of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council in providing assistance to those countries and arrangements in the Secretariat towards that end.
The report states that the Security Council, on 20 June, adopted resolution 1689 (2006) by which it lifted the timber sanctions against Liberia, concluding that sufficient progress had been made towards meeting the conditions for doing so. In another action, the Council, by resolution 1698 of 31 July 2006, requested an assessment of the potential economic, humanitarian and social impacts of the possible measures it might impose to prevent the illegal exploitation of natural resources, and financing armed groups and militias in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Secretary-General was to present the report before 15 February 2007.
Earlier, on 22 June 2006, the President of the Security Council made a statement on behalf of the Council (S/PRST/2006/28) in which, inter alia, the Council resolved to ensure that sanctions were carefully targeted in support of clear objectives and were implemented in ways that balanced effectiveness against possible adverse consequences.
Rule of Law
The topic of “Rule of law at the national and international levels” was put on the agenda of the current session of the General Assembly at the request of Mexico and Liechtenstein (document A/61/142) and allocated to the Sixth Committee. In an explanatory memorandum, the two countries observe that the 2005 World Summit Outcome explicitly recognized the need for “universal adherence to and implementation of the rule of law at both the national and international levels”, complemented by a number of concrete commitments aimed at strengthening the rule of law. Their memorandum says the rule of law was considered a crucial component for the realization of a number of goals, such as sustained economic growth, sustainable development and the eradication of poverty and hunger. It was also recognized as a goal in itself, which was essential for peaceful coexistence and cooperation among States.
In the light of the pre-eminence of international law in international relations, and in order to follow-up the commitment given at the World Summit, the memorandum says that the United Nations must develop ways to strengthen the concept of the rule of law and to promote cooperation and coordination for its implementation.
The memorandum states that, ideally, future debates under the item should be based on a comprehensive report by the Secretary-General which could analyze the concept and the current state of the rule of law and provide information on all treaty actions and other relevant developments thereon. The Secretary-General’s report could further describe all United Nations activities in that field, including good offices, mediation and dispute settlement, and in particular, all related capacity-building activities.
HJALMAR HANNESSON ( Iceland) said the potential for catastrophic terrorism using weapons of mass destruction was real and present. It had been said already that terrorism disproportionately affected developing countries, both because many terrorist acts took place in those countries, and because the economic ramifications of terrorist acts in industrialized countries had a knock-on effect on developing countries. No institution other than the United Nations had the means of unifying nations against the evil of terrorism and there was no better venue for nations to forge their protective measures against it. The Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy established a balanced approach which took into account exacerbating factors, hard measures, capacity and the need to keep human rights in the forefront. The next obvious step was to conclude the comprehensive convention. He believed it would be of value to define terrorism on the basis of the definition presented by the Secretary-General.
WIDHYA CHEM ( Cambodia) said greater coordination and cooperation was needed at the sub-regional, regional and international levels to combat terrorism effectively. Success would require addressing such root causes as poverty and despair. Cambodia had rendered unwavering support to the global fight against terrorism. So far, it had acceded to 12 of the counter-terrorism instruments and was looking forward to ratifying the remaining. It had also destroyed more than 200,000 rifles, to prevent them from falling into the hands of terrorists or smugglers. It had officially instructed its national bank to scrutinize and freeze the assets of persons and entities who appeared on terrorist watch lists of the United Nations and the United States. He added that measures against terrorism should uphold both international law and international humanitarian law, particularly the principles of national sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in the internal affairs of States.
TENS KAPOMA ( Zambia) said his country was making every effort to accede to all international instruments and conventions relating to terrorism. Zambia condemned terrorism which constituted a serious threat to international peace and security, and it welcomed the adoption of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. He said his delegation was hopeful that agreement would be reached on the draft comprehensive convention, and stressed the need for divergent views to be accommodated to conclude the instrument. A legal definition of terrorism should be agreed upon, with account being taken of the legitimate struggles of peoples for self-determination, freedom and independence, in conformity with the United Nations Charter, international law and humanitarian law. He appealed for technical assistance to enable developing states to enhance their capacities to effectively participate in the fight against terrorism.
PRASAD KARIYAWASAM ( Sri Lanka) said his country had faced unbridled terrorism for more than two decades, which had impeded its development and undermined democracy. Its experience made it clear that terrorism was a problem with cross border linkages which could be defeated only with cooperation among States and active support of regional and international organizations. He said Sri Lanka attached the highest priority to the denial of financial support for terrorist purposes, noting that terrorist organizations often used various mechanisms including charitable fronts for fund-raising, and to channel them through unofficial systems. A comprehensive legal framework had been put in place in the country to combat money laundering and financing of terrorism. Sri Lanka supported the idea of the direct exchange of financial intelligence between States to monitor financial flows and to counter financing of terrorism. He urged the strengthening of the Security Council sanctions regime to include individuals, groups and institutions other than those designated by the Security Council Committees. He appealed for assistance to enable developing countries to build their capacities to implement the various counter terrorism strategies and relevant United Nations resolutions on the subject.
On the stalled negotiations on a comprehensive convention on international terrorism, he said the Ad Hoc Committee working on the instrument should respond to the call of world leaders to finalize the draft text as a matter of urgency. An effective law enforcement instrument should be formulated, rather than a political declaration. He said the main issue was the applicability of the instrument to various situations covered by other fields of international law, and expressed confidence that with effort and flexibility, a satisfactory solution could be found.
SHAWQI NOMAM ( Yemen) said international cooperation was required to combat terrorism. Yemen had adopted many deterrent measures to deal with the scourge. It called for an international conference to define terrorism and to distinguish it from the legitimate struggle for independence of peoples under foreign occupation. He said counter-terrorism should also deal with factors such as poverty, unemployment, lack of education and international injustice. He said dialogue was important to counter extremism, and stressed the need for the strengthening of understanding between civilizations and cultures. Yemen had convened two conferences between civilizations in 2003 and 2004.
He said his Government cooperated with the Security Council anti-terrorism committees and had submitted country reports, as required under the relevant resolutions. Its Ministry of Foreign Affairs had established a special unit to coordinate with international bodies specializing in counter terrorism. Yemen welcomed the adoption of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, and was putting in place the constitutional means to implement it.
KARIM MEDREK ( Morocco) said his country considered the United Nations the appropriate forum for forging appropriate responses to terrorism. Joint action by all member States was essential; individual actions by States were insufficient and could not work. The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy could consolidate the various actions taken so far by the United Nations and certain international organizations in the fight against terrorism, he said. The opportunity now was to implement the strategy.
Terrorism was not confined to one country, religion, culture or civilization, he said. Morocco remained convinced of the need to promote dialogue between cultures.
AFTAB ALAM ( Nepal), reiterating his country’s position in condemning terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, said the adoption of the nuclear convention and the Global Strategy were encouraging developments. The international community should extend their financial and technical support to enhance the national capacity of member States to implement the Strategy. There had not been any progress on questions related to the legal definition of terrorism and the scope of application of the comprehensive convention. Much time and resources had been spent. The protracted negotiations were also undermining the efficiency and effectiveness of the Sixth Committee. It was, therefore, essential to reach consensus at the current session.
The comprehensive convention would strengthen United Nations efforts to deal with international terrorism. He stressed the need for support from member States, particularly developing and least developed countries, for building national capacity for anti-money laundering laws and their effective enforcement.
MOSTAFA DOLATYAR ( Iran) said state terrorism was the gravest, most dangerous and most destructive form of terrorism. The longstanding crisis in the Middle East and current developments in the region illustrated that, among the various forms of state terrorism, foreign occupation was the most lethal, horrific and devastating. He said, “The systemic butcheries, massive civilian destructions, endless incarceration of people in notorious prisons and secret detention centres, licensed torture and other forms of unthinkable violation of human rights in the Palestinian and other occupied territories are too infamous to need further substantiation.” Recent developments in Afghanistan were a clear indication that eradication of extremism and terrorism could not be achieved through the use of military force, no matter how strong it might be. Struggle against extremism and terrorism was “a battle of hearts and minds”. The international community must understand the multifaceted root causes.
He said Iran had joined the consensus in adopting the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, despite some reservations, as a demonstration of its commitment to defend multilateralism and to support the fight against terrorism. He said the lack of a definition of terrorism was a major gap in the United Nations counter-terrorism instruments. He said answering the question of who had the authority to define terrorism was a highly political task. The difference was between some powers which would like to determine “the public enemy” on a case-by-case basis, taking into account their foreign policy preferences, and others which would like “to tie these hegemonic, and often aggressive, powers” by an objective legal definition. He said he supported the continuation of the work of the Ad Hoc Committee, to finalize its work as soon as possible, as well as the convening of a conference on international terrorism.
TAMAR KAPLAN ( Israel) said her country urged all states to oppose any proposal that had the effect of creating a pretext for justifying or excusing terrorist activity, or providing terrorist groups with an outlet for casting their atrocities in a positive or acceptable light. Another inherent challenge was the development of practical measures to address the problems of radicalization and incitement to terrorism.
She urged the Counter Terrorism Committee to act on proposals to broaden its focus and to address the treatment and rights of victims of terrorism as an important contribution to its mandate. Israel believed there was universal support for the basic principle that the deliberate murder of innocent civilians could never be justified by the furtherance of political or ideological goals. Liberal societies and democratic States must conduct the struggle against terrorism within the framework of international law.
She said the calls to address the underlying causes of terrorism were, too often, a poorly disguised attempt to justify the unjustifiable. Any honest discussion of underlying factors must address the problems of incitement, intolerance and the lack of democracy, which fed a culture of hate that glorified murder as martyrdom. Those factors played a primary role in making innocent life a legitimate target, and in nurturing the kind of extremism and rejectionism that prevented the peaceful resolution of political conflicts. Terrorists should not be allowed to prove that they could achieve, by illegitimate means, more than what could be achieved through peaceful negotiation. It was crucial to work to resolve conflicts in a way that strengthened those committed to moderation and the rule of law.
BASHAR JAAFARI ( Syria) said his country’s traditions went back thousands of years, with a tolerant culture that condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. The moral and historical responsibility of the United Nations suggested the need for an international conference to define terrorism. Such a definition must include a clear distinction between terrorism and the just struggle against foreign occupation. Negotiations were being impeded by obstacles put forward by certain States. The United Nations had a long, proud history of justly helping to liberate nations from the yoke of colonialism and foreign occupation. “They cannot rewrite the pages of history”, he said. The Palestinian people had been chased out of their land by Israel and the Lebanese people had also recently been victims of Israeli aggression.
He said Syria had joined in the consensus on the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. The war on terror could not be won by naked force; indeed the use of force alone only worsened terrorism, as was being seen in his region. He said a war between civilizations must be prevented. It was important to understand the root causes of terrorism and address them together. There should be dialogue between, and among, nations. Intransigent fundamentalists were turning their back on true religion. Islam was a religion that preached tolerance; it could not be both a sacred religion and a terrorist religion. The scorn of the prophet and the recent publishing of mocking cartoons represented a kind of intellectual terrorism and those responsible should be held accountable.
He said he regretted that a comprehensive convention had not yet been adopted, despite the best efforts by many but the political will was lacking in some States. He reiterated that a clear, unequivocal definition that distinguished between terrorism and the legitimate struggle against foreign occupation must be agreed upon, if the convention were to be in line with the principles and objectives of the United Nations.
YASHAR ALIYEV ( Azerbaijan), speaking for the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said the organization condemned terrorism, which could never be justified. It rejected any attempt to link terrorism to any religion. The OIC took note of the recent adoption of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Strategy; it had joined in the consensus despite some of its shortcomings. He said there was need for progress in the negotiations on the comprehensive convention on international terrorism, and the OIC urged that every effort be made to conclude work on the draft text. Flexibility should be shown on the outstanding issues such as the definition of terrorism, the distinction between terrorism and the legitimate struggle of peoples under foreign occupation and the scope of draft text.
He said the OIC commended the Ad Hoc Committee and the Sixth Committee working group, which had been considering the issue in the past year, and urged that the work should be continued. The organization called for the convening of an international conference on terrorism, under United Nations auspices, to examine international terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. It expressed its support for the establishment of an international centre on terrorism and an international code of conduct on counter-terrorism. It urged cooperation between the OIC and the United Nations in their common endeavour in fighting international terrorism.
ARCHBISHOP CELESTINO MIGLIORE, Apostolic Nuncio of the Holy See, stressed the need for an internationally binding comprehensive convention on international terrorism. It was fundamental to affirm that effective counter-terrorism measures and the protection of human rights were not conflicting goals; counter-terrorism strategy must not sacrifice fundamental human rights in the name of security. It must refrain from selective implementation of measures, otherwise it would corrode the very values that it intended to protect, alienate large parts of the world population and diminish the moral strength of such a strategy. A comprehensive convention on international terrorism should make clear that no cause, no matter how just, could excuse or legitimatize the deliberate killing or maiming of civilian populations. He said that even the legitimate right to resist unjust authorities and the right to self-determination and national liberation, must not threaten social fabric and domestic public order.
He said religious and inter-religious dialogue had a fundamental role to play in contrasting the terrorists’ preaching of hate and violence and the promotion by authentic religion of a culture of peace and mutual respect, and help for people with grievances in opting for non-violence.
The three draft resolutions requesting Observer Status in the General Assembly were introduced on behalf of, respectively, the OPEC Fund for Development, the Indian Ocean Commission, and ASEAN.
Administration of Justice
The Sixth Committee Chairman, Juan Manuel Gomez-Robledo (Mexico) recommended that, since the comments of the Secretary-General on the Report of the Redesign Panel, as well as its financial implications would not be issued until March 2007, the Sixth Committee should hold consultations on how to proceed with consideration of the item.
HUGH ADSETT (Canada), speaking also for Australia and New Zealand, said that it was in the interest of all States to ensure that the internal justice system of the United Nations enhanced accountability, was based on transparent processes that were fair and timely, and commanded the respect of the many dedicated individuals who worked for the United Nations. Once the Secretary-General had responded to the report, the Assembly should consider its recommendations expeditiously, in both the Fifth and Sixth Committees.
ELISABETH WILCOX (United States) said that while she agreed that proposed changes in the internal system of the United Nations might be useful and bring about much-needed reform, the United States had a number of questions and concerns about the specific proposals contained in the Report. Any changes should be considered carefully and enjoy widespread support.
SABELO SIVUYILE (South Africa), speaking for the Group of 77 Developing Countries and China, said the administrative justice system had been under discussion in the Fifth Committee for the past 10 years. The Group of 77 attached great importance to the issue, given its influence in defining a smooth and transparent relationship between staff and management, and the need to implement higher legal and judicial standards in the Secretariat. The Group of 77 had requested the separation of the item from the human resources management agenda item. Citing the Assembly’s conclusion that the current system was slow, unjust and costly, he said “We stand ready as a Legal Committee to provide the Fifth Committee with the advice it needs and upon their request.” He suggested that some of the Sixth Committee’s resources for the session be postponed in order to have a resumed session after Fifth Committee action on the report. He recommended a resumed session in March to look again at the issue.
GENNADY KUZMIN (Russian Federation) said a reorganization of the United Nations internal justice system had a direct link with the work of the Secretariat. Russia had supported the creation of a team of experts to look into the issue and put forward proposals. The subsequent report was of great value and provided many details; his Government was in the midst of examining the proposals in greater detail. In the meantime, though, Russia shared the general conclusion that there was a need to create a new system, one that was more effective and guaranteed the rights of staff. He said he supported the call to consolidate the current system of justice and remove duplication. However, he believed it was premature to have an in-depth examination of the report at this time. It would be better to wait until March, after the Secretary-General had had a chance to respond. It would also be best to have a cooperation mechanism between the Fifth and Sixth Committees
SYED HAIDER SHAH (Pakistan) said the Panel’s Report was of great value, analyzing the existing system in detail. Noting that there was some confusion as to how to proceed, he suggested that first the Sixth Committee consider the issue, and that then it be sent to the Fifth Committee.
MAHMOUD SAMY (Egypt) agreed that there must be a procedural mechanism for how the Fifth and Sixth Committees should coordinate on the matter. He too believed the Report was of great value on the need to improve the system.
MHD. NAJIB ELJI (Syria) said the administration of justice at the United Nations was slow and complicated, and clearly required reorganizing. The current system had fundamental flaws that needed to be remedied to bring them into line with international standards of law. The matter had been long discussed in the context of human resource management reform in the Fifth Committee, yet nothing had been achieved in the past 10 years. The Fifth Committee should issue its final recommendations on the report. The Sixth Committee could offer its help and support by holding, for example, a resumed session. He expressed the hope that the current confusion would not lead to a further deprivation of justice for United Nations staff.
THOMAS FITSCHEN (Germany) said the Assembly had assigned the agenda item to both Committees, without setting priority of one Committee over the other. His Government would reserve its position on which procedure to follow.
Charter Committee Report
The Chairman of the Special Committee on the Charter, EDUARDO SEVILLA SOMOZA (Nicaragua), introduced the report.
The Director of the United Nations Codification Division, VACLAV MIKULKA, then gave an update on the status of the Repertory of Practice of United Nations.
JACK CHRISTOFIDES, of the Security Council Practices and Charter Research Branch, Department of Political Affairs, provided an update on the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council.
Statements on Charter Committee’s report
When the Committee met again this afternoon, ANNA SOTANIEMI (Finland) spoke on behalf of the European Union, adding that also aligned with the statement were the acceding countries Bulgaria and Romania; the candidate countries Turkey, Croatia and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; the countries of the Stabilization and Associated Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina; as well as the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries, Iceland and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, and the Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova.
She said the European Union was convinced that the use of targeted sanctions was a critical tool in maintaining or restoring international peace and security. Sanctions needed to be designed with care with due regard to legal safeguards, as well as to the minimalization of their adverse impact on third parties to uphold their credibility and efficiency. The European Union encouraged the Security Council 1267 Committee, with the support of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team, to continue its efforts in developing the Committee’s guidelines, including listing and de-listing procedures. The European Union welcomed the proposal by France and the United States on the subject, and looked forward to continuing the discussion on the de-listing procedure. The envisaged mechanism would enable individuals to forward their request for de-listing to a focal point within the United Nations Secretariat. The European Union also welcomed the input from the Secretary-General.
She said the Union appreciated the different proposals in the Special Committee relating to sanctions, but continued to hold the view that the Special Committee should avoid duplicating the work that had been assigned and was done elsewhere. It called upon the Special Committee to conclude its work on the issue as a matter of urgency. On maintenance of international peace and security, it was still the view of the European Union that the Special Committee should refrain from seeking an advisory opinion concerning the use of force from the International Court of Justice. The European Union recognized that the 2005 World Summit’s endorsement of the deletion of Chapter XIII of the United Nations relating to the Trusteeship Council, as well as references to it in Chapter XII, should be implemented in time. It should be kept in mind that the Trusteeship Council no longer met and had no remaining functions.
GEORGE TALBOT (Guyana), speaking for the Rio Group of countries, said the fulfilment of the mandate of the Special Committee of the Charter depended on the political will of member States and not only on the adaptation of its working method. The Group again urged the inclusion on the Special Committee’s mandate the “Review of the rules of procedures of the General Assembly” and “Consideration of the legal aspects of the reform of the United Nations”. On the issue of the maintenance of international peace and security, the Group reiterated its position that all peaceful means must be utilized in the resolution of conflicts. He added that the application of coercive measures should be an option of last resort and employed in accordance with the United Nations Charter. The Group also said that sanctions must be employed only after all peaceful means to resolve conflicts had been exhausted, and only in situations where peace was threatened or disrupted. The Group insisted on the continuing application of measures to assist third States affected by the application of sanctions.
The Rio Group hoped that the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs as well as the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council would be made available in all six official United Nations languages as early as possible.
CRISPIN GREY-JOHNSON (Gambia), speaking for the African Group, emphasized that the Security Council’s power to impose sanctions should be exercised in accordance with the United Nations Charter and international law. Sanctions should be considered only after all means of peaceful settlement of disputes under Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter had been exhausted. Furthermore, sanctions should be imposed for a precise time frame and should be lifted as soon as the objectives had been achieved. In addition, they should be non-selective and targeted to mitigate their humanitarian effects. The African Group further stressed the need for strict adherence to Article 50 of the Charter which provided for recourse to the Security Council for redress for hardships resulting from sanctions. The Group supported the salient points in the Libyan proposal on the provision of possible payment of compensation about targeting third States for damage done by sanctions found to have been unlawfully imposed.
On the peaceful settlement of disputes, the Group reiterated the important role of the International Court of Justice in that respect, while reaffirming the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter on the free choice of means of dispute settlement.
TARIQ ANWAR (India) welcomed the working paper on the working methods of the Special Committee, and said he hoped its implementation would lend a new momentum to its work. He called for immediate steps to implement the relevant portion of the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document on sanctions, especially a provision which called upon the Security Council to improve the monitoring of the implementation and effects of sanctions. While the political and operational aspects of peacekeeping were being dealt with by other specialized committees, he believed that the Special Committee could contribute to the debate from a legal angle. The allocation of the agenda item “Comprehensive Review of the Peacekeeping Operations in all their aspects” to the Sixth Committee reflected the need for focused legal scrutiny of the subject. He said an advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the use of force without a Security Council decision, as proposed by Russian Federation and Belarus, would provide a clarification on certain important legal aspects of the matter.
On a Cuban proposal for the redefinition of the powers and functions of the General Assembly and its relationship with the Security Council, he said India attached great importance to the reform of the United Nations, including the revitalization of the General Assembly and the democratization of the Security Council, and significantly enhanced transparency of its working methods. The continuing encroachment of the mandates of the General Assembly by the Security Council was of great concern to the general membership of the United Nations.
YASIR ABDELSALAM (Sudan) recalled that the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document had referred to sanctions as an important tool in the United Nations Charter for the maintenance of international peace and security. The document had also said that its application should be a last resort after all peaceful means to resolve the crisis had been exhausted. The document had referred to effective monitoring of sanctions in accordance with clear criteria. He said sanctions should be applied even-handedly, and should not harm civilians and third parties. Sanctions should be precise and targeted, and lifted when the purposes for which they were imposed had been served. His delegation supported, respectively, the Cuban and the Russian Federation proposals on the strengthening of the role of the Organization and enhancing its effectiveness, and on the criteria for the application of sanctions. It welcomed the proposals of the Special Committee on the Repertory of Practice of United Nations organs and Repertoire of Practice of the Security Council.
EL HADJ LAMINE (Algeria), said sanctions should be imposed only as a last resort. They were a key component of the collective security system and their consequences on third States must be kept in mind by all. There should be a sharing of the sacrifices. Lack of assistance to affected third States would, in the long term, undermine the effectiveness of the sanctions regime, as well as undermine the credibility of Council decisions. He expressed appreciation for the Charter Committee’s work on assistance to third States affected by sanctions, as in the case of Liberia.
He said the resort to the use of force without prior Council authorization, or when not in the course of legitimate self-defence, deserved serious attention because of its grave implications, he said. He supported the recommendation in the working paper requesting an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the matter. In the context of the paper presented by Cuba, on Strengthening the Role of the Organization and its Effectiveness, he said the ultimate aim was for the Assembly to be able to restore itself as the principal deliberative, legislative and representative organ of the United Nations. He commended the publication of the Repertory and the Repertoire as valuable working instruments and important records of the historical work of the Organization. He also expressed appreciation for their availability on the Internet.
U SAW HLA MIN (Myanmar) said his country did not consider Article 50 of the Charter as merely procedural. It warranted effective implementation to assure practical and timely assistance to third States affected by sanctions. Sanctions should be applied according to strict and objective criteria. They should be applied cautiously and only after all peaceful means of settlement of disputes had been exhausted. At the World Summit, leaders had resolved that sanctions be carefully targeted in support of clear objectives, and that they be implemented in ways that balanced effectiveness against adverse socio-economic and humanitarian consequences for populations and third States.
In supporting a consideration of the working paper recommending that an advisory opinion be requested from the International Court of Justice as to the legal consequences of the resort to the use of force without prior Security Council authorization, he said he regarded such unilateral use of force to be a violation of the Charter. He said there was an increasing encroachment by the Security Council on issues falling within the function of the Assembly; the balance among the principal organs must be maintained.
Mr. EL-SAGER (Libya) said his country had closely followed the deliberations in the Charter Committee and had submitted several proposals to the Committee. The issues of assistance to third States affected by sanctions and maintenance of international peace and security were especially important. He expressed hope that the Assembly would adopt measures relating to the imposition of sanctions; sanctions were meant to deter and should be used only as a last resort.
The principle of the non-use of force was a well-established one in international law. He, therefore, supported the proposal to request an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the legal repercussions of resort to force without prior Council authorization. As to the Charter Committee itself and its working methods, he said the largest possible number of member States should participate in the Committee’s work, and do so in a spirit of cooperation and in a way that allowed all delegations to be treated equally.
He commended the work done on the Repertory and Repertoire, saying those documents gave researchers and others interested in the work of the United Nations a chance to be informed. Calling for publications to be translated into all official languages of the United Nations, he suggested that a United Nations voluntary funding mechanism be created, and said his Government was willing to contribute to such a fund for translation into Arabic.
HIROSHI TAJIMA (Japan) said the adopted working paper on the working methods of the Special Committee was not a panacea for solving all of its fundamental problems. The need to change the current situation in the Special Committee was widely acknowledged, he added. With regard to the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council, he said Japan attached importance to the compilation of the Council’s practices to improve its working methods. It welcomed the progress made so far and the Secretariat’s two-track approach to deal with the problem. He recalled that his Government had last March provided the sum of $110,000 to the Trust Fund for Updating the Repertoire, and hoped the contribution would assist in the continuing efforts to improve the transparency, inclusiveness and legitimacy of the Council’s work and to facilitate the development of its working methods.
GUAN JIAN (China) said it must be recognized that the Special Committee had made great contributions to strengthening the role of the United Nations, maintaining international peace and security and promoting inter-State relations. He said China favoured enhancing the efficiency of the Special Committee based on consensus. On the sanctions question, he said sanctions could not be applied unless all peaceful means had been exhausted. Their implementation must meet strict standard criteria, particularly the provisions of the United Nations Charter and relevant international law. There should be a time limit for sanctions while their outcome and impact were reviewed in a timely and objective manner. China regretted that the constructive Russian proposals on the subject had not been adopted.
On the formulation of guiding principles for United Nations peacekeeping operations, he said consideration of the subject in other United Nations organs should not prevent the Special Committee from deliberating on it from the perspective of the United Nations Charter and the strengthening of the Organization’s role. However, in order to improve the Special Committee’s efficiency, China had no objection to transferring the issue to other United Nations organs. Amendment of the United Nations Charter should be considered within the overall framework of United Nations reform; it should not be examined by the Special Committee.
NAMIRA NEGM (Egypt) associated her country with the statement of the African Group delivered by the representative of Gambia. She said the work of the Special Committee enhanced the credibility of the Organization and she encouraged all countries to support the role of the Special Committee.
She said the Security Council should not interfere in the mandates of the General Assembly. She spoke of the importance of the use of a collective international system in dispute settlement and avoidance of individual actions.
On the question of sanctions, she said they should be applied after all other peaceful means had been exhausted. They should be applied gradually and within a specified time frame. Sanctions must not be indefinite and should be properly targeted.
She said she welcomed the adoption by the Special Committee of a resolution on the 60th anniversary of the International Court of Justice, and also the progress made on the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs and Repertoire of the Security Council, which she said were important documents. She referred to the importance of cooperation between the Secretariat and academic institutions to ensure further progress in the updating of the two documents.
MUKONGO NGAY (Democratic Republic of the Congo) said sanctions should be imposed only under Chapter VII of the Charter, in the case of a threat to peace, or an act of aggression. Efforts should be made to minimize the impact of sanctions on civilian populations and on third States. Speaking of Council sanctions imposed on his country, he said the objectives of measures should be aimed at the illegal exploitation of natural resources to finance armed groups and not to prevent the country from making use of the country’s resources for the good of the nation.
He said he condemned coercive action, adding that military intervention was only justified after all peaceful means had been exhausted. He supported the proposal by the Russian Federation and Belarus to request an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice about the resort to the use of force without prior Council authorization. Turning to the Repertory and the Repertoire, he said he appreciated the effort to see that they were available electronically. But given the digital divide, he said, he hoped the Secretariat would continue to ensure their availability in paper form.
ELISABETH WILCOX (United States) said she had noted the continuing assertions that Article 50 required the Security Council to take some sort of specific action, in addition to consulting with States should special economic problems arise. She also appreciated that consultations under Article 50 provided a mechanism to discuss the effects of sanctions, but noted that the article did not require the Council to take any specific action.
She said she therefore, welcomed the Secretary-General’s report that noted once again that the Council continued to impose targeted sanction measures, which helped to minimize unintended economic problems for States, and which again confirmed that, since May 2003, all of the Council’s existing sanction regimes had been targeted. Furthermore, she was pleased that during the period covered by the report, no member States had approached any sanctions committees concerning special economic problems arising from sanctions. The United States recognized that compliance did, in some cases, entail costs, however, and would continue to consider those costs through appropriate mechanisms, such as the international financial institutions. She said she supported the efforts by Japanese colleagues and the co-sponsors of the working paper on improvement of Committee working methods, but regretted that the final text was more modest than the original proposal. She believed more needed to be done.
MAURICE KAMTO (Cameroon) associated his country with the African Group statement made by the representative of the Gambia. He said dynamism must be injected into the work of the Special Committee on the Charter. Improvements in its working methods on their own were insufficient. The political will of States was needed to streamline its work. On the question of sanctions, he stressed the importance of implementing the Charter provisions on assistance to third States suffering the effects of sanctions. He noted that sanctions were applied to maintain international peace and security, and said force should be used as a last resort after all peaceful means have been exhausted. Sanctions must be applied under specific criteria with their possible negative effects taken into account.
He spoke of the need for the General Assembly to effectively fulfil its functions as spelt out in the Charter; it was important to separate the roles of the Assembly and that of the Security Council on the question of maintenance of international peace and security. Cameroon supported the resolution on the observance of the 60th anniversary of the International Court of Justice adopted by the Special Committee at its session. He welcomed the measures taken by the Secretary-General to update the Repertory Practice of United Nations Organs and the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council, saying the two documents represented an institutional memory of the Organization.
CAIRO PALOMO (Cuba) said the Charter Committee played a fundamental role in the reform process of the United Nations. Restoring the central role of the Organization in the system of international relations would go a long way towards establishing a collective system of security and the development of multilateralism and cooperation among states. The proper functions of the Assembly must be restored to ensure the powers granted to it by the Charter.
Turning to assistance to third States affected by sanctions, he said the issue should not be treated separately from the general issue of sanctions, nor should it be separated from the broader issue of Security Council reform and that body’s need for greater transparency in its decision-making process. Sanctions should be imposed only as a last resort and only after careful evaluation of their potential adverse consequences. Imposition of sanctions by the Council should be a collective decision and meet with the approval of the wider United Nations membership. There was a need to democratize the decision-making procedure in the Council to make it truly reflective of its membership. Any attempt to use sanctions to modify the political or legal order of a country, or to resolve international conflicts, was illegal and a violation of international law. The Assembly should be a party to any decision to impose sanctions and should be a part of the follow-up as well.
He expressed gratitude for the work done on the Repertory and Repertoire but was concerned about their future, given the lack of resources dedicated to them.
ANDREI N. POPKOV (Belarus) said the Special Committee was the appropriate forum for discussion of different aspects of United Nations reform, including the outcome of the 2005 World Summit. His delegation supported the relevant proposal of the Rio Group on the imposition and implementation of sanctions. Urging its adoption, he drew attention to the proposal of his country and the Russian Federation concerning an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice with regard to the consequences of the use of force without Security Council authorization. He said the Court was expected to give the following clarifications on these questions: a)what legal consequences would result from the use of force without a decision of the Security Council, including the observance of international humanitarian law; b) was it necessary to have the Security Council’s decision, or that of the General Assembly, in determining the facts of aggression in the light of the non-observance of the provisions of the United Nations Charter on non-use of force; c) what kind of legal consequences would arise for the international community as a whole in case of the use of force by any member State or group of member States in violation of the Charter?
RI SONG HYON (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said that undisguised unilateralism and high-handedness obstructed the establishment of equal international relations and efforts to fairly resolve international issues. As long as that situation persisted, the United Nations could not give full play to the mission assigned to it in its Charter.
He said that decisive enhancement should be given to the powers of the General Assembly, which should be empowered to give final approval regarding conflicts, particularly on the use of armed forces and the imposition of sanctions. At present, aggression against sovereign States was being made unscrupulously by a superpower and countries patronized by it, because the General Assembly could not exercise the right to make decisions on conflicts. The same could be said about the issue of sanctions, most of which were not aimed at the genuine resolution of conflicts but were misused as a means to realize the political interests of a few countries, including a superpower. The credibility of member States in the Security Council was decreasing, owing to its partiality and irresponsibility in imposing sanctions.
He said a typical example of the most serious violations of the Charter was the “United Nations Command” in South Korea, which was none other than the command of the United States Military Forces. Dismantling that command, which had been abusing the name of the United Nations for over half a century, he went on, should be the first subject of United Nations reform.
HOANG CHI TRUNG (Viet Nam) said sanctions should only be applied strictly in accordance with international law, particularly the Charter of the United Nations, and must be clearly defined, targeted, imposed for a limited time, subject to periodic review and lifted as soon as reasons for their imposition had ceased to exist. Their ramifications should be assessed prior to their imposition and assistance should be given to affected third-party States in a timely manner.
In that light, he said he strongly supported the papers on the issue submitted by the Russian Federation, Belarus and Libya, as well as the extension of the Informal Working Group on sanctions until 31 December. Supporting also the strengthening of the General Assembly’s role in the maintenance of peace and security, he aligned himself with the 1997 and 1998 working papers by Cuba on that matter. He expressed support for improvement of the working methods of the Special Committee and the commemoration of the sixtieth anniversary of the International Court of Justice.
GENNADY KUZMIN (Russian Federation) said the Charter Committee had played a fundamental role in strengthening the legal foundation of the United Nations, especially in the field of peaceful settlement of disputes. However, it must be admitted that its work had not been as productive in recent years. He said Russia supported including the new topics, which a number of delegations had proposed on the Charter Committee’s agenda. On the question of assistance to third States affected by sanctions, the report on the issue demonstrated how small the Organization’s efforts were in that area.
The Repertory and the Repertoire were valuable sources of institutional memory, he said. Unfortunately, their financing was still a sore point. If their publication had to rely only on voluntary financing, it would be even more problematic. Allocation for their publication should be restored within the budget. The Secretariat should also pursue such ideas as involving outside experts and interns. He was concerned about the proposed changes in format. While he understood they were aimed at speeding up publication, this should not come at the expense of quality. Finally, he supported the decision to dissolve the Trusteeship Council, but felt it should be made in the broader context of United Nations reform.
CHOI SUNG-SOO (Republic of Korea) said his country was a co-sponsor of the working paper on the working methods of the Sixth Committee. He welcomed the adoption of new working methods by consensus last April and expressed the hope that they would contribute to the Committee’s efficiency.
On the allegation by the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that the United Nations Command on the Korean Peninsula had been illegally established, he clarified that the use of the United Nations flag by the Command had been authorized by the Security Council in its resolution 84 (1950). Adopted according to all due legal procedure, Council resolutions 84 and 88 officially recognized the United Nation Command as the entity to carry out the functions of maintaining peace on the Korean Peninsula, as entrusted by the United Nations.
On 18 November 1975, the General Assembly had adopted two separate texts on the Korean question. Resolution 3390 (XXX) A urged all parties directly concerned to enter into negotiations on new arrangements designed to replace the 1953 Korean Military Armistice Agreement and to reduce tension and ensure a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. Resolution 3390 (XXX) B, which had been mentioned by the delegation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, ran counter to resolution A. Hence the two resolutions offset each other. In the circumstances, it was misleading to imply that there was one authoritative Assembly resolution on the issue. Mentioning only one text without the other painted a one-sided picture that did not present the full context. The bottom line was that it was neither the time, nor the place to discuss the status of the United Nations Command. That issue could be decided only in tandem with the replacement of the Armistice Agreement with a Peace Agreement.
NAJIB ELJI (Syria) said he deplored the double standards used in the application of sanctions. Sanctions imposed without Security Council authorization affected the credibility of the United Nations. Their effectiveness was undermined when conditions laid out in the Charter were not met. He said the Security Council must be fair in its imposition of sanctions and there should be a time frame for their duration. They should also be targeted so as not to collectively punish people. Once reasons for their imposition no longer existed, sanctions must be lifted. The 2005 World Summit Outcome document and other proposals such as that of the Russian Federation on criteria for sanctions should be made use of by the Special Committee on the Charter, in its examination of the question of application of sanctions. He supported the Cuban proposal to the Special Committee on the strengthening of the Organization and its effectiveness.
He said the Security Council must stop encroaching on the mandates of the General Assembly. The distribution of powers within the United Nations organs must be respected. The Council must address questions that come within its competence. He said he supported the Egyptian proposal in the Special Committee on the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the International Court of Justice. He welcomed the progress made on the Repertory of the Practice of United Nations Organs and the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council. The documents were important sources of information on the work of the Organization, and he supported their translation into all official United Nations languages as proposed by Libya.
Rule of Law
As the Committee turned to the topic of the new agenda item “Rule of Law”, the Chairman brought the Committee’s attention to a “non-paper” that had been circulated to help focus the debate on the item.
He said the non-paper noted that the topic was rather broad and suggested that it be considered from the vantage point of future General Assembly action. It stated that effective national rule of law was essential for implementing international norms and that a stronger rule of law at the national level would result in greater compliance with the international legal order. Work undertaken by other organs such as the Council and the Peacebuilding Commission should be complemented and not duplicated. The paper posed several helpful questions, such as: how can States better promote ratification and implementation of treaties; how does the interplay between international law and national law in the implementation of international obligations work in practice; how can the existing means of peaceful settlement of disputes be promoted and strengthened; and, what further role the Secretariat could play?
ANNA SOTANIEMI (Finland), speaking for the European Union, said peace, democracy, good governance and sustainable development were not possible without respect for the rule of law. Conflict and post-conflict situations posed an additional challenge to the rule of law. Treaties, together with customary law, were the core sources of international law. Their ratification and implementation were a sensible starting point for the exploration of the concept of the international rule of law. She highlighted the current work of the International Law Commission regarding the legal effects of reservations to treaties and the Secretary-General’s annual treaty events. Those events could be further developed by organizing presentations and discussions on best practices and lessons learned.
The United Nations was well placed to assist States in strengthening their national rule of law capacity, particularly in conflict and post-conflict situations. She noted the progress that had been made on the rule of law mandates of new peacekeeping and peacebuilding missions. The European Union was concerned that adequate resources be secured for the post-conflict rule of law activities to help the United Nations better cope with the increasing demands in that field. The European Union also strongly urged the Secretary-General to follow up on his stated intention to create a dedicated rule of law assistance unit in the Secretariat. The unit was necessary to coordinate the rule of law work of the United Nations which was divided among numerous departments and agencies within the United Nations system.
JENNIFER MCIVER (New Zealand), speaking also for Australia and Canada, said the main goal of the United Nations, when it was founded, was to bring the rule of law to international relations, and the United Nations work in the areas of human rights, peacekeeping, disarmament, development and good governance reinforced those principles. She urged member States to support the work of the International Law Commission, the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court and the ad hoc criminal tribunals.
Canada, Australia and New Zealand were pleased to support the work of the United Nations in promoting the rule of law, and considered it essential that the Committee did not duplicate work being done by other Committees and United Nations organs. She challenged the Committee to adopt a practical, action-oriented outlook when considering the rule of law work at the international and national levels. She said areas of work that would benefit from the Committee’s focus in the next year included the so-called ‘residual’ or ‘legacy’ issues that would arise as international criminal tribunals completed their work. Better information exchange was needed among the United Nations and other agencies, especially about new developments, best practices and technical assistance opportunities.
RAZINA ALAM KHAN (Pakistan) said every conflict situation was unique and had its own dynamics, but justice and the rule of law needed to be integrated into any international or United Nations involvement in post-conflict societies. Those societies should be helped to stand on their own feet by building national institutions, particularly in the area of national judicial capacity. Good use should be made of indigenous and informal traditions for the administration of justice and settlement of disputes if those were consistent with international norms. Reconstruction, economic revival and the creation of employment also led to a wider stake in preserving the rule of law, especially in post-conflict societies.
She stressed that a culture of impunity, including impunity for financial crimes, should never prevail. The principles of justice and rule of law must hold at both inter-State and intra-State levels. The international judicial system, based on the international judicial institutions, must also be strengthened to promote adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law. The Security Council should make best use of the International Court of Justice in that regard.
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