HOST COUNTRY COMMITTEE ADOPTS REPORT FOR GENERAL ASSEMBLY; PARKING, VISA, CUSTOMS, TRAVEL REGULATIONS REMAIN AMONG ISSUES

HQ/659
31 October 2007

HOST COUNTRY COMMITTEE ADOPTS REPORT FOR GENERAL ASSEMBLY; PARKING, VISA, CUSTOMS, TRAVEL REGULATIONS REMAIN AMONG ISSUES

31 October 2007
General Assembly
HQ/659
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Committee on Relations

with Host Country

235th Meeting (AM)


HOST COUNTRY COMMITTEE ADOPTS REPORT FOR GENERAL ASSEMBLY; PARKING,


VISA, CUSTOMS, TRAVEL REGULATIONS REMAIN AMONG ISSUES

 


The Committee on Relations with the Host Country, at a short meeting this morning, adopted its annual report, to be submitted to the General Assembly through its Sixth Committee (Legal) on 12 November.


The document contains comprehensive information about the Committee’s deliberations, and outlines the main issues dealt with during its meetings, including transportation, the acceleration of immigration and customs procedures, entry visas issued by the host country, travel regulations and other matters.


The report makes several recommendations and conclusions aimed at maintaining appropriate conditions for the delegations and missions accredited to the United Nations, urging the host country to continue to take appropriate actions, such as training police, security, customs and border control officers, with a view to maintaining respect for diplomatic privileges and immunities.  If violations occur, the Committee urges the host country to ensure that such cases are properly investigated and remedied, in accordance with applicable law.


Noting comments made by the host country and the City of New York on the parking programme, the Committee, among other things, welcomes the second review of the programme’s implementation and calls upon the host country to address problems reported by permanent missions in that regard.  Taking up the issuance of visas, the Committee anticipates that the host country would enhance efforts to ensure timely issuance of entry visas to representatives of Member States, emphasizing that a number of delegations had requested shortening the time frame applied by the host country for issuance of such visas, since the current time frame poses difficulties for the full-fledged participation of Member States in United Nations meetings.


Concerning travel regulations issued by the host country with regard to personnel of certain missions and staff members of the Secretariat of certain nationalities, the Committee urges the host country to remove remaining restrictions, and notes the positions of affected Member States in that regard.


The report was introduced by the Committee’s Rapporteur, Ana Marcela Calderón ( Costa Rica).  The facilitator of the negotiations on the report, Polly Ioannou ( Cyprus) reported on the outcome of consultations on the text prior to the adoption, noting the outcome of the discussion on the recommendations and conclusions contained in the text.


The representative of the Russian Federation addressed the issues of gasoline taxes and airport parking fees for diplomatic missions in New York.  On the former, he said that his Mission had received the first gas bills under the new tax rules, with taxes being levied.  Calling on international treaties under which diplomatic missions were tax exempt in the host country, he said the host country Mission should ensure that New York authorities complied with those rules.


Also without warning or explanation of reasons, he said, fees were now charged for diplomatic vehicles’ parking at the JFK Airport, which had not existed before.  Requesting clarifications in that regard, he said the new system had an impact on the functioning of the diplomatic missions in New York.  In Moscow, diplomatic vehicles were exempt from paying parking fees.  It would be undesirable if vehicles of some countries, on the principle of reciprocity, had to pay such fees.


The representative of the United States agreed that charging sales taxes on gasoline to diplomats was inconsistent with international law.  The State of New York still recognized that diplomats were exempt from taxes; what had changed was the manner in which that exemption was obtained.  The highest court in New York State had recently rendered a decision, saying that a third party -- gas companies -- could not request exemptions on behalf of the exempt party.  Only the diplomats themselves could request an exemption.  Thus, the companies were no longer removing the tax when the bill was sent to a mission.  The Office of Foreign Missions had been informed that prospects were very good that legislation to resolve the issue would pass during the next session of the New York State Assembly.  Once the Governor had signed the legislation, companies would return to the practice of exempting diplomatic missions at the time of presenting the bill.  During the interim period, it was important for diplomats to save all relevant records.


On the question of parking, he said his Mission was unaware that diplomatic cars had ever been exempted from parking fees at the airports in the area.  He needed to know where the parking fees were charged now, while they had not been charged before.  It would be helpful if missions affected provided more information to the United States Mission, which would go to the Port Authority to see if anything could be done.  However, the Port Authority was not a federal entity, and his Mission might be limited in what it could do.  All diplomatic cars were exempt from parking fees at the Reagan Airport in Washington, D.C., which was managed by the federal Government.  He would return to the issue in greater detail at a later meeting.


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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.