|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-second General Assembly
111th Meeting* (PM)
GENERAL ASSEMBLY EXTENDS UNTIL 31 DECEMBER TERMS FOR ITS MEMBERS ON PEACEBUILDING
COMMISSION’S ORGANIZATIONAL BODY, ADDS AGENDA ITEM ON RWANDA TRIBUNAL JUDGES
The General Assembly today added an item to its agenda on the extension of terms of judges for the Rwanda Tribunal. It also decided to extend, until the end of the year, the terms of office for the Assembly Members now serving on the Organizational Committee of the two-year old Peacebuilding Commission since consultations were still ongoing on the election of five members.
For its consideration today, the Assembly had before it the fourth report of its General Committee (document A/62/250/Add.3), which decided yesterday to defer consideration of an item on the former Yugoslavia but to recommend inclusion of the Rwanda Tribunal-related item for direct consideration in plenary.
Before the Assembly took action on that recommendation today, Rwanda’s representative asked that action be deferred. Rather than extending the terms of judges, he said, efforts and resources should be directed at further improving Rwanda’s capacity to deal with cases referred by the Tribunal to its national courts. Low-level cases were already being transferred to national courts, where improvements had been modelled after the Tribunal. New facilities had been built for the detention of the accused and for incarceration of the convicted.
Nevertheless, the Assembly proceeded to action, approving the Committee’s recommendation to extend the terms of office of Trial Chamber judges until 31 December 2009 and those of the Appeals Chamber until 31 December 2010. Both had been due to expire on 31 December of this year. The Assembly also approved the decision to consider the item directly in plenary.
The General Committee had also reported its decision not to recommend the inclusion on the Assembly’s current agenda of an item on the commemoration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Great Famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine (Holodomor).
Before action on the recommendation in the Assembly today, Ukraine’s representative said he appreciated the discussion that had been held on the matter, particularly the recommendation that the question be considered during the next plenary. Only one Member State had opposed the proposal to commemorate the Holomodor during the current session and that Member had alluded to the broader suffering during that period of famine.
While Ukraine shared the sorrow of others who had also suffered, the fact must not be watered down that the case of Ukraine had differed from that of others, he said. In Ukraine, the hardship had been deliberately imposed by a dictatorial Government. Ukraine had been like “a bird in a cage” that was denied food until it died. Ukraine would work for a broad understanding of the Holomodor, but the injustice suffered by its people must not be diluted.
The Assembly approved the Committee’s recommendation to not include the item on the agenda of the current session.
The representative of the Russian Federation then said that the famine had been a tragically black period for everyone throughout the Soviet Union and had been the result of faulty agricultural management. It was incorrect, inaccurate and improper to isolate Ukraine’s situation and to bring up the issue from the perspective of just one party. Doing so was an affront to the others who had also suffered. They had been members of the Soviet Union then and were now independent States.
The Assembly then turned to the matter of Assembly Members currently serving on the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission. They were reminded that on 20 June they had extended the terms of office of Assembly Members serving on that Committee until 11 July, as an interim measure, since regional groups were still in negotiations over elections. They were also informed that the Economic and Social Council had extended the terms of its members on the Committee until 31 December, as an interim measure. Further, they were informed that a letter had been received from troop contributors on 10 July stating that they had no objection to the extension of the term of all categories of current Committee members until the end of December.
The Assembly then approved the extension of the terms of office of the Assembly members currently serving on the Organizational Committee of the Peacekeeping Commission until 31 December. Those States members are Burundi, Chile, Egypt, El Salvador and Fiji. The terms of office for the other two Organizational Committee members who are also Members of the General Assembly –- Georgia and Jamaica –- expire in 2009.
The Assembly will meet again at a time to be announced.