Legal Committee Hears Concerns over Unintended Results of Security Council Sanctions; Need to Protect Civilians, ‘Third Countries’ Stressed

19 October 2009
GA/L/3370

Legal Committee Hears Concerns over Unintended Results of Security Council Sanctions; Need to Protect Civilians, ‘Third Countries’ Stressed

19 October 2009
General Assembly
GA/L/3370
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fourth General Assembly

Sixth Committee

11th Meeting (AM)

Legal Committee Hears Concerns over Unintended Results of Security Council

Sanctions; Need to Protect Civilians, ‘Third Countries’ Stressed

Malaysia Says Some Actions -- Like Search of Ships for Weapons,

Anti-Piracy Resolution -- May Violate Other Statutes; Law of Sea Cited

As the Sixth Committee (Legal) today began its deliberations on the report of the Special Committee on the Charter and the impact of sanctions against Member States, concerns were expressed about the effect on civilians and on third countries, which were not the intended target of the sanctions.

The delegate of the Russian Federation noted that after 10 years, the proposals his country had made on the issue had finally been submitted to the General Assembly for comments.  He said the document covered integrated and improved methods of imposing sanctions; it investigated targeted sanctions; and the minimizing of humanitarian impacts.

The delegate of Tunisia speaking for the African Group said that unilateral economic sanctions against developing countries were being used as an instrument of foreign policy.  This violated international law and was an infringement on the right of development.

New Zealand’s representative, speaking also for Canada and Australia, said the Council’s sanctions committees sometimes fell short of being transparent and accountable.  Only with the support of all Member States would the listing procedures of persons and entities ensure fair and clear methods of listing. 

The representative of Egypt said that just because third States were not reporting damages from sanctions that did not necessarily mean damages were not occurring.  States to report such damages so that a clearer picture of the effects of sanctions could emerge.

Malaysia’s delegate said the use of Chapter VII powers in the application of sanctions for the furtherance of “other agendas” -– such as for non-proliferation issues -– was of concern.  One recent example was the Council giving legitimacy to the interdiction of weapons of mass destruction on the high seas, that an action would otherwise have been in contravention of the Law of the Sea.  Another example was the new Council resolution on piracy in Somalia.  Monitoring by the Council should not be done for the purpose of “targeting” particular States, he said.

The representative of Cameroon reminded the Committee said that because of the Special Committee’s work, Member States were given the opportunity to consider how to strengthen the Organization.  He recalled that at the Millennium Summit and the World Summit, world leaders recommitted to peaceful settlement of disputes and he recalled Cameroon’s peaceful settlement with Nigeria on the issue of the peninsula of Bakassi as an example of that commitment.

Statements were also made by the delegations of Sweden for the European Union, Iran for the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and Mexico for the RIO Group.

Speaking in national capacities were representatives of Belarus, China, Cuba, Azerbaijan, Tunisia, Viet Nam, Morocco, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Algeria, Iran, Turkey, Venezuela, Afghanistan and United States.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the delegations of the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. 

Emmanuel Bichet of Switzerland, the Chairman of the Special Committee, introduced the report.

The Director of the Codification Division of the Legal Department, Vaclav Mikulka, gave an update on the status of the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs.  The update on the status of the Repertoire of Practice of the Security Council was delivered by Gregor Boventer, Chief of the Security Council Practices and Charter Research Branch of the Department of Political Affairs.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, 20 October, when it will resume discussion of the administration of justice at the United Nations, and take up a new topic concerning the scope and application of the principle of universal jurisdiction.

Background

The Sixth Committee (Legal) met today to resume its consideration of the administration of justice at the United Nations, as well as to begin its deliberations on the report of the Special Committee on the Charter.  (For background on the administration of justice, see Press Release GA/L/3361 of 5 October.)

In addition to documents previously before the Committee on the administration of justice, the Committee has before it a draft resolution (document A/C.6/64/L.2) by which the General Assembly would adopt the rules of procedure of both the United Nations Dispute Tribunal and the United Nations Appeals Tribunal.  Further, by a draft decision (document A/C.6/64/L.3) on the matter, the Assembly would approve of the Committee’s continued consideration of outstanding legal aspects of the issue in collaboration with the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).

For its debate on the Charter, the Committee has before it the report of the Special Committee on the Charter and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization (document A/64/33).  It covers the proceedings of the Committee’s sixty-fourth session ( New York, 17-25 February) and states that the Special Committee held two meetings, on the first and last days of the session.  The Working Group of the Whole held four meetings during the period.

On matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security, the report states that a further revised working paper by the Russian Federation on criteria for the application of sanctions was considered to be near completion.  A revised working paper by Libya relating to the impact of sanctions and the possible payment of compensation for unlawfully imposed sanctions was also discussed.  Cuba’s further revised working paper on the functions and roles of the principal organs, particularly those of the Assembly, was also considered, as were Libya’s revised proposal on strengthening the role of the General Assembly and a revised working paper by Belarus and the Russian Federation relating to a request for an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice as to the legal consequences of resorting to the use of force without Security Council authorization.

With regard to the peaceful settlement of disputes, the report states that delegations reaffirmed the principle as a fundamental tenet of international law under the Charter.  Concern was expressed on the role of the Security Council regarding unilateral use of force under the pretext of self-defence, and States were reminded of the obligation to settle international disputes by peaceful means, as reiterated in the 2005 World Summit outcome.  The role of the International Court of Justice in adjudicating disputes among States was greatly emphasized.

On the publication of the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs and the Repertoire of Practice of the Security Council, the report says that progress had been made in the preparation of studies, through the use of the United Nations internship programme and further expanded cooperation with academic institutions.  Contributions had been made to the trust fund established for updating the Repertoire and eliminating the backlog in the Repertory.  States were called upon to further contribute to the fund, as well as to provide further support and to sponsor associate experts to assist in efforts.

The report states that the Special Committee continued to consider improvements to its working methods and its ability to contribute to examining legal aspects of United Nations reform.  It decided against including the latter of those two on its agenda as a new item.

An annex to the report contains a summary of principles on the introduction and implementation of sanctions.  A section on general issues covers such aspects as a reaffirmation of sanctions as a useful tool for modifying the behaviour of a target State in instances of threats to peace, breaches of peace or acts of aggression.   Relevant best practices and guidelines are covered, as well as appropriate modalities of monitoring conduct under the sanctions regime that should take into account benchmarks and timelines.

A section on unintended side effects of sanctions calls for an assessment of short-term and long-term socio-economic and humanitarian consequences of sanctions.  It calls for measures to be taken to minimize the negative humanitarian impacts of sanctions and for ensuring humanitarian protections with State consent.  Finally, a section on implementation calls for good faith implementation of sanctions by all States, with primary responsibility for implementation and monitoring residing with States, while international monitoring was up to the Security Council or one of its relevant organs.  States and organizations were also encouraged to offer appropriate technical and financial assistance to build capacities for implementation of sanctions.  They were also encouraged to cooperate in information exchange.

A report by the Secretary-General on implementation of Charter provisions related to assisting third States affected by the application of sanctions (document A/64/225) reviews Secretariat arrangements and operational changes in light of the shift in focus towards targeted sanctions.  It also covers recent developments in activities of the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council with regard to assisting third States affected by the application of sanctions.

Among other factors, the report states that no sanctions committees were approached by Member States with regard to special economic problems arising from the implementation of sanctions.  Exceptions to assets freezes had been adopted, and carried out in 35 situations.  A humanitarian handbook and field guide had been prepared for use in impact assessments.

Finally before the Committee today is the Secretary-General’s report on the Repertory of Practice and the Repertoire of Practice (document A/64/125).  Reporting on work carried out and made available on the internet, as well as on cooperative arrangements with academic institutions, it lists contributions to the Repertory trust fund in the amounts of Є5,000 from Ireland, $2,000 from Lebanon, $5,000 from Turkey and Ł9,000 from United Kingdom.  It states that some funds were used to finance the work of a consultant, who in a month produced 13 studies enabling the completion of another volume of work.  The Repertoire fund had also received contributions from Croatia and the Russian Federation, while sponsorship of associate experts by Germany, Italy and Norway had also been contributed.  Finally, the Special Committee’s recommendations are included.

An Annex I of the report lists the Secretariat units bearing primary responsibility for preparing Repertory studies on individual Charter articles.  Annex II contains a chart of the status of the Repertory as of July, while Annex III is a chart of the status of the Repertoire as of that date.

Special Committee on the Charter

EMMANUEL BICHET ( Switzerland), Chairman of the Special Committee, introduced the Special Committee’s report.

VACLAV MIKULKA, Director of the Codification Division of the Legal Department, gave an update on the status of the Repertory.  In addition to recapping highlights of the report, he said the current status of the publication should ideally amount to 50 volumes.  At present, 28 had been published and 7 had been finalized and submitted for translation and publication.  Work remained to be performed on 15 volumes, six of which were in various stages of preparation.  Studies of three volumes had been cross-referenced to studies in the Repertoire.  The six remaining volumes pertained to the last review period of supplement 10, the length of which remained to be determined.  No work on that supplement had started as yet.  Also, the amount currently available in the trust fund was about $60,000.

GREGOR BOVENTER, Chief of the Security Council Practices and Charter Research Branch of the Department of Political Affairs, gave an update on the status of the RepertoireReviewing the report highlights, he said progress continued to be made through the use of the “two-track” approach by which several Supplements were simultaneously prepared.  In addition to preparing the Repertoire, the Branch had provided information in response to some 200 requests during the current year, on questions related to current and past practice of the Council and its subsidiary organs.  Delegations were encouraged to visit the newly redesigned website.

Statements on the Special Committee’s Work

HILDING LUNDKVIST (Sweden), speaking for the European Union, said that the Union was prepared to approve the Special Committee’s text on basic conditions and standard criteria for the introduction and implementation of sanctions at the current General Assembly.  The European Union remained convinced of the effectiveness of sanctions in maintaining and restoring international peace and security.  In this regard, he said, he applauded both the report of the informal working group of the Security Council on general issues of sanctions that established a list of best practices and methods, and he noted the important progress of the Security Council in the matters of the listing and de-listing process on the sanctions list and the granting of exemptions.  He commended the thorough review process conducted by the 1267 Committee chaired by Austria, as well as the improved procedures instituted last autumn in the sanctions against Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Continuing, he said the transparency and procedures of all United Nations sanctions needed to be further enhanced, and that European Union members were prepared to contribute to this process.  On the question of assistance to third States, he observed that because sanctions were no longer comprehensive economic sanctions, but targeted sanctions, there was a minimizing of adverse effects on civilian populations and third States.  Because of this, he said, study of the issue of assistance to third States affected by sanctions was no longer relevant, and he called for its removal from the Special Committee’s agenda. 

He commended the efforts of the Secretariat to clear the backlog on the Repertory of Practice of United Nations organs and the Repertoire of Practice of the Security Council, emphasising the importance of such publications to the international community.  He spoke of the need for reforming the working methods of the Special Committee, calling for the removal of items from its agenda that either had reached an outcome, or that were unlikely to lead to consensus in the near future.  The inclusion of new topics needed to be addressed, given the number of items already on the agenda.  To this end, he added, he supported the Special Committee’s decision not to keep the proposal of the Rio Group on the agenda.

GHAZI JOMMA (Tunisia), speaking for the African Group, said it was of concern that unilateral economic sanctions continued to be imposed against developing countries as an instrument of foreign policy.  It was a violation of international law and an infringement on the right of development.  Also, there must be strict adherence to Article 50 of the Charter on the right of States to consult the Security Council in the event that special economic problems arose from the application of sanctions.  “Article 50 is not merely procedural”, he stressed.  He said the proposal of Libya concerning possible compensation for damage because of improperly imposed sanctions should be considered.

He said the Special Committee should conclude deliberations on other relevant proposals on its agenda.  The important role of judicial mechanisms, including the International Court of Justice, in the maintenance of international peace and security through the peaceful settlement of disputes deserved to be reaffirmed.  Member States must make the most effective use of existing procedures and methods for preventing disputes and peacefully settling them.  The Repertory and Repertoire were important in preservation of institutional memory.  Efforts to reduce backlog and make the publications available on the Internet were commendable.

ESHAGH AL HABIB (Iran), speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Special Committee of the Charter should play a key role in the current reform process of the United Nations, including the democratization of its principal organs.  The General Assembly’s role and authority, including questions related to international peace and security, needed to be respected, especially in light of its intergovernmental and democratic character.  There was, he added, concern over the continued encroachment of the Security Council on the powers of both the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. 

He said that the Security Council’s sanctions remained a serious issue.  Since sanctions needed to be considered as a last resort, and imposed only when there was a threat to international peace and security, “preventative” sanctions were inappropriate responses to “mere violations of international law, norms or standards”.  Targeted sanctions were possibly a better alternative, as long as the populations of targeted States were not directly or indirectly affected. 

He said sanctions raised fundamental ethical issues of whether inflicting suffering on vulnerable groups in the targeted countries was a legitimate means of exerting political pressure.  To this end, he called for clearly defined objectives of sanctions regimes, based on tenable legal grounds and subjected to a specific timeframe.

ANAIS KEDGLEY LAIDLAW ( New Zealand), speaking also for Canada and Australia, said the processes followed by the Council’s sanctions committees had at times fallen short in terms of transparency and accountability.  The consolidated list of entities inscribed on the 1267 list should be reviewed by June next year, to ensure that the list was accurate and that all listings were still appropriate.  The application of the guidelines should be guided by careful consideration, particularly with regard to considering requests for exemptions to asset freeze provision and travel bans.

She said all Member States must support the improvement of listing procedures, as had been proposed, for example, with regard to ensuring fair and clear procedures in the listing of persons and entities.  While the paper on sanctions should be adopted, there were concerns about some aspects of the section on “unintended side effects of sanctions”.  All humanitarian aid should be provided with the host country’s consent.  Also, appropriate humanitarian exemptions were imperative.  Humanitarian assistance must be available to civilians.  States needed to cooperate in exchange of information about legislative, administrative and practical implementation of sanctions.

ALEJANDRO RODILE ( Mexico), speaking for the Rio Group of Countries, said full implementation of the mandate of the Special Committee relied on the political will of Member States and on the adoption and “optimization” of its newly approved working methods.  Affirming the importance of settling disputes through peaceful means for the maintenance of international peace and security, he said legitimacy in the use of sanctions was critical to its effectiveness.  

Continuing, he said the Special Committee needed to continue its work, specifically on the document by the Russian Federation on conditions and criteria for the application of sanctions, and the Rio Group was prepared to contribute to the satisfactory conclusion of negotiations on the document.  He also noted the valuable contribution of the Repertory and the Repertoire publications, and heralded the Secretariat’s efforts to eliminate the backlog in updating those documents.

Concluding, he stressed the challenge of reinvigorating the work of the Special Committee so that it could exercise its mandate fully in the revitalisation of the Charter.  The latest sessions of the Special Committee, and the lack of concrete results, reflected the need for improved methods and approaches in its work.

NAMIRA NEGM (Egypt), aligning herself with the statements on behalf of the Rio Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said she supported the examination and the questioning in regard to strengthening the United Nations through a rule-based regime based on international law.  She added that expanding the Security Council to be more representative and democratic would allow it to “enjoy more legitimacy”.

On the issue of sanctions, she stressed that they should be applied as a last resort, and only after a State refused to participate or cooperate.  She added that just because third States were not reporting damages, did not necessarily mean damages were not occurring.  She said States should report such damages, so that a clearer picture of the effects of sanctions would emerge.

VIKTAR SHAUTSOU ( Belarus) said the application of sanctions had increased and yet they should be used only as a last resort.  They should not be imposed pre-emptively.  While the central role of the United Nations with regard to imposing sanctions was well recognized, there was not yet a clear set of rules on their application.  There should be a correlation between the sanctions imposed and the severity of the violation for which they had been applied.  The impact on the vulnerable should be assessed, along with the effect of sanctions on third States.  The set of criteria should be annexed to a resolution.  Also, it should be kept in mind that the Security Council had the main responsibility in maintaining international peace and security, but it was not the only entity with responsibility for it.   The opinion of the International Court of Justice should be sought on the matter of the illegal use of force.

XU YU ( China) commended the efforts of the Special Committee and the proposal by the Russian Federation.  An advocate of the prudent use of sanctions as last resort, he supported the improvement of the United Nations sanctions regime by the establishment of strict criteria, with targeted sanctions, specific time limits and the minimizing of humanitarian negative impact. 

Regarding the issue of assistance to third States, he noted the Security Council’s continuing efforts to improve working methods on sanctions.  However, he stressed that the effects of sanctions had a broad range and that negative impacts on third States still remained.  He called for the establishment of a mechanism to assess the impact and to explore practical measures to assist the affected countries.

PIERRE EMMANUEL TABI ( Cameroon) said that because of the work of the Special Committee, Member States were given the opportunity to consider how to strengthen the Organization.  “What we are doing today is helping to breathe new life into the organization,” he stated.  On the question of maintaining international peace and security, he noted that over the last years, with an increase of conflict, came the increase of sanctions.  Along with that came collateral damage to civilians and third States.  He stressed that sanctions should not become a burden to third States or civilians; sanctions should be utilized only after all other means had been exhausted.

He recalled that at the Millennium Summit and the World Summit, the leaders of the whole world recommitted to peaceful settlement of disputes.  Through the peaceful settlement with Nigeria on the issue of the peninsula of Bakassi, his country illustrated this commitment.  “There is no problem that cannot be resolved by peaceful means,” he stated.

GENNADY KUZMIN ( Russian Federation) said the Special Committee had lately not been as effective lately as it could have been.  After 10 years, the Russian document on sanctions had been agreed upon and submitted to the Assembly for comments.  It provided for an integrated approach to improving the imposition of sanctions, taking into account modern trends such as the use of targeted sanctions and the minimizing of humanitarian impacts.

The first section, he went on, reaffirmed that sanctions were a powerful tool that must be carefully applied, with provisions made for lifting the sanctions as soon as the objective was achieved.  Sanctions should also be commensurate with the level of the violation for which they had been imposed.  The humanitarian impact and the consequences to third countries must be assessed, as well as the effect of sanctions on civilian populations.

He said the Russian’s proposal addressed the need to limit the scope of humanitarian problems caused by sanctions.  It called for concrete criteria to be set out and for the necessity of ensuring that sanctions were implemented.  It also stressed the fact that there must be close international cooperation with regard to the use and implementation of sanctions for maximum effectiveness.  The proposal enjoyed broad support, and it would be a significant contribution to this area of concern.  The Special Committee should continue to be used; it was an important resource.

JUANA ELENA RAMOS ( Cuba) said the Special Committee played an important role in reform of the United Nations.  True reform should be geared toward democratization.  The question of implementing assistance to third States affected by sanctions should be resolved.  The principles set down in the Charter must be borne in mind; sanctions should be a last measure after all other attempts to right a violation were exhausted.  Sanctions must have specific intentions, and any attempts to impose sanctions for the purpose of altering a State’s internal affairs must be viewed as invalid.  The limited effectiveness of the Special Committee was not due to its working methods.  The Russian paper should be finalized, and the updating of the two publications that served as the Organization’s institutional memory should continue.

SAMIR SHARIFOV ( Azerbaijan) supporting the work of the Special Committee, stressed that sanctions should to be utilized only after it was determined that a threat to peace was present.  It was necessary for the Security Council to act swiftly in certain cases in order to maintain international peace and security.  However, he added, when fighting broke out between States, the Security Council rarely determined who had initiated the armed attack and who the victim was.  The Security Council’s ambiguous language in its resolutions should not permit the avoidance of responsibility or the imposition of sanctions, especially in situations of protracted conflict with population displacement and foreign occupation. 

He said the Security Council’s failure to fulfil its responsibilities did not relieve Member States or the Organization of their obligation to maintain international peace and security.  He noted concern expressed at previous sessions of the Special Committee regarding the unilateral use of force without authorization by the Security Council, “under the false pretext of self-defence”.  At the same time, it should be emphasized that the right of self-defence was one of the two lawful exceptions to the United Nations Charter’s broad ban on the use of inter-State force. 

GHAZI JOMMA ( Tunisia), speaking in his national capacity, said sanctions must be used only to ensure and restore international peace and security and they must be applied in accordance with the Charter provisions.  Third countries affected by sanctions must be assured of their right to consult the Security Council.  The absence of such recourse would erode the sanctions regime.  Universal principles must prevail with regard to maintaining international peace and security.

With regard to the Special Committee’s mandate, he said certain documents and proposals were of particularly strong interest but progress had not been made at the pace desired.  The proposals on the agenda must be approached from a streamlined perspective with regard to procedures.  To accomplish this, the Special Committee should call upon the political resolve of members rather than continue reviewing its working methods.

NGUYEN THI THANH HA ( Viet Nam) noted that the conclusion of “Introduction and Implementation of Sanctions Imposed by the United Nations” reflected the serious negotiating efforts of Member States to reach agreement regarding the issue of sanctions, and she called for the early adoption of the text by the General Assembly.  She also acknowledged the Security Council’s more focused approach on targeted sanction, and urged the Council to continue improving the clear and fair manner of its sanction committees’ procedures.

Turning to the working paper submitted by Belarus and the Russian Federation on the issue of seeking an International Court of Justice advisory opinion on the use of force by States, she said she supported the good intentions of the sponsoring delegations in their efforts to achieve a uniform interpretation and application of the United Nations Charter’s provisions on the use of force against aggression and for restoring international peace and security.

ISMAIL CHEKKORI ( Morocco) stressing the necessity of peaceful settlements of disputes, urged the rapid conclusion of the Special Committee’s work, notably on sanctions.  In that regard, he emphasized that sanctions needed to be used only as a last resort, only when a threat to international peace and security was obvious, and only after all means of a peaceful settlement had been exhausted.

Further, the impact of sanctions needed to be addressed, not only on the targeted State but on third States, as well.  To this end a review process and timeframe mechanism needed to be implemented.  The new revised paper of the Russian Federation supported this and he looked forward to the adoption of the text.  It was, he noted, a result of hard work and lengthy negotiations and its adoption would enable the General Assembly to make a contribution to the issue of sanctions.  He concluded by commending the Secretariat’s efforts at addressing the Repertory and Repertoire publications, as they were essential to preserving the Organization’s institutional memory. 

KIM CHOL MIN (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said due attention must be given to taking the appropriate measures to observe the principle of sovereign equality in addressing issues; that was a cornerstone of the Charter.  A main cause today for destroying the peace and obstructing development, he said, was “highhandedness and arbitrariness” on the part of some States which threatened the use of force against others and imposed sanctions against them, misusing the United Nations as a tool to justify their own purposes.  He said there must be a new international order based on `justice and impartiality; the United Nations must be democratized at the earliest date.

He called for the remnants of the cold war to be “eradicated from the United Nations.”  He said the “United Nations Command in South Korea” had been illegally set up by the United Nations” half a century ago.  It not only posed obstacles to resolving the Korean issue but undermined the credibility of the United Nations.  His country had communicated its views over the years to the Secretariat, which had responded that the “Command” in question was not a mission, but a military force led by the United States for which the United Nations had no “political, military or financial responsibility or authority”.  He said the legacy of “abusing” the United Nations for national purposes should be eliminated, as part of the reform process.

ABDELATIF DEBABECHE ( Algeria) said sanctions imposed under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter had serious impacts, and should be used only as a last resort.  There should be limitations on the, Council’s powers in that regard, and only an extreme threat should prompt the Council to respond with sanctions.  The document prepared by the Russian Federation should be supported.

He said article 50 of the Charter was fully relevant in affirming the right of a State to consult the Council in the event of suffering hardship due to the application of sanctions.  The Economic and Social Council should consider the question of assistance.  The opinion of the International Criminal Court should be requested on the matter of the illegal use of force.  The work of updating the two publications comprising the Organization’s institutional memory should continue.

BAGHAEL HAMANEH (Iran), speaking in his national capacity, commended the work of the Special Committee and said a peaceful order based on rule of law would guarantee a world freed from war, aggression and bloodshed.  However, he went on, the use or the threat of use of excessive force of some powers endangered the fundamental principles of the United Nations and international law.  The Security Council was subject to the legal obligations of the United Nations, and although entrusted with the responsibility of maintaining international peace and security it should not exceed its authority by determining “a lawful and legitimate conduct by a State as a threat to international peace and security.”  The Council could not be excused from being accountable for its actions and decisions, and in cases where sanctions were imposed on “speculation and unreliable information,” there should be compensation for damages inflicted. 

He said that it was not a legal impediment for the General Assembly to exercise its mandate in addressing issues related to the maintenance of international peace and security, if those issues were also before other organs of the United Nations, including the Security Council.  He referred to an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, he quoted, in which, he said, the Court had stated “while the Security Council has tended to focus on the aspects of such matters related to international peace and security, the General Assembly has taken a broader view, considering also their humanitarian, social and economic aspects.”

ÇAĞLA TANSU-SEÇKIN ( Turkey) said she welcomed the revised Russian paper on sanctions, as well as the recent work that had been accomplished to improve the sanctions regime.  The issue of assistance to third States affected by sanctions should not be overlooked.  The findings of the 1998 Expert Group could provide the basis for work.  A working group should be established on the matter.  The principle of free choice must be honoured in the peaceful settlement of disputes.  The publication and updating of the Repertory and Repertoire must continue.

MUHAMMAD RUSHDAN (Malaysia) said the use of Chapter VII powers with regard to the application of sanctions for the furtherance of “other agendas”, such as for non-proliferation issues, was of concern.  Recently, for example, the Council had given legitimacy to the interdiction of weapons of mass destruction on the high seas, an action that would otherwise have been in contravention of the Law of the Sea.  Another example was the new Council resolution on piracy in Somalia.  He said adherence to the Charter must be ensured when imposing sanctions, particularly the right of targeted States to be heard beforehand.  Monitoring by the Security Council should not take place for the purpose of “targeting” particular States.

He said the peaceful settlement of disputes was a basic principle enshrined in the Charter.  Other dispute settlement forums must not be overlooked.  The International Court of Justice must adhere to its prescribed mandates if it were to serve its purposes.  Rather than submitting a request for an opinion with regard to the unauthorized use of force, guidelines could be elaborated under Article 51 of the Charter, with regard to use of force.

GLENA CABELLO ( Venezuela) said the reform of the United Nations was the most important and pressing issue being discussed in the Committee.  There was a need to establish true democracy within the Organization, especially in the Security Council and with regard to the veto power of permanent members.  Because the General Assembly was the “supreme organ of the United Nations”, it needed to be at the centre of debate and discussion.  The imposition of sanctions should only occur in extreme circumstances, and only when all other means had been exhausted and a serious threat to international peace and security was present.

In the imposition of sanctions, she continued, there should be selective and established objectives so that the sanctions were not used as ways of reprisals. They should have time limits, with a mechanism for their lifting once compliance had been achieved.  The Security Council should evaluate the humanitarian impact, not just during sanctions but before their implementation, to ensure they did not affect the State’s population or impede access to humanitarian assistance and medical aid.  She hoped the work of the Special Committee lead to more tangible results, including consolidation of friendship between countries.

MOHAMMAD ERFANI AYOOB ( Afghanistan) called for the full implementation of the Special Committee’s mandate and urged it to continue improving its working methods.  He said targeted sanctions needed to be engaged with clear objectives and mechanisms to ensure that the results did not involve with adverse consequences on State populations or third States.  He noted his country’s involvement with the activities of Security Sanctions Committee of 1267 on the Taliban and Al-Qaida, and stated its commitment to fulfil its obligations. 

He said he welcomed the progress made by the Security Council in its new procedures for the listing and de-listing of individuals and entities on sanctions lists.  This required fair procedures and regular review; the sanctions committees should carefully study each case and create clear criteria.  He said that through its examination of legal matters, the Special Committee’s contributions were instrumental in the reform process and the democratization of the United Nations. 

MARY MCLEOD (United States) said the Special Committee should not aim to devise norms concerning the design and implementation of sanctions, or pursue activities in the area that were duplicative of or inconsistent with, the roles of the principal organs as set out in the Charter.

She noted that some States continued to assert that Article 50 required the Council to assist third States affected by the imposition of sanctions, while in fact the Article provided for the right to consult the Council.

It provided a mechanism to discuss the effects of sanctions on third States, but did not require the Council to take specific action.  With that in mind, it should be recalled that no sanctions committees had been approached by Member States with concerns about special economic problems resulting from the imposition of sanctions.  That was due to targeted sanctions, which minimized the unintended economic consequences for States.  There was no need to establish either a fund or other financial mechanism to address an abstract concern.

Statements in Right of Reply

The representative of the Republic of Korea said he was responding to the statement of the delegate from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea referring to the United Nations presence in his country being illegal.

The Republic of Korea representative said the “Unified Command” had been the subject of both Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, and all had been implemented by his country.  The 1953 armistice agreement between the two countries had led to contradictions.  It was misleading to imply there was only one Assembly resolution applicable to the situation.  Further, the Special Charter meeting was neither the time nor the place to discuss the matter.

The delegate of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said he regretted having to exercise his right of reply.  However, the Security Council resolution that served as the basis for the “Unified Command” had not authorized the current arrangement, which had no validity.  All forces were to have been removed so as “to open the door to North and South relations” without the interference of foreign forces.  It was regrettable that his counterpart tried to legitimize the unified force when it was another demonstration of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of a sovereign State.

The Republic of Korea delegate said the United Nations command had been recognized by resolutions as being in full compliance with its mandate.  All agreements between the Democratic People’s Republic and the Republic of Korea were to be reviewed.  It was to be hoped that the two could hold open and frank discussions.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said the Unified Command did not comply with the relevant articles of the Charter.  It was an illegal and anachronistic mechanism.  The command had committed serious crimes during the Korean War and must now withdraw its presence.

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