|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-eighth General Assembly
28th Meeting (AM)
Sixth Committee Hears Working Group Reports, Approves Drafts on Programme
Assistance, Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism
Despite Joining Consensus, Delegates Object to North Atlantic
Treaty Organization’s Inclusion in List of Entities Combating Terrorism
Nearing the conclusion of their work for the sixty-eighth session, delegates in the Sixth Committee (Legal) today took action on two draft resolutions and heard the oral reports by the Chairs of two working groups.
The Committee approved without a vote the draft resolution on the United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law, as orally revised and amended, and the draft resolution on measures to eliminate international terrorism.
However, following the approval on the text for measures to eliminate international terrorism, several delegations, while joining consensus, expressed reservations about the relevant paragraph that listed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as one of many international organizations combating terrorism. Syria’s representative, expressing the sentiments of several speakers, said that NATO was an alliance, unlike the other organizations on the list.
Introducing its oral report, the representative of Switzerland, Chair of the Working Group on the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts, said that discussions focused on whether to go forward with negotiation of a convention. Those speaking in favour said that a convention based on the draft articles would contribute to legal certainty and the international rule of law. However, other delegations said a convention could threaten the delicate balance established in the draft articles by the International Law Commission.
South Africa’s representative, Chair of the Working Group on Diplomatic Protection, then introduced its oral report, stating that the issue of moving forward towards a convention had been at the crux of the Group’s discussions, as well. Again, representatives had stressed the legal certainty that a convention would bring. However, other speakers continued to oppose such an outcome, pointing out that negotiation of a convention would be premature in the absence of a consensus on the substance of the articles.
The Committee also heard an oral report by Germany’s representative on informal consultations regarding the administration of justice at the United Nations. The Chairman of the Committee was then authorized to sign a letter on the views of the Committee on the matter, forward it to the President of the General Assembly, who would also be requested to provide the letter to the Chairman of the Fifth Committee, and to circulate it as a document of the General Assembly.
Also speaking were representatives of Pakistan, Austria, Chile, Egypt, Togo, Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua.
The Sixth Committee will reconvene for its final plenary meeting of the session at 10 a.m. on Friday, 15 November, to consider the report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country, revitalization of the work of the General Assembly, and programme planning. It would also take action on outstanding draft resolutions and the election of officers.
The Sixth Committee met today to hear the oral reports of its working groups on the responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts, and on diplomatic protection. It would also hear an oral report on informal consultations held earlier this week on the administration of justice at the United Nations.
Ten draft resolutions would be introduced, as well. Delegates had before them texts on the responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts (document A/C.6/68/L.19); criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission (document A/C.6/68/L.15); report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law on the work of its forty-sixth session (documents A/C.6/68/L.9, A/C.6/68/L.10, A/C.6/68/L.11 and A/C.6/68/L.12); diplomatic protection (document A/C.6/68/L.16); consideration of prevention of transboundary harm from hazardous activities and allocation of loss in the case of such harm (document A/C.6/68/L.20); report of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization (document A/C.6/68/L.18); and the scope and application of the principle of universal jurisdiction (document A/C.6/68/L.17).
The Committee would then take action on two draft resolutions, namely, the United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law (document A/C.6/68/L.14), and measures to eliminate international terrorism (document A/C.6/68/L.13).
Reports of Working Groups
NIKOLAS STÜRCHLER ( Switzerland), Chair, Working Group on the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts, said that the Group had been tasked with exploring the possibility of negotiating an international convention, or any other appropriate action, based on the draft articles on the matter. The Group had been open to all Member States, as well as members of the Organization’s specialized agencies, and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The Working Group, he continued, had considered written comments from Governments and a compilation of decisions in which the draft articles and their accompanying commentaries were referenced by international courts, tribunals and other bodies between 2010 and 2013. Four options were then identified. The first would follow past procedure whereby a decision on the future articles would be postponed until a later session. The second option was to conclude the Assembly’s consideration of the draft articles. Option three would also conclude the Assembly’s consideration, but leave open the possibility of returning to the matter at another point. The final option was to recommend the negotiation of an international convention based on the draft articles.
Discussion revealed a continued divergence of opinion on the negotiation of a convention, he said. Those speaking in favour highlighted, inter alia, the extensive reliance on the draft articles by international courts and tribunals. Several delegations emphasized that a convention based on the draft articles would contribute to legal certainty and the international rule of law. Delegations who continued to oppose the negotiation of a convention indicated that it would threaten the delicate balance established in the draft articles by the International Law Commission.
It was thus decided, he said, that the best way forward at the present session was to work on the basis of a draft resolution that would acknowledge recent developments in regard to the draft articles, and once again defer a decision on the fate of the draft articles to a future session.
THEMBILE JOYINI ( South Africa), Chair, Working Group on Diplomatic Protection, said the Group was to examine the question of a convention on diplomatic protection, or any other appropriate action, on the basis of the draft articles on diplomatic protection. It was to also identify any differences of opinion on the draft articles. Before the Working Group were Governments’ written comments issued in the most recent Secretary-General’s report (document A/68/115 and Add.1).
He said that at its meeting in October this year, the Working Group discussed the differing opinions that had arisen during the plenary debate. Two possible options for a feasible way forward were then identified: either to decide to start a process towards the eventual negotiation and adoption of a treaty, or to simply postpone any decision on the matter to a future session.
Several delegations, he said, had reiterated their positions expressed during the plenary debate. Those who had spoken in favour of a convention had stressed, among others, the importance of the draft articles in clarifying and developing rules of customary international law, and had placed emphasis on the legal certainty which a convention would bring. However, other delegations had continued to oppose such an outcome, pointing out that negotiation of a convention would be premature in the absence of a consensus on the substance of the articles.
He also said that a number of delegations called for a decision on how to proceed to be deferred until the final decision on the draft articles on the responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts was taken. Bearing in mind those conclusions, there had been agreement in the Working Group that the most feasible way forward at the current session was to work on the basis of a draft resolution, while deferring a decision on the fate of the draft articles on the topic to a future session. The discussions on a text for such a draft resolution had been subsequently undertaken on the basis of bilateral contacts between the Chair and delegations.
The representative of Switzerland, introducing the draft resolution on the responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts (A/C.6/68/L.19), noted that the first operational paragraph, which was new, acknowledged that a growing number of decisions by international courts, tribunals and other bodies referred to the draft articles on responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts. The paragraphs that followed had been drawn from General Assembly resolution 65/19.
Pakistan’s representative introduced the draft resolution on criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission (A/C.6/68/L.15). He stressed that paragraph 9 was one of the resolution’s most important provisions. It requested that the Secretary-General bring credible allegations that revealed a crime might have been committed to the attention of the States against whose nationals such allegations had been made, and to request that those States provide a status of their investigative or prosecution efforts.
Austria’s representative, introducing four draft resolutions, said that the first resolution on the report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law on the work of its forty-sixth session (UNCITRAL), (document A/C.6/68/L.9) was an omnibus resolution on the report, which, among other things, commended UNCITRAL for the finalization and adoption of its Rules on Transparency in Treaty based Investor State Arbitration.
She noted that operational paragraph 8 had been updated to welcome the activities of the UNCITRAL Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific in the Republic of Korea, and that operational paragraph 9 had been amended due to the decision to undertake work in the area of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, which did not have the same cross border focus as other areas in which it had worked.
She then introduced the draft resolution on the revision of the Guide to Enactment of the UNCITRAL Model law on Cross-Border Insolvency and part four of the UNCITRAL Legislative Guide on Insolvency Law (document A/C.6/68/L.10); and draft resolution UNCITRAL Guide on the Implementation of a Security Rights Registry (document A/C.6/68/L.11).
Introducing draft resolution on the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Rules on Transparency in Treaty based Investor State Arbitration and Arbitration Rules (as revised in 2010, with new article 1, paragraph 4, as adopted in 2013) (document A/C.6/68/L.12), she pointed out that the text, among other things, invited Member States, which had chosen to include the rules in their treaties to inform UNCITRAL accordingly.
South Africa’s representative introduced the draft resolution on diplomatic protection (document A/C.6/68/L.16), noting that the prevailing preference of the Working Group on the matter was to defer a decision on the fate of the draft articles to a future session.
Following that, the representative of Chile introduced the draft resolution on consideration of prevention of transboundary harm from hazardous activities and allocation of loss in the case of such harm (document A/C.6/68/L.20). Noting technical updates and certain amendments to the resolution, he said it was intended that the Committee would continue examination of future action on the form of articles and principles in view of the International Law Commission’s recommendations.
Egypt’s representative then introduced the draft resolution on the report of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization (document A/C.6/68/L.18). He said that the resolution was an updated version of last year’s General Assembly resolution on the topic, with some additions and modifications made thereto.
Concluding the introduction to draft resolutions, Togo’s representative introduced the draft resolution on the scope and application of the principle of universal jurisdiction (document A/C.6/68/L.17), pointing out that the resolution was a slight reworking of last year’s resolution, but reflected changes based on informal consultations held during the current session.
The draft resolution on the United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law (document A/C.6/68/L.14), was approved without a vote, as orally revised and amended.
The draft resolution on measures to eliminate international terrorism (document A/C.6/68/L.13) was also approved without a vote.
In explanation of position after the vote, Syria’s representative, joining the consensus on that text, expressed a reservation with regard to preambular paragraph 24, which referenced the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) among other organizations combating terrorism. He stated that NATO was an alliance different from those other organizations.
The representative of Venezuela endorsed the consensus, but also expressed reservations about preambular paragraph 24, noting that NATO should not be cited alongside other organizations combating international terrorism.
Cuba’s delegate, restating her country’s commitment to combat all terrorist acts and its readiness to cooperate with all Member States, nonetheless reiterated what had been said by the preceding two speakers regarding NATO’s listing as one among many organizations combating terrorism.
The representative of Nicaragua also submitted a reservation of the mention of NATO in preambular paragraph 24.
Oral Report of Coordinator
THOMAS FITSCHEN (Germany), Coordinator for the informal consultations on the administration of justice, said that the recent informal consultations on the subject had addressed proposals and observations in the Secretary-General’s report on the topic, as well as the report of the Internal Justice Council and the Secretary-General’s report on activities of the Office of the United Nations Ombudsman and Mediation Services.
He said that a fruitful question and answer session had occurred with staff of the Office of Legal Affairs, the Internal Justice Council, the Office of the Administration of Justice, and the Office of the United Nations Ombudsman and Mediation Services. However, he said he wished that the judges of the two Tribunals had been present as well.
Speakers, he went on to say, had observed that the new system was being engaged and trusted by staff. The time needed by the Dispute Tribunal had decreased to around 12 months. However, he stressed that any reduction in the judicial capacity of the Tribunal would lead to a significant increase in the length of time needed to conclude a case. Turning to the Appeals Tribunal, he said delegations had been in agreement that the steady influx of new cases — if nothing else was done — might push the new system into crisis. As such, an accumulation of a backlog of appeals, which had plagued the old system, needed to be avoided.
In regards to the report of Internal Justice Council, he said, among other comments, that while the Council’s long-term work programme had been met with a lot of interest, delegations had noted that parts of the work programme might overlap with the mandate to be given to the interim assessment, and thus urged close coordination. In regards to the proposed code of conduct for external counsel, informal discussions had emphasized that clear rules were needed as a matter of urgency for the sake of legal clarity and predictability.
Finally, on the proposal by the Dispute Tribunal judges to address the General Assembly directly in a report of their own, he said that while delegations had been reluctant to change the current system of formal reporting, they had also acknowledged the underlying problem of processing and presenting all relevant information from all players within the informal and the formal system, in due time for consideration by the Assembly.
Based on the consultations, he said that it was evident that debate on the matter would have to continue. A letter to the General Assembly President that had been the outcome of the informal consultations was before the Committee for approval.
Action on Letter
The Sixth Committee then decided to authorize the Chairman of the Committee to sign the letter and forward it to the President of the General Assembly, who would also be requested to provide the letter to the Chairman of the Fifth Committee, as well as to circulate the letter as a document of the General Assembly.
* *** *