Delegates Also Stress Role of Charter Committee in Strengthening United Nations
Amidst calls for reforming the Security Council and other organs of the United Nations, delegates in the Sixth Committee (Legal) reaffirmed the importance of the work of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on Strengthening the Role of the United Nations.
As the Committee began its consideration of that item today, it had before it the Special Committee’s report on its session in February, as well as the reports of the Secretary-General on Implementation of the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations related to assistance to third States affected by the application of sanctions and on the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs and Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council.
Outlining the report of the Special Committee, Janine Elizabeth Coye-Felson, its Chair, called upon Member States to hold intersessional informal meetings to finalize the proposal of the Non-Aligned Movement on “Pacific settlement of disputes and its impact on the maintenance of peace” and the one submitted by Ghana on strengthening the relationship and cooperation between the United Nations and regional arrangements or agencies in the peaceful settlement of disputes.
The representative of South Africa, who spoke on behalf of the African Group, said the Charter Committee had not lived up to its full potential and called on it to break free from ideological chains. Further, the Security Council needed to become more representative and address the problems in its working methods. The United Nations could not demand its members to adhere to the rule of law while making no attempt to demonstrate that principle.
Nicaragua’s representative said all initiatives intended to “recreate, reinvent and overhaul” the United Nations, would have her country’s support, backing the decision to hold an additional meeting to consider the proposal submitted by the Non-Aligned Movement.
A representative of the European Union commended the Special Committee’s February discussions on that proposal while calling for proper prioritization of limited resources. Echoing that concern, the representative of the United States said that the number of longstanding proposals before the Special Committee, some of them overlapping or duplicating work done elsewhere in the Organization, was hampering its efficiency.
Huw Llewellyn, Director of the Codification Division on the Status of the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs, highlighted the recent launch of a new Repertory website, and noted that of the 56 volumes comprising the Repertory, 43 had been completed.
Blanca Montejo, Officer in Charge of the Security Council Practices and Charter Research Branch of the Department of Political Affairs, noted progress in updating the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council, which had currently been published in full up to the sixteenth supplement. Further, the website and search engine of the Repertoire would be improved to make information more accessible.
Also today, the Sixth Committee discussed the system of Administration of Justice at the United Nations, considering both an eponymous note and report by the Secretary-General; his report on activities of the Office of the United Nations Ombudsman and Mediation Services, his report on findings and recommendations of the Interim Independent Assessment Panel on the system and revised estimates relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2016-2017, as well as the report of the Internal Justice Council on the topic.
During that debate, the representative of New Zealand, also speaking on behalf of Australia and Canada, echoed the Interim Independent Assessment Panel’s recommendation that all staff in employment or contractual relationship with the Organization should have access to the internal justice system. The Dominican Republic’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, added that the informal resolution of conflict was a crucial element of the internal administration of justice system.
In addition, the Sixth Committee concluded today its consideration of the principle of universal jurisdiction.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Paraguay, Iran (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Cuba, Peru, Sudan, Russian Federation, Ghana, Libya, Nigeria, Namibia, Algeria, Bangladesh, China, India, the Philippines, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Belarus, Morocco and Venezuela, Republic of Korea and Switzerland, as well as the Holy See.
A representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross also spoke.
The Sixth Committee will next meet at 10 a.m. on Monday, 17 October, to begin consideration of the United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law.
Scope and Principle of Universal Jurisdiction
BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, said the proper scope and application of universal jurisdiction was a complex issue and many aspects of it still needed to be defined and fine-tuned. There was a need to reach greater clarity on the conditions that should be placed upon exercise of such jurisdiction of last resort, and to discuss how to safeguard national legal systems, helping them to be fair and efficient. There was also a need for increased mutual legal cooperation and sharing of experiences in the application of the principle of universal jurisdiction. It was also important to safeguard that principle from improper uses or ends. One such safeguard would be ensuring that its application take place in accordance with the United Nations Charter.
STEPHANE OJEDA, of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said the principle of universal jurisdiction was one of the key tools for ensuring the prevention, criminalization and punishment of serious violations of international humanitarian law. The “grave breaches” regime, outlined in the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and further developed in the Additional Protocol I of 1977, stipulated that States parties must search for persons alleged to have committed or ordered those violations. Further, the effective implementation of those obligations required each State party to extend universal jurisdiction to the list of grave breaches in its national legislation. The ICRC worked to prevent serious violations of international humanitarian law, offering legal and technical assistance to States and emphasizing the principle of universal jurisdiction. States bore the primary responsibility for investigating and prosecuting alleged perpetrators of serious violations, he said, noting that the ICRC would continue to follow discussions on the topic with great interest.
ANA EDELMIRA ROLÓN CANDIA (Paraguay), associating herself with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), spoke of the importance of combating impunity. States had the right and obligation to take judicial action against perpetrators of serious crimes, regardless of their nationality or that of the victim. Paraguay was fully committed to the international system and had incorporated positive law into its national legislation, and amended its Constitution accordingly. She also noted Paraguay was currently studying how to introduce a bill on the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Report of Special Committee on Charter & Strengthening Role of Organization
JANINE ELIZABETH COYE-FELSON (Belize), Chair of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on Strengthening the Role of the Organization, introduced that body’s report on its session in February (document A/71/33), which comprised five chapters and two annexes, the first of which was entirely procedural. Regarding chapter II, she said that the Committee had considered the question of the implementation of the provisions of the Charter relating to assistance to third States affected by the application of sanctions. Chapter III concerned peaceful settlement of disputes, including a discussion of the Russian Federation’s proposal to have the Secretariat establish a website dedicated to that topic. The discussions on the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs were summarized in Chapter IV, and Chapter V contained a summary of the working methods of the Committee.
Turning to recommendations, she noted that the Committee called upon Member States to hold intersessional informal meetings with the aim of finalizing the proposal of the Non-Aligned Movement entitled “Pacific settlement of disputes and its impact on the maintenance of peace” and the working paper by Ghana on strengthening the relationship and cooperation between the United Nations and regional arrangements or agencies in the peaceful settlement of disputes. Further, the Committee also recommended that the General Assembly mark the seventieth anniversary of the International Court of Justice by means of a commemorative draft resolution.
BLANCA MONTEJO, Officer-in-Charge of the Security Council Practices and Charter Research Branch of the Department of Political Affairs, in her statement on the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council, said that good progress had been made in updating the Repertoire. The drafting of the eighteenth supplement had been completed and posted online, and work had commenced on the drafting of the nineteenth supplement. One part of the nineteenth supplement had been completed, which gave a general overview of the Security Council and its responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security.
She also noted progress on efficiency-enhancing initiatives, such as the training of staff, the automation of data and the improvement of Repertoire drafting guidelines. The Repertoire had currently been published in full up to the sixteenth supplement, and the seventeenth supplement in printed form should be available next month.
She said that requests from Member States, United Nations staff, students and academics on questions related to the Security Council and its subsidiary bodies continued to be responded to, and the website and search engine of the Repertoire would be improved to make information more accessible. She underscored that progress in the publication of the Repertoire and its website would not have been possible without contributions to the Trust Fund, and noted with gratitude the contribution of China and Turkey, as well as the contribution of experts from China and Saudi Arabia.
HUW LLEWELLYN, Director of the Codification Division on the Status of the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs, reviewed the Secretary-General’s report on the Repertory of Practice of the United Nations Organs and the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council (document A/71/202), which outlined progress on the Repertory made over the last 12 months. Concerning the backlog in the Repertory’s volume III, he said research and drafting of a study on Article 49 of the Charter for volume III, Supplements Nos. 7 to 9 (1985-1999) had been completed and would shortly be submitted to the Secretariat. Progress had also been made in the preparation of studies for volume III of Supplement 10 (2000-2009). During the reporting period, the review of a study on Article 41 and Article 53 were undertaken, and a total of nine studies had been prepared in relation to Supplement 11 (2010-2015). The Codification Division had also undertaken and completed the review of the Manual of Preparation of the Studies for the Repertory of Practice of the United Nations Organs, which should prove a useful guidance tool for Secretariat units bearing primary responsibility for the preparation of Repertory studies as well as consultants, academic institutions and interns.
Of the 56 volumes comprising the Repertory, he said, 43 volumes had been completed. Twenty-eight of those had been published and 15 had been finalized and submitted for translation and publication, while work remained to be completed on 13 volumes. Drawing attention to the recent launch of a new Repertory website, which offered links to the annual reports of the Secretary-General as well as information on ways to contribute to the Repertory trust fund, he went on to describe areas of cooperation with academic institutions. In that regard, cooperation with the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law had continued for the sixth year, namely through its contribution to the preparation of six studies. An expression of interest had also been received from a university in the Asia-Pacific region. With regard to funding, he recalled efforts by the General Assembly and the Secretariat to encourage voluntary contributions to the Repertory trust fund, and noted that, as of 30 June 2016, the fund’s total balance was about $41,700.
JUAN ÁVILA (Dominican Republic), speaking on behalf of CELAC, stated that the Charter provided a basic framework for solving disputes peacefully. As the legitimacy of the use of sanctions was essential for them to be effective, sanctions must be imposed and implemented in conformity with the Charter and other relevant international laws. The question of the application of sanctions by the Security Council, including due process, was a matter of interest to the whole membership, as it could affect the Organization’s credibility.
In line with Resolution 67/96, he added, it was also necessary to continue to consider the question of the application of the provisions of the Charter on assistance to third States affected by the application of sanctions. The fact that no State had yet requested that kind of assistance did not mean that the issue should be discontinued. Noting with appreciation the progress in recent years regarding the backlog of the Repertory, he added that it was necessary to reinvigorate the work of the Special Committee, enabling it to exercise its mandate as an efficient organ of the machinery of the General Assembly.
ALI NASIMFAR (Iran), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the Charter Committee had the potential to enlighten international law. He noted several important elements in the reform process of the Organization, including the democratization of its principal organs and respect for the General Assembly’s role. The reform of the Organization should be carried out in accordance with the principles established by the Charter.
Security Council-imposed sanctions were an issue of concern to the States of the Movement, he said. The imposition of sanctions should be considered a last resort, when there was a threat to international peace or an act of aggression. They were not applicable as a preventative measure in any and all instances of violation of international law, norms or standards. The Movement also expressed concern over the imposition of coercive economic measures, including unilateral sanctions, against developing countries, which violated the Charter.
THEMBILE ELPHUS JOYINI (South Africa), speaking on behalf of the African Group and associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the Charter Committee had not lived up to its full potential because of methods of work and ideological battles. The United Nations could not demand its members to adhere to the rule of law while making no attempt to demonstrate that principle. The work of the Charter Committee should contribute to protecting the Organization from being labelled hypocritical.
The Security Council, he said, as the premier organ mandated to ensure peace and stability, needed to become more representative and address the problems in its working methods. Maintaining the status quo would only contribute to the further erosion of its credibility and legitimacy. The Charter Committee must contribute meaningfully to the work of the Organization and break free from the ideological chains which burdened its work. Further, the Group fully supported the proposal in the working paper by Ghana on strengthening the relationship and cooperation between the United Nations and regional arrangements for agencies.
ANCA CRISTINA MEZDREA European Union endorsed the Committee’s recommendation that the “Implementation of the provisions of the Charter related to assistance to third states affected by the application of sanctions” should be considered at the Assembly’s seventy-second session and biennally thereafter. She also commended the discussions during the Committee’s session in February on the proposal of the Non-Aligned Movement on the Pacific settlement of disputes and its impact on the maintenance of peace, and the working paper by Ghana on strengthening the relationship and cooperation between the United Nations and regional arrangements or agencies in the peaceful settlement of disputes. The European Union remained unconvinced about the added value of the Handbook on the Peaceful Settlement of Disputes between States, as multiple resources and legal tools were already available online. She called for proper prioritization of limited resources to avoid duplication of efforts.
TANIERIS DIÉGUEZ LA O (Cuba), associating herself with CELAC and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the topic under discussion was especially relevant in the current international scenario where some countries were reinterpreting the Charter to push interventionist agendas to the detriment of the sovereignty of many developing countries. The Special Committee was the appropriate forum for proposing and making any amendments to the Charter. Although some delegations continued to hinder the work of the Committee, it had produced some tangible results such as the agreement to have an intersessional meeting to discuss the proposal by the Non-Aligned Movement.
GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA VELÁSQUEZ (Peru), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and CELAC, recalled that the 1982 Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes was an achievement of the Special Committee. All States were obliged to avoid disputes that could affect friendly relations among States. Reaffirming the fundamental role of the International Court of Justice as the principal judicial organ in the peaceful settlement of disputes, he noted that the judgements and advisory opinions of the Court had helped to clarify the scope of international law. His delegation would continue working to ensure the success of the Special Committee.
ELSADIG ALI SAYED AHMED (Sudan), aligning himself with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated the role of the Special Committee in United Nations reform and called upon it to strengthen democracy in the main organs of the Organization. The practice and experience of the Organization showed that the Security Council had trampled on the jurisdiction of the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly by taking up issues that were within their purview. The Security Council’s emphasis on the imposition of sanctions was of concern to Member States as sanctions affected development and reconstruction projects. A complete review of the mechanisms and members of the Security Council was necessary, so that it could be more representative and less political and selective.
SERGEY LEONIDCHENKO (Russian Federation) said that the Special Committee had heard proposals to make changes to its working methods and that, while it should give thought to optimizing its work, it was important not to jeopardize it, as the recent session contained a number of useful discussions. The 1992 Handbook should be updated. It also would be useful to have a section on the United Nations website on the peaceful resolution of disputes. The Russian Federation appreciated the preparatory work for the Repertory and the Repertoire. In that regard, the Secretariat should comply with clear rules and standards.
AUDREY NAANA ABAYENA (Ghana) said her delegation had submitted a working paper on strengthening the relationship and cooperation between the United Nations and regional arrangements and agencies in peacefully settling disputes. Critical attention should be devoted to determining clear mechanisms and actions to tackle gaps and challenges in the relationship between the United Nations and regional organizations/arrangements in maintaining international peace and security. Given the significant role regional organizations played in promoting rule of law, respect for human rights and international humanitarian law as well as maintaining peace and security, the United Nations should work tirelessly on gaps and challenges, striving to improve coordination and cooperation. Her country’s proposal focused on identifying gaps and exploring institutional mechanisms to bring clarity and forge strategic partnerships as well as more effective and timely interactions between the United Nations and regional organizations/arrangements.
NAGIB I. S. KAFOU (Libya), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, expressing support for the proposals to reform the United Nations, said that his country would continue to participate actively in the work of the Special Committee and the Working Group. The international community must continue to work effectively to strengthen the Organization’s principal organs on the basis of democracy and representation. The Committee’s ability to do its work depended on the political will of the Member States. Welcoming progress made by the Secretariat on the Repertory and the Repertoire, he added that it was necessary to provide those documents in all six official languages, including Arabic.
ALINA JULIA ARGÜELLO GONZÁLEZ (Nicaragua), associating herself with CELAC and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that her country was “more than ever seriously committed” to the work of the Special Committee and would contribute substantively to its deliberations. The General Assembly was mandated to discuss all issues and questions within the limits conferred on it by the Charter. Her delegation was gravely concerned that the Security Council had taken up the discussion of issues that were not within its power, such as climate change. Voicing support for the Committee’s decision to hold an additional meeting to consider the proposals submitted by the Non-Aligned Movement, she reaffirmed her country’s commitment to all initiatives that aimed “to recreate, reinvent and overhaul the United Nations.”
EMILY PIERCE (United States) said that a significant challenge to the Special Committee’s efficiency was the number of longstanding proposals before it. Many of the issues were duplicative with work already done or being done elsewhere at the United Nations, and there was also overlap among the proposals themselves. She invited further scrutiny by sponsors and members alike on stagnant items on the Committee’s agenda, with a view toward rationalization of work. In the area of sanctions, she noted positive developments that had occurred elsewhere in the Organization to ensure they remained a robust tool for combating threats to international peace and security. The United States did not support the proposal of the General Assembly to request an advisory opinion on the use of force from the International Court of Justice.
STEPHEN M. BABA (Nigeria), associating himself with the African Group, said international peace and security could only be attained in an environment emphasizing and promoting rights and responsibilities of all States under an equitable and just international system. Stressing the importance of the International Court of Justice in adjudicating disputes among States, he said the Court’s significance in settling disputes through peaceful means should always be highlighted and compliance with its decisions become the norm. Member States should also strengthen tools of multilateral engagement, including dialogue, by promoting cooperation and through consensus building. As for sanctions, they should not be used to punish a target country’s population, but to ensure compliance with an international obligation. Sanctions should not be applied to every violation of an international obligation, as there were several other peaceful means that could be explored.
LINDA ANNE SCOTT (Namibia), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that in reforming the United Nations, consideration should be given to the democratization of its principal organs. She reiterated Namibia’s concern over the continuing encroachment of the Security Council on the functions and powers of the General Assembly and Economic and Social Council. The reform of the Organization should be undertaken with respect for the principles and procedures of the Charter. Security Council-imposed sanctions remained a concern, and should not be applied as a preventative measure in any or all instances of violation of international law. The objectives of sanctions were not to punish or exact retribution on the populace. While taking note of the progress made in the updating of the Repertory and Repertoire, she said there was concern over the backlog in the preparation of volume III of the Repertory.
MEHDI REMAOUN (Algeria), aligning himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, underlined the important role of the Special Committee in the peaceful settlement of international disputes, reaffirming the relevance of the Manila Declaration on that topic and supporting constructive discussion of the Non-Aligned Movement’s related proposals. Sanctions, he stressed, should only be applied as a last resort and within a clear framework to minimize adverse consequences. Reiterating the need to fully respect Charter provisions on balance among principal organs, he supported the Venezuelan initiative to create an open-ended working group within the Committee to study the implementation of such a balance. He also called for summoning the political will to advance long-standing issues on the Committee’s agenda, as well as for more consideration of progress made in the Secretariat’s work regarding the Repertory.
TAREQ MD ARIFUL ISLAM (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the renewed focus on reinvigorating the work of the Organization, particularly the General Assembly, had created an opportunity for infusing further momentum into the work and outcomes of the Charter Committee. While some of the issues were already being discussed in other forums, the potential of that Committee to deal with the various issues in a cohesive fashion remained largely untapped. That needed to be reversed with the demonstration of sufficient political will by all Member States. Further, the Charter Committee had added value to the ongoing debate on the merits and demerits of sanctions regimes, especially when they hurt the interest of civilians or third parties.
SEYED ALI MOUSAVI (Iran), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the deliberations made by the Charter Committee could provide a common understanding for strengthening rule of law at the international level. Prohibition of the use of force was enshrined in the Charter and the practice of some Member States to use force unlawfully to advance their national interests had jeopardized international peace as well as the purposes of the Organization. Voicing support for the proposal submitted by the Russian Federation and Belarus regarding advisory opinions from the International Court of Justice, he added that it would help clarify the provisions of the Charter. Turning to sanctions, he noted that they should be introduced as a last resort, on the basis of evidence and not speculation, and only after peaceful measures had proved inadequate.
SHI XIAOBIN (China) said that dispute settlement methods must be applied strictly in compliance with the principle of sovereign equality, and must not be imposed on any States. With regard to the working paper on strengthening of the relationship and cooperation between the United Nations and regional arrangements or agencies, there was a need to fully leverage the roles and advantages of all actors while ensuring that actions were in line with the Charter. On the assistance to third States affected by sanctions, he said discussions were necessary and supported the retention of that item on the Committee’s agenda. Among other things, his Government had made donations to the two trust funds set up for Repertory and the Repertoire.
KOTESWARA RAO (India), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the impact of sanctions in maintaining international peace and security was an important issue. The Security Council, which mandated sanctions, was responsible for finding solutions to problems of third States affected by such sanctions. Article 50 of the Charter gave third States with special economic problems due to Council sanctions the right to consult the Council for solutions to those problems. Article 50 obliged the Council to find definitive solutions to the problems of affected third States. It was important to ensure that sanctions were issued in accordance with the provisions of the Charter and did not violate principles of international law. It was also necessary to ensure timely and adequate assistance to affected third States, giving consideration to “humanitarian aspects” with their consent.
IGOR GARLIT BAILEN (Philippines), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the Special Committee had contributed significantly to the purpose of maintaining international peace and security through the 1982 Manila Declaration. He recalled and reiterated support for the proposal of the Non-Aligned Movement on the pacific settlement of disputes and the working paper by Ghana. He also supported the Committee’s consideration on the question of implementation of provisions of the Charter that related to assistance to third States affected by the application of sanctions.
PAK CHOL JIN (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the United Nations should settle international matters in accordance with the principles of the Charter. The international situation was highly complex and the approaches of the Organization were not giving hope, but disappointment to humankind. Certain States were committing high-handed acts under the cloak of the war on terror. He referred to the spread of false information about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the military invasion under that pretext. The Security Council had adopted illegal sanctions against his country, he said, stressing that international laws did not contain provisions that nuclear tests and satellite launches were threats to international peace and security.
RUSLAN VARANKOV (Belarus), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said it was high time for a review of the practices of the Security Council and the sanctions committees. Such a review would help the international community identify and standardize best practices in the field. Further, the General Assembly needed to fully exercise its authority regarding sanctions. His delegation supported the Russian Federation’s initiative of creating an online portal regarding peaceful conflict resolution. That would not only guarantee access to information but also ensure that information was reliable. On working methods, he added that the subject of international law required complex and long deliberations, and the principle of consensus must not be abused.
MOHAMMED ATLASSI (Morocco), associating himself with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, recalled that the Manila Declaration had been adopted on the basis of a text drawn up by the Sixth Committee and reaffirmed his country’s commitment to multilateralism and respect for the rules of international law. The Security Council’s impinging on the mandate of the General Assembly and vice versa should be avoided. Further, Morocco supported the proposals put forward by the Non-Aligned Movement and Ghana, both concerning peaceful settlement of disputes. The Committee should take necessary precautions before adding any new items to its agenda to ensure that “we are dealing with legal subjects, not political ones,” he said.
ISAÍAS ARTURO MEDINA MEJÍAS (Venezuela), associating himself with CELAC and the Non-Aligned Movement, said there was an urgent need to restructure the Organization and make it more democratic by transforming the composition of the Security Council. The number of Member States had increased significantly since the Organization’s inception; the number of permanent members of the Security Council should be increased as well. The democratic nature of the body would be improved if the right of veto was removed. The interest of developing countries was not represented in a balanced way in the current Council structure. The main policies and decisions of the Organization should be made within the General Assembly, which was the supreme body of the United Nations. The power of the Security Council to impose sanctions should be exercised within what was contemplated by the Charter, and that power should not be seen as unlimited or absolute.
Rights of Reply
The representative of the Republic of Korea said that the Sixth Committee was not the appropriate forum to discuss the specific situation in and around the Korean peninsula. The repetition of misleading allegations by the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was one of the worst examples of the dissipation of the resources allocated to this Committee. The United Nations Command was created by the Security Council and the validity of that resolution had been reaffirmed by subsequent practices of the Council as well as the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice.
The representative of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that the Special Committee was mandated to consider problems due to implementation of the Charter, especially as they related to the maintenance of peace and security. The United Nations Command was a typical example of a violation of the Charter, as it threatened peace and stability in his region by escalating the tension in the Korean peninsula.
The representative of the Republic of Korea, responding, said that the Special Committee should not be the venue for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to make unsubstantiated allegations regarding the United Nations Command. Since that delegation kept on referring to its nuclear programme, he wished to add that the programme posed a serious threat to global peace as well as the international non-proliferation regime.
The representative of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that his delegation had made everything clear previously. The Republic of Korea had handed over all its territories and dignity to the United States and had brought hundreds of thousands of military personnel into the Korean peninsula. That was “a real national tragedy,” he said.
Administration of Justice
JUAN ÁVILA (Dominican Republic), speaking on behalf of CELAC and noting the Secretary-General’s report on administration of justice at the United Nations, stressed the positive impact of the system in improving relations between the Organization and its staff and their work. He underscored the important role of the Sixth Committee in making the system operational through the drafting of the Statutes for both Tribunals and its amendments. The Office of Staff Legal Assistance had performed vital tasks through representation, advice and other legal services, and the Internal Justice Council played an important role in the system to help ensure independence and accountability.
He also took note of the Secretary-General’s report on the activities of the Office of the United Nations Ombudsman and Mediation Services, which provided workplace informal conflict resolution services to the Secretariat, the funds and programmes and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The informal resolution of conflict was a crucial element of the internal administration of justice system, he said, calling upon the implementation of incentives to encourage more recourse to informal resolution. He also underscored the importance of coordination between the Sixth and Fifth Committees, to ensure an appropriate division of labour and avoid overlaps or encroachment of mandates.
GILLES MARHIC, European Union, said that the informal resolution of disputes was one of the most crucial elements of the system of administration of justice, as it helped avoid expensive and time-consuming litigation. In that regard, he welcomed the work of the Office of the United Nations Ombudsman and Mediation Services to advance and encourage the use of informal resolution. The United Nations Tribunal had received a significant increase of cases in 2014, but now the number of cases was stabilizing and progress was being made in disposing of old cases.
Noting the report of the Interim Independent Assessment Panel, he said that the European Union shared the view of the members of the panel and the Secretary-General that the current system to a great extent met its objectives and was an improvement over the previous system. He was also aware, however, of room for further examination in order to improve it. The Office of Staff Legal Assistance remained an important filter in the system, and he supported its work in representing staff in Panel proceedings and across the whole spectrum of justice at the United Nations.
JIKITA DE SCHOT (New Zealand), also speaking on behalf of Australia and Canada, noted significant challenges facing the Organization’s human resources system, and said that it was not credible that only one per cent of the staff had received ratings suggesting that they were underperforming. Further, she was concerned that access to the internal justice system was not available to all staff. Referring to the Interim Independent Assessment Panel’s report, she noted its recommendation that all staff in employment or contractual relationships with the Organization should have access to the internal justice system and voiced concern that there was not enough protection for staff against retaliation.
DAMARIS CARNAL (Switzerland) noted that about 45 per cent of the United Nations workforce consisted of non-staff personnel. That meant a staggering number of people were currently excluded from the Organization’s system of administration of justice. Many non-staff members were individual contractors performing staff-type work. Under current circumstances, arbitration was too complex and costly to be an effective way of settling work-related disputes. The United Nations must put in place a system in which all personnel had an effective remedy, irrespective of their classification as staff or non-staff members. There were also persistent concerns about a lack of protection from retaliation. Staff members were obliged to report any misconduct, but must feel safe to do so. Under the current system, a person claiming to suffer from retaliation for reporting misconduct may ask the Ethics Office to open an investigation. However, if the Ethics Office declined to do so or if the investigation was carried out in an unsatisfactory manner, there was no possibility of appeal.
STEPHEN TOWNLEY (United States) said he would like to know more about how best to ensure protection for staff members who reported misconduct and asked for further study in light of the subtle ways in which retaliation could occur. He was also interested in the Panel’s recommendation that there was a need for early resolution of receivability issues, as it would appear that the Dispute Tribunal already had authority to address that. While welcoming progress on enhancing the jurisprudential search engine, he looked forward to the Secretariat’s view on some of the proposals of the Internal Justice Council regarding rationalization and clarity of administrative issuance in that regard. One way to mitigate some of the concerns would be to publicize that a staff member may pursue remedies before the Tribunals in parallel with review by the Ethics Office.