Hailing Legal Committee’s Role in Progressive Development, Codification of International Law, General Assembly Unanimously Adopts 23 Texts

GA/11988
7 December 2017
Seventy-second Session, 67th Meeting (PM)

Hailing Legal Committee’s Role in Progressive Development, Codification of International Law, General Assembly Unanimously Adopts 23 Texts

Reaffirming the importance of progressive development and codification of international law, the General Assembly today adopted 17 resolutions and 6 decisions approved by its Sixth Committee (Legal).

In keeping with the long‑standing tradition of the Committee, all texts were adopted without a vote.  Among them was the resolution, “The rule of law at the national and international levels”, which encouraged the United Nations system to accord high priority to rule of law activities and recognized the importance of restoring confidence in the principle as a key element of transitional justice.

Further, by that text, the General Assembly stressed the importance of adherence to the rule of law at the national level and the need to strengthen support to Member States, upon their request, in the domestic implementation of their respective international obligations through enhanced technical assistance and capacity‑building.  That would support the development, reinforcement and maintenance of domestic institutions active in the promotion of the principle.

However, Syria’s representative expressed reservations, recalling that the Secretary‑General’s report that was referenced in the resolution drew attention to international accountability mechanisms.  The International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Those Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011 was a professional mistake and a breach of the rule of law, he stressed.  There had been no request for technical assistance from Syria, and the General Assembly did not have the prerogative to establish such a mechanism, he stressed.

Another resolution adopted by the General Assembly was the text, “Report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country”.  By its terms, the General Assembly recalled the privileges and immunities applicable to the premises of permanent missions to the United Nations enjoyed under international law.  It also urged the host country to address alleged violations and to remove any restrictions inconsistent with the privileges and immunities applied to the premises of a permanent mission.

In keeping with the Sixth Committee’s commitment to benefit present and future generations of lawyers, the Assembly also adopted a resolution on the “United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law”.  That text authorized the Secretary‑General to finance various Programme of Assistance activities from the regular budget, including, among others, the International Law Fellowship Programme, the United Nations Regional Courses in International Law, and the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 10 November to consider the topics of culture of peace, and the strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance.

Action on Draft Texts

PETER NAGY (Slovakia), Sixth Committee Rapporteur, introduced that body’s reports addressing the 25 agenda items allocated to the Committee reflecting the Organization’s priorities, including, among others, promotion of justice and international law; drug control, crime prevention and combating international terrorism; and organizational, administrative and other matters.

He noted that 23 texts had been approved by the Sixth Committee without a vote and expressed the hope that the General Assembly would do the same.  Noting that there was no report in respect to the agenda item, “Election of officers of the Main Committees”, he said that, consistent with previous practice, elections for the Sixth Committee’s seventy‑third session would take place at a later stage in the course of the current session.

The Assembly first took up the report, “Criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission” (document A/72/457), adopting the resolution therein without a vote.  By its terms, the Assembly expressed its concern with respect to the low rate of response from States to requests for information on their provisions addressing the establishment of jurisdiction over crimes.  It also urged States to take measures to ensure that such crimes did not go unpunished.

Next before the Assembly was the resolution, “Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law on the work of its fiftieth session” (document A/72/458), by which the Assembly stressed the importance of promoting the use of texts emanating from the work of the Commission for the global unification and harmonization of international trade law.  It also urged States that had not yet done so to consider signing, ratifying or acceding to conventions, enacting model laws and encouraging the use of other relevant texts.

That report also contained the resolution, “Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law” (document A/72/458), which had the Secretary‑General publish the Law in the six official languages of the United Nations and disseminate it broadly.  It also recommended that States continue to consider becoming parties to the United Nations Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts.

The resolution on the “United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law” (document A/72/459), also adopted without a vote, authorized the Secretary‑General to carry out the activities specified in his report in 2018 and 2019, such as the International Law Fellowship Programme and the United Nations Regional Courses in International Law, which should be financed from provisions in the regular budget.

The Assembly then took up the resolution on the “Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its sixty‑ninth session” (document A/72/460), which was also adopted without a vote.  By that text, the Assembly expressed its appreciation to the Commission for the work accomplished, and noted in particular the completion of the first reading of the draft articles on “Crimes against humanity” with the adoption of the entire set of draft articles.

Next, the Assembly adopted without a vote the resolution, “Expulsion of aliens” (document A/72/461).  That text had the Assembly include the topic in the provisional agenda of its seventy‑fifth session, with a view to examining the question of the form that might be given to the draft articles.

Also adopted without a vote was the resolution, “Report of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on Strengthening the Role of the Organization” (document A/72/462), by which the Assembly continued its consideration of all proposals concerning the question of the maintenance of international peace and security, in order to strengthen the role of the United Nations.

Turning to the resolution, “The rule of law at the national and international levels” (document A/72/463), the Assembly adopted it without a vote.  By that text, the General Assembly reaffirmed its commitment to work for the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Among other things, it also stressed the importance of adherence to the rule of law at the national level.

The representative of Syria, speaking in explanation of position, expressed his reservation regarding the reference in paragraph C60 of the Secretary‑General’s report, “Strengthening and coordinating United Nations rule of law activities” (document A/72/268).  The so‑called international, independent and impartial Mechanism [The International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Those Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011] was a professional mistake that should be corrected.  His delegation had addressed a letter to the Secretary‑General that identified the serious consequences of such an illegitimate mechanism.

That Mechanism was a breach of the rule of law at the international and national levels, he said.  The Committee was well aware of the main rule governing the provision of technical assistance, which was the existence of a request of assistance from the Member State concerned.  Such a request did not exist.  Syria and many other Member States would not recognize the Mechanism for many legal reasons, including the fact that it was not a subsidiary body established by the General Assembly; that organ did not have that prerogative.  That prerogative was enjoyed by the Security Council.

Next the Assembly took up the resolution, “The scope and application of the principle of universal jurisdiction” (document A/72/464), by which the Assembly invited Member States and relevant observers to submit information and observations on that matter, including information on the relevant and applicable international treaties and their national legal rules and judicial practice.  The text was adopted without a vote.

The Assembly then adopted without a vote the resolution, “Effects of armed conflicts on treaties” (document A/72/465), by which it emphasized the value of the relevant articles in providing guidance to States, and invited States to use the articles as a reference whenever appropriate.

Adopting the resolution, “Responsibility of international organizations” (document A/72/466) without a vote, the Assembly took note once again of the articles on that matter and requested the Secretary‑General to update the compilation of decisions of international courts, tribunals and other bodies referring to the articles.  Further, it asked Governments and international organizations to submit information on their practice in that regard.

The Assembly then adopted the resolution, “Measures to eliminate international terrorism” (document A/72/467), without a vote.  By that text, the Assembly called upon all Member States, the United Nations and other appropriate organizations to implement the United Nations Global Counter‑Terrorism Strategy.  In addition, it expressed its grave concern over the acute and growing threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters, and emphasized the need for States to address that issue, including through the implementation of their international obligations.

Turning to the resolution, “Report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country” (document A/72/469), the Assembly adopted it without a vote.  By that text, the General Assembly recalled the privileges and immunities applicable to the premises of permanent missions to the United Nations enjoyed under international law.  It also urged the host country to address alleged violations and to remove any restrictions inconsistent with the privileges and immunities applied to the premises of a permanent mission.

The Assembly then deferred to the seventy‑third session the draft decision on the request for “Observer status for the Cooperation Council of Turkic‑speaking States in the General Assembly” (document A/72/470).  The Council, an international intergovernmental organization, promotes cooperation among Turkic‑speaking States and aims to serve as a new regional instrument for advancing international cooperation in the Eurasian continent, particularly in Central Asia and Caucasus.

Also deferred until the seventy‑third session was the draft decision on the request for “Observer status for the Eurasian Economic Union in the General Assembly” (document A/72/471).  The Union is an economic association of states located primarily in Northern Eurasia.

The draft decision on “Observer status for the Community of Democracies in the General Assembly” (document A/72/472) was also deferred until the seventy‑third session.  The Community is an intergovernmental coalition of States that brings together Governments, civil society and the private sector in the pursuit of supporting democratic rules.

Turning to the resolution granting “Observer status for the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan in the General Assembly” (document A/72/473), the Assembly decided to invite the Network to participate in the sessions and the work of the General Assembly in the capacity of observer.  The Network is an intergovernmental organization that specializes in the conservation and development of bamboo and rattan.

The Assembly then adopted the resolution on “Observer status for the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office in the General Assembly” (document A/72/474).  By that text, it decided to invite the Office to participate in the sessions and the work of the General Assembly in the capacity of observer.  The Office functions as a regional macroeconomic surveillance unit.

Acting again without a vote, the Assembly adopted the resolution, “Observer status for the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism in the General Assembly” (document A/72/475), inviting that group to participate in the sessions and the work of the General Assembly in the capacity of observer.  The Group is an intergovernmental organization with the goal of regional cooperation to focus on money-laundering.

The Assembly also deferred a decision for “Observer status for the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands Secretariat in the General Assembly” (document A/72/476) until the seventy‑third session.  The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands Secretariat is the secretariat for the treaty that provides the framework for action and cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands.

Also deferred until the seventy‑third session was the draft decision on the request for “Observer status for the Global Environment Facility in the General Assembly” (document A/72/477).  The Global Environment Facility is an international partnership of countries, institutions, civil society and the private sector that addresses environmental issues.

Next, the Assembly adopted a resolution on “Observer status for the Fund for the Development of the Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean in the General Assembly” (document A/72/468), deciding to invite the Fund to participate in the sessions and the work of the Assembly in the capacity of observer.  The Fund promotes the interests of indigenous peoples.

The General Assembly then considered the draft decision, “Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly” (document A/72/482), adopting the provisional programme of work for the seventy‑third session.

Concluding its consideration, the Assembly also took note of the report on “Programme planning” (document A/72/487).

For information media. Not an official record.