Sixth Committee (Legal) — 73rd session

Report of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization (Agenda item 85)

Documentation

Summary of work

Background (source: A/73/100)

The item entitled “Need to consider suggestions regarding the review of the Charter of the United Nations” was included in the agenda of the twenty-fourth session of the General Assembly at the request of Colombia (A/7659). The Assembly had the item on its agenda biennially at its twenty-fifth to twenty-ninth sessions (resolutions 2697 (XXV), 2968 (XXVII) and 3349 (XXIX)).

At its twenty-ninth session, under the item entitled “Need to consider suggestions regarding the review of the Charter of the United Nations”, the Assembly decided to establish an Ad Hoc Committee on the Charter of the United Nations to consider any specific proposals that Governments might make with a view to enhancing the ability of the United Nations to achieve its purposes, as well as other suggestions for the more effective functioning of the United Nations that might not require amendments to the Charter (resolution 3349 (XXIX)).

The item entitled “Strengthening of the role of the United Nations with regard to the maintenance and consolidation of international peace and security, the development of cooperation among all nations and the promotion of the rules of international law in relations between States” was included in the agenda of the twenty-seventh session of the Assembly at the request of Romania (A/8792). The Assembly had the item on its agenda annually at its twenty-seventh to twenty-ninth sessions (resolutions 2925 (XXVII), 3073 (XXVIII) and 3282 (XXIX)).

At its thirtieth session, under the item “Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization”, the Assembly decided to reconvene the Ad Hoc Committee on the Charter of the United Nations as the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization to examine suggestions and proposals regarding the Charter and the strengthening of the role of the United Nations with regard to the maintenance and consolidation of international peace and security, the development of cooperation among all nations and the promotion of the rules of international law. The Assembly also decided that the Special Committee should submit an annual report to the Assembly (resolution 3499 (XXX)).

The Assembly has had the item entitled “Report of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization” on its agenda annually since its thirty-first session (resolutions 31/28, 32/45, 33/94, 34/147, 35/164, 36/122, 36/123, 37/114, 38/141, 39/88 A and B, 40/78, 41/83, 42/157, 43/51, 43/170, 44/37, 45/44, 45/45, 46/58, 46/59, 47/38, 48/36, 49/57, 49/58, 50/50 to 50/52, 51/208, 51/209, 52/161 to 52/163, 53/106, 53/107, 54/106 to 54/108, 55/156, 55/157, 56/86, 56/87, 57/24 to 57/26, 58/80, 58/248, 59/44, 59/45, 60/23, 61/37, 61/38, 62/69, 63/127, 64/115, 65/31, 66/101, 67/95, 67/96, 68/115, 69/122, 70/117, 71/146, 71/147 and 72/118).

At its seventy-second session, the Assembly allocated the item to the Sixth Committee, where statements in the debate were made by 24 delegations (see A/C.6/72/SR.12 and 13). The Assembly decided that the Special Committee should hold its next session from 20 to 28 February 2018, and requested the Special Committee to submit a report on its work to the Assembly at its seventy-third session. The Assembly also requested the Secretary-General to submit to the Assembly at its seventy-third session a report on both the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs and the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council (resolution 72/118).

The Special Committee met at United Nations Headquarters from 20 to 28 February 2018 and adopted its report (A/73/33).

Consideration at the seventy-third session

The Sixth Committee considered the item at its 13th, 14th, 31st and 33rd meetings, on 12 and 15 October and on 1 and 5 November 2018, respectively (see A/C.6/73/SR.13, 14, 31 and 33).

The Chair of the 2018 session of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization introduced the report of the Special Committee (A/73/33).

The Director of the Codification Division of the Office of Legal Affairs made a statement on the status of the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs, while the Chief of the Security Council Practices and Charter Research Branch of the Department of Political Affairs made a statement on the status of the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council.

Statements were made by the representatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)), the Gambia (on behalf of the African Group), El Salvador (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)), the European Union (also on behalf of its member States (the candidate countries the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania, the country of the Stabilization and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia aligned themselves with the statement)), Qatar, Gabon, Peru, Nicaragua, the Sudan, Ghana, India, Cuba, Mexico, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, China, the Russian Federation, Libya, the Syrian Arab Republic, Belarus, Morocco, Maldives, the United States of America, Uruguay, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Algeria, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Brazil and Mauritius.

The representatives of the United Arab Emirates, the Republic of Korea and Qatar made statements in the exercise of the right of reply.

Several delegations emphasized the importance of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization and encouraged it to strike an appropriate balance between the main organs of the United Nations, in particular the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the Security Council. Some delegations also called for Security Council reform. 

In the context of the maintenance of international peace and security, several delegations expressed concern over sanctions imposed by the Security Council. Other delegations noted that the move to targeted sanctions had addressed many of the concerns. Some delegations further welcomed the appointment of the Ombudsperson of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1267 (1999).

In relation to the briefings given by the Secretariat on developments relating to paragraph 12 of the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of the provisions of the Charter related to assistance to third States affected by the application of sanctions (A/72/136), and on the document “Introduction and implementation of sanctions imposed by the United Nations” annexed to General Assembly resolution 64/115 of 16 December 2009, a number of delegations expressed appreciation for the work of the Secretariat. The Secretariat was requested to provide more information on the perceived objective assessments of the short-term and long-term socio-economic and humanitarian consequences of sanctions, including their effects on third states.

Delegations welcomed the first annual thematic debate in the Special Committee on the peaceful settlement of disputes, focusing on the subtopic “Exchange of information on State practices regarding the use of negotiation and enquiry”. The progress made by the Special Committee in that regard was viewed as a positive development, and it was suggested that the inputs and materials from the annual thematic debate could provide a useful basis for further work by the Special Committee. The recommendation of the Special Committee that the thematic debate to be held at its next session be on the subtopic “Exchange of information on State practices regarding the use of mediation” received general support.

Some delegations encouraged further discussions of various proposals before the Committee, including proposals by Libya, Belarus and the Russian Federation, and Cuba. Other delegations considered these proposals duplicative of efforts conducted elsewhere in the United Nations.

Support was generally expressed for the revised 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. Ghana stated its intention to submit draft guidelines for consideration at the next session of the Special Committee. Interest was also expressed by some delegations in the proposal by Mexico for the Special Committee to consider the substantive and procedural aspects of Article 51 of the Charter relating to the right to self-defence, and Mexico was encouraged to present a written proposal for consideration, while others questioned whether the Special Committee would be the competent forum to address the issues raised.

Delegations welcomed the progress made by the Secretariat in the preparation of the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs and the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council. Some delegations called for further efforts to eliminate the Repertory backlog, and others stressed the need to make the publications available in all official languages of the Organization.

Some delegations called upon the Special Committee to reconsider the duration and frequency of its sessions, while others did not see merit in such an exercise. Delegations were urged to engage in meaningful discussion on all items on the agenda of the Special Committee. It was also suggested that the Special Committee should review the relevance of those agenda items and focus on considering new subjects.

Archived videos of plenary meetings

Video   13th meeting (12 October 2018, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Video   14th meeting (15 October 2018, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Video   31st meeting (1 November 2018, 10:00am – 11:30am)

Video   33rd meeting (5 November 2018, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Action taken by the Sixth Committee

At the 31st meeting, on 1 November, the representative of Lesotho, on behalf of the Bureau, introduced a draft resolution entitled “Report of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization” (A/C.6/73/L.10).

At the 33rd meeting, on 5 November, the Committee adopted draft resolution A/C.3/73/L.10 without a vote.

Under the terms of the draft resolution, the Assembly would, inter alia, request the Special Committee to consider the question of the maintenance of international peace and security in all its aspects, and to keep on its agenda the question of the peaceful settlement of disputes between States. Moreover, it would recall its decision to undertake an annual thematic debate in the Special Committee to discuss the means for the settlement of disputes, and invite Member States to focus their comments at the next session of the Special Committee on the subtopic “Exchange of information on State practices regarding the use of mediation”. It would further recall its endorsement of the decisions and recommendations adopted by the Special Committee at its 2016 session, in particular as set forth in paragraphs 2 and 3 of the annex to resolution 71/146, and request the Secretary-General to submit to the Assembly at its seventy-fourth session a report on the implementation of the provisions of the Charter related to assistance to third States affected by the application of sanctions.

This agenda item will be considered at the seventy-fourth session (2019).

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