Sixth Committee (Legal) — 75th 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)
- Authority: resolution 74/190
- A/75/33 — Report of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization
- A/75/145 — Report of the Secretary-General on the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs and Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council
- A/C.6/75/L.3 — Draft resolution
Summary of work
Background (source: A/75/100)
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, 72/118, 73/206 and 74/190).
At its seventy-fourth session, the Assembly allocated the item to the Sixth Committee, where statements in the debate were made by 34 delegations (see A/C.6/74/SR.17–19). The Assembly decided that the Special Committee would hold its next session from 18 to 26 February 2020, and requested the Special Committee to submit a report on its work to the Assembly at its seventy-fifth session. The Assembly also requested the Secretary-General to submit to it at its seventy-fifth session a report on both the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs and the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council (resolution 74/190).
The Special Committee met at United Nations Headquarters from 18 to 26 February 2020 and adopted its report (A/75/33).
Consideration at the seventy-fifth session
The Chair of the 2020 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/75/33). 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 Political Affairs Officer, Security Council Practices and Charter Research Branch, Department of Political and Peacebuilding 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)), South Africa (on behalf of the African Group), the European Union (also on behalf of its Member States (the candidate countries the Republic of North 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)), Ghana, India, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Philippines, Nicaragua, the Sudan, United States of America, Peru, El Salvador, Islamic Republic of Iran, Egypt, Cuba, Qatar, Russian Federation, Viet Nam, Mexico, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Algeria, Republic of Korea, China, Oman and Morocco.
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 and expressed concern about the Council’s encroachment on the role of the General Assembly. Several delegations recognized the significance of the Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes of 1982.
In the context of the maintenance of international peace and security, several delegations expressed concern over sanctions imposed by the Security Council, underscoring that they should be employed only as a last resort and in accordance with the Charter. Several delegations submitted that sanctions must not violate international law, in particular international human rights and humanitarian law, nor hinder humanitarian assistance from reaching civilian populations or produce unintended consequences on third States. Others stressed that the objectives of sanctions should be clearly defined and limited to a specified timeframe. Delegations also voiced concern about the use of unilateral sanctions and coercive economic measures. Other delegations noted that the move to targeted sanctions had addressed many of the concerns, stressing also that sanctions should be proportionate to their objectives.
A number of delegations reiterated the relevance of the document "Introduction and implementation of sanctions imposed by the United Nations” annexed to General Assembly resolution 64/115 of 16 December 2009. 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. A number of delegations also noted the need for the Security Council to improve due process standards and procedures in the implementation of sanctions regimes. The importance of the role of the Ombudsperson to the ISIL and Al-Qaida sanctions Committee was underlined.
Some delegations encouraged further discussions of various proposals before the Committee, including proposals by Belarus and the Russian Federation, Cuba, Iran and the Syrian Arab Republic. Several delegations expressed support for the further 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 and also for the proposal of the Russian Federation regarding establishing a website and updating the Handbook on the Peaceful Settlement of Disputes. 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, while others questioned whether the Special Committee would be the competent forum to address the issues raised. Some delegations considered certain proposals duplicative of efforts conducted elsewhere in the United Nations.
With respect to the peaceful settlement of disputes, some delegations recognized the central role of the International Court of Justice, while others made reference to Chapter VI, especially Articles 33 and 34, of the Charter, concerning the pacific settlement of disputes, and to the Friendly Relations Declaration.
Delegations expressed appreciation for 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 and for its efforts to reduce the backlog. 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.
Delegations were urged to engage in meaningful discussion on all items and proposals on the agenda of the Special Committee. It was also suggested that the topics on the agenda of the Special Committee should not duplicate efforts or prejudice discussions in other fora, while others asked the Committee to focus on considering new subjects. 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. Overall, delegations noted that the 75th anniversary of the United Nations and COVID-19 pandemic had highlighted the significance of the Charter and of multilateral cooperation in that regard.
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Action taken by the Sixth Committee
At the 15th meeting, on 10 November, the representative of Ethiopia, 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.6/75/L.3). At the 19th meeting, on 19 November, the Committee adopted draft resolution A/C.6/75/L.3 without a vote.
Under the terms of the draft resolution, the Assembly would, inter alia, request the Special Committee to continue its consideration of the questions of the maintenance of international peace and security, to keep on its agenda the question of the peaceful settlement of disputes between States and to consider any proposal referred by the General Assembly in the implementation of the decisions of the high-level plenary meeting of the sixtieth session of the Assembly that concern the Charter and any amendments thereto. Moreover, it would decide 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 arbitration”.
Subsequent action taken by the General Assembly
This agenda item will be considered at the seventy-sixth session (2021).
- Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization
- Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs
- Repertoire of Practice of the Security Council