Sixth Committee (Legal) — 75th session

Strengthening and promoting the international treaty framework (Agenda item 90)

Documentation

Summary of work

Background (source: A/75/100)

At its seventieth session, under the agenda item entitled “The rule of law at the national and international levels”, the General Assembly invited the Secretary-General to review the regulations giving effect to Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations and to submit the result of that review to the Sixth Committee for consideration (resolution 70/118). Accordingly, the Secretary-General presented the review in his report on strengthening and coordinating United Nations rule of law activities (A/71/169).

At its seventy-first session, the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to further elaborate on a review of the regulations giving effect to Article 102 of the Charter, taking into account recent developments, and to prepare a report on the registration and publication of treaties and international agreements pursuant to Article 102 of the Charter, to be submitted well in advance of the seventy-second session of the General Assembly (resolution 71/148).

At its seventy-second session, the Assembly took note of the report of the Secretary-General entitled “Review of the regulations to give effect to Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations” (A/72/86) and stressed that the regulations should be useful and relevant to Member States (resolution 72/119).

In a letter dated 7 June 2018 addressed to the Secretary-General (A/73/141), the Permanent Representatives of Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Italy and Singapore to the United Nations requested the inclusion of a new item entitled “Strengthening and promoting the international treaty framework” in the provisional agenda of the seventy-third session.

At its seventy-third session, the General Assembly allocated the item to the Sixth Committee, where statements in the debate were made by 20 delegations (see A/C.6/73/SR.5). The Assembly requested the Secretary-General to provide, at its seventy-fifth session, a report, following broad consultations with Member States, with information on practice and possible options to review the regulations, taking into account outstanding issues identified by Member States, and decided to include the item in the provisional agenda of its seventy-fifth session (resolution 73/210).

Consideration at the seventy-fifth session

The Sixth Committee considered the item at its 6th and 7th meetings on 15 and 19 October 2020 (see A/C.6/75/SR.6 and 7). 

Statements were made by the representatives of Italy (also on behalf of Argentina, Austria, Brazil and Singapore), Finland (also on behalf of Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden (Nordic Countries)), Argentina, Singapore, Republic of Moldova, the United States, El Salvador and Switzerland, Egypt, Spain, Slovenia, Colombia, the Russian Federation, Chile, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Korea, France, Mexico, Malaysia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Greece, the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Cuba [in English], Cyprus, China, the Philippines, and Turkey.

Delegations welcomed the Report of the Secretary-General, which contained a review of the regulations to give effect to Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations, and exchanged views on the proposals therein for further amendments of the regulations. Delegations highlighted the importance of the agenda item, underlining that it was aimed at reaffirming, promoting and facilitating the registration and publication of treaties and international agreements under Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations. They noted that the recent amendments of the regulations in 2018 have already yielded positive results, including through the facilitation of digital submissions. Delegations recalled that the obligation to register treaties had not yet been met with universal compliance and the extent of treaty registrations appeared to be geographically imbalanced. They also underscored that a significant number of treaties had not been registered. In that regard, Delegations noted that the expanded use of technology could serve to promote access and universal participation in the registration of treaties. Delegations also emphasized the importance of multilingualism as a core value of the Organization, as well as the need to address the backlog in the publication of the United Nations Treaty Series. Delegations also noted that, in addressing the various challenges to registration of treaties, it would be important to consider additional measures such capacity-building and technical assistance.

Archived videos and summaries of plenary meetings

Video   6th meeting (15 October 2020, 3:00pm – 6:00pm) | Summary

Video   7th meeting (19 October 2020, 10:00am – 1:00pm) | Summary

Video   19th meeting (19 November 2020, 3:00pm – 6:00pm) | Summary

Action taken by the Sixth Committee

At the 19th meeting, on 19 November 2020, the representative of Singapore, on behalf of the Bureau, introduced a draft resolution entitled “Strengthening and promoting the international treaty framework” (A/C.6/75/L.15). The Secretary informed the Committee that the draft resolution had no budgetary implications. 

At the same meeting, the Committee adopted draft resolution A/C.6/75/L.15 without a vote. 

Under the draft resolution, the General Assembly would, inter alia: recall Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations and reaffirm the importance of the registration and publication of treaties, as well as their accessibility. The resolution would also reaffirm that multilingualism is a core value of the Organization. The Assembly would also encourage the Secretary-General to develop, in consultation with and on the basis of feedback from Member States and within existing resources, an online treaty registration system to facilitate submissions of treaties for registration, as an additional option to the existing ways of submission in electronic or hard-copy format. Furthermore, the Assembly would once again welcome efforts to build the capacity of States in treaty law and practice; welcome the efforts made to develop and enhance the United Nations electronic treaty database; recognize the importance of the legal publications prepared by the Treaty Section of the Office of Legal Affairs; and call upon the Secretary-General to ensure the expedited publication of the United Nations Treaty Series. Finally, the Assembly would defer consideration of proposals to further amend the Regulations to the seventy-sixth session of the Assembly.

Subsequent action taken by the General Assembly

This agenda item will be considered at the seventy-sixth session (2021).

Full texts of submissions (A/75/...)

State Original submission Translation
Argentina Spanish English
Austria English  
Belgium French English
Finland English  
France French English
Mexico Spanish English
Oman Arabic English
Qatar Arabic English
Spain Spanish English
Switzerland French English
United States of America English  

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