5 September 2000


5 September 2000

Press Release



Leaders from over 80 States Scheduled to Make International Legal Commitments

In an unprecedented demonstration of commitment to the international rule of law, leaders from some 82 countries are scheduled to sign, ratify or accede to a wide range of multilateral treaties deposited with the United Nations Secretary- General as the General Assembly convenes its Millennium Summit this week.

More than 250 treaty actions are scheduled to take place at a treaty ceremony during the three-day Summit -- the largest gathering of heads of State and government in history, convened to forge a vision of the United Nations in the twenty-first century. The solemn multilateral treaty signature event begins on Wednesday 6 September at 9:20 a.m., at a special facility set up for this purpose in the General Assembly building.

As world leaders debate the future of the Organization, they will also be taking concrete steps to enhance the universal legal commitments and standards protecting people and the environment, offering justice against prohibited acts and securing the rights of all.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on Member States to use the occasion of the Summit to undertake those legal commitments. In his Millennium Report, the Secretary-General stressed that it is only possible to free all people from the scourge of war through strengthening respect for international law, “in particular the agreed provisions of treaties on the control of armaments, and international humanitarian and human rights law”.

Legal Counsel Hans Corell said, "In the United Nations we are constantly concerned with a multitude of questions that require our immediate attention. However, when we look back and the dust of these daily efforts has settled, what emerges is the law that we have created. Some of these instruments stand out as mighty pillars: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention against Genocide, both of 1948, the International Covenants on Human Rights of 1966, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court of 1998, to name but a few. This is the result of our common efforts -- a heritage that we leave for future generations in the hope that they will be able to live in peace and dignity. The signatures and ratifications that many Member States will undertake during the Summit are a reinforcement of the idea of rule of law in international relations".

- 2 - Note No. 5627 5 September 2000

“The whole purpose of the treaty ceremony is not just to sign and ratify treaties but also to strengthen the rule of law and the international treaty framework”, said Palitha Kohona, Chief of the United Nations Treaty Section. This framework contains norms and standards for just and harmonious interactions among nations that also impact the lives of all people.

There are 517 multilateral treaties deposited with the Secretary-General. The conventions which countries will be signing or ratifying during the Summit set basic standards on a range of questions. They cover such issues as genocide; racism; economic, social and cultural rights; civil and political rights; discrimination against women; torture; children’s rights; the rights of migrant workers; refugees; drugs; hostages; terrorism; war crimes; the law of the sea; weapons of mass destruction; landmines; the ozone layer; climate change; biological diversity; and desertification.

For a complete list of the treaties, please see the Millennium Summit Multilateral Treaty Framework: An Invitation to Universal Participation, available in the Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General or on the Internet at www.un/

For more information, contact Palitha Kohona, Chief, Treaty Section, Office of Legal Affairs, 212-963-5048, e-mail or Leona Forman, Chief, Information Centres Service, 212-963-4481, e-mail

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For information media. Not an official record.