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GA/9851
23 December 2000

GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT SAYS MILLENNIUM SUMMIT DECLARATION ‘ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT DOCUMENT OF OUR TIME’ Highlights Brahimi Report, New Scale of Assessments As Items Dominating Discussion During Fifty-fifth Session

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fifty-fifth General Assembly                                        GA/9851

HIGHLIGHTS                                                        23 December 2000

 

 

GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT SAYS MILLENNIUM SUMMIT DECLARATION

 

‘ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS OF OUR TIME’

 

 

Highlights Brahimi Report, New Scale of Assessments

As Items Dominating Discussion During Fifty-fifth Session

 

 

      The President of the fifty-fifth General Assembly, Harri Holkeri (Finland), giving an overview of the Assembly’s work prior to its suspension on 23 December, said the Millennium Declaration adopted at the Millennium Summit had established the character of the main session and also its main challenge.  "In my view, the Declaration is one of the most important documents of recent time”, he said.  “If we are able to achieve its targets, it will have an enormous impact globally."

 

      The Assembly had established a follow-up mechanism to the Millennium Summit, he said, making the Summit Declaration as an integral part of the ongoing work of the United Nations and identifying whose responsibility it was to implement the Declaration and how to monitor that process in a proactive way. 

 

      Two major items had dominated the Assembly's deliberations, continued

Mr. Holkeri, namely, the implementation of the report of the high-level Panel on United Nations Peace Operations -- the "Brahimi report", after the Panel's Chairman, Lakhdar Brahimi -- and the new scale of assessments, which was deliberated upon by the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).

 

      He said the Brahimi report was a welcome, timely and valuable contribution to efforts to strengthen one of the United Nations core functions -- the maintenance of international peace and security.  The Assembly had considered the extensive report and had reached agreement on it in a very short time, given the complexity of the issue.  As a result, depending on a final decision by the Fifth Committee, much-needed additional resources would be made available to the Secretariat.

 

      An important concern of his had been to find ways to improve the functioning of the General Assembly itself, and to that end he had tried to work in an open and transparent way with his colleagues and to foster a collaborative spirit.  He had instituted some changes, and he was looking at ways to streamline the Assembly's huge agenda.  In order to guide the process he intended to convene an informal "brainstorming" session of the Assembly's General Committee in February 2001.  "These may seem to be small steps, but with many small steps we can have a big impact", he said.

 

      The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), taking advantage of the successful outcome of the 2000 Review Conference of States Parties to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), held far-


reaching discussion covering a broad range of disarmament issues.  It recommended 48 resolutions, 18 dealing with nuclear disarmament.  The question of small arms was also a focus of debate.  On the Committee’s recommendation, the Assembly decided to hold the United Nations Conference on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects in New York from 9 to 20 July 2001.

 

      The environment and sustainable development, international trade, the external debt crisis, and science and technology for development were the Second Committee's (Economic and Financial) most intensely debated issues.  The adverse effects of global climate change and the benefits of renewable energy sources were debated, and delegates called for a new round of global trade talks and a rule-based, transparent international financial architecture.  The Committee recommended action on, among other issues, sustainable development and international economic cooperation, implementation of the first United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (1997-2006), and globalization and interdependence.

 

Dominating the Third Committee's (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) concerns were issues related to the 2001 World Conference on Racism, a resolution on taking steps to end “crimes of honour” against women and country-specific human rights reports.  Of 63 resolutions adopted on the Committee's recommendation, 32 concerned human rights.  Six adopted resolutions related to international crime prevention and six to refugees.

 

The continued existence of Non-Self-Governing Territories, at the end of the Decade for their eradication, provided the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) an opportunity to discuss the unique problems of de-listing those last 17.  At the recommendation of the Committee, the Assembly decided on a second Decade for the eradication of colonialism (2001-2010).  In the peacekeeping discussion, much attention was paid to the fact that the vast majority of troops were currently provided by developing countries.  Other issues addressed were the renewed violence in the Middle East, information, the peaceful uses of outer space and the effects of atomic radiation.

 

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) approved a new scale of assessments for the regular budget of the United Nations for 2001-2003, which established a ceiling of 22 per cent on the amount of the regular budget that any one Member State is obliged to pay.  It also established a scale of assessments for peacekeeping operations.  It appropriated funds for financing several peacekeeping missions, one of which is the new United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), and approved the medium-term plan for the period 2002-2005, which constitutes the principal policy directive of the United Nations. 

 

The Sixth Committee (Legal) approved 14 draft resolutions, one of which set dates for its Ad Hoc Committee on terrorism to meet concerning a comprehensive convention on international terrorism.  Alarmed by recent acts of violence against diplomats and staff of international intergovernmental organizations, the Committee approved a draft text urging States to take practical measures to prohibit illegal activities that encouraged perpetration of acts against the security and safety of diplomatic missions.  Two more sessions were recommended for the Preparatory Commission of the International Criminal Court.

 

      Summary of plenary and Committee action follow.

 

 

 

 

      Plenary

 

      The Millennium session of the General Assembly started with the largest ever gathering of heads of State and government in the history of mankind.  During this "Millennium Summit" from 6 to 8 September, which was co-chaired by

Tarja Halonen, President of Finland, and Sam Nujoma, President of Namibia,

197 speakers, including 98 Heads of State, 46 Heads of Government, 2 Crown Princes, 5 Vice-Presidents, 6 Deputy Prime-Ministers and 20 Ministers for Foreign Affairs spoke, before adopting the Millennium Declaration.  In that document they reaffirmed their faith in the United Nations and its Charter as indispensable foundations of a more peaceful, prosperous and just world, recognizing that they had a collective responsibility to uphold the principles of human dignity, equality and equity at the global level.

 

The heads of State and government considered certain fundamental values to be essential to international relations in the twenty-first century, including freedom, equality, solidarity, tolerance, respect for nature and shared responsibility.  In order to translate those shared values into actions, they had identified the following key values:  peace, security and disarmament; development and poverty eradication; protecting the environment; human rights, democracy and good governance; protecting the vulnerable; meeting the special needs of Africa; and strengthening the United Nations.

 

The Summit Declaration served as an inspiration for many plenary debates during the fifty-fifth regular session of the Assembly, which took place from

11 September to 22 December.  The plenary and the Assembly's committees addressed 183 agenda items and adopted 281 resolutions.  Among the new agenda items were:  the role of the United Nations in promoting a new global human order; towards global partnerships; and the role of diamonds in fuelling conflicts.

 

During the 10 days of general debate (12 to 22 September), in which the Assembly heard from 163 speakers -- 13 Heads and Deputy Heads of State and Government and 131 Ministers for Foreign Affairs among them -- globalization and its positive and negative impacts was one of their overriding themes.  Other issues addressed were:  eradication of weapons of mass destruction; the role of the United Nations during massive human rights violations; the application of economic sanctions; unsustainable debt burden of the poorest countries and unfavourable terms of trade for many developing countries; and many other aspects of human life requiring common attention.  The Assembly's President concluded that the challenge facing the Millennium Assembly was to put into action the commitments made by the world's leaders in the Summit Declaration.

 

As the Millennium Declaration emphasized intensified efforts towards Security Council reform, the Assembly held a two-day debate -- its ninth on the subject -- during which 110 Member States aired their views.  Progress on some reform issues was noted, mainly in the area of transparency because of more open meetings and briefings on closed meetings, but a number of delegates called for more involvement of troop-contributing States and States affected by Council decisions in its deliberations.

 

No agreement was reached on the issue of the use of veto, although a number of States called for, at least for the moment, voluntary restrictions on its use.  Most delegates also called for an expansion of the permanent and non-permanent categories of membership and for permanent African seats on a rotational basis.  During these and other deliberations, the recommendations of the Brahimi report and their implementation played a prominent role.

 

Heads of State and government in their Declaration stated that no effort would be spared to free peoples from the scourge of war.  The Assembly, in that context, focused on the increasingly expanding linkages between rough diamonds and armed conflict and urged all States to support efforts of the diamond producing, processing, exporting and importing countries and the diamond industry to halt the trafficking in "conflict diamonds".  Addressing the issue of landmines, the Assembly noted the threat those anti-personnel devices posed not only to individuals, but also to political, economic and social stability.  Many delegates stressed the necessity of mine clearance, community awareness and the ratification of the Ottawa Convention.  Some stated that those responsible for planting mines should accept accountability.

 

As result of a "round-table" discussion during the Millennium Summit, the item "Dialogue among Civilizations" was discussed in the plenary.  The fundamental values expressed in the Millennium Declaration could only be addressed if the approach to problem resolution was revisited, the Assembly was told, as it heard calls to eliminate widespread cultural and national misconceptions and stereotyping.  Dialogue between civilizations required one condition:  the preservation of diversity, which represented the human face of globalization, speakers said.

 

Heads of State and government, in their Millennium Declaration, resolved to have halted and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS by the year 2015 and to provide special assistance to children orphaned by HIV/AIDS.  In that connection, the Assembly decided to convene a special session of the Assembly from 25 to

27 June 2001 to secure a global commitment to combat the epidemic.  The debate on the issue highlighted the fact that it was more than a simple public health problem; it seriously threatened development, jeopardized the future of entire societies, especially in Africa, and posed a threat to international peace and security.

 

Following the recent violence in the Middle East, the thirteenth and fourteenth meetings of the tenth Special Emergency Session to consider "Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory” were convened.  The Assembly, during its regular session, also addressed the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East, with most States expressing support for the peace process and the Sharm el-Sheikh agreements to end the violence.  Many delegates expressed their support for sending a fact-finding mission to the region.

 

The Assembly elected Colombia, Ireland, Mauritius, Norway and Singapore to serve as non-permanent members of the Security Council for a two-year term, commencing on 1 January 2001, filling the seats vacated by Argentina, Canada, Malaysia, Namibia and the Netherlands.  It also elected Andorra, Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Iran, Italy, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Republic of Korea, Romania, South Africa, Uganda and the United States as members of the Economic and Social Council for a three-year term, commencing on 1 January 2001, as well as Malta for a seat vacated by Greece for the remainder of its term ending on 31 December 2002.

 

The Assembly confirmed the Secretary-General’s appointment of Ruud Lubbers (Netherlands) as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. It appointed five members to the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary

Questions (ACABQ), seven members to the Committee on Contributions and the Court of Audit of France as a member of the Board of Auditors.  Among other appointments were three members of the United Nations Administrative Tribunal and five members of the Consultative Committee of the United Nations Development Fund for

Women (UNIFEM).  The Assembly also appointed members of the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC) and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).

 

The Assembly welcomed Tuvalu as the 189th Member State of the United Nations.  In one of the more emotional moments of the plenary, the Assembly by acclamation admitted the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to membership of the United Nations. 

 

The President of the fifty-fifth regular Assembly session, Harri Holkeri (Finland), also addressed the working methods of the Assembly.  Among other things, every plenary session under his presidency started on time.  The 21 vice-presidents are:  Belarus, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, China, Comoros, El Salvador, France, Gabon, Guinea, Haiti, Kuwait, Maldives, Mozambique, Russian Federation, Suriname, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, Uzbekistan and Yemen.

 

First Committee

 

      The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), taking advantage of a "vastly improved atmosphere" as a result of the successful outcome of the 2000 Review Conference of States Parties to the NPT, was able to hold far-reaching discussions covering a broad range of disarmament issues, including nuclear disarmament, control of small arms and light weapons, transparency in armaments and strengthened international security.  At the NPT Review Conference, a final document was agreed upon that included the unequivocal undertaking by nuclear-weapon States to totally eliminate their nuclear-weapon arsenals.

 

Upon the Committee's recommendation, the General Assembly adopted 48 disarmament and security-related resolutions and one decision.  The resolutions included 18 dealing with nuclear weapons, which, among other things, requested the international community to:  stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; strengthen the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM Treaty); engage the nuclear-weapon States in the process leading to the total elimination of nuclear weapons; and take immediate and urgent steps to reduce the risk of unintentional and accidental use of nuclear weapons.  Nuclear-weapon States were also urged, as an interim measure, to immediately de-alert and deactivate their nuclear weapons and to take other concrete measures to further reduce the operational status of their nuclear weapon systems.

 

Speakers before the Committee were nearly unanimous in welcoming the decision by United States President Bill Clinton to defer a decision on the deployment of a national missile defence system.  They stressed the importance of preserving the ABM Treaty and said that the creation of national missile defence systems and efforts to amend the Treaty had cast a shadow over the future of non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament.  President Clinton's decision provided the much-needed opportunity for reconsideration, Committee Chairman Mya Than (Myanmar) said, in a statement to the Committee.

 

Reflecting the continuing concern in the Committee about the pace of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, the Assembly adopted, for the third time, a resolution entitled “Towards a nuclear-weapon-free world: the need for a new agenda”.  The text called on the nuclear-weapon States to:  reduce their nuclear arsenals unilaterally; increase the transparency of their nuclear-weapon capability; further reduce non-strategic nuclear weapons based on unilateral initiatives, and the operational status of nuclear-weapon systems; and diminish the role for nuclear weapons in security policies, to minimize the risk that those weapons would ever be used.

 

In obvious agreement with the assessment by Jayantha Dhanapala, Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, that the world was awash with arms, the Committee also devoted considerable time to the question of small arms.  On the Committee’s recommendation, the Assembly decided to hold the United Nations Conference on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects in New York from 9 to 20 July 2001.  It further decided to convene the third session of the Preparatory Committee for the Conference from 19 to 30 March 2001 in New York.

 

Before introducing the text on the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons, the representative of South Africa, Jean Philip Du Preez, said that small arms and light weapons had been weapons of choice in internal conflicts and had been used by drug smugglers, poachers and other criminals long after conflicts had been resolved.  The resulting death, mutilation and destruction had directly and negatively affected social and economic development, democratization and good governance.  Africa had been one of the continents most affected by the scourge.  The international Conference would demonstrate the recognition of the international community concerning its obligation to deal with the issue in a multifaceted manner.

 

      The Chairman of the First Committee is Mya Than (Myanmar).  The Vice-Chairmen are Alberto Guani (Uruguay), Petra Schneebauer (Austria) and Abdelkader Mesdoua (Algeria).  The Rapporteur is Rastislav Gabriel (Slovakia).

 

      Second Committee

 

The environment and sustainable development, international trade, external debt crisis, and science and technology for development were among the key issues addressed during the fifty-fifth session by the Second Committee (Economic and Financial).  During the session, the Committee approved 34 draft resolutions and seven draft decisions.

 

The adverse effects of global climate change and the benefits of promoting renewable energy sources were the subject of much discussion by the Committee.  In order to address the risks posed by climate change, many delegations stressed the need for sustained coordination to implement the Kyoto Protocol.  Eleven draft resolutions on environment and sustainable development were approved, including a text on the World Solar Programme 1996-2005, which would have the Assembly invite the international community to support the efforts of developing countries to move towards sustainable patterns of energy production and consumption.

 

The need for a new round of global trade talks and an international financial architecture that was rule-based and transparent was greatly stressed when the Committee took up macroeconomic policy questions.  While representatives agreed that the goal in the Millennium Declaration of halving poverty by 2015 was essential, it was noted that high debt burdens continued to be a critical obstacle to poverty reduction in many developing countries.  By one of the six draft resolutions recommended by the Committee, the Assembly would call for effective, equitable, development-oriented and durable solutions to external debt and debt-service burdens of developing countries.

 

This session’s debate on science and technology concentrated on the related needs of developing countries.  It was agreed that access for developing countries to new information technologies was essential for them to derive maximum benefit from globalization.  If decisive action was not taken to strengthen the capacity of developing countries in those areas, the "digital divide" would be yet another manifestation of the increasing disparity between rich and poor.  In that regard, the Committee welcomed the move by the Economic and Social Council to establish a Task Force on Information and Communication Technology. 

 

In the only recorded vote of the session -- (131 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 3 abstentions (Federated States of Micronesia, Kazakhstan, Marshall Islands) -- the Committee approved a draft resolution on the permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources.  By its terms, the Assembly would recognize the right of the Palestinian people to claim restitution as a result of any exploitation, loss or depletion of, or danger to, their natural resources and express the hope that this issue would be dealt with in the framework of the final status negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli sides. 

 

The Committee also recommended action on texts related to:  sectoral policy questions; sustainable development and international economic cooperation; training and research; implementation of the First United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty; globalization and interdependence; high-level international intergovernmental consideration of financing for development; the Third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries; and the report of the Economic and Social Council.

 

      The Second Committee's officers were:  Chairman, Alexandru Niculescu (Romania); Vice Chairpersons, Anne Barrington (Ireland), Mauricio Escanero (Mexico) and Navid Hanif (Pakistan); Rapporteur, Ahmed Amaziane (Morocco).

 

      Third Committee

 

In her opening statement this year, Yvonne Gittens-Joseph (Trinidad and Tobago), the Chairwoman of the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural), recalled that during the Millennium Summit, world leaders had affirmed the basic values of human dignity and human rights, issues that touched people’s lives directly and formed the substance of the Committee’s deliberations.  During the Millennium session, the Committee returned to the principles outlined in the Declaration in highly charged debates on matters such as crimes against women, protection of vulnerable groups, torture, extrajudicial executions, contemporary forms of racism and country-specific reviews of human rights situations.

 

One major theme was to build momentum towards the 2001 World Conference on racism to be held in Durban, South Africa.  The Committee condemned neo-Nazi activities and other contemporary forms of racism.  It reaffirmed 2001 as the International Year for mobilizing against racism and called for worldwide preparatory activities, affirming the importance of including the concerns of children, women, indigenous people and migrants.  For the first time, it recommended that States and the private sector should be urged to combat exploitation of information technologies for criminal ends.  The Committee also called for coordination of activities with those for the 2001 special session on children and follow-up to the 2000 special session on women.

 

Implementing the outcome of the special session on women was another major theme.  While the fate of the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) beyond December 31 was still pending when the Committee concluded its main work, deliberations over women’s issues were particularly vigorous this year.  A fiercely debated issue was the approach to dealing with crimes, including so-called crimes of honour, against women.  While all agreed those crimes were abhorrent, views diverged along cultural lines on how to eliminate them.  Other primary concerns were traffic in women and girls for illegal or immoral purposes and concern over the slow progress in achieving a fifty-fifty gender balance in the United Nations system.

 

In her statement on women’s advancement, the Special Adviser on Gender Issues, Angela King, said the Security Council would deliberate the question of women and armed conflict.  She said the Council recognized the equal role of women in conflict resolution, the need to expand that role, and the disadvantages women faced because of conflict, poverty and their own absence from decision-making positions.  She said those issues should be addressed as a priority, with the focus on implementing practices that had proved successful.  The Commission on the Status of Women should evolve rapidly to meet the challenges. 

 

The Committee also called for changes in the fields of human rights and protection of refugees, two increasingly cross-cutting arenas.  Delegations called for a better distinction between refugees and the internally displaced, greater protection for the latter, more burden-sharing among international actors and integration of relief assistance into development activities.  In her farewell address to the Committee before the end of her term this year, the High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, characterized her legacy as, "we lived with the times”.  Describing the challenges of her 10-year stewardship, she said, “we always tried to be on the ground with the people in need”.

 

      Views were furthest apart on the impact of country-specific reviews of human rights situations.  Citing the Summit’s call for strengthening United Nations action in protecting vulnerable people, some delegations maintained that reviews were essential for improving conditions.  Others asserted that States should offer help rather than blame, calling for States to lend a bilateral hand rather than demand better performance from beleaguered countries.  Views also diverged more traditionally on the staple human rights issues before the Committee, concerning human rights instruments alternative approaches.

 

      The Declaration against Transnational Organized Crime, which opened for signing at a high-level meeting in Palermo, Italy, on 11 December, was jointly considered by the Committee and the Assembly directly.  In its deliberations, the Committee affirmed the nexus of drug trafficking, arms trade and terrorism, saying that drug trafficking was a major source of illegal proceeds and created a strong financial base for terrorist activity.  Other crime- and drug-related issues concerned cybercrime, the elaboration of an instrument against corruption and strengthening the rule of law.  A new strategy for combating the world drug problem was to strengthen dialogue with multilateral development banks and financial institutions.  Overall, the Committee stressed the importance of achieving the universality of the judicial instruments for which the Secretariat is the depository.

 

Of the 63 resolutions the Committee approved overall, 48 were adopted without recorded vote.  In addition to the World Conference against Racism and the special session on children in September, other declarations included the designation of 2001 as an International Year, both of mobilization against racism and of volunteers.  It was decided that 29 June would be World Refugee Day, to coincide with Africa Refugee Day, 26 June would be the International Day in support of torture victims, and that the Second World Assembly on Ageing would be held in Madrid from 8 to 12 April 2002.

 

Yvonne Gittens-Joseph (Trinidad and Tobago) is the Committee Chairperson.  Vice-Chairpersons are Mostafa Alaei (Iran), Hazel de Wet (Namibia) and Sarah Peterson (New Zealand).  The Committee’s Rapporteur is Anzhela Korneliouk (Belarus).

 

      Fourth Committee

 

      The recommendations of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations -- the Brahimi report -- and the end of the International Decade on the Eradication of Colonialism generated wide-ranging debate in the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization).  

 

In the peacekeeping discussion, much attention was paid to the need for standard criteria in deploying peacekeeping operations regardless of the geographical location of the conflict.  Many speakers also called for improved distribution of procurement contracts among developing countries, and timely reimbursement to troop- and equipment-contributing countries.  Other speakers emphasized the security and safety of United Nations field personnel; the need for an efficient standby arrangements system; and the importance of rapid deployment.  The Committee decided that the Special Committee on Peacekeeping should continue its comprehensive review of peacekeeping operations, while assessing the implementation of previous proposals.

 

Discussion of the Brahimi report focused, among other things, on the Panel's recommendation for the formation of a strategic information analysis secretariat.  Speakers also addressed the issues of under-representation of the developing countries in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations; the need for significantly strengthening and formalizing the consultation process between the Security Council and troop-contributing countries; and the need for structural changes in the Department aimed at providing more effective Headquarters support to the field.

 

The continued existence of Non-Self-Governing Territories, at the end of the Decade for their eradication, provided an opportunity to discuss the unique problems of de-listing those last 17.  In that effort, most speakers urged flexible processes and outcomes, and the prioritizing of the aspirations of the peoples involved.  Until such aspirations were realized, the Committee expressed opposition to exploitation of Territories for natural resources and military bases, while also expressing the need to resolve such small-island problems as money-laundering.  Resolutions supported continuing dialogue on such questions as Guam and Gibraltar, and urged the parties in Western Sahara to cooperate on completing its Settlement Plan.  Delegates agreed, in general, on a Second Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2001-2010), hoping, however, that it would be the last.

 

      Overall this year, the Fourth Committee heard a total of 206 speakers during 28 meetings and approved 28 resolutions and three decisions.  Of the 28 texts approved, 12 draft resolutions and 2 decisions were approved without a vote.  Beside peacekeeping and decolonization, discussion and action concerned Palestine refugee relief, Israeli practices in the occupied territories, information questions, the peaceful uses of outer space and the effects of atomic radiation.  Petitioners were heard on such questions as Gibraltar, Guam and Western Sahara.

 

The renewed violence in the Middle East reaffirmed the importance of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near

East (UNRWA), most delegates agreed.  Deeply concerned about the Agency's financial problems, the Committee supported the continuation of its work and appealed for increased donor support.  On that topic -- and that of Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories -- speakers deplored the ongoing suffering and called for its end through a just resolution of the interrupted Middle East peace process.

 

Regarding information, while representatives applauded the use of electronic media by the United Nations, especially in the improvement of its Web site and the dissemination of the Millennium Summit, developing countries urged the strengthening traditional media capacity.  In that vein, they supported the new radio initiative in Africa and the expansion of in-country information centres.  Information, representatives agreed, was essential for the United Nations in generating public support, mustering political will among governments and other key actors, and mobilizing resources.

 

The release of a comprehensive report on the effects of atomic radiation met with general approval, though some countries affected by the Chernobyl disaster disagreed with the conclusions regarding the link between that event and health problems in the region.  Speakers on the peaceful uses of outer space continued to stress the need for the benefits of space activities to be shared by developing countries, especially in such areas as communications and disaster management.

 

      The Fourth Committee's officers are: Chairman, Matia Mulumba Semakula Kiwanuka (Uganda); Vice-Chairmen, Patrick Lewis (Antigua and Barbuda), Jelena Polic (Croatia) and Julian Vassallo (Malta); and Rapporteur, Shingo Miyamoto (Japan).

 

      Fifth Committee

 

      The most important question before the Fifth Committee during the session was the formulation of the new scale of assessments for the regular budget of the United Nations for 2001-2003, which it approved after extended and arduous negotiations on the morning of 23 December.  The Assembly subsequently adopted the new scale, the most critical feature of which reduced the maximum percentage of the United Nations regular budget that any one Member State can be obliged to pay to 22 per cent.

 

      Member States decide biennially on the size of the budget, and the scale of assessments is then used to determine each country's share of that amount.  With the earlier scale, the assessment on the United States was 25 per cent and it had sought a reduction for many years.  As part of the agreement, the United States will this year make up the 3 per cent of the budget resources lost by its reassessment.  Media reports and statements in the Committee indicated that executive and philanthropist Ted Turner agreed to donate the shortfall, which amounts to some $34 million.

 

      During the session, countries reaffirmed that the expenses of the Organization should be apportioned broadly according to capacity to pay.  The difficulty lay in agreeing on a single set of methodological elements.  During negotiations, the Committee had before it 12 proposed scales, reflecting proposals by countries and groups of States, including the United States, Canada, Brazil, the Bahamas, the European Union, the “Group of 77” developing countries, Japan, China and Uganda. 

 

The United States argued that the scale was outmoded and that the Organization should not be so largely dependent upon one country.  Other speakers in the debate, however, shared the point of view of the Group of 77 and China, saying that the reduction of the current 25 per cent ceiling of the budget would distort the principle of the capacity to pay.  The Group also stressed the need to take into consideration the needs of the developing countries, which should not be assessed at a higher rate as a result of any adjustments to the scale.  The European Union favoured retention of the current ceiling of assessment, pointing out that while the gross national  product (GNP) of the Union in 1998 accounted for about 29.5 per cent of the world GNP, its countries contributed some 36.6 per cent of the regular budget.

 

      Other important aspects of the Committee's work this session were the scale of assessments for financing peacekeeping operations and providing resources for implementation of the recommendations of the Brahimi report.  The Committee eventually recommended and the Assembly appropriated $400,000 under the regular budget and $9.19 million under the peacekeeping support account for implementation of the report.

 

      The Committee also paid significant attention to the division of peacekeeping expenses among countries.  In the debate on that issue, many speakers pointed out that the current "ad hoc arrangement" in determining the peacekeeping scale of assessments, which was approved by the General Assembly in 1973, was obsolete and needed to be updated in the light of the unprecedented expansion of peacekeeping activities.  The Committee recommended and the Assembly approved a peacekeeping scale based on the regular budget scale, but placing Member States in one of 10 different categories, based on per capita income.  The categories range from least developed countries, who receive a discount on their regular contributions, to the permanent members of the Security Council, who pay a premium over their regular assessment to make up for the discounts.

 

      Having considered financing of peacekeeping in general, the Committee also recommended appropriations for specific peacekeeping missions, including the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL); the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET); the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK); and the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE).

 

Additional recommendations of the Committee concerned, among others, reimbursement of contingent-owned equipment; work on the proposed programme budget outline (a preliminary estimate of resources) for the next biennium, expenditures for special political missions, the medium-term plan for 2002-2005, programme planning, the introduction of results-based budgeting, and the refurbishment of the United Nations Headquarters building.

 

      The Chairman of the Fifth Committee is Gert Rosenthal (Guatemala).  Vice-Chairmen are Park Hae-yun (Republic of Korea), Jasminka Dinic (Croatia) and Collen Vixen Kelapile (Botswana).  The Rapporteur is Eduardo Manuel da Fonseca Fernandes Ramos (Portugal).

 

      Sixth Committee

 

The Sixth Committee recommended two decisions and 14 resolutions to the Assembly, all of which, with the exception of a resolution on terrorism, were approved without a vote. 

 

By a vote of 151 in favor to none against, with two abstentions (Lebanon, Syria), the Assembly decided to have its Ad Hoc Committee on terrorism, which was established in 1996, meet from 12 to 23 February next year and also, within the framework of a working group of the Sixth Committee, from 15 to 26 October, to continue work on a comprehensive convention on international terrorism. 

 

During the Committee debate on the item, delegates observed that terrorism had become “globalized” and said there was a need to look at such issues as the “safe haven” that was given to terrorists by third countries, the legal definition of “terrorism” and whether the scope of a comprehensive convention should include acts by armed forces.  Broad support was given to a comprehensive convention as a way of complementing the dozen or so existing crime-specific treaties on terrorism.

     

In a text on assistance to third States affected by the application of sanctions, the Assembly –- expressing concern about the special economic problems confronting certain States arising from the carrying out of preventive or enforcement measures taken by the Security Council against other States -- invited the Council to consider further mechanisms, or procedures for consultations, as early as possible.  The Secretary-General was asked to ensure that units within the Secretariat develop technical procedures and guidelines to collate information about international assistance available to third States, and to continue developing a possible methodology for assessing the adverse consequences actually incurred by third States.

 

By a resolution approved by the Committee on the International Law Commission, the Assembly decided that the Commission's next session would be held next year in Geneva, in two parts.  Governments were requested to reply to the questionnaire on unilateral acts of States being studied by the Commission, as well as to submit information on national legislation, decisions of domestic courts and State practice on diplomatic protection to assist the Commission in its work on that subject.

 

The Assembly, alarmed by the recent acts of violence against diplomats and staff of international intergovernmental organizations, urged States, in another resolution, to strictly enforce the principles and rules of international law governing diplomatic and consular relations.  States should also take practical measures to prohibit illegal activities that encouraged perpetration of acts against the security and safety of diplomatic missions, the Assembly said.

 

Also, the Assembly established an ad hoc committee, which is to meet for two weeks in March 2002, to continue work on a draft convention on jurisdictional immunities of States and their property, which is being studied in the context of the increasing involvement of States in commercial activities.

 

      The Assembly took note of provisions for protecting nationality in relation to the succession of States, which were presented by the International Law Commission in the form of a declaration.  A key article states that every individual who, on the date of the succession of States, had the nationality of the predecessor State, irrespective of the mode of acquisition of that nationality, has the right to the nationality of at least one of the States concerned.  The articles obligate States to take all appropriate measures to prevent statelessness.

 

      The Assembly emphasized the need to give higher priority to the work of the UNCITRAL, given the increasing value of the modernization of international trade law for global economic development.  The Commission was commended for its adoption of the UNCITRAL Legislative Guide on Privately Financed Infrastructure Projects as well as the important progress on the text on receivables financing.  Governments were asked to reply to a questionnaire on the legal regime governing the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards.

 

      Two more sessions were scheduled by the Assembly for the Preparatory Commission of the International Criminal Court, to continue working on the rest of the arrangements for the Court.  The sessions will take place from 26 February to 9 March and from 24 September to 5 October next year.  So far, the treaty for the


Court has received 25 of the 60 ratifications necessary to bring the Court into being.

 

The Statute of the Administrative Tribunal of the United Nations was amended by the Assembly to enhance the Tribunal’s judicial character and standing.  The amendment replaced some provisions relating to qualifications of the Tribunal’s members and term of office, and introduced an article by which a significant question of law could be referred for consideration by the whole seven-member Tribunal.

 

The Chairman of the Committee is Mauro Politi (Italy).  Vice-Chairmen are Salah Suheimat (Jordan), Marcelo Vazquez (Ecuador) and Kenjika Ekedede (Nigeria).  Drahoslav Stefenek (Slovakia) is Rapporteur.

 

 

 

 

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For information media. Not an official record.