As Committee on United Nations Charter Opens 2013 Session, Delegations Weigh Effectiveness, Impact of Sanctions

19 February 2013

As Committee on United Nations Charter Opens 2013 Session, Delegations Weigh Effectiveness, Impact of Sanctions

19 February 2013
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Committee on Charter

and United Nations Role

268th Meeting (AM)

As Committee on United Nations Charter Opens 2013 Session,


Delegations Weigh Effectiveness, Impact of Sanctions


The Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization opened its 2013 session today, as delegates wrestled with ways to improve its efficiency and productivity, including by re-evaluating which Government proposals for organizational reform it should — and should not — consider.

In opening remarks, Chair Jean-Francis Régis Zinsou ( Benin) — who was elected by acclamation today — said that, despite recent disagreement over agenda items, the Special Committee had already enhanced the legal basis of the United Nations, most notably through its work to elaborate the Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes, approved by the General Assembly in 1982.  He also pointed to the Special Committee’s role in the implementation of the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs — a legal analysis of decisions taken — and the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council, a constitutional and procedural guide to the Council’s proceedings since 1946.

Moreover, he said the Special Committee’s work had fuelled debate in other United Nations forums, especially the Security Council, which had shifted away from using comprehensive sanctions towards more targeted measures.  “This is a significant development,” he said, noting that questions were left open about the Charter’s application in relation to assistance to affected third States.  The Special Committee should continue to consider proposals in that regard.  Going forward, it also should assist the Assembly and the Council in the improvement of their working methods, and to consider ways to enhance its own such methods.

In the ensuing debate, delegates outlined their positions on maintenance of international peace and security – chiefly the application of sanctions and assistance to third States – among the salient issues facing the Special Committee, which also included dispute settlement, working methods and the identification of new subjects.

Some speakers viewed as positive the Council’s shift towards the use of targeted sanctions, which they said showed that such measures could be used in ways that minimized their impact on civilians and third parties.  The European Union’s delegate noted that the unintended adverse impacts on non-targeted countries had declined.  No official appeals by third States had been conveyed to the Department of Economic and Social Affairs since June 2003.

Yet that did not mean the Special Committee should eliminate an agenda item on that topic, said Cuba’s delegate on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.  The nature of the Charter provisions related to third party assistance was preventive.

Still others emphasized that sanctions were “blunt instruments” whose use raised ethical questions about whether suffering inflicted on vulnerable groups was a legitimate means of exerting pressure.  Iran’s delegate, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said their objective should be clearly defined, based on tenable legal grounds, carried out only during a specific time frame and lifted as soon as objectives had been achieved.

Proposals before the Special Committee also received intense scrutiny, with some speakers pointing out that many of the issues contained therein had already been addressed elsewhere in the United Nations.  They urged rationalizing the Special Committee’s work.  Others, however, emphasized that the Special Committee should be open to discussing all proposals, especially when they carried legal implications for compliance with the Charter.  That included one concerning a request for an International Court of Justice advisory opinion on the legal consequences of use of force without Security Council consent.

Several delegates also focused on updating the Reparatory and the Repertoire, with Egypt’s delegate calling on the Secretary-General to finish all volumes of the Repertoire and publish both documents in all official United Nations languages.

Also today, the Special Committee elected Aleksas Dambrauskas (Lithuania), from the Eastern European States Group, as Vice-Chair, with Mr. Zinzou encouraging the Latin American and Western European Groups to nominate candidates for the remaining two Vice-Chair positions.  Riaz Abdul Razak ( Malaysia), from the Asian States Group, was elected as Rapporteur.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Cuba (in national capacity), Republic of Korea, Syria,Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, South Africa, Nicaragua, China and Iran (in national capacity).

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the Republic of Korea said the Special Committee was not the proper forum to discuss issues raised by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, who also exercised his right of reply, again voicing concern over the existence of the “UN Command” in his region.

The session, which will run until 27 February, will reconvene at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 20 February, to consider topics relating to maintenance of international peace and security.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.