Speakers Also Discuss Requests for Observer Status in General Assembly
The provisional approval of the draft revised Notes on Organizing Arbitral Proceedings and parts of a model law on secured transactions were among key achievements during the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law’s (UNCITRAL) forty-eighth session, said its Chair as he presented that Commission’s report to the Sixth Committee (Legal) today.
Francisco Reyes Villamizar (Columbia), offering the session’s highlights, said that the revised Notes on Organizing Arbitral Proceedings, which had originally been designed to assist arbitration practitioners, aimed to be finalized and ready for adoption by the Commission at its next session, in 2016. In addition, the draft Model Law’s provisions dealing with the registration of security interests notices would provide urgently needed assistance to States that were seeking to modernize their secured transactions legislation. Once those provisions were approved, the Commission would then take up the matter of the whole draft Model Law at its next session in 2016.
Describing progress made by the Working Groups, he did note that in Working Group III on Online Dispute Resolution, fundamental differences between States remained unresolved despite strenuous efforts to come to consensus. That Working Group would be given a time limit of one year (or no more than two Working Group sessions), after which its work would come to an end, whether or not a result had been achieved.
The recently updated database, the CLOUT (Case Law on UNCITRAL texts) system, was also of note, he said. That database, which promoted a uniform interpretation of UNCITRAL texts, was now more user-friendly and allowed for faster as well as more detailed searches of material. Given CLOUT’s resource-intensive nature and the need for further resources, he appealed to Members States to assist the Secretariat in its search for available funding. “It is the Member States who are the true ‘shareholders’ of UNCITRAL,” he reminded the Committee, emphasizing that they had both a say and direct interest in harmonizing international law.
Noting positive trends in UNCITRAL’S work, speakers underscored its role in facilitating the progressive development of international law. Colombia’s representative said that 96.6 per cent of Colombia’s corporations were simplified joint stock corporations. The country’s joint stock company law had, after the first five years of its implementation, led to the incorporation of 200,000 companies. That law was actively aiding in formalizing the economy, increasing employment and improving access to financial products.
Several speakers also underscored the role of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises in developing economies, as they constituted the bulk of economic activity in many developing countries. The Philippines’ representative urged the international community to continue to engage those enterprises in trade at the international level by helping reduce the various obstacles they faced, as Working Group I had aimed to do.
The representative of the Republic of Korea added that the Commission’s efforts to provide States with a platform to achieve economic diversification, financial inclusion and resilience to economic crises could facilitate cross-border commercial activities while reducing costs and commercial risks. He also welcomed the activities of the UNCITRAL Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific, a stance echoed by Belarus’ representative, who suggested it would be prudent to more broadly disseminate information on that Regional Centre with the aim of possibly opening such centres in other regions.
Some speakers, however, also voiced concerns about UNCITRAL’s work, with the representative of Singapore saying that the Commission’s inability to complete consideration of Working Group III’s report on Online Dispute Resolution was “unsatisfactory”. She expressed hope that such an occurrence would not be repeated, adding that the lifespans of working groups should not be extended indefinitely.
Ecuador’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said that given the transformation in the volume and characteristics of global trade, the Commission’s work needed to keep up with the dynamics of trade as closely as possible. In addition, he pointed out that CELAC members who did not have permanent diplomatic representation in Austria continued to face difficulties in attending UNCITRAL meetings at the alternating venues of New York and Vienna. Despite the organization’s budget limitations, easing the logistics for wide participation of members would enrich debates and could facilitate more substantive results, he said.
The Committee today also heard seven requests for observer status in the General Assembly, to which it would revert at a later date.
Also participating in deliberations on UNCITRAL were representatives of Austria, Australia, India, Israel, Japan, United Kingdom, Thailand, Italy, China, United States, Russian Federation, Malaysia and Venezuela.
Representatives from Cuba, Argentina, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Cyprus, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Syria, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Romania, Venezuela, Ecuador, Norway, Sweden, Chile, Netherlands, China, Singapore, Cabo Verde, Russian Federation, Australia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Iran, South Africa, Kenya, Cambodia, Republic of Korea, Philippines, Japan, Jordan, Morocco, France and Greece also spoke on the granting of observer status in the General Assembly.
Taking the floor in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The Sixth Committee will next meet at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 20 October, to take up universal jurisdiction.
Introduction of Report
FRANCISCO REYES VILLAMIZAR (Columbia), Chair of the forty-eighth session of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), said the highlights of the three week-session in Vienna from 29 June to 16 July included the consideration and provisional approval of parts of a model law on secured transactions, and the draft revised UNCITRAL Notes on Organizing Arbitral Proceedings, initially adopted in 1996 to assist arbitration practitioners by providing an annotated list of matters on which an arbitral tribunal could formulate decisions during the course of proceedings.
It had been agreed, he said, that the revised Notes should not impinge upon the beneficial flexibility of arbitral proceedings nor seek to harmonize disparate arbitral practices. The revised Notes should maintain their general applicability to all types of arbitration. References to technology and means of communication in the revised Notes would need to be updated using technology-neutral language. After its deliberations, the Commission had approved the Draft Revised Notes in principle and requested the Secretariat to revise the draft text accordingly so that a finalized text be ready for adoption by the Commission at its next session, in 2016.
The Commission also held a discussion regarding future work in the area of international arbitration and conciliation, he said. There was also support for work on a code of ethics/conduct for arbitrators and further exploration of it. In addition, it was agreed that the Working Group should commence work on enforcement of settlement agreements with an aim to promote conciliation as a time-and cost-efficient alternative dispute resolution method.
Recalling that article 8 of the Transparency Rules provided for the establishment of a Transparency Repository, he said the Commission had expressed that the UNCITRAL Secretariat should function as that Repository — a robust signal in support of transparency in treaty-based investor-State arbitration and relevant UNCITRAL texts. The Commission had heard a report on the steps taken by the Secretariat to establish and operate the Transparency Repository and the difficulties it was facing.
The Commission had also considered the provisions of the draft Model Law that dealt with the registration of security interests notices. The approval of those provisions would facilitate the Commission’s consideration and adoption of the whole draft Model Law at its next session in 2016. The draft Model law should provide urgently needed assistance to States modernizing their secured transactions legislation. That could potentially increase developing economies and small and medium-size enterprises’ access to lower-cost credit. Also decided was that the draft Model Law should be accompanied by a guide to enactment, which would explain the thrust of each provision for the benefit of national legislators considering the draft Model Law for implementation.
He said that discussions by Working Group I on Micro-, Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises in November 2014 and April 2015 had focused on the legal issues surrounding the simplification of incorporation and the identification of best practices for business registration. During deliberations of Working Group III on Online Dispute Resolution, fundamental differences between States, in particular on issues related to whether binding pre-dispute agreements to arbitrate concluded with consumers were to be given effect under the Rules, remained unresolved despite strenuous efforts to come to consensus. That Working Group would be given a time limit of one year (or no more than two Working Group sessions) after which its work would come to an end, whether or not a result had been achieved.
Working Group IV on Electronic Commerce had continued preparing a Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records aimed at facilitating the dematerialisation of key commercial documents, he continued. Working Group V’s work on insolvency of multinational enterprise groups would be developed in stages to ensure broad understanding of the solutions being considered and to build consensus toward development of a text that would be widely accepted and implemented.
He said the Commission had reaffirmed the existing mandates of the six Working Groups, and agreed on certain future projects. The Commission had decided not to undertake additional legislative activity in the coming year, although possible future work in the area of public-private partnerships might be further discussed at the year’s session. A number of events had been organized in 2015 to celebrate the thirty-fifth anniversary of the United Nations Sales Convention. A high-level panel on international sale of goods law had been held during the Commission’s forty-eighth session. Recalling that the fiftieth anniversary of UNCITRAL’s founding would take place at the end of 2016, he said the Commission had considered possible mechanisms to celebrate the event.
Underscoring that UNCITRAL Secretariat’s ability to respond to requests for technical assistance depended largely on Member States’ contributions, he appealed to States, international organizations and other stakeholders to consider making contributions to the Trust Fund and to assist the Secretariat in identifying other sources of funding.
He said the UNCITRAL Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific, since its establishment in 2012, had supported trade law reforms in the region, and had provided technical assistance and capacity building to ensure legal uniformity and general economic stability. Those and other activities had been contributing to an increase in the number of actions reported by States in the region in relation to the status of conventions and model laws. Expressing gratitude for financial contributions made particularly by the Republic of Korea, he urged that the Regional Centre become a permanent regional office through assistance from States in the region and through the United Nations regular budget.
Case Law on UNCITRAL Texts (CLOUT) and the digests of case law compiled from it were important tools for promoting uniform interpretation of UNCITRAL texts, he said. The upgraded CLOUT database had resulted in a more user-friendly interface that allowed for faster as well as more detailed search of material. Given CLOUT’s resource-intensive nature and the need for further resources, he appealed to Members States to assist the Secretariat in its search for available funding.
He went on to say that the Commission had also focused on the role of its multilateral treaty-making processes in promoting and advancing the rule of law given the Committee’s sub-topic during the current session. Increased participation of all countries was needed in UNCITRAL’s rule-formulating work. Coordinating mechanisms among the various rule-formulating bodies in the field of international trade also needed to be further developed. As well, greater representation of professional associations, arbitral institutions and other end-users from under-represented groups should be present in UNCITRAL’s work. States needed to increase their participation not only in development, but also in the implementation and application of treaties.
He called on the Committees’ support as well as that of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) to provide the necessary resources for UNCTIRAL to thrive and do more and to provide funding for activities such as the Transparency Repository, its technical assistance activities, and the CLOUT system. “It is the Member States who are the true ‘shareholders’ of UNICTRAL,” he said, reminding them that they had both a say and direct interest in harmonizing international law.
AGUSTÍN FORNELL (Ecuador), speaking for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), drew attention to paragraph 316 of the UNCITRAL report on the “Desirability of establishing a dedicated international body responsible for promoting, enacting, monitoring and implementing UNCITRAL treaties”. He called on States members to pay special attention with caution to that proposal, particularly on the scope of the monitoring and implementing functions, as they could distort the nature and objectives of UNCITRAL.
Furthermore, he said, the challenges in the codification of international trade law were increasing with the continuous transformation in the volume and characteristics of global trade due to ongoing technological development and diversification of business activities. Thus, the Commission’s work should keep up with the dynamics of trade as closely as possible. In addition, CELAC members that did not have permanent diplomatic representation in Austria continued to have difficulty attending UNCITRAL meetings at the alternating venues of New York and Vienna. Although he understood the organization’s budget limitations, he underscored that easing the logistics for wide participation of members would enrich debates towards the attainment of substantive results.
MARIA EMMA MEJIA VELEZ (Colombia), associating herself with CELAC, said that since 2013, within the Working Group I on Micro-, Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises, her country had proposed its simplified joint stock company law to support the development of a regulatory framework that would allow the simplification of steps taken in the constitution and formation of corporations. In Colombia, 96.6 per cent of corporations were simplified joint stock corporations. That involved simpler legal regimes which regulated the relationships between shareholders and other actors and aspects of limited responsibility, and encouraged the constitution of corporations through an expedited process. The joint stock company law was based on customary approaches and civil law, and had, after the first five years of its implementation, led to the incorporation of 200,000 companies. That had facilitated the formalization of the economy, increased employment, improved access to financial products, and advocated for the financial inclusion of corporations. Within Working Group III on Online Dispute Resolution, her country had continued to propose payment reversal as a mechanism to facilitate cross-border e-commerce between consumers when an electronic payment instrument was involved.
Mr. SPRESOR (Belarus), commending UNCITRAL’s work on the arbitration document, said the issues of who would support the costs as well as simultaneous arbitrations needed to be addressed. He voiced support for the functioning of the transparency repositories, noting that voluntary contributions would ensure their functioning through 2016. In the future, however, the repositories should be supported in a more regular manner. Furthermore, as electronic trade was growing, it was important to ensure greater legal certainty in that area. He also said he hoped to see broader representation of organizations from his region as UNCITRAL observers. Expressing appreciation of efforts to mainstream national practices in UNCITRAL documents, he said that the Commission could serve as a model to other United Nations entities. It would be prudent to more broadly disseminate information on the Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific with the aim of possibly opening such centres in other regions.
CHOONG-HEE HAHN (Republic of Korea), noting that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development called for sustained economic growth, pointed to the lack of a legislative framework that supported cross-border trade and investment. His country’s efforts to underscore the importance of a harmonized and modernized international commercial law framework was reflected in the outcome document of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa. That was the first time such a document had acknowledged UNCITRAL’s contribution towards implementation of the international development agenda. He stressed the role of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises in developing economies. The Commission’s efforts to provide States with a platform to achieve economic diversification, financial inclusion and resilience to economic crises could facilitate cross-border commercial activities, while reducing costs and commercial risks. He commended the adoption of the draft convention on transparency, calling transparency crucial for the rule of law, good governance, predictability and accountability, key to public interest and sustainable development. He also welcomed the activities of the UNCITRAL Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific.
NADIA ALEXANDRA KALB (Austria) said that the Commission’s panel discussion last session on “UNCITRAL multilateral treaty processes” in promoting and advancing the rule of law had highlighted the strengths of UNCITRAL treaty-initiation, -making and –implementation relevant to the promotion of the rule of law in commercial relations. Awareness of that work should be increased across the United Nations system. Commending UNCITRAL’s work on technical cooperation and assistance in the field of international trade law reform and development, she also welcomed the guidance note on strengthening United Nations support to States in implementing sound commercial law reforms. She also commended efforts to put into operation the repository of published information under the Rules of Transparency in Treaty-based Investor-State Arbitration.
STEPHEN DIETZ (Australia) emphasizing his support for the range of work carried out by UNCITRAL, which aimed at progressively harmonizing international trade law and implementing modern private law standards, welcomed the opening for signature of the United Nations Convention on Transparency in Treaty-based Investor-State Arbitration in March 2015. His Government had hosted an inaugural UNCITRAL-Australia Seminar with that body’s Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific and its National Coordination Committee for Australia, which highlighted the importance of ongoing engagement with UNCITRAL and other international and regional organizations in the field. He also expressed delight with his country’s participation in September at the Regional Centre-led seminar on “Rules-based trade: A legal roadmap for the South Pacific”.
VIJILA SATHYANANTH (India) endorsed the Commission’s view that the United Nations Secretariat should undertake the core functions of the transparency repository as a pilot project. She also welcomed the Commission’s approval of the Committee of the Whole’s report addressing the Model Law on Secured Transactions, including the public registry system for those transactions and entrusting to Working Group VI the preparation of the Guide to enactment of the Model Law. She reiterated the importance of technical cooperation and assistance to developing countries in matters relating to the adoption and use of texts adopted by the Commission at the national level and encouraged the Secretariat to continue to provide such assistance to the broadest extent possible and to improve its outreach, particularly to developing countries.
RACHEL OBERMAN (Israel) noted that a joint United States-Israeli proposal supporting the development of an instrument for the enforcement of international settlement agreements, modelled on the New York Convention for the enforcement of arbitration agreements, had been submitted to Working Group II. She encouraged additional work in that direction, expressing hope that the Working Group would ultimately decide to develop a Convention to promote the use of cross-border settlement agreements, which would advance international trade. She also welcomed the Commission’s decision in 2015 to instruct Working Group III to focus on a relevant document for online dispute resolution proceedings. Although that was a limited-time mandate, it was possible that an effective and meaningful instrument could be developed within the time frame. She looked forward to the Secretariat’s preparatory work in the fields of cloud computing, identity management and mobile commerce.
NATALIE Y. MORRIS-SHARMA (Singapore) said this year her country had commemorated the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods which provided a uniform law to govern international sales contracts. The Commission’s Secretariat should establish and operate through voluntary contributions a neutral online repository for the Rules on Transparency in Treaty-Based Investor-State Arbitration as a pilot project until the end of 2016. Noting the Commission’s role in promoting economic and social development, she said that was timely with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda. The critical relevance of UNCITRAL’s work made it imperative to optimize the use of its scarce resources. However, it was “unsatisfactory” that the Commission had been unable to complete consideration of Working Group III’s report on Online Dispute Resolution while the discussion’s participants were present. She expressed hope not to see a repeat of that, noting too that the lifespans of working groups should not be extended indefinitely. She further urged all States to support UNCITRAL’s work by sending experts to participate in the work of the working groups and to engage constructively towards consensus.
Mr. SAWADA (Japan) said his country would continue to contribute to Working Group I’s discussion on reducing legal difficulties faced by micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises throughout their lifecycle, particularly in developing economies. Noting the challenging issues relating to the enforceability of settlement agreements, he said coordination of the existing national legislation of individual States in that area was needed. His country would contribute to the studies on concurrent proceedings and code of ethics or conduct for arbitrators. The Commission continuing its work towards elaborating a non-binding descriptive document reflecting elements of an online dispute resolution process was welcomed. Expressing hope that work would be finalized within one year, he said his country would continue its active participation on the topic. He also said he expected that Working Groups IV on electronic commerce and Working Group VI on security interests would complete their projects during the next session of the Commission and that new model laws would be adopted. His country would support the development of cross-border insolvency law carried out by Working Group V.
AHILA SORNARAJAH (United Kingdom), noting her country’s participation in Working Group I which aimed to increase the number of small businesses registering as limited companies, said that a model law on incorporation would bring increased transparency and help to fight corruption. She also pointed out that her country was among the first to sign the UNCITRAL Convention on Transparency in Treaty-Based Investor-State Arbitration. The decision to continue drafting a model law on electronic transferable records was a positive one. Turning to the issue of cross-border insolvency of multinational enterprise groups, she underlined the importance of Working Group V’s work on the issue, stating that group insolvencies were the most economically significant cross-border insolvency proceedings.
WESARAT KEOKAJEE (Thailand) said his country was currently enhancing its insolvency regime to be in line with international standards, including the facilitation of insolvency procedure especially for micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises. It was also in the process of developing laws to become a party to the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods. His country and the UNCITRAL Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific had recently co-hosted a workshop on the Convention on Contracts and on the United Nations Electronic Communications Convention in Bangkok. In 2016, his country would co-host with the Centre the first-ever high level meeting between UNCITRAL and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which would seek to address, among other things, the important role of international trade law in achieving the goals of ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint. He called on Member States’ support for his country’s re-election to UNCITRAL for the term 2016-2022.
IGOR GARLIT BAILEN (Philippines) said during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation First Senior Officials Meeting, which convened in his country in February 2015, a workshop on UNCITRAL instruments and the ease of doing business had been held. The Philippines would continue efforts to become a party to the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International sale of Goods and the United Nations Convention on E-Commerce. Micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises constituted the bulk of economic activity in many developing countries, including his. The international community should continue to engage those enterprises in trade at the international level by helping reduce the various obstacles they faced, as Working Group I aimed to do. His country would follow keenly the contributions of other working groups, especially regarding recommendations on how the draft rules on online dispute resolution could respond to the needs of developing countries and those in post-conflict situations. Also important was how arbitration could render online dispute resolution more effective. He emphasized that the transparency repository should be fully operational as soon as possible.
SALVATORE ZAPPALA (Italy) stressed that an in-depth and technical examination of issues through a consensual approach could lead to positive results as the Commission and its working groups dealt with complex and sometimes divisive topics. In that regard, he recalled the Convention on Transparency in Treaty-based Investor-State Arbitration, which was adopted last year through consultation and cooperation among delegations. Italy had continued its contribution to the work of the UNCITRAL and its working groups. Italian women, both law professors, had chaired two working groups — one on micro-, small- and medium-size enterprises and the other on electronic commerce. He said he was pleased by a decision by the Committee to continue those working groups. Those topics were relevant to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
SHI XIAOBIN (China), noting the Commission’s fruitful and productive work, said his country had taken part in every aspect of the drafting of legal instruments by the various working groups. In formulating domestic legislation, his Government had used as reference the content of relevant UNCITRAL model laws or legislative guides and had actively publicized and disseminated the Commission’s achievement. His Government would always take an active part in UNICTRAL’S work to advance the unification of international trade law and the development of international trade.
MARK A. SIMONOFF (United States) noted that his country had been among the first countries to sign the Convention on Transparency in Treaty-Based Investor-State Arbitration, which opened for signature in March. The Convention would be a convenient tool to apply transparency measures — such as open hearings, publication of key arbitration documents, and participation by third parties — to arbitrations occurring under thousands of existing investment treaties. As well, the Commission’s decision to begin work on the enforcement of mediated settlement agreements could be a very valuable tool to promote the use of mediation to settle cross-border commercial disputes. He voiced hope that the instrument under development could help encourage the growth of mediation in the same way the New York Convention promoted the use of arbitration. All the projects of the Working Groups had the potential to produce instruments to help develop international commercial law. Yet the Commission needed broad participation in those bodies so that the instruments would meet the needs of countries from all regions and legal cultures.
SOFIA SARENKOVA (Russian Federation) emphasized that UNCITRAL was one of the most important mechanisms to facilitate the progressive development of international law and ensure the rule of law. Positive trends could be seen in the Commission’s work. She welcomed steps to creating, as an experiment, a transparency repository, which was a basic element to ensure the effective implementation of the 2014 Convention on Transparency in the context of arbitration proceedings between investors and States, as well as UNCITRAL laws on transparency. Noting that the draft directive note on the issue of bolstering support provided by the United Nations to States in implementing effective commercial law reform had fallen well short of consensus, she said her country would study carefully the latest version of those draft notes. However, she expressed serious doubts as to that document’s utility; it proposed a significant departure from the Commission’s tried and tested working methods.
SHARIFAH NURUL FARIHEEN (Malaysia), referring to Note 6, said there was no uniform approach in achieving the balance needed to preserve confidentiality and transparency during arbitral proceedings. With various types of arbitration, the revision work needed to be shaped and drafted according to the circumstances of each case, depending also on the cardinal principle of “party autonomy”. Note 6 should be discussed in further details by the Working Group II with great caution and consider the sensitive and confidential information that could not be disclosed in arbitration proceedings. As well, more discussion was needed on both Draft Revised Note 18 on multi-party arbitration, and Draft Revised Note 19: joinder and consolidation of claims which requires consent of all parties. It was also important that Working Group II deliberated both the substance and drafting of the Draft Revised Notes to ensure the content was properly reflected, along with the accurate elaboration of a range of issues and practices used in organising arbitral proceedings.
ISAÍAS ARTURO MEDINA MEJÍAS (Venezuela), associating himself with CELAC, said it was vitally important to carry out structural reform of the international investment arbitration system and bilateral investment treaties given the profound differences between private investment arbitration and international arbitration, which involved investors and sovereign States. He called on Member States to refer the topic to the International Law Commission for its study and consideration. A debate on the theme within the United Nations was needed as the system was being abused by “vulture funds”. He also drew attention to the illegitimate exploitation of the benefits of that kind of arbitration, which undermined the spirit of investment treaties, through so-called “treaty shopping”. Describing other weaknesses in the system, he said his country would hold on 5 October a dialogue with specialists on those themes, as well as analyse proposals that could reform the system to be more objective, fair and transparent given the impact it had on population of respondent States.
Mr. REYES VILLAMIZAR, acknowledging the Sixth Committee’s comments and expressions of support, said that different legislative instruments had been produced and developed in order to harmonize the international trade law system and develop commercial activity in the international sphere. Trade, based on rules, needed to be modern and flexible so that contractual freedom could reign and parties could choose provisions most relevant for their businesses. He said he was pleased to hear the support of delegations to the conclusions taken during the Commission’s fortieth session, in particular on the Notes on Arbitral Proceedings, as well as on the Draft Trade Model Law on Guarantees. Support for work on simplified forms of incorporation and simplified records, particularly in his country, demonstrated supported for work done resolutely in Working Group I. He expressed his country’s gratitude for the honour of chairing the Commission.
Requests for Observer Status in the General Assembly
The representative of Cuba, making a general statement on requests for observer status, said that it was crucial that the requirements of General Assembly resolution 49/426 be met in the granting of such status. Thus, it should be granted only to intergovernmental organizations whose activities were of interest to the Assembly. It was not possible to study the granting of such status without the constitution, objectives and other relevant documents of the organization concerned. That information must be provided by all organizations aspiring to observer status.
In addition, she said that discussing the requests of various groups at a single session did not allow the time necessary to consider the documents thoroughly. That should be borne in mind going forward, she said, noting that her delegation was not alone in making that request. Furthermore, dealing with all requests in one session might exclude consideration by smaller delegations that might not have the personnel to spare from other meetings.
Argentina’s delegate, also recalling the relevant resolution, stressed the need to align with its requirements. In addition, it had been agreed that the constitutions or charters of all organizations under consideration would be presented. He requested that those organizations under consideration who had not made those documents available do so.
A representative of Kazakhstan, introducing the request for Observer status for the Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking States (documents A/66/141 and A/C.6/70/L.4), said the Cooperation Council clearly met the criteria established by the General Assembly. In addition, he shared some of its operations and activities, and, in particular, the Council’s “intensified action” with various agencies of the United Nations system, including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). He called on Member States to support the draft resolution and adopt it by consensus.
The representatives of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan all urged Member States to adopt the draft resolution by consensus), affirming that the Cooperation Council met the requisite criteria and enumerating instances of its role in enhancing regional stability and peace and in working with the United Nations.
However Cyprus’ delegate expressed concerns, noting that language used in the Cooperation Council’s annual summit declarations ran contrary to Security Council resolutions on Cyprus as well as to the framework for the solution, which had been agreed by the two communities in Cyprus.
Armenia’s representative, while expressing appreciation for the intention of some sponsoring delegations to consult with his delegation, and noting that there had been some intersessional interaction, said that there was not yet real determination and sustained progress to address to his country’s legitimate concerns. Furthermore, the Cooperation Council’s annual declarations as well as statements and intentions expressed by some of its members contained provisions and language which were in contradiction of the Charter.
Introducing the resolution on Observer Status for the Eurasian Economic Union in the General Assembly (documents A/70/141 and A/C.6/70/L.2), the representative of Belarus said the Union currently included five States that aimed to move to the next stage of integration following the formation of a Customs Union and a Common Economic Space. It was an intergovernmental organization that adhered to the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law and was open to any State that shared its goals and principles. Further it was open to considering admission of any State to observer status in the Union. The purposes and principles of the Union were consistent with the interests of the General Assembly in the fields of sustainable development, international trade, ecology and other areas.
The representative of Georgia expressed concern that the organization’s founder, the Russian Federation, flouted international obligations by occupying and annexing the territories of its neighbour States. She urged Member States, particularly those who were also members of the Eurasian Economic Union, to do their utmost to ensure that the Russian Federation would not use the organization for purposes that ran contrary to the principles and norms of the Charter, particularly the principle of sovereignty and territorial integrity of States.
Syria’s representative expressed support for the draft resolution and joined the list of sponsors, as did the delegate of Turkey express support
Azerbaijan’s representative, noting that member States of an intergovernmental organization seeking observer status must comply with the Charter, in particular with respect to the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of States, expressed regret that Armenia as a member of the Eurasian Economic Union continued to illegally occupy a territory of Azerbaijan in violation of the Charter and relevant Security Council resolution.
Representatives of the Russian Federation and Armenia, aligning with Belarus, said it was unfortunate that political issues unrelated to the matter had emerged, with Armenia’s representative noting that any attempt to politicize discussion should be condemned, and that the representative of Azerbaijan’s comments had no legal merit.
Kazakhstan’s representative said the implementation of the 2030 Agenda could benefit from the participation of organizations like the Eurasian Economic Union through exchange of practices and knowledge sharing. He appealed to Member States to support the granting of observer status to that organization.
Kyrgyzstan, expressing full support for the statement by Belarus, said the Union was an international, regional and above all an economic organization that enjoyed full legal subjectivity and was compliant with the interests of the General Assembly.
Azerbaijan’s representative said that, to date, resolutions with respect to the full and complete withdrawal of Armenia from Azerbaijan’s territory had yet to be implemented.
In exercise of the right of reply, Armenia’s representatives said that it was Azerbaijan that started the war and it was Azerbaijan who did not comply with relevant resolution.
Azerbaijan’s representative, responding to his counterpart, said that Nagorno-Karabakh had been recognized as integral part of his country. Citing other districts of Azerbaijan, she said those too were illegally occupied by Armenia.
The representative of El Salvador, introducing the resolution on the request for observer status for the Community of Democracies in the General Assembly (A/70/142 and A/C.6/70/L.7) and announcing co-sponsors, recalled the history of that organization, and noted that it had just elected a new president.
Representatives of Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia, underscored that it was vital to achieve compliance with prerequisites set forth in the General Assembly decision 49/126. The organization’s founding document was critical in order to verify its intergovernmental nature.
The delegate of Romania said that the objectives of the Community were fully and clearly consistent with the Organization in many aspects. Offering examples of its eligibility, she underscored that cooperation between the two bodies could be seen in various initiatives and projects as explained in the memorandum. Thus, observer status would advance their already existing relationship.
The representative of Venezuela expressed support for the statements made earlier by the delegates of Cuba and Argentina. Among other things, he said that that the activities of an organization must refer to matters of interest to the General Assembly.
The delegate of Ecuador voiced his disagreement, stressing that there were no founding documents of the organization.
The representative of Norway, a co-sponsor, emphasized that the work of the Community had direct relevance to the founding pillars of the United Nations through the promotion of human rights, and development and security, among others. He also noted that democracy did not mean the same to every person everywhere. The Community of Democracies recognized that and encouraged States to develop their own model. Sweden’s delegate also expressed her support for the granting of observer status.
The delegate of Chile stressed that perfecting democracy was of utmost importance to his country. A member of the Community since its very beginning, he said that observer status would support dialogue between member countries but also allow for greater visibility and access to interaction with other States in the international community.
Syria’s representative, however, could not support the draft resolution because requirements stipulated by the General Assembly decision were not present in the Community.
The representative of the Netherlands, a co-sponsor, informed the Committee that the General Assembly decision was very short and only spoke about an organization being intergovernmental — “nothing more or less” — and did not specify a requirement to supply a founding document. Referring to the Warsaw Declaration, he said it was clear that the Community was an intergovernmental organization with purposes in line with the United Nations.
Belarus’s delegate said that, based on the comments being heard on the matter, that it was very important to study the founding documents of the organization before making a decision.
The representative of China said that in addition to governmental bodies the group also contained members of civil society, academics and other groups. Thus, it did not meet the criteria as an intergovernmental organization. Further, it recognized China’s province of Taiwan as a State, and was violating China’s territorial integrity. Therefore, it did not meet the criteria for observer status in the General Assembly.
Singapore’s representative said she looked forward to receiving information that showed that the organization it was not just a coalition, but an international organization.
The representative of Cabo Verde joined others in advocating the grant of observer status to the organization. Its intergovernmental nature was clear and its goals were appropriate. He noted further that his country had been part of the organization from the beginning.
The representative of Russian Federation, introducing the request for observer status for the International Civil Defence Organization in the General Assembly (document A/70/191 and A/C.6/70/L.6), said that it was an intergovernmental organization representing all regions of the world, with 54 full member States and 19 observer States as well as 30 associate members, including international organizations, to support its work. Among its various functions, it promoted the development of governmental bodies and mechanisms for the protection of people, property and the environment in the event of natural and man-made disasters and it brought together national civil defence services, including search and rescue units, and developed cooperation, exchanges and coordination among them.
The representatives of Cuba and Syria said they supported observer status for the organization, which was clearly an international organization, with Syria particularly stressing the important role in played in capacity building.
The representative of Australia introduced draft resolution on observer status for the Indian Ocean Rim Association in the General Assembly (documents A/70/192 and A/C.6/70/L.8), noting that the Association had been established in March 1997 and was now made up of 20 countries. Many of the Association’s focal areas, including fisheries management and the gender equality, were aligned with the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda, she said, urging Member States to support the text.
The representatives of Thailand, Sri Lanka, Iran, South Africa and Kenya supported the granting of the observer status for the Association, stressing that it was an intergovernmental organization, meeting the legal criteria set out in the relevant Assembly decision.
The representative of Cambodia, introducing the request for observer for the International Conference of Asian Political Parties in the General Assembly (document A/70/194 and A/C.6/70/L.3) said that as of June 2015, Conference membership had reached over 360 eligible political parties in 52 States and one territory in Asia. Among its activities, it had established a link with the Permanent Conference of Political Parties in Latin American and the Caribbean and had helped political parties in Africa establish a similar organization. Its Assemblies, which took place every two years, brought together the Asian continent’s most prominent political leaders to search for ways of coexisting in a more peaceful, more democratic and more prosperous Asia.
The representative of the Republic of Korea named among reasons the Conference should be granted observer status that it consisted of both ruling and opposition parties. Thus, it was a network of political parties that had a de facto nature of an intergovernmental organization. He further highlighted that the Conference’s charter declared that it would uphold the Charter of the United Nations. Furthermore the Sixth Committee had approved observer status for organizations that were not intergovernmental organizations in stricto sensu, such as the International Olympic Committee, Inter-parliamentarian Union and others.
The Philippines’s delegate said that the Conference and its members played an important role in promoting and consolidating emerging democracies. Further, its members had been working together on areas like environmental protection, natural disasters and poverty alleviation and requested favourable consideration.
The representative of Venezuela, while recognizing the organization’s importance, said he must reject the request because it did not comply with the basic requirement of being an intergovernmental organization. Concurring, Argentina’s representative suggested that observer status in the Economic and Social Council might be appropriate.
The representatives of Azerbaijan, Sri Lanka and Japan also spoke in favour of granting observer status. The representative of the Netherlands as well, noting that political parties were part of government legislative processes, expressed support.
The representative of Jordan introduced draft resolution on observer status for the Union for the Mediterranean in the General Assembly (documents A/70/232 and A/C.6/70/L.5), said the Union fostered partnerships to create a peaceful, democratic and prosperous Mediterranean region. It was an intergovernmental organization, whose objectives and activities were aligned with the work of the United Nations, including implementation of sustainable development goals.
The representative of Argentina, Singapore and Venezuela asked Jordan and other cosponsors to the presentation of a founding instrument of the Union for further analysis of the application.
The representatives of Morocco, France, and Greece voiced their support for the draft resolution and willingness to engage further dialogue with delegations requesting the statute of the Union and other information.
Jordan’s representative said it would provide all requested information.