Delegates Defer Four Requests for Observer Status until Seventy-Fourth Session
While deciding to defer action on four observer status requests, the Sixth Committee (Legal) today concluded its consideration of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations, with delegates stressing the work of that Committee in the context of the Organization’s ongoing reforms.
Considering nine requests for observer status in the General Assembly, speakers presented diverging opinions on several, including the Community of Democracies in the General Assembly, before deciding to defer action on it until the seventy-fourth session.
The representative of the United Kingdom, introducing the relevant draft resolution, said the Community, founded in 2000, promotes democratic governance. It also integrated into its work cultural diversity and gender equality at the global and regional levels.
Also voicing her support, Poland’s delegate described the Community of Democracies as a leading platform for promoting human rights and democratic values around the world.
However, the representative of Cuba called into question the intergovernmental nature of the Community, pointing out that its members include civil society and youth organizations. Furthermore, it also has a long list of politically motivated activities.
Bolivia’s delegate said that the organization had not provided a founding document showing its intergovernmental nature. It had also failed to comply with requirements regarding its activities.
The Committee also decided to defer action on the Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking States, the Eurasian Economic Union, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and the Global Environment Facility until the seventy-fourth session of the General Assembly.
Prior to that, the Sixth Committee concluded its consideration of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization.
Uruguay’s delegate spotlighted the Table of Contents of the Special Charter Committee’s report as a clear indicator of its importance, while lamenting the lack of political will surrounding its work. Failing to support it would mean transferring its powers to another deliberative body. While the Security Council was responsible for maintenance of peace, the General Assembly was a forum where Member States participate on an equal footing.
The representative of Algeria also called for political will, particularly on some long-standing issues. Voicing concern about the impact of the application of sanctions, she said that the objectives of sanctions must be clearly defined and based on legal grounds. The ongoing process of the United Nations reform, including the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly, would certainly benefit from the deliberations of the Special Charter Committee.
However, the representative of the United States called on the Special Charter Committee to improve efficiency and productivity by considering shorter sessions or biennial meetings. Such steps are reasonable and long overdue in the current climate of reform, she said, highlighting the need to make the best use of the Secretariat’s scarce resources.
Also speaking today during the debate on the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations were representatives of Maldives, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Iran, Brazil and Mauritius.
Speaking during the debate on requests for observer status were the representatives of Syria, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Singapore, China, Brazil, South Africa, Russian Federation, India, Norway, Portugal and Viet Nam.
The representatives of the United Arab Emirates and Republic of Korea spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The Sixth Committee will meet at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 16 October, to begin its consideration of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law.
Special Committee on Charter and Strengthening Role of Organization
LAILA SHAREEF (Maldives), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, stressed the important role the Special Charter Committee played in the clarification and interpretation of the United Nations Charter, which feeds into ongoing reform efforts. Reaffirming support for peaceful settlement of disputes, she said that negotiations and dialogue should be the primary method for resolving international issues. The Special Charter Committee’s next thematic debate on State practices on mediation would advance preventive diplomacy. The reform process should proceed consistently and speedily, she added, highlighting the importance of respecting the mandate of the General Assembly which is the most universal body in the international system.
EMILY PIERCE (United States), noting positive developments in the Special Charter Committee’s work, highlighted the momentum that grew out of the 2016 and 2017 meetings and the first thematic debate held on the peaceful settlement of disputes. Because of a lack of consensus, the long-standing proposal to establish a working group on implementation of the Charter had been withdrawn. That withdrawal will help streamline the Special Charter Committee’s work. Calling on the Special Charter Committee to make the best use of the Secretariat’s scarce resources, she said it is necessary to improve efficiency and productivity by considering shorter sessions or biennial meetings. Such steps are reasonable and long overdue in the current climate of reform.
JORGE DOTTA (Uruguay), aligning himself with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), lamented the lack of political will surrounding the work of the Special Charter Committee. That Committee must be given the opportunity to move forward and fulfil its duty of strengthening the work of the Organization. Established in 1974, its responsibilities include making suggestions to increase the efficiency of the United Nations system. That is vital in creating a better balance between the organs of the United Nations. Failing to support the Special Charter Committee would mean transferring its powers to another deliberative body, he noted, adding that the General Assembly where all Member States participate on an equal footing is the most representative body in the United Nations system. With due regard to Article VII of the Charter, while the Security Council was responsible for maintenance of peace, the General Assembly does have its own prerogatives, he said. The Table of Contents of the Special Charter Committee is a clear indicator of the importance of its work.
TAREQ MD ARIFUL ISLAM (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the Special Committee gained some momentum when considering the means for the peaceful settlement of international disputes. Its thematic debate revolved around the useful exchange of information on State practices regarding the use of negotiation and enquiry. The other means of dispute settlement, particularly those stipulated in Article 33 of the Charter, will be discussed at subsequent sessions. When the Special Charter Committee exhausts its discussion in this connection, it might prove to be a good basis for advancing the appropriate application of the tools at the disposal of the United Nations for conflict prevention and sustaining peace.
AFZAN ABD KAHAR (Malaysia) said that after studying the Special Charter Committee’s report, she observed that several items were duplicates of initiatives already conducted within the United Nations. She called for reconsideration of those topics so as not to overburden that Committee’s agenda, which she stressed must focus on subjects more relevant and critical to current developments. She said she will continue reviewing proposals and annexes submitted to the Special Charter Committee and provide input.
ZAKIA IGHIL (Algeria), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement and African Group, said that political will is critical in achieving progress in the Special Charter Committee’s programme of work, particularly on some long-standing issues. On the question of maintenance of international peace and security, concerns remain about the impact of the application of sanctions. Sanctions must be implemented strictly in accordance with the Charter, relevant principles of international law and as a measure of last resort. Objectives of sanctions must be clearly defined based on legal grounds. The ongoing process of the United Nations reform, including the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly, would certainly benefit from the deliberations of the Special Committee. Its in-depth consideration is particularly relevant to the working paper on strengthening the relationship between the United Nations and regional agencies in the peaceful settlement of disputes. She also looked forward to the future submission by Ghana of draft guidelines related to the topic.
GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran) said the United Nations Charter has established an international order of multilateralism with the Organization at the centre. The Special Charter Committee is the only enduring mechanism within the United Nations framework to discuss issues related to the Charter and strengthening the role of the Organization. Prohibition of the threat or use of force as enshrined in the Charter has been an essential achievement of the United Nations. However, the practice of a few Member States to unlawfully resort to threats or the use of force has been in defiance of peremptory norms of international law and in violation of the Charter. It is regrettable that a few Member States are opposing the proposal of the Russian Federation and Belarus to seek, through the General Assembly, the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the resort to the use of force without authorization by the Security Council except in the exercise of the right to self-defence.
PATRICK LUNA (Brazil), associating himself with CELAC, noted the increase in the number of communications submitted to the Security Council under Article 51 of the Charter seeking to justify resorting to military action in the context of counter-terrorism. A proper follow-up of such communications is needed to ensure that the obligations laid out in the Charter are fully fulfilled. It is critical that States provide sufficient information regarding the attack, based on which self‑defence is being invoked. While the Charter demands that measures to implement self‑defence be reported immediately, it far too often happens with significant delays. The flow of information toward non-members of the Council must also be improved. He suggested the creation of a dedicated section in the Council’s website listing all letters received under Article 51, adding that a debate in the Special Committee on the procedural aspects of the implementation of Article 51 was also welcomed.
RISHY BUKOREE (Mauritius), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, noted that it has been 43 years since the General Assembly converted a recently created ad-hoc committee into the Special Committee on the Charter. Since then, its achievements include the negotiation of texts resulting in the adoption of several important instruments by the General Assembly, as well as the preparation of a handbook on peaceful settlement of disputes. Highlighting the Secretary-General’s proposed reforms that aim to integrate all pillars of the United Nations, he said that the question of application of sanctions by the Security Council is a matter of interest to the entire international community. Sanctions should be used not as an instinctive recourse but as a last resort.
Right of Reply
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the United Arab Emirates responded to allegations made by Qatar, saying that his country denies any violations based on racial discrimination. The International Court of Justice ruled on temporary measures and his Government is undertaking measures that allow for Qatari students to be received by the United Arab Emirates and continue their education. The number of Qatari students in the United Arab Emirates is 694 and thousands of other Qatari citizens are enjoying the freedom to stay or leave. Measures now require that Qatari citizens require prior approval to enter. Any call to resolve a dispute must be based on good faith. The Court required both parties to refrain from any act that may lead to exacerbation in the conflict.
Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the Republic of Korea said that with regards to the remarks made by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea delegate on Friday, he said that this meeting is not the appropriate forum for such remarks.
Requests for Observer Status
The representative of Cuba, making a general statement, said that the status of observer can only be held by a non-governmental organization if their activities are matters of interest to the General Assembly. In order to consider this requirement, the organization must submit its constitutive documents as well as a description of its activities and membership.
The Sixth Committee then decided to recommend the deferral of observer status for the Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking States.
The Committee also decided to recommend the deferral of observer status for the Eurasian Economic Union.
The Committee took up the request for observer status for the Community of Democracies in the General Assembly.
The representative of the United Kingdom, introducing draft resolution A/C.6/73/L.9, said that the Community of Democracies was founded in 2000 and promotes democratic governance. Its work also takes into account cultural diversity and gender equality at the global and regional levels.
The representative of Cuba said that the intergovernmental nature of this organization is questionable as its members include civil society and youth organizations. This organization also has a long list of politically motivated activities.
The representative of Syria said any serious consideration for a request for observer status requires consideration of its constituent founding documents. Those documents are one of the most important factors when confirming an organization’s intergovernmental nature. This is not possible in this case and there has not been the opportunity to obtain full information on its programmes and goals.
The representative of Poland voiced her support for the Community of Democracies, saying it is a leading platform for promoting human rights and democratic values around the world.
The representative of Venezuela said that observer status can only be granted to intergovernmental organizations. A number of delegations have noted that it is impossible to ascertain the intergovernmental nature of the Community of Democracies.
The representative of Nicaragua said that she agreed with the statements made by Cuba, Syria and Venezuela. This is a matter that has not reached the necessary consensus.
The representative of Singapore said that he looks forward to working with delegations to find the information requested so that a consensus can be found. He also asked whether the Community exercises its rights on the international plane so that it can be considered not just a coalition but an intergovernmental organization.
The representative of Bolivia said that the organization had not provided a founding document showing its intergovernmental nature and had failed to comply with requirements regarding its activities, which should fall within the work to which the General Assembly is devoted.
The Committee decided to recommend that the General Assembly defer a decision on the request for observer status for the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands Secretariat.
The Committee also decided to recommend that the General Assembly defer a decision on the request for observer status for the Global Environment Facility.
The Committee then turned to a request for observer status for the New Development Bank in the General Assembly.
The representative of China introduced draft resolution A/C.6/73/L.4, noting that the purpose of the Bank is to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in emerging economies and developing countries while complementing the existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions. He said the activities of the Bank contribute positively to socioeconomic development and help drive global growth. Granting observer status to the Bank will contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The representative of Brazil said that his country is proud to be the depository of the agreement establishing the Bank. It represented the unique contribution that developing countries can make to economic growth and sustainable development. Calling the Bank innovative, he said that it plans to make loans in local currency as a way to develop the bond markets in those currencies.
The representative of South Africa, associating herself with China, noted that her country is one of the founding members of the Bank and participates actively in its activities. The New Development Bank will dedicate approximately two thirds of financing commitments in its first five years to sustainable infrastructure development.
The representative of the Russian Federation, also commenting that her country is a member of the Bank, said it meets the criteria set out for observer status. As its constituent documents show, it was established as an independent international organization, subject to international law. The bank is open to all Member States of the United Nations and its work supports private and State projects by providing loans, equity participation, and guarantees.
The representative of India said that the Bank is fully eligible to be an observer because it helped drive global growth and development. Granting it that status would help enhance engagement and cooperation between the Bank and the United Nations, he said, adding that such engagement would enable the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Committee then took up the request for observer status for the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea.
The representative of Norway, also speaking for Denmark, Iceland, Finland and Sweden, introduced draft resolution A/C.6/73/L.5. She underscored that the International Council is an intergovernmental organization that coordinates and promotes marine research. Through observer status, it will ensure its work contributes to the implementation of internationally agreed policies and goals.
The representative of South Africa said that part of the work carried out by the Council is the provision of the best available science to enable policymakers to make informed decisions on the sustainable use of marine environments and ecosystems. While its focus area is in the North Atlantic Ocean and adjacent sea areas, other countries could benefit from that work.
The Committee then took up the request for observer status for the European Public Law Organization.
The representative of Portugal, introducing draft resolution A/C.6/73/L.6, said that the organization, established by international treaty, aims to disseminate knowledge in public law — from constitutional law to international law — thereby contributing to dialogue among civilizations. It has observer status to several United Nations agencies, including the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), he noted, adding that it also collaborates with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the European Union and the Council of Europe. The organization has several branches and regional offices worldwide and is comprised of 13 Member States.
The Committee then turned to a request for observer status for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
The representative of China, introducing draft resolution A/C.6/73/L.7, noted that the Bank serves two functions. First, it fosters sustainable economic development, creates wealth and improves infrastructure connectivity in Asia. Second, the Bank promotes regional cooperation and partnerships in addressing development challenges. The Bank has been in operation for nearly three years and has an authorized capital stock of $100 billion, he said, adding that its activities are highly relevant to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The representative of the Russian Federation said that she supported the draft resolution on granting observer status. The Bank meets the criteria set out, as seen in its founding documents. It has provided financing to modernize the electrical system in Bangladesh and build a highway in Pakistan, among other projects.
The representative of Singapore said that the Bank is an intergovernmental organization whose activities cover matters of interest to the General Assembly. With its commitment to financing sustainable infrastructure and other productive sectors in Asia and beyond, it would be in a position to constructively contribute to the work of the General Assembly.
The representative of South Africa said that the Bank is a multilateral financial institution focused on infrastructure development. It offers financing for projects in energy and power, transportation and telecommunications, rural infrastructure and agriculture development, water supply and sanitation, environmental protection and urban development.
The representative of Brazil, expressing support for the granting of observer status, said that the Bank is an intergovernmental organization that can contribute to overcoming the gap on resources for infrastructure projects and the demands of developing countries. It can also contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goals 9 and 11, which relate to infrastructure and sustainable development.
The representative of India said that the Bank has fulfilled the conditions of the relevant General Assembly resolution on the granting of observer status. Its activities as an intergovernmental international organization contribute to the growth of developing countries. Granting observer status will enhance cooperation between the United Nations and the Bank and contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The representative of Viet Nam said that his delegation is a co-sponsor of the draft resolution under discussion. The Bank has proven to be a credible multilateral financial institution. It has a growing portfolio of projects across Asia, has brought prosperity to the region and has made an active contribution to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The representative of China, taking the floor for a second time, said he wished to provide some additional information. Since the issuance of the draft resolution, there have been nine additional countries that have become co-sponsors, bringing that to a total of 44.
The Committee then turned to a request for observer status for the International Think Tank for Landlocked Developing Countries.
The representative of Mongolia, introducing draft resolution A/C.6/73/L.8, said that the Think Tank provides sustainable solutions to landlocked developing countries and promotes awareness about their unique characteristics and obstacles through high quality research and seminars. The Think Tank is a staunch supporter of the United Nations and its Charter, he said, adding that observer status will enable it to engage more effectively on the international stage to strengthen the capacities of landlocked developing countries.
The representative of Paraguay said that the Think Tank is the first such group among landlocked developing countries; it promotes development and poverty eradication. Recalling its June conference, he said that the Think Tank’s activities, such as studies on commerce and transport, are fundamental to overcoming the difficulties faced by those countries.
The representative of Nepal said that the Think Tank has the important responsibility to conduct research and advocacy that improves the ability of landlocked countries to benefit from trade. Granting it observer status would enable the Think Tank to perform its functions better, he said, noting that it has created enormous hope among landlocked developing countries.