Working Methods, Peaceful Settlement of Disputes Take Centre Stage as Special Committee on Charter Opens 2018 Session

L/3276
20 February 2018
287th & 288th Meetings (AM & PM)

Working Methods, Peaceful Settlement of Disputes Take Centre Stage as Special Committee on Charter Opens 2018 Session

The Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization opened its 2018 session today with delegates debating questions related to working methods, sanctions and the Committee’s role in the peaceful settlement of disputes.

Throughout the day, many speakers expressed concern that it had failed to fulfil its potential, with the representative of Nepal stressing the importance of revitalizing the work of the Special Committee to fulfil the important role bestowed upon it and the expectations of the United Nations membership.

Further to that point, the representative of Algeria, on behalf of the African Group, said that the Committee’s work should be primarily directed at ensuring that the United Nations adhered to the rule of law and justice.  “The Committee has not lived up to its full potential mainly because of our method of work and our tendency to allow ideological battles to prevent us from performing our function, which is legal analysis,” he declared.

Noting that some proposals identified in the Committee’s report on the 2017 session had been discussed for several years without any substantial progress or likely agreement on concrete measures to be implemented, the representative of the European Union underlined that many issues on the Committee’s agenda were duplicative of revitalization efforts taking place in other bodies within the Organization.  He urged the Committee to review all existing agenda items and evaluate the usefulness of discussing those topics, considering their relevance and likelihood of reaching consensus.

Also on working methods, the representative of the Republic of Korea suggested decreasing the frequency and adjusting the duration of the Committee’s session to maximize the utility of its limited resources.  That sentiment was shared by the representative of the United States who proposed moving towards biennial meetings or a shortened session, emphasizing:  “In the current reform‑minded environment in which we operate, with tighter budgets and increased focus on improving the efficiency of the United Nations, the Special Committee needs to do its job by recognizing that these steps are reasonable and long overdue.”

Other delegates commended proposals aimed at strengthening cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations, and to enhance their combined effectiveness, including the representative of the Philippines who described those proposals as well within the Committee’s mandate.

The continuing encroachment by the Security Council on the functions and powers of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council was another area that speakers focused on throughout the debate, with the representative of Iran, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, expressing concern about attempts by the Security Council to enter areas of norm-setting and establishing definitions that fell outside the bounds of its purview.

Security Council-imposed sanctions were another topic explored by Member States, with delegates stressing that sanctions should only be considered as a last resort.  In that connection, El Salvador’s representative, on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), underscored that non‑coercive measures should be valued, pursued and exhausted before resorting to those foreseen in Chapter VII of the Charter.

Many delegates underlined that the Special Committee must prioritize discussions on the maintenance of international peace and security, with speakers welcoming the General Assembly’s recent decision that the Committee undertake an annual thematic discussion under the item “Peaceful Settlement of Disputes”.

The representative of Morocco stressed the Committee’s important role regarding preventative diplomacy through dialogue, which could help reduce the proliferation and prolongation of conflicts that were to the detriment of States, including when they became fertile ground for terrorist networks and traffickers of drugs, human beings and artefacts of cultural heritage.

In that vein, Bangladesh’s representative said that the Committee could be a vehicle for further enhancing Member States’ collective understanding about the uses of negotiation, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, international judicial opinions and other tools that could be better utilized for the peaceful settlement of disputes.  Nevertheless, the representative of Azerbaijan pointed to the need to invest more energy and political will towards the implementation of the relevant resolutions related to the peaceful settlement of disputes and conflict prevention.

In other business, the Committee elected Omar Hilale (Morocco) as Chair of the Special Committee, while İpek Zeytinoğlu Özkan (Turkey), Héctor Celarié Landaverde (El Salvador) and Igor Bondiuk (Ukraine) were elected as Vice-Chairs.  Luke Tang (Singapore) was elected as Rapporteur.  The Committee also adopted the session’s provisional agenda (document A/AC.182/L.147).

Also speaking today were representatives of India, Russian Federation, Belarus, Cuba, Ukraine, Egypt, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, China, Sudan and Turkey.

The Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 28 February, to continue its session.

For information media. Not an official record.