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GA/12232
18 December 2019
Seventy-fourth Session, 51st Meeting (PM)

General Assembly Adopts 26 Legal Committee Texts without Vote, Reaffirming Role of International Law in Promoting Peace, Security, Sustainable Development

Credential Committee Resolution Also Adopted without Vote, but Representatives Note Disagreements with Text

Reaffirming the crucial role of international law and the United Nations efforts to promote those principles, the General Assembly today adopted, without a vote, 17 draft resolutions and 9 draft decisions recommended by its Sixth Committee (Legal), as well a text related to the work of the Credentials Committee.

Among the texts adopted today were two contained in the “Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its seventy‑first session”.  By the text, the General Assembly expressed its appreciation to the International Law Commission for the work accomplished at its seventy‑first session and encouraged the International Law Commission to take particular account of the capacity and views of Member States, as well as the Commission’s workload, when including topics in its current programme of work.

The resolution on “Crimes against Humanity”, also from that report, was adopted without a vote.  By its terms, the General Assembly expressed its appreciation to the International Law Commission for its continuing contribution to the codification and progressive development of international law.  By its other terms, the Assembly took note of the draft articles on prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity.

Yet another resolution adopted today concerned the United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law.  By its terms, the General Assembly authorized certain activities to be financed from provisions in the regular budget, including the International Law Fellowship Programme, United Nations regional courses in international law and the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law.

The resolution on the rule of law at the national and international levels was also adopted today.  By its terms, the Assembly stressed the importance of adherence to the rule of law at the national level and the need to strengthen support to Member States — at their request — in the domestic implementation of their respective international obligations.

However, the representative of Syria disassociated his delegation from consensus on one of the paragraphs in the text on the rule of law.  Expressing regret that the relevant report mentions the Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Persons Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011, he stressed that his country did not accept the Mechanism or its mandate.

Also acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted a draft resolution on the credentials of representatives to the seventy‑first session of the General Assembly, contained in a report of the Credentials Committee, which was introduced by the representative of Barbados in her capacity as Committee Chair.

Following that adoption, several delegations spoke in explanation of position, with the representative of Peru, speaking on behalf of several countries, saying that the adoption should not be interpreted as tacit recognition of the regime of Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela.  Echoing that, the representative of Finland, speaking for the European Union, said the presidential elections of Venezuela were not credible and lacked democratic legitimacy.

However, Venezuela’s representative countered that the use of the Assembly to attack his State was an assault on multilateralism.  He added that throughout the year, the United States Government has unleashed a campaign of political, economic and diplomatic coercion against Venezuela.

Cuba’s delegate echoed that, stressing that it was the will of the people and not recognition by foreign powers that determined the legitimacy of a Government.

In other matters, the General Assembly took up the agenda item on the Peacebuilding Commission and elected Slovakia, Peru, Egypt, Guatemala, Kenya, Mexico and Nepal as members of the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission, each for a two‑year term of office beginning 1 January 2020.

Also speaking today were representatives of Iran, Nicaragua, Syria and Indonesia.

The General Assembly will reconvene on Thursday, December 19 at 10 a.m.  to consider the report of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial).

Report of the Credentials Committee

Elizabeth Thompson (Barbados), Chair of the Credentials Committee, introduced the Committee’s report concerning the credentials of the representatives to the seventy‑fourth session of the General Assembly (document A/74/527).  The Credentials Committee approved the resolution without a vote at its 10 December 2019 meeting accepting the credentials.

The Assembly then adopted that text without a vote.

The delegate of Peru, in explanation of position, and speaking for Brazil, Canada, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay and Uruguay, the Lima Group and several other countries, said the adoption of the report should not be interpreted as tacit recognition of the regime of Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela.  The group recognizes Juan Guaidó.  More than 50 countries in the world do not recognize Maduro as the legitimate leader, he added.

The representative of Finland, speaking for the European Union, reiterated that the presidential elections of Venezuela were not credible and lacked democratic legitimacy.  He also voiced support for the National Assembly of that country and called for its powers to be restored.

The representative of Iran noted his reservations to those elements of the resolution that might be construed as recognizing the Israeli regime.

The representative of Cuba said that the Credentials Committee must ensure strict compliance with the rules pertaining to the work of the United Nations.  Member States’ commitments to the Charter of the United Nations implied not intervening directly or indirectly in the domestic affairs of any State.  It was the will of the people and not recognition by foreign powers that determined the legitimacy of a Government, she stressed.  The principal threat to peace in Latin America and the Caribbean is harassment by the United States on Venezuela.

The representative of Venezuela said the use of the General Assembly to attack Member States is an assault on multilateralism and the system of relations among sovereign States, as established in the Charter.  Throughout the year, the United States Government has unleashed a campaign of political, economic and diplomatic coercion against Venezuela.  The United States Government systematically and incrementally violates its obligations to the Charter.  The Venezuelan credentials are accepted today as a guarantee of peace.

The representative of Nicaragua said that the report is fully in line with the Charter.  Venezuela has a democratically elected Government and the situation in that country is a domestic matter to be resolved by Venezuelans.

The representative of Syria expressed support for the Credential Committee and for its support of Venezuela as the legitimate representation for that country.  He said he rejected the statement of Peru, on behalf of the Lima Group, as well as the statement of the European Union.  Adding his support for the principles of sovereignty, he emphasized that all attempts to change the legitimate Government in Venezuela contravene the Charter.

The representative of Indonesia underscored his support for multilateralism and condemned the unacceptable action of the Vanuatu delegation in including in its number some members of the separatist movement against his country.  This provocative and politically motivated action is aimed at disrespecting Indonesia’s sovereignty, he said.

Sixth Committee (Legal) Reports

Mohamed Hamad Al-Thani (Qatar), Sixth Committee Rapporteur, introduced that body’s reports addressing 23 substantive and 3 procedural agenda items that had been allocated to the Committee.  With the exception of the election of officers, they represented the Organization’s priorities in the legal sphere, namely the promotion of justice and international law; drug control, crime prevention and combating international terrorism in all its forms and manifestations; and organizational matters and administration.  He then introduced the reports by heading order, giving an overview of the texts.

The 17 draft resolutions and 9 draft decisions had been approved by the Sixth Committee without a vote, he continued, adding he hoped that the General Assembly would do the same.  Noting that there was no report in respect of the agenda item, “Election of officers of the Main Committees”, he said that consistent with previous practice, elections for the Sixth Committee’s seventy‑fifth session would be taken up at a later stage in the course of the current session.

The General Assembly then took up the report, “Responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts” (document A/74/421), adopting the draft resolution contained therein without a vote.  By the text, the General Assembly acknowledged the importance and usefulness of the articles on responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts and commend them to the attention of Governments.  The Assembly also requested the Secretary‑General to invite Governments to submit further written comments on any future action regarding the articles and to update the compilation of decisions of international courts, tribunals and other bodies referring to the articles.

The General Assembly then turned to the report, “Criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission” (document A/74/422), adopting the draft resolution contained therein without a vote.  The current text largely reiterates and further strengthens resolution 73/196.  In addition to technical amendments, the resolution includes one new preambular paragraph by which the Assembly honoured the heroic work of tens of thousands of United Nations officials and experts on missions, underscoring that the Organization should not let the actions of a few tarnish the achievements of the whole.

By the text, the General Assembly also expressed concern with the low rate of response from States to referred allegations of crimes committed by United Nations officials and experts on mission and to requests for information regarding the establishment of jurisdiction over such crimes.  It urged States to take all appropriate measures to ensure that these crimes do not go unpunished and would stress the importance of ensuring that victims of criminal conduct perpetrated by United Nations officials and experts on mission are made aware of available victim assistance and support, including from a gender perspective.

Acting again without a vote, the General Assembly adopted three draft resolutions contained in the “Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) on the work of its fifty‑second session”.  The eponymous resolution (document A/74/423) had the General Assembly welcome the signing ceremony, held in Singapore on 7 August 2019, for the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation (Singapore Convention on Mediation) and invite Governments and regional economic integration organizations that have not yet done so to consider becoming a party to the Convention.

Within that document was the “Model Legislative Provisions on Public-Private Partnerships of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law” (document A/74/423).  By the terms of the text, the Assembly recommended that all States give due consideration to the Provisions and the Legislative Guide when revising or adopting legislation relevant to public‑private partnerships.

Also contained in the report was the resolution “Model Law on Enterprise Group Insolvency of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law” (document A/74/423), which had the Assembly request the Secretary‑General to transmit the text of the Model Law, together with its guide to enactment, to Governments and interested bodies.

The Assembly next adopted without a vote the resolution contained therein the report, “United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law” (document A/74/424).  By the text, the General Assembly authorized certain activities to be financed from provisions in the regular budget, including the International Law Fellowship Programme, United Nations regional courses in international law and the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law.  The resolution also requested the Codification Division to continue to maintain and expand its websites as an invaluable tool for the dissemination of international law materials and for advanced legal research and would decide to appoint 25 Member States as members of the Advisory Committee on the Programme of Assistance for a period of four years.

The General Assembly then turned to the resolution contained within the “Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its seventy‑first session” (document A/74/425).  By the text, the General Assembly encouraged the International Law Commission to take particular account of the capacity and views of Member States, as well as the Commission’s workload, when including topics in its current programme of work.  The text also stressed the desirability of further enhancing the dialogue between the Commission — particularly the Special Rapporteurs — and the Sixth Committee and encouraged the continued practice of informal consultations between the members of the Committee and the Commission throughout the year.

Adopting without a vote, the resolution contained within the International Law Commission’s report on “Crimes against humanity” (document A/74/425) had the General Assembly express its appreciation to the International Law Commission for its continuing contribution to the codification and progressive development of international law and take note of the draft articles on prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity presented by the Commission.

The General Assembly continued by adopting without a vote the resolution “Diplomatic protection” (document A/74/426).  By the text, the Assembly commended the draft articles on diplomatic protection to the attention of Governments and invited the same to submit in writing to the Secretary‑General any further comments, including comments concerning the International Law Commission’s recommendation to elaborate a convention on the basis of the articles.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted the resolution “Consideration of prevention of transboundary harm from hazardous activities and allocation of loss in the case of such harm” (document A/74/427).  The Assembly commended once again the articles on prevention of transboundary harm from hazardous activities and the principles on the allocation of loss in the case of transboundary harm arising out of hazardous activities.  It also invited Governments to submit further comments on any future action, in particular on the form of the respective articles and principles, bearing in mind the recommendations made by the Commission in that regard, including in relation to the elaboration of a convention.

The Assembly then adopted without a vote the resolution “Report of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization” (document A/74/428).  By that text, the General Assembly, among other things, decided that the Special Committee shall hold its next session from 18 to 26 February 2020 and invited the Special Committee, at that session, to continue to identify new subjects for consideration in its future work with a view to contributing to the revitalization of the work of the United Nations.  The Assembly called on the Secretary‑General to continue his efforts towards updating the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs and the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council and making them available electronically in all respective language versions.

Also before the Assembly was the resolution, “The rule of law at the national and international levels” (document A/74/429), adopted without a vote.  By the text, the General Assembly stressed the importance of adherence to the rule of law at the national level and the need to strengthen support to Member States — at their request — in the domestic implementation of their respective international obligations through enhanced technical assistance and capacity‑building.  The Assembly also called upon the Secretary‑General and the United Nations system to systematically address aspects of the rule of law in relevant activities, including the participation of women in such activities, and recognize the importance of restoring confidence in the rule of law as a key element of transitional justice.

The representative of Syria, speaking in explanation of position, expressed his reservations regarding paragraph 3 of the draft resolution and disassociated his delegation from all consensus on this paragraph.  Paragraph 75 of the Secretary‑General’s report on the rule of law (document A/74/139) mentions the Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Persons Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011.  This paragraph and what follows it is unbalanced and inappropriate, he said, adding that Syria did not accept the Mechanism or its mandate or actions.

Acting again without a vote, the Assembly adopted the resolution, “The scope and application of the principle of universal jurisdiction” (document A/74/430), in which the General Assembly invited Member States and relevant observers to the General Assembly to submit, before 24 April 2020, information and observations on the scope and application of universal jurisdiction, including information on the relevant applicable international treaties and on their national legal rules and judicial practice.  The Assembly also requested the Secretary‑General to prepare and submit a report to the Assembly at its seventy‑fifth session based on such information and observations.

The Assembly then adopted without a vote the resolution “The law of transboundary aquifers” (document A/74/431), by which the Assembly commended to the attention of Governments the draft articles on the law of transboundary aquifers as guidance for bilateral or regional agreements and arrangements for the proper management of such aquifers.  The Assembly also encouraged the International Hydrological Programme of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to continue its contribution by providing further scientific and technical assistance upon the consent of the recipient State and within its mandate.

The Assembly also adopted without a vote the resolution “Measures to eliminate international terrorism” (document A/74/432).  The text included new operative paragraph 23, by which the Assembly noted the issuance by the Secretariat of the fourth edition of the compendium, International Instruments Related to the Prevention and Suppression of International Terrorism in English and Russian, as well as its continuing efforts to issue the publication in all official languages.  The General Assembly also expressed concern at the increase in incidents of kidnapping and hostage‑taking with demands for ransom or political concessions by terrorist groups and over the acute and growing threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters.  It emphasized the need for States to cooperate against international terrorism by taking speedy and effective measures to eliminate the scourge, and called on all States to deny safe haven and bring to justice or extradite the perpetrators of terrorist acts or any person who supports, facilitates or participates or attempts to participate in the financing, planning or preparation of terrorist acts.

The Assembly then adopted without a vote the decision contained in the report, “Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly” (document A/74/445).  By that text, the Assembly noted that the Sixth Committee has decided to adopt the provisional programme of work for the seventy‑fifth session of the General Assembly, as proposed by the Bureau.

The Assembly also took note of the report on Programme Planning (document A/74/444), which required no further action by the Assembly.

Adopting without a vote the resolution, “Report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country” (document A/74/434), the General Assembly urged the host country to remove all remaining travel restrictions it imposed on staff of certain missions and staff members of the Secretariat of certain nationalities and expressed serious concern regarding the non‑issuance of entry visas to certain representatives of certain Member States.  By the text, the Assembly expected the prompt issuance by the host country of entry visas to all representatives of Member States and members of the Secretariat.  It requested the Secretary‑General to remain actively engaged in all aspects of the relations of the United Nations with the host country and to more actively engage in the Committee’s work to ensure the representation of the interests concerned.

Before the Assembly was the decision, “Observer status for the Cooperation Council of Turkic‑speaking States in the General Assembly” (document A/74/435).  By that text, the sponsors requested that the Committee defer a decision on the request for observer status for the Cooperation Council of Turkic‑speaking States in the General Assembly until the seventy‑fifth session of the General Assembly.

Also adopted by the Assembly was a decision on “Observer status for the Eurasian Economic Union in the General Assembly” (document A/74/436) in which the sponsors requested the Committee to defer a decision on the request for observer status for the Eurasian Economic Union in the General Assembly until the seventy‑fifth session of the Assembly.  The Assembly approved the decision.

The Assembly then adopted a draft decision on “Observer status for the Community of Democracies in the General Assembly” (document A/74/437) in which the sponsors requested the Committee to defer a decision on the request for observer status for the Community of Democracies in the General Assembly until the seventy‑fifth session of the Assembly.  The decision was approved.

The Assembly then adopted a draft decision on “Observer status for the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands Secretariat in the General Assembly” (document A/74/438) in which the sponsors requested the Committee to defer a decision on the request for observer status for the Community of Democracies in the General Assembly until the seventy‑fifth session of the Assembly.  The decision was approved.

The Assembly also adopted without a vote a draft decision to defer the request, “Observer status for the Global Environment Facility in the General Assembly” (document A/74/439), until the seventy‑fifth session of the Assembly.  The Assembly adopted the decision.

The Assembly adopted without a vote the resolution “Observer status for the Group of Seven Plus in the General Assembly” (document A/74/440), in which the Assembly invited the Group to participate in its sessions and work in the capacity of observer.  The Group is a treaty‑governed intergovernmental organization, with legal personality, whose outlook to development is predicated on the premise that without peace and stability, there can be no development.  The members of the Group are from diverse regions and are bound by the spirit of solidarity.  As a group of countries generally affected by conflict or in fragility and striving to transition to the next stage of development, the Group of Seven Plus exists to create a platform to collectively promote homegrown peace.

Before the Assembly was the decision, “Observer status for the International Organization of Employers in the General Assembly” (document A/74/441).  By that text, the sponsors requested that the Committee defer a decision on the request for observer status for the International Organization of Employers in the General Assembly until the seventy‑fifth session of the General Assembly.

Also adopted by the Assembly was the decision “Observer status for the International Trade Union Confederation in the General Assembly” (document A/74/442).  By that text, the sponsors requested that the Committee defer a decision on the request for observer status for the International Trade Union Confederation in the General Assembly until the seventy‑fifth session of the General Assembly.

Also adopted by the Assembly was the decision “Observer status for the Boao Forum for Asia in the General Assembly” (document A/74/443).  By that text, the sponsors requested that the Committee defer a decision on the request for observer status for the Boao Forum for Asia in the General Assembly until the seventy‑fifth session of the General Assembly.

For information media. Not an official record.