As the Sixth Committee (Legal) today took up the report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) and then commenced the debate on the protection of persons in the event of disasters, speakers highlighted the need for the legal architecture governing both international trade and disaster relief to evolve alongside a rapidly changing world still wrestling with the fallout of COVID‑19.
Philbert Abaka Johnson, Chair of UNCITRAL, presented the Commission’s report on its fifty‑fourth session (document A/76/17), providing an overview of its work during that period. UNCITRAL finalized six legislative texts at that session, relating to limited liability, micro‑ and small‑sized enterprises as well as mediation and arbitration. The texts are expected to assist States in mitigating the effects of the COVID‑19 pandemic and assist in their efforts towards economic recovery. Those concerning arbitration balance the efficiency of arbitral proceedings on the one hand, and the rights of parties to due process on the other.
He also highlighted the Commission’s decision to request that the General Assembly provide additional resources to implement UNCITRAL’s work programme on investor‑State dispute settlement reform, which would allow for a comprehensive reform package to be adopted by the General Assembly in 2026 at the latest. As well, the Commission decided to recommend its membership be increased from 60 to 70 States, he said, noting that wider participation in UNCITRAL would further progress and stimulate interest in the Commission’s work to harmonize and modernize international trade law. This is even more important in the time of COVID‑19, as business practices evolve and new technologies emerge, he added.
The representative of Japan echoed that point, spotlighting her country’s proposal for taking stock of developments in dispute resolution in the digital economy. She also detailed Japan’s Vienna‑based process concerning the enlargement of UNCITRAL ‑ in which members agreed to add two additional seats to each regional group ‑ which will enhance the visibility, inclusivity and universality of the Commission’s work.
The representative of Belarus also supported expanded membership for UNCITRAL ‑ given that many States are interested in participating in the Commission’s work - as this will foster progress and strengthen UNCITRAL’s clout. He highlighted his country’s particular interest in the development of ethical norms for international arbitration and of public‑private partnerships.
Chile’s delegate concurred on increasing the number of UNCITRAL members, also stressing the need for transparency, inclusiveness and discipline in the Commission’s work. He welcomed its efforts on investor‑State dispute settlement reform, as well as that of the Secretariat on assessing Member States’ efforts to mitigate the pandemic’s impact on investment and cross‑border trade.
The representative of Algeria, similarly, welcomed the expansion of UNCITRAL’s membership to include five African members to promote balanced geographic representation. In addition, he commended the Commission’s work on investor‑State dispute settlement reform, supporting more flexible settlement systems and interpretation of treaties by Member States.
Cameroon’s delegate, too, highlighted UNICITRAL’s work on investor‑State dispute settlement reform, noting that the international economy has become increasingly interdependent. The quickly evolving nature of finance and trade necessitates improved arbitration procedures and legal systems that are conducive to the rapid settlement of disputes, he emphasized.
The Sixth Committee also began its consideration of the protection of persons in the event of disasters today, as delegates debated which phenomena constitute “disasters” under international law and debated the possibility of establishing a convention based on the International Law Commission’s draft articles on this subject.
Portugal’s delegate said those articles achieve a balance between the imperatives of protecting human rights on the one hand, and the primary role of the affected State in providing disaster relief on the other. These could be translated into an internationally legally binding instrument, he said, noting that the COVID‑19 pandemic could fit the broad definition of “disaster” outlined in the draft articles.
The representative of the Federated States of Micronesia also supported negotiations to elaborate a convention in this area but stressed that such an instrument must recognize that “disasters” include the adverse impacts of climate change such as sea‑level rise and ocean acidification. These threaten peoples’ livelihoods, could force displacement and, as such, must be mitigated by a legal regime that thoroughly outlines States’ obligations.
Syria’s representative joined other speakers in pointing out that the draft articles do not mention unilateral coercive measures, which are imposed by some Governments on some peoples in an unfair manner. These measures are man‑made disasters that threaten international cooperation in disaster situations and run counter to Government efforts to limit the impact of disasters, he stressed.
The representative of Antigua and Barbuda, speaking for the Alliance of Small Island States, noted that her group does not have a position on whether to draft a convention based on the draft articles. However, highlighting the increasingly destructive disasters affecting the bloc’s members, she voiced concern over the draft articles’ reliance on voluntary offers of external assistance to respond to disasters. Developed countries’ responsibility to assist developing countries in responding to climate‑related disasters is not voluntary, she emphasized.
Also speaking on UNCITRAL’s report on the work of its fifty‑fourth session were representatives of Finland (also speaking for Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), Singapore, Honduras, Sierra Leone, Iran, Philippines, Egypt, Colombia, United States, Italy, El Salvador, Ghana, Peru, India, Sri Lanka, United Kingdom, Israel, Belgium, Thailand, Austria, Russian Federation, Argentina, China, Republic of Korea, Pakistan, Canada and Venezuela, along with a representative of the European Union in its capacity as observer.
Speaking on the protection of persons in the event of disasters were representatives of Sweden (also speaking for Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway), Singapore, Sierra Leone, Bangladesh, Iran, Cuba, Philippines, Colombia, China, United States, Israel, Italy, Brazil, El Salvador, Mexico, Viet Nam, Jamaica, Guatemala, India, Ethiopia, Egypt, Nigeria, Malaysia, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Thailand, Russian Federation and Honduras.
The representatives of Ethiopia and Egypt spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The Sixth Committee will next meet at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 21 October, to conclude its debate on protection of persons in the event of disasters and begin its consideration of the United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law.
United Nations Commission on International Trade Law
PHILBERT ABAKA JOHNSON (Ghana), Chair of the fifty-fourth session of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), provided an overview of that session’s work, which took place in a hybrid format that saw most of the 1,000-plus participating delegations ‑ a record high ‑ attending online. As the core legal body of the United Nations in the field of international trade law, UNCITRAL finalized six legislative texts: a legislative guide on limited‑liability enterprises; legislative recommendations on insolvency for micro‑ and small‑sized enterprises; mediation rules; notes on mediation; a guide to the enactment and use of the Commission’s model law on international commercial mediation and international settlement agreements resulting from mediation; and expedited arbitration rules.
Detailing the two texts pertaining to micro‑, small‑ and medium‑sized enterprises, he pointed out the timely nature of their adoption, as they are expected to assist States in mitigating the effects of the COVID‑19 pandemic and assist in their economic‑recovery efforts. The text on limited‑liability enterprises is based on the principle of “think small first” ‑ that commercial‑law reform should focus on the actual needs of the smallest businesses and avoid placing unnecessary legal burdens on them. The text on insolvency recommends that States establish expeditious, simple, flexible and low‑cost insolvency proceedings that are easily available to micro‑ and small‑sized enterprises.
Turning to mediation, he said that the texts in this area will complement the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation ‑ also known as the Singapore Convention on Mediation ‑ and UNICITRAL’s model law on the subject, thereby providing a comprehensive legal framework for mediation. The text concerning expedited arbitration rules balances the efficiency of arbitral proceedings on the one hand, and the rights of the parties to due process and fair treatment on the other. In addition to finalizing these texts, he noted that the Commission confirmed the work programme of six Working Groups and requested that the Secretariat continue its preparatory work in several areas, including the exploration of the legal regime governing data transactions and dispute resolution in the digital economy.
He went on to highlight the Commission’s decision to request that the General Assembly provide additional conference and supporting resources to implement the work programme concerning investor‑State dispute settlement reform, which would allow for a comprehensive reform package to be adopted by the Commission and, subsequently, the General Assembly in 2026 at the latest. During its fifty‑fourth session, the Commission also decided to recommend that its membership be increased from 60 to 70 States, noting that wider participation in the Commission’s work would further progress and stimulate interest in the same. Urging continued support for UNCITRAL, he said the objectives motivating the Commission’s establishment 55 years ago are even more relevant now in the time of COVID‑19, with evolving business practices, the digital revolution and the potentially disruptive effects of new technologies calling for sustained attention to the harmonization and modernization of international trade law.
NATALIE TOLSTOI, representative of the European Union, speaking in its capacity as observer, stressed that work on reforming the Investor‑State Dispute Settlement must proceed soonest. Whenever dispute resolution involves public matters, a standing body and a multilateral approach, in the form of a multilateral investment court, are best suited to addressing all the issues at stake. She underscored the need for time and resources, voicing her support for the recommendation by UNCITRAL to the General Assembly that additional conference and supporting resources be allocated to the Secretariat. That would allow one additional one‑week session per year and support resources to Working Group III, she explained.
Considering the significant advantages that UNCITRAL presents in terms of transparency, openness and accessibility, she encouraged all countries, international organizations and observers to actively participate in the discussions, she continued. In that regard, the European Union, France and Germany have contributed to the UNCITRAL Travel Fund to ensure that the process in Working Group III is as inclusive as possible. Others are encouraged to make similar contributions. She went on to say that the European Union is pleased to see its proposal on the applicable law in insolvency proceedings having been confirmed as future work in UNCITRAL’s Working Group V.
VIRPI LAUKANNEN (Finland), also speaking for Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, praised the Commission for carrying out its work with flexibility and in a constructive spirit through these demanding times. In the field of commercial mediation, the UNCITRAL Mediation Rules, the UNCITRAL Notes on Mediation and the Guide to Enactment and Use of the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Mediation and International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation are important texts in fostering access to justice through mediation, she said.
Also welcoming commencement of work in Working Group I on micro‑, small‑ and medium‑sized enterprises and their access to credit, she added that Working Group III on investor‑State dispute settlement has addressed a number of concrete and important reform elements, including the means to address frivolous claims. Drawing attention to Working Group VI on clarifying rules on certain aspects of judicial sale of ships, she noted that she would continue to follow closely that work as it progresses. As well, she expressed support to further exploratory work on negotiable multimodal transport documents as well as legal issues related to the digital economy.
YONG-ERN NATHANIEL KHNG (Singapore) congratulated the Commission on the adoption of the Working Group I’s Legislative Guide on Limited Liability Enterprises, which strengthens its body of work aimed at reducing legal obstacles faced by micro, small and medium-sized enterprises; these play a critical role in developing economies. Turning to Working Group II, he welcomed UNICTRAL’s adoption of the Mediation Rules, the Notes on Mediation, the Guide to Enactment and Use of the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Mediation and International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation and the Expedited Arbitration Rules. The rules on expedited arbitration are particularly useful as they provide a reliable option for a cost and time efficient process for the resolution of disputes through arbitration. With regards to Working Group V, he said the Commission’s adoption of the Legislative Recommendations on the Insolvency of Micro‑ and Small Enterprises provides for a simplified policy framework to address the financial distress of those enterprises. “This is particularly timely given that insolvencies of micro‑ and small enterprises are expected to increase due to impacts of the pandemic,” he said. He also noted his support for the Commission’s work programme and its recommendations on additional resources for Working Group III.
YOLANNIE CERRATO (Honduras) noted that her country has been participating actively within the Commission, praising the body for making adjustments to its working methods during the pandemic. Noting that her Government recently deposited before the Secretary‑General the ratification instrument for the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Mediation and International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation, she said that Honduras was one of the first 15 countries to sign this convention, which is increasingly used in national and international trade practice. Also lauding the work of the Commission relating to providing technical assistance to countries such as hers, she said that this is especially important in this period of economic recovery following the pandemic and in the wake of the tropical storms that caused much damage in her region.
MICHAEL IMRAN KANU (Sierra Leone) said speedy work on investor‑State dispute settlement must not be at the expense of an outcome that ensures uniform application and interpretation of the “multiple reform solutions” on the one hand and legitimacy on the other. He expressed grave concern over the idea of adopting reform options on a rolling basis, as this would disturb the holistic approach to reform. He added that notwithstanding the pandemic, all efforts must be made to ensure that in‑person meetings take place in New York to enhance representativeness in its work.
MOHAMMAD GHORBANPOUR NAJAFABADI (Iran) said that the outcome of discussions on enlarging UNCITRAL’s membership was not in favour of equitable geographical distribution among regional groups. Moreover, the Asian and African Groups remain under‑represented. He noted that he anticipated that this situation will be further examined and kept on the agenda. He also drew attention to the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures, saying they have severely impeded trade between States on a much more widespread and multinational scale and have impacted the Commission’s goal of promoting international trade.
AZELA GUERRERO ARUMPAC-MARTE (Philippines), welcoming the exploratory work on legal issues related to the impact of COVID-19 on international trade law, said she looked forward to the online platform for the exchange of information by States on this matter. She also expressed her hope to see progress on the proposal regarding climate change mitigation, adaptation and resilience. On the matter of UNCITRAL’s expansion of membership, she said that any expansion of the Commission should proportionately reflect the membership of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China in order to ensure equal and balanced representation. Noting her appreciation for UNCITRAL’s Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific, she said that it has done much to build the region’s capacity in the area of international trade law and to raise awareness of the Commission’s work.
AHMED ABDELAZIZ AHMED ELGHARIB (Egypt), emphasizing the importance of UNCITRAL’s mission in today’s world, called for more resources to be allocated to the Commission so that it can progress its work on investor‑State dispute settlement reform. He expressed hope that discussions on this subject will improve the system by protecting developing countries and by enabling more transparency and predictability, in line with numerous existing international instruments. He also highlighted the importance of alternative dispute‑resolution mechanisms, supporting strengthening the capacity of developing countries in this area. On proposals concerning UNCITRAL’s membership, he underlined the need to have fair, equitable representation within the Commission and to bolster the participation of developing countries, especially those in Africa.
PAVEL EVSEENKO (Belarus) said that his country is particularly interested in the development of ethnical norms for international arbitration and developing public‑private partnerships. He also drew attention to the contribution of Belarussian experts in database compilation efforts. Given that many States are interested in participating in the Commission’s work, he noted his support for the consensus proposal to expand its membership, which would foster progress and strengthen UNCITRAL’s clout. He added that the Commission’s depoliticized nature should set an example for other multilateral forums.
LUCIA TERESA SOLANO RAMIREZ (Colombia) said that as a Commission member, her country played an active role in all its working groups. She welcomed the Commission study of matters related to legal issues arising from the impact of COVID-19 on international trade law, adding that her country is also interested in the Commission following up on climate change mitigation and resilience. She thanked the Commission for celebrating UNCITRAL Latin American and Caribbean Day, which brought the work of the Commission closer to the region. Turning to working methods, she concurred with the need to increase the Commission’s membership and broadening its geographical scope.
MARK A. SIMONOFF (United States), commenting on investor‑State dispute settlement reform, said that his country has strong reservations about the need for additional conference time and resources being devoted to Working Group III as a general matter. However, he also noted he did not object to the consensus to provide these additional resources on a limited one‑time basis for four years, subject to annual review by the Commission. “This review will be key to ensuring that the Working Group uses its time efficiently and can present the Commission with completed reform options on a rolling basis,” he said. He also welcomed the consensus decision on the enlargement of UNCITRAL membership, saying that he hoped to see continued progress on the joint UNCITRAL‑International Institute for the Unification of Private Law project on warehouse receipts.
ENRICO MILANO (Italy), aligning himself with the European Union, commended UNCITRAL’s efforts to enable various working sessions to take place and the results achieved by the Working Groups during the current difficult period. Highlighting the expanding role of the Commission in assisting States, especially in the use of new technologies, as well as its focus on micro‑, small- and medium‑sized enterprises, he welcomed the finalization of texts by Working Groups I and II. The Legislative Guide on Limited Liability Enterprises will help countries to offer micro‑, small‑ and medium‑sized enterprises a more inclusive legal environment, he said, also welcoming the new topics taken into consideration, such as the early dismissal of claims in international arbitration.
LIGIA LORENA FLORES SOTO (El Salvador) welcomed the online course recently held on an introduction to UNCITRAL, pointing out its potential to build capacity, disseminate information and provide technical assistance for Government officials who represent various streams of legal practice around the world. She also underscored the Commission’s adoption of the Legislative Recommendations on Insolvency for Micro‑ and Small‑sized Enterprises and the Legislative Guide on Limited Liability Enterprises. These texts will establish simple, low-cost mechanisms to address insolvency for an important business sector, which will be fundamental to States’ economic development and recovery. She also emphasized the importance of coordinated action among organizations working in the field of international trade law to avoid duplication and foster uniformity in this important subject area.
KHALILAH HACKMAN (Ghana) added her support to the call that Working Group III be afforded additional time and resources to complete its work. The work plan must be treated with flexibility she said, urging all delegations to consider the request of the Commission’s Chair on this matter. The development of an investment protocol for the African Continental Free Trade Area is ongoing. A reformed instrument on investor-State dispute resolution, germane to the prevailing realities, would provide useful measures to facilitate the resolution of the large number of disputes. She stated that her Government wishes for equitable geographical representation in the expansion of UNCITRAL Membership. She called on the Secretariat to enhance capacity‑building in international commercial law within the remit of UNCITRAL and to implement a deliberate programme that would ensure the involvement of African Member States in the work of UNCITRAL.
JOSE JUAN HERNANDEZ CHAVEZ (Chile), stressing the need for transparency, inclusiveness and discipline in the Commission’s work, drew attention to his country’s contribution to the fifty‑fourth session. Going forward, Chile is interested in being re‑elected to the Commission during the 2022‑2028 period. He underscored the immense efforts on investor‑State dispute settlement reform as well as research undertaken by the Secretariat to assess Member States’ efforts to mitigate the pandemic’s impact on investment and cross‑border trade. He also added his support for UNICTRAL’s membership to be expanded.
ALESSANDRA FALCONI (Peru) said it is vital to support Working Group III on investor‑State dispute settlement, including through the provision of more conference and Secretariat services. It would also be helpful to establish a legal advice centre for such disputes like the one at the World Trade Organization (WTO). She spotlighted how remote events are allowing delegations and regional stakeholders to remain informed on the Commission’s work, especially when COVID‑19 restrictions prevent them from travelling to New York or Geneva. In addition, she said that she looked forward to proposals on identity management and trust services in 2022.
MS. ISHIBASHI (Japan) spotlighting Japan’s proposal, “Stocktaking of Developments in Dispute Resolution in the Digital Economy”, stated that it is necessary to conduct research and assess recent developments to further refine the use of technology in dispute resolution and address its drawbacks. On the enlargement of UNCITRAL, she said that the discussions in Japan’s Vienna‑based process mainly converged on the issue of the number of additional seats to be added and their regional distribution. The members of UNCITRAL were able to agree on the language which, when adopted by the General Assembly, would enlarge the membership of the Commission from the current 60 States to 70 States, adding two additional seats to each regional group, of which one additional member from each regional group will be elected during this session of the Assembly. The draft resolution is reflective of the interests of all Member States and is certain to make the work of UNCITRAL even more visible, inclusive, and universal, she stressed.
KAJAL BHAT (India), noting the progress made by Working Group II and the adoption by the Commission of the Expedited Arbitration Rules, said it would be helpful for Member States in international and domestic commercial practice to reach a final resolution of the dispute in a cost‑ and time‑effective manner. Also welcoming the outcome of the deliberations on the proposed reforms on investor‑State dispute settlement, she called for a balanced approach in arriving at a consensus for granting more resources to Working Group III to complete this work by 2026. Further, she said that Working Group IV on Electronic Commerce, which is dealing with legal issues relating to identity management and trust services, and Working Group VI on Judicial Sale of Ships should be given sufficient time for their deliberations.
ZACHARIE SERGE RAOUL NYANID (Cameroon), commending the Commission on the signature ceremony in Singapore for the Model Law on International Commercial Mediation and International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation, highlighted the work of Working Group III on investor-State dispute settlement. That will promote more transparency in this matter, he said, calling for more respect to that Working Group’s mandate. The international economy is increasingly inter‑dependent, he said, drawing attention to the quickly evolving nature of finance and trade. That calls for improvement of arbitration procedures and legal systems that are conducive for rapid dispute settlement. Also noting progress in the areas of micro-, small‑ and medium‑sized enterprises and investor-State dispute settlement, he said the astonishing rise of the digital economy means Member States must monitor cybercrime.
PETER MOHAN MAITHRI PIERIS (Sri Lanka), noting UNCITRAL’s vital role in harmonizing and modernizing international trade law, supported the efforts of the Commission’s Working Groups, particularly Working Groups II and III. On arbitration claims funded by third parties, he said that instances in which third‑party funding is not permitted must be determined from the outset, as this is a matter of admissibility. He also noted that third-party funding has spawned a rapidly growing funding market and that self‑regulation of the same is highly advisable to provide a layer of protection to funded clients. Further, several questions must be answered relating to this type of funding, such as those relating to privileged communication and liability for costs. UNCITRAL’s work, he added, should be based on an understanding of different legal systems.
MELINA LITO (United Kingdom) welcomed the draft resolution pertaining to the enlargement of UNCITRAL’s membership, as well as the progress made in the Commission’s Working Groups. She noted that her country’s participation in the Singapore Convention on Mediation is still being considered. On Working Group III and its work on investor‑State dispute settlement reform, she expressed appreciation for the Secretariat’s adaptable approach when incorporating new changes and revisions. She also commended UNCITRAL’s flexibility during the COVID‑19 pandemic, bringing together a wide variety of stakeholders and ensuring continued progress.
SARAH WEISS MA’UDI (Israel) highlighted how UNCITRAL continued to adapt to the challenges posed by the COVID‑19 pandemic and managed to make significant progress on various projects. Those include the adoption of the legislative recommendations on a simplified insolvency regime for micro‑ and small enterprises. She also highlighted the proposal put forward by Israel and Japan focused on international dispute resolution in the realm of technology‑related disputes, which aims to lay the groundwork for creating a legal framework that addresses the specific needs of technology‑related industries. She also welcomed the Commission’s decision to hold a colloquium in 2022 with a focus on technology‑related disputes, expressing her hope that it will result in a recommendation that the Commission commence formal work on technology‑related disputes in the fall of 2022.
MARIEKE LOUISA J. ANAF (Belgium), associating herself with the European Union, welcomed the Commission’s ongoing work on micro‑, small‑ and medium enterprises, which are an important part of her country’s economic DNA. Also, while welcoming the recent adoption of arbitration rules, she suggested they be amended to allow virtual meetings and other modern means of communication. She went on to note her support for a root-and-branch reform of investor‑State dispute settlement procedures, including the establishment of a multilateral investment court. Pandemic‑related challenges must not be an obstacle to delegations’ participation in discussions regarding those reforms. She added that as a maritime trading nation, Belgium is well‑placed to contribute significantly to an instrument regarding the judicial sale of ships that would give priority to national legislation and clarify the notions of “ship” and “judicial sale”.
SORAWUT NORAPOOMPIPAT (Thailand), welcoming the adoption of six UNCITRAL texts, also noted the Commission’s decision this year to recommend an enlargement of its membership as a step forward to increasing the visibility and acceptability of its work. Stressing the need to balance that with ensuring a forward momentum on all essential aspects, he welcomed the adoption of the Working Group I Legislative Guide on Limited Liability Enterprises, which will certainly help to reduce the legal obstacles faced by micro‑, small‑ and medium enterprises. Noting that such enterprises are particularly important in developing economies such as his, he added that enhancing their competitiveness is especially crucial in this challenging domestic and global economic environment. Also welcoming Working Group II’s continued commitment to advancing efficient and cost‑effective resolution of international commercial disputes, he added that the relevant texts adopted this year constitute an important step forward and will help long‑term commercial relationships to weather through the challenging years ahead.
MAXIMILIAN GORKE (Austria), voicing pride at hosting UNCITRAL in Vienna, welcomed the Commission’s work on finalizing its texts on mediation rules and expedited arbitration. Also praising its preparatory work on issues related to digital economy, he highlighted the Commission’s request for membership increase and noted his support for additional resources for its Secretariat. Besides the omnibus resolutions, there are three additional texts this year, which his delegation is co‑coordinating. This year’s omnibus text is based on last year’s resolution with updates, he said, adding that informal consultations are ongoing. He expressed his hope that the Sixth Committee will soon be in a position to agree on a draft text for this resolution.
EVGENY A. SKACHKOV (Russian Federation) welcomed UNCITRAL’s role in developing economic cooperation and international private law and expressed hope that the Commission’s work will be even more effective when its membership is expanded. He also expressed hope that the Commission’s work will soon return to normal and allow for in‑person discussion of key issues pertaining to international trade law. On the topic of investor‑State dispute settlement reform, he called for a cautious, balanced approach that is based on broad consensus and an objective analysis of existing mechanisms and regional particularities in this area. Such reform should focus on the quality of proposed solutions, not on how quickly they are drafted. He also welcomed UNCITRAL’s discussions concerning the legal regulation of smart contracts, artificial intelligence and technologies for the distribution of digital assets. Given new realities in international trade, topics such as these require a unified approach by both developed and developing countries.
MARTÍN JUAN MAINERO (Argentina) said that his country, a long‑time UNCITRAL member, will be a candidate when the General Assembly elects its membership for the 2022-2028 period. He also said he supported proposals to increase the number of participants in the Commission and is following with interest discussions in Working Group I on access to credit for micro‑, small‑ and medium-sized enterprises. He added that States with limited technical and human resources should be considered with regard to funding and timeframes for detailed document study.
ZHAO YANRUI (China) said that her country attaches great importance to the work of the Commission, whose fifty‑fourth session was pragmatic, efficient and fruitful. Expanding its membership will help increase Member States’ participation while also raising UNCITRAL’s influence. Current geographical representation is uneven, with the Asia-Pacific and African regions under‑represented. Hopefully, concrete steps will be taken to correct imbalances, she said, adding that this should not set a precedent for enlarging UNCITRAL or any other body. She also said she supported increased conference and other resources for the Commission and Working Group III to complete its work on investor‑State dispute settlement as soon as possible.
MOHAMED FAIZ BOUCHEDOUB (Algeria), welcoming the expansion of UNCITRAL’s membership to include five African members, said this will promote a balanced geographic representation. Noting the Commission’s work on micro‑, small‑ and medium‑sized enterprises, he stressed the importance of reducing the legal obstacles hampering their growth, especially in a country such as his, which is making efforts to diversify exports. Also commending the Commission’s work on investor‑State dispute settlement reform, he said he was in favour of more flexible settlement systems and interpretation of treaties by Member States. He also underscored the importance of providing developing countries with technical assistance.
CHOI TAEEUN (Republic of Korea) drew attention to his country’s six proposals for the investor-State dispute settlement reform agenda in Working Group III and to its contribution to the discussion on Expedited Arbitration Rule in Working Group II. He also said there would be further contributions to the new work programmes, including civil asset tracing and recovery, as well as legal issues related to the digital economy by sharing his country’s advanced information technology system and experiences. He welcomed the various activities of the UNCITRAL Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific that have been undertaken to provide capacity‑building and technical assistance for States in the region. To that end, he announced his Government’s decision to renew the Memorandum of Understanding of financial and human resources support to the Regional Centre for another five years.
QASIM AZIZ BUTT (Pakistan) added his support for the proposed expansion of UNCITRAL’s membership and welcomed progress made in the Commission’s various Working Groups. On the topic of investor‑State dispute settlement reform, he said that the work in this area should continue to evolve based on specific concerns raised by Member States during the Commission’s last session. Any consideration of cross‑cutting issues in the Commission’s work plan would require more conference time and should be preferably treated as a separate work stream. Further, the issue of damages has not been accorded the attention it deserves, as critics of the system say it favours investors while placing undue burden on developing States. He added that UNCITRAL’s future work plans should account for the limited resources available to such States, as well as the technological restrictions inhibiting their participation in informal sessions.
MS. KILGALLEN-ASENCIO (Canada) noted with satisfaction the Commission’s approval of three texts on mediation as well as its adoption of the Expedited Arbitration Rules outlining a streamlined, simplified and cost‑effective procedure that preserves the fundamental principles of arbitration, including party autonomy and due process. Noting that micro‑, small- and medium‑sized enterprises benefit from the development of rules specifically tailored to their needs, she welcomed the Commission’s adoption of the recommendations on insolvency, as well as the Legislative Guide on Limited Liability Enterprises. Work on the recognition of foreign judicial sales of ships and on the cross‑border recognition of identity management and trust services was also of great value. As well, she added her support to the recommendation to enlarge the Commission’s membership from 60 to 70 States.
JHON GUERRA SANSONETTI (Venezuela) said that UNCITRAL’s work in harmonizing international trade law serves as a benchmark for economic recovery with fair and clear legal frameworks that allow for equitable, inclusive and win‑win development. In that regard, he said he deplored the recourse to unilateral coercive measures, which represents open disregard for the Charter of the United Nations as well as an obstacle to international trade. He welcomed efforts made by the Commission and the Secretariat to adjust working methods and to maintain transparency, inclusiveness and multilingualism.
Mr. ABAKA JOHNSON thanked delegations for contributing to today’s debate and looked forward to their support for UNCITRAL’s work going forward, including its request for additional conference time and resources in order to complete work on investor‑State dispute settlement reform on time.
Protection of persons in disasters
ASHA CECILY CHALLENGER (Antigua and Barbuda), speaking for the Alliance of Small Island States, said her group does not have a position on whether or not to draft a convention based on the draft articles. Highlighting the increasingly destructive disasters befalling the Alliance member States, she said these disasters often overwhelm their ability to effectively respond either before the disasters happen through disaster risk‑reduction programmes or after they happen through humanitarian activities. She voiced concern about the draft articles’ reliance on voluntary offers of external assistance to respond to disasters. Developed countries’ responsibility for assisting developing countries, particularly the small island States, in responding to disasters associated with the adverse effects of climate change, is not voluntary, she said.
JULIA FIELDING (Sweden), also speaking for Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway, said that the draft articles on the protection of persons in the event of disasters strike an adequate balance between the rights and obligations of the affected State ‑ emphasizing the dual nature of sovereignty ‑ on the one hand and those of external assisting actors on the other. She highlighted efforts taken by the five countries in her bloc to reduce the risk of disasters and account for the needs of those disproportionately affected by them, particularly by integrating gender perspectives in humanitarian assistance. She also stressed the importance of prevention, as expressed through draft article 9’s obligation for States to reduce the risk of disasters.
MR. WONG (Singapore) said that the protection of persons in the event of disasters is an important issue for Southeast Asia, where in the past year COVID‑19 complicated the response to typhoons, floods and earthquakes. The draft articles can serve as a useful reference for States and others engaged in disaster relief. Given their important contribution to this field of international law, it could be helpful to consider how the draft articles are already informing ongoing discourse on States’ responses to disasters and interacting with other legal frameworks, he said.
HAWANATU KEBE (Sierra Leone), associating herself with the statement to be made by the African Group, said that inertia in the Sixth Committee on codification seems to reflect the General Assembly’s hesitance to act on the International Law Commission’s recommendations on hard law, including the recommendation to elaborate a convention based on the draft articles on the protection of persons in the event of disasters. The question before the Committee is whether to take a decision on the Commission’s recommendation. “While we note the delicate balance struck in the content of the draft articles, the views being expressed demonstrate that States will have to take ownership in the elaboration of a convention.” What is needed now is the will to act on the Commission’s recommendation, she emphasized.
MD MONWAR HOSSAIN (Bangladesh), emphasizing his country’s vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change as well as the remarkable progress it has made in disaster preparedness, said that a convention must be in sync with existing legal frameworks. Given that disasters can be both natural and man‑made, and thus subject to different legal regimes, the convention should feature a clear definition of “disaster”. It must address the long‑term effects of disasters, with particular attention given to the most vulnerable sectors of society. The protection of women and girls, and their participation in disaster management efforts, must also be reflected. He went on to say that the draft articles provide a good basis for intergovernmental negotiations.
MR. POURIMANI (Iran) stated that while the draft articles identify a duty to cooperate, they fail to identify unilateral coercive measures as human‑made disasters. Such actions prevent targeted States from meeting their obligations under the current legal frameworks to address disasters adequately. Unilateral coercive measures also undermine the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 13, which calls for the strengthening of resilience and adaptive capacity to climate‑related hazards and natural disasters. To address these inhumane measures and without prejudice to their illegal nature, an article must be added to the draft articles wherein humanitarian aid in kind or in cash is not subjected to any direct or indirect restrictions. Moreover, the future convention must emphasize that, under no circumstances, trade in humanitarian goods, such as foodstuff, medicine, agricultural and animal products, be subjected to any form of direct or indirect coercive economic measure or sanction, he stated.
INDIRA GUARDIA GONZÁLEZ (Cuba) said there are several matters that need to be taken into account when establishing any future convention based on the draft articles. These articles need to be debated by Governments so that ultimately, the adopted text will enjoy broad consensus. Reiterating that the primary responsibility for guaranteeing the protection of persons and the provision of aid falls on the shoulders of the State concerned, she added that, should the disaster be beyond the State’s capacity to help its citizens, then that State is allowed to ask for and accept bilateral or international aid. The provision of international aid or the offering of it cannot be done under pressure or by interfering with the sovereignty of the State, she stressed, adding that the draft articles are not an exercise in the codification of international customary law; they represent the progressive development of law.
AZELA GUERRERO ARUMPAC-MARTE (Philippines) pointed out that her country is regularly impacted by floods, typhoons, landslides, earthquakes, volcanoes and droughts; climate change and sea‑level rise will only exacerbate these challenges. Noting that the draft articles are premised on the principle of State sovereignty, she spotlighted the primary role of the State affected by the disaster in providing relief assistance. The Philippines has commented on specific draft articles in the General Assembly, she noted, welcoming further discussion relating to the general duty to cooperate and the duty of the affected State to seek external assistance. She also highlighted the draft articles’ emphasis on human dignity, human rights and humanitarian principles ‑ which is consistent with her country’s national law in this area ‑ and added her support for the elaboration of a convention on the basis of the draft articles.
LUCIA TERESA SOLANO RAMIREZ (Colombia) said that a season of fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and cyclones around the world, along with the COVID‑19 pandemic - which caused great suffering and significant damage ‑ are natural disasters that studies indicate will continue to occur with increasing frequency. Bilateral and regional mechanisms in this sphere have created a body of disordered, fragmented legal instruments contemplating obligations of various scopes and possessing a confusing array of terms and definitions. She stressed the need to create a common legal framework that facilitates the provision of humanitarian assistance in the event of disaster. To that end, she added her support for a convention based on the draft articles. The draft articles strike a balance between State sovereignty and the principles, rights and duties of humanitarian action. A convention would fill legal vacuums where existing legal frameworks do not provide sufficient protection for those affected by disaster.
ELIE ALTARSHA (Syria) noted that the draft articles mention the duty to cooperate, but there is no mention of unilateral coercive measures imposed by some Governments on some peoples in an unfair manner. Such measures are man‑made disasters that threaten international cooperation in disaster situations, he said, adding that they also run counter to Government efforts to limit the impact of disasters. He also emphasized that the provision of humanitarian assistance must not undermine State sovereignty or territorial integrity, nor must it come with conditions attached.
SERGIO AMARAL ALVES DE CARVALHO (Portugal) said the draft articles achieve a balance between the imperatives of protecting human rights, on one hand, and upholding the principle of State sovereignty and the primary role of the affected State in providing disaster relief assistance, on the other. As such, these efforts should be translated into an internationally legally binding instrument, he said, expressing support for a structured, inclusive and comprehensive discussion in an ad hoc committee, with a view to possibly negotiating an international convention on the basis of the draft articles. Against that backdrop, the COVID‑19 pandemic could fit the broad definition of “disaster” outlined in draft article 3 as a “calamitous event resulting in widespread loss of life, great human suffering and distress,” and “causing serious disruption of the functioning of society”. He also emphasized the importance of cooperation among States and of State cooperation with relevant actors, such as the United Nations and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, as referenced in draft article 7.
ZHAO YANRUI (China), recalling the heavy rainfall that caused devastation in her country in July, said her Government made it a top priority to rescue those marooned by the floods and provide them with financial support. Highlighting draft articles 7 and 8, which emphasize the duty of States to cooperate internationally when responding to disasters, she noted that the COVID‑19 pandemic has once again highlighted the interdependence of humanity. China will support and participate in the scientific origin studies concerning the pandemic. However, she added: “We resolutely oppose the politically motivated machinations of a scant few countries that explore the origin studies in contravention of the basic principles of international law.” Pointing to divergent views on whether an international convention should be elaborated on the basis of the drafts, she said some of the provisions fall short of a proper balance between the rights and obligations of the affected States versus the relief providers.
MARK A. SIMONOFF (United States) said that this issue would be best approached through the provision of practical guidance and cooperation, rather than through the elaboration of an international agreement. In that regard, the United States works with Member States and stakeholders in a variety of fora to enhance collaboration in this area, including with the Organization of American States in this year to enhance disaster preparedness by facilitating community‑emergency-response-team basic training for emergency management agencies in nine Caribbean States. The Government also supports a variety of germane programmes and activities, including working with several partners to implement aspects of the Global Protection Cluster’s strategic frameworks and work plans.
SARAH WEISS MA’UDI (Israel) stated that Israeli teams have been at the forefront of countless relief missions around the world. International cooperation in times of disaster builds and deepens ties between nations and peoples, she stressed. In that regard, her Government is grateful for the assistance Israel received from the Palestinian Authority in battling the massive wildfires in the Judean hills in the western outskirts of Jerusalem this past August. Engaging in disaster relief missions should not be considered in terms of legal rights and duties. The draft articles must remain as guidelines or guiding principles for international cooperation efforts undertaken on a voluntary - rather than a binding - basis. This approach allows for the necessary flexibility required in the framework of effective disaster relief that considers the circumstances and local needs, she said.
ENRICO MILANO (Italy), citing the latest report of the World Meteorological Organization on weather‑related disasters, highlighted the growing vulnerability of populations and economies to climate change‑related increasingly disastrous events, including floods related to the phenomenon of sea‑level rise. Pointing out that Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma of 2017 represent three of the costliest weather‑related disasters that occurred that year, he stressed that elaborating a convention on the international cooperation on the protection of persons in the event of disasters would fill an important gap in international law. Contemporary international law sees an impressive number of bilateral and regional legal instruments, but what is missing is a universal legal framework, which can lead to a convergence of legal solutions and arrangements, he noted.
VINÍCIUS FOX DRUMMOND CANÇADO TRINDADE (Brazil) stated that the fact the topic could be addressed through guidelines and practical cooperation does not exclude the need to strengthen its normative framework. The articles are generally well balanced, he noted, highlighting that the principle of State sovereignty was reaffirmed in the preamble; article 13 codifies the norm requiring the consent of affected States for the provision of external assistance; and the Commission reserved a self‑standing draft article on the inherent dignity of the human person, followed by a provision on the need to protect the rights of persons affected by disasters. It is also important to preserve a clear distinction between natural and human‑made disasters, as they relate to different law systems. As current guidance is found mostly in “soft law” - occasionally complemented by bilateral and regional instruments ‑ there is value in discussing the possibility of negotiating a convention based on the Commission’s articles, to provide more legal certainty and predictability.
LIGIA LORENA FLORES SOTO (El Salvador) said that the COVID‑19 pandemic demonstrated how disasters can be the result of unimaginable factors. Any instrument must adopt an inclusive, holistic and resilience‑based approach. It must also be future‑oriented and make a significant contribution to sustainable development while also guaranteeing respect for human dignity, she added.
NATALIA JIMÉNEZ ALEGRÍA (Mexico) said that debate on this agenda item must focus on the negotiation process with clear timeframes and mandates which allow due consideration of the of the International Law Commission’s recommendations. She expressed regret that the zero draft of the resolution circulated a week ago was only a technical rollover. She welcomed the focus on respect for the sovereignty of disaster‑affected States, adding that a convention must take the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction into account to ensure continuity. She went on to say that the pandemic and the unequal distribution of vaccines can be described as a disaster that demonstrates the need to avoid sterile cycles of inaction on this matter.
ANH TU NGUYEN (Viet Nam) stated that the draft articles constitute an important contribution in the field of international law governing disaster relief. They should serve as a guide for States and other actors engaged in disaster relief in promptly responding to the fast‑evolving circumstances of emergencies, he said. However, they should not create more procedures that might complicate the process, nor should they be abused or politicized and thus delay much needed relief efforts. The primary responsibility of States to provide disaster relief and protect their people should be fully upheld. He welcomed deeper assessment of the compatibility of the draft articles with domestic laws.
MR. COORE (Jamaica), noting the increasing frequency and intensity of disasters and their impact on small island developing States, voiced support for the elaboration of a balanced, well‑articulated universal convention in the area of disaster law. Such an instrument would facilitate adequate, effective responses to disaster and should complement current instruments and arrangements in this area. Noting that the draft articles attempt to strike a balance between the roles and responsibilities of affected and assisting States, he welcomed the draft articles’ emphasis on the primary responsibility of affected States in ensuring the provision of disaster relief assistance, in line with the principle of State sovereignty. However, there are several elements of the articles that require refinement. To that end, he welcomed continued discussions thereon with the hope of elaborating a convention based on the draft articles.
EDGAR DANIEL LEAL MATTA (Guatemala), noting that natural disasters know no borders, said that affected people are often obliged to leave their homes and become internally displaced. Such disasters are primarily due to the adverse effects of climate change, he said, drawing attention to the fact that his country is highly vulnerable to the increasing and recurrent impacts of such phenomena which overwhelm its response capacity. As a result, the Government has found itself obliged to declare states of emergency in order to meet the needs of those affected by natural disasters, he said, also pointing to the need for effective risk management and the use of early warning systems. He urged officials to take decisive actions to tackle the causes and consequences of climate change, adding that any offer of assistance must be based on solidarity and humanity.
KAJAL BHAT (India) said that draft article 11 impinges on the sovereignty of Member States by imposing obligations to seek external assistance irrespective of the need. External actors cannot compel a State to seek assistance even if the disaster manifestly exceeds the response capacity of the affected country, she said. Therefore, such provisions must always be guided by the United Nations Guiding Principles of Humanitarian Assistance as enshrined in General Assembly resolution 46/182. As well, there are other draft articles over which Member States have differing views. Further in-depth discussions and clarifications are necessary to understand how provisions in the draft articles would interact with other existing legal frameworks. To protect the persons affected in the event of disasters, it is necessary to further refine the text of the draft articles, taking into consideration the interests of concerned countries, before contemplating concluding a treaty based on the draft articles.
HANNA BETACHEW BIRHANU (Ethiopia), noting that her country has yet to make a determination on subsequent steps concerning the draft articles, said that the definition of disaster should be precise and leave no room for expansive definitions. Calling for effective and coordinated governance by the country concerned, as well as adherence to the rules on the grounds by humanitarian actors, she said that in order to serve as a workable ground for future engagement, the draft articles must strictly adhere to the humanitarian principles already in place. Stressing that States have the primary responsibility to cater to the needs of their people, she added that legal instruments that are already in place may provide inspiration as well as lessons for international rule and highlighted the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, also known as the Kampala Convention.
MR. MULALAP (Federated States of Micronesia), aligning himself with the Alliance of Small Island States, said that the International Law Commission’s 2016 draft articles are a significant contribution to the protection of persons in the event of disasters. He said he supported the commencement of negotiations to elaborate a convention based on those draft texts. Such a convention must recognize that disasters include adverse impacts of climate change and other related phenomena, such as sea‑level rise and ocean acidification, which threaten the livelihoods of people and could force their displacement. Lethal impacts of climate change can be mitigated by a legal regime that, among other things, thoroughly outlines State obligations. Any elaboration of a convention must also consider the study group’s related work, he said, adding that a new convention would foster legal stability, security, certainty, and predictability.
AHMED ABDELAZIZ AHMED ELGHARIB (Egypt), noting that disasters can result from natural occurrences or man‑made/human-made actions, pointed to the International Law Commission’s definition in draft article 1(a) of the draft articles as “a calamitous event or series of events resulting in widespread loss of life, great human suffering and distress, mass displacement, or large‑scale material or environmental damage, thereby seriously disrupting the functioning of society”. The definition clearly encompasses both natural and man‑made/human‑made disasters, he stressed, also drawing attention to article 9. The failure by States to carry out their obligation to take the necessary risk reduction measures threatens to have dire and large-scale humanitarian consequences, particularly in the context of transboundary megaprojects such as dams, he said, voicing concern about the adverse impacts of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the two downstream countries.
ZAINAB TANI ZAKARI-AWAMI (Nigeria), noting the timeliness of the recommendation to elaborate a convention based on the draft articles, called on Member States to consider establishing an ad hoc committee to consider this recommendation further. Detailing her country’s efforts to address natural disasters — the most recurring of which are floods, which have affected over 2.3 million people this year — she also spotlighted many African countries’ current experience with hurricanes and locust invasions. Several parts of Africa are currently facing food crises driven, in part, by surging locust swarms, which possess the capacities to reproduce rapidly and migrate across regions. She stressed that many countries find it difficult to focus on risks beyond that of COVID-19; as such, there is an urgent need to establish a common set of criteria for disaster management, comprising different entities with focused responsibilities, resources and capabilities.
HANIZAH BINTI MOHD IZZUDDIN (Malaysia) stated that there is already an existing body of international law or treaties, including, among others, the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response, that is sufficient to provide the legal underpinnings of disaster risk reduction and response efforts. This in turn is complemented by a broad range of domestic legislation, and policy decisions and directives that more properly fall within the sovereign competence of States, she said. The draft articles should not take the form of a legally binding framework such as an international convention. They could be seen as the focal reference point internationally regarding disaster relief and management, she said.
JAMES WARUI KIHWAGA (Kenya), aligning himself with the statement to be made by the African Group, said that the present draft articles and their evolution constitute a good attempt in guiding international responses to disasters. The anticipated contribution of the project will help, not only to lay a practical framework of guidelines governing the protection of persons in the event of disasters, but also to clarify the scope of responsibility for the various actors. The outcome of the Commission’s work must serve to strengthen rather than to weaken these already existing normative frameworks, he said. An important aspect of this work will also serve to establish the delicate balance between the rights and obligations of the competing stakeholders, such as those of the affected State, as well as the roles of the States and international organizations providing humanitarian assistance.
NIDAA HUSSAIN ABU-ALI (Saudi Arabia) said that the pandemic proved the need for a global framework for response and cooperation in disasters. It also showed it was necessary to take measures to prevent disasters, she said, reaffirming support for the efforts of the International Law Commission in aiming to promote a framework for the protection of persons in the event of disasters. Commending the draft articles, she said her country is one of the frontrunners in implementing robust and immediate measures to respond to disasters by providing humanitarian and economic assistance. Saudi Arabia is coming to the aid of developing countries, especially least developed countries, on the basis of its responsibility to the international community and is working in close cooperation with international organizations to guarantee food safety.
MARIAM SAO (Mauritania) said it is imperative to have a regulatory framework for international cooperation to be able to respond quickly to disasters, while paying special attention to preserving the rights and dignity of those affected countries. Mauritania is a Sahelian country that is particularly vulnerable to climate threats. Highlighting the threats related to the rise in sea level, she also noted that Mauritania relies on regional initiatives such as the Pan-African Agency of the Great Green Wall. Her country is strengthening its efforts in risk management and food security consolidation through the African Disaster Management Financing Program. Nearly 200,000 people are at risk of a severe food crisis according to World Food Programme (WFP) estimates, posing a constant challenge to the Mauritanian Government. Therefore, it is important that the international community and United Nations agencies take seriously their responsibilities.
JITTICHAI PATCHARADECHATHORN (Thailand), commenting on the definition of “disaster”, said that he could go along with the current formulation in draft article 3(a). He also welcomed continued discussion on linkages of disasters to the issue of pandemics. Regarding draft article 18, he echoed its essence and added his support for the complementary nature of the draft articles to avoid an overlap with existing or future international norms and standards. A duty to notify other States in the event of disasters should be incorporated in draft article 9(2). In terms of seeking external assistance from an array of potential assisting actors as mentioned in draft articles 11 to 15, he recommended further discussions on possible mechanisms to help facilitate cooperation and coordination among these various entities.
EVGENY A. SKACHKOV (Russian Federation) said the protection of persons in the event of disasters has become particularly relevant against the background of numerous natural disasters. The absence of a universal instrument should not be an obstacle to extending assistance in emergency situations on a bilateral basis when there is a request for this from the affected State, he said. His country has extended this kind of assistance many times, he pointed out, noting that recently it helped a number of countries put out forest fires and provided medications and basic necessities. Russian doctors have selflessly helped victims, he said, including during the COVID-19 pandemic.
YOLANNIE CERRATO (Honduras) said that the International Law Commission’s draft articles fill a gap in international law. Drawing attention to the two recent hurricanes that hit Honduras in quick succession, she pointed out that global warming is an existential threat to her country. She voiced her support for the recommendation of the International Law Commission to develop a convention based on the draft articles adopted in 2016. She also proposed to leave behind the status quo and move forward with the convention.
Right of Reply
The representative of Ethiopia, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that the statement made by Egypt’s delegate is unbecoming. Stressing that it is crucial to not abuse the Sixth Committee’s time to advance a bilateral interest or unfettered national position, she said that the allegation concerning the hydroelectric dam project under construction by her country is baseless. The dam is a people’s project that expands renewable energy for Ethiopia and its neighbouring countries.
The representative of Egypt said that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is a colossal megaproject with great potential to have adverse impacts on downstream countries. His country’s correspondence with the Security Council regarding this has been published as official documents and contains all the relevant data, he said, adding that it is important to continue negotiations to reach a legally binding agreement on the operation of the dam.
The representative of Ethiopia thanked her brother from Egypt, adding that the current agenda item under discussion is not the right place or the right platform to discuss a hydroelectric dam project which is being built within the sovereign territory of a single Member State.
The representative of Egypt thanked his sister from Ethiopia, noting that he only wished to point out the potential repercussions of the dam project from an aspect which was tackled by the draft articles of the International Law Commission.