Print
GA/L/3653
10 November 2021
Seventy-sixth Session, 28th Meeting (PM)

Speakers Stress Substantive Discussions Needed Now More than Ever to Revitalize General Assembly Work, Strengthen Sixth Committee Tradition of Consensus

Delegates Defer Eight Requests for Observer Status to Seventy-Seventh Session

After deferring observer status requests to the seventy‑seventh session, delegates in the Sixth Committee (Legal) today, in the debate on revitalizing the work of the General Assembly, stressed the need to strengthen the Committee’s prized tradition of consensus by including substantive discussions and constructive dialogue.

Eight requests for observer status in the General Assembly were deferred to the seventy-seventh session for the Cooperation Council of Turkic‑speaking States, Eurasian Economic Union, Community of Democracies, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands Secretariat, Global Environment Facility, Boao Forum for Asia, International Organization of Employers and the International Trade Union Confederation.

The representative of Germany, speaking also for France and Turkey, stressed that the latter two organizations would bring significant added value to the Organization by ensuring that the views of both employers and workers are considered in the work of the General Assembly.  Noting that both groups are strongly engaged in the work of the International Labour Organization, he added that his country, France and Turkey will pursue negotiations towards observer status for both bodies.

The representative of El Salvador, in the debate on the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly, highlighted the role of consensus in the work of the Sixth Committee, underscoring that, now more than ever, it was necessary to work towards constructive dialogue.  The concept should be respected not simply in terms of unanimous positions but rather in terms of aligning interests in order to build a common position aimed at clear‑cut results, which go beyond mere technical updates, she said.

Mexico’s representative, also highlighting the importance of consensus, said that unfortunately, minimum common denominators like technical updates or agreed language have prevailed over readiness to make substantive progress.  Calling on delegates to consider the cost of prioritizing that methodology of work, he pointed out that for several years, the Committee has not been able to discuss substantive issues concerning a draft resolution on the rule of law, which is co‑sponsored by his country and Liechtenstein.

The Committee also heard the introduction of four draft resolutions concerning the report of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization; fortieth anniversary of the Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes; rule of law at the national and international levels; and the report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Egypt, Philippines and Cyprus.

The Sixth Committee will next meet at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 18 November, to take action on draft resolutions.

Introduction of Draft Resolutions

The representative of Egypt, introducing the draft 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/C.6/76/L.7), said that the text is based on the previous year’s resolution with necessary technical updates.  The draft incorporates the recommendations of the Special Charter Committee’s report, including operative paragraph 2, which sets out dates for its next session.  Operative paragraph 3 mandates that the next session will include a consideration of the question of the implementation of the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations relating to assistance to third States affected by the application of sanctions.  The text also reflects consensus among delegations, he said, calling on the Committee to approve the resolution without a vote.

The representative of the Philippines, introducing the draft resolution “Fortieth anniversary of the Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes” (document A/C.6/76/L.8), said that the text would have the General Assembly welcome that anniversary, encourage the United Nations and Member States to commemorate the same through appropriate activities and call on all States to observe the Manila Declaration in good faith in the peaceful settlement of international disputes.  She added that the text reflects consensus among delegations, recommending that the Sixth Committee approve it without a vote.

The representative of Mexico, introducing the draft resolution “The rule of law at the national and international levels” (document A/C.6/76/L.9), said that due to the flexibility of delegations it was possible to include a sub‑item to be addressed by the Sixth Committee at the next session.  He recommended that the Committee approve the draft resolution without a vote.

The representative of Cyprus, introducing the draft resolution “Report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country” (document A/C.6/76/L.6), highlighted the delicate balance the Committee was able to reach in the recommendations and conclusions of this year’s report.  Focusing on new amended parts of the text, he said that operative paragraph 2 notes that numerous issues raised before the Committee on Relations with the Host Country remain unresolved, and that the Committee expects all such issues will be duly settled expeditiously.  Operative paragraphs 9 and 10 anticipate that the host country will ensure the issuance of entry visas to all representatives of Member States and members of the Secretariat in a timely manner.  In addition, operative paragraph 15 contains new text recalling the position of the Committee and noting the ongoing discussions between the Legal Counsel and the competent authorities of the host country regarding unresolved issues.  Further, it would have the General Assembly finally reiterate its recommendation to the Secretary‑General to give serious consideration and take appropriate steps under section 21 of the Headquarters Agreement if certain issues remain unresolved following a reasonable and finite period of time.

Requests for Observer Status

The Sixth Committee next considered draft resolutions concerning requests for observer status in the General Assembly, deferring to the seventy‑seventh session of the General Assembly requests for observer status for the Cooperation Council of Turkic‑speaking States (document A/66/141); the Eurasian Economic Union (document A/70/141); the Community of Democracies (document A/70/142); the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands Secretariat (document A/72/194); and the Global Environment Facility (document A/72/195).

The Committee then turned to the observer requests for the International Organization of Employers (document A/74/291) and the International Trade Union Confederation (document A/74/292).

The representative of Germany, speaking in explanation of position before action and also for France and Turkey, emphasized that the expertise of these two organizations would bring significant added value to the General Assembly’s work.  Further, granting observer status could ensure that the views of both employers and workers are considered — especially important in the context of the COVID‑19 pandemic — on a variety of issues, including sustainable and inclusive economic growth, general work conditions, migration and the role of youth.  Both organizations are already strongly engaged in supporting United Nations aims in a mutually reinforcing manner in the International Labour Organization and granting them observer status would be beneficial to both them and the United Nations.  Noting that Germany, France and Turkey will pursue negotiations with those expressing concerns to find a mutually agreeable solution, he asked that both requests be deferred.

The Committee then deferred these two requests to the seventy‑seventh session.

The Committee then took up the observer status request for the Boao Forum for Asia (document A/74/293), deferring that item to the seventy‑seventh session.

Revitalization of Work of General Assembly

ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar), Chair of the Sixth Committee, drew delegates’ attention to the draft provisional programme of work for the seventy‑seventh session, underscoring that next year’s programme of work is unusually full, with very little room for modification.

The representative of (El Salvador) expressed her gratitude for the Sixth Committee Bureau and the Codification Division, Office of Legal Affairs.  Consensus is and will continue to play an important role in the work of the Sixth Committee, she said, adding that it is necessary now more than ever to work towards constructive dialogue.  This will help the Committee respect the concept of consensus not simply in terms of unanimous positions but rather in terms of aligning interests in order to build a common position aimed at clear‑cut results, which go beyond mere technical updates.

Turning to the relationship between the Sixth Committee and the International Law Commission, she said it is vital to improve dialogue between these two bodies, especially in view of the use of digital technologies.  Calling for a space in which delegates can make preliminary clarifications on the work of the Commission, she said this is particularly important during the phase in which Member States are drafting their input.  She also highlighted the importance of preserving a transparent and inclusive institutional memory, including by compiling all proposals put forward by delegates regarding the Commission’s recommendations.

The representative of Mexico, echoing the delegate of El Salvador, spotlighted the importance of working constructively and achieving consensus as a method for work in the Sixth Committee.  It is worthwhile to consider the cost of prioritizing one methodology of work over another, namely the substance of issues which are being discussed, he stressed.  Unfortunately, minimum common denominators like technical updates or agreed language have prevailed over readiness to make substantive progress.  An example of that is the draft resolution of Mexico and Liechtenstein on the rule of law, he said, noting that for many years the Committee has not been able to discuss substantive issues in order not to impact the method of work used.

On drafts that are products of the International Law Commission, he suggested that when the informative meeting takes place prior to the start of the Sixth Committee’s session, a briefing should be added so that all delegations have the chance to explain themselves regarding all International Law Commission items under review and consideration, independently from whether or not they will be considered at the session.  Understanding the status of the Commission’s topics would be helpful for the Committee and would enable a better approach to the work before them.

For information media. Not an official record.