Following Debate on Revitalization of General Assembly, Sixth Committee Approves Six Draft Resolutions Tackling Diverse International Legal Matters
Observer Status Also Approved for Central American Bank
Following its debate on the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly, the Sixth Committee (Legal) today approved without a vote a request for Observer status and six draft resolutions related to its work during the seventy-first session.
First approved without a vote was the draft resolution on the United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law. Recognizing the Programme’s major contribution to legal systems and regions worldwide for more than half a century, that resolution would have the General Assembly authorize the Secretary-General to carry out various activities, including the United Nations Regional Courses in International Law for Africa, for Asia-Pacific and for Latin America and the Caribbean in 2017, to be financed from provisions in the regular budget.
The Committee then approved without a vote a draft resolution titled Diplomatic protection, by the terms of which the General Assembly would commend once again the articles on diplomatic protection to the attention of Governments.
Approved without a vote was the draft text, Consideration of effective measures to enhance the protection, security and safety of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives, which would have the Assembly, among other things, urge States to strictly observe, implement and enforce, including during a period of armed conflict, all the applicable principles and rules of international law governing diplomatic and consular relations.
The Committee also approved without a vote the draft resolution, Consideration of prevention of transboundary harm from hazardous activities and allocation of loss in the case of such harm. By the terms of that text the Assembly would commend 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.
The draft resolution, Commemoration of the seventieth anniversary of the International Court of Justice was also approved without a vote. That resolution would have the Assembly encourage States to continue considering recourse to the Court by means available under its Statute, and would call upon States that have not yet done so to consider accepting the jurisdiction of the Court in accordance with its Statute.
Turning to the draft resolution, the scope and application of the principle of universal jurisdiction, the Committee approved it without a vote. That text would have the General Assembly decide that the Sixth Committee continue its consideration on the matter, without prejudice to the consideration of the topic and related issues in other forums of the United Nations.
In addition, the Committee approved without a vote the draft text requesting Observer status for the Central American Bank for Economic Integration in the General Assembly. The Bank promoted economic integration and the balanced socio-economic development of the Central American region.
The Committee also considered the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly, with the representative of the Dominican Republic, speaking for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), insisting on the full and effective implementation of all the relevant resolutions on multilingualism. He also stressed the need to avoid the overlapping of topics.
Brazil’s representative echoed that stance, noting that such overlaps had a negative impact, preventing delegations from attending meetings and contributing substantively to discussions.
While addressing matters concerning programming of the seventy-second session, the Sixth Committee Vice-Chair also responded to the matter of overlapping topics. He noted that the Bureau of the seventieth session had undertaken an initiative to better coordinate the meetings with those of other bodies of interest to the Committee’s delegates.
Turning to the Sixth Committee draft work programme for 2017, he pointed out that more time had been added for the debate on international terrorism, which had gone longer than planned during the last several sessions.
Also speaking today were representatives of Cuba and Kenya.
The Sixth Committee will next meet at 10 a.m. on Friday, 11 November to take action on the remaining draft resolutions.
Revitalization of General Assembly
JUAN ÁVILA (Dominican Republic), speaking for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), underscored the need to fully respect the competence and authority of the General Assembly and its role in norm-setting, legislative, administrative and budgetary matters. Thanking the Chair as well as the Bureau of the Sixth Committee for their hard work, he added that it was especially important to avoid the overlapping of topics. While recognizing the improvements made in the scheduling of meetings, he called upon the General Assembly as well as the Secretariat to further coordinate in order to avoid scheduling conflicts between the plenary meetings of the Assembly and the meetings of a subsidiary body to deal with issues followed by the experts that deal with the corresponding Committee.
Insisting on the full and effective implementation of all the relevant resolutions on multilingualism, he added that budget-related excuses should not hinder that goal. He also stressed the usefulness of introducing the system of electronic co-sponsorship as well as the electronic speakers’ list. Encouraging the new Secretary-General to take all effective measures towards achieving the long-awaited goal regarding equal and fair distribution of posts throughout the Organization, he welcomed the commitment expressed by the current President of the Assembly to base his conduct on integrity, impartiality, accountability and professionalism.
TANIERIS DIÉGUEZ LA O (Cuba), associating herself with CELAC, thanked the Secretariat and its work in response to avoiding the overlapping of themes which she had tried to address for a long time. She also underscored that it was important to diversify and have regional representation when it came to resolutions, and that all resolutions should be in the Sixth Committee agenda. Often contentious themes ended up being addressed in informal small groups and, while not against that, it should then lead to a formal discussion for all delegations.
PATRICK LUNA (Brazil), aligning himself with CELAC, stressed the importance of avoiding overlaps in meetings. That was especially true of meetings in which the General Assembly was discussing the annual reports of the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. Such overlaps had a negative impact, preventing delegations from attending meetings and contributing substantively to discussions.
Also highlighting the need for a “new format of debate” to increase the degree of interactions between the International Law Commission and Member States, he commended the use of electronic systems for co-sponsorships and speakers’ lists. Such tools had proven to be effective in enhancing the efficiency of working methods. Finally, while he was fully cognizant of safety regulations, he also encouraged the Committee to consider raising the curtains in the conference room to allow in daylight and enable a more pleasant working space.
The Committee Vice-Chair drew delegates’ attention to the draft work programme of the Sixth Committee for 2017. He noted that the goal was to adopt a decision on Friday on that programme, on the assumption that the agenda items in question would be allocated to the Committee. The proposed programme would be provisional in nature to help planning and preparation.
Noting the tabular version of the programme in which delegates could see the proposals of the Bureau on the organization of work, he said that information was also being provided regarding the possible meetings dates of the Working Groups. As well, more time had been added for the debate on international terrorism, which had gone longer than planned during the last few sessions.
He also recalled some of the concerns expressed in the past regarding overlap in meetings and the difficulties faced by delegations, especially those from small missions, in attending multiple meetings occurring at the same time. The Bureau of the seventieth session undertook an initiative to better coordinate the meetings with those of other bodies of interest to the Committee’s delegates, and had sought the views of the Presidencies of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals and the International Criminal Court.In the ensuing discussion, delegates brought to the fore various procedural matters, with the representative of Kenya raising the issue of the timing of debates. The report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country had been prepared very late and, as a result, there was not enough time to consider all the issues.
The representative of Brazil called for more time for the debate on international terrorism, a stance echoed by the representative of Cuba who also called for more time to be given to each thematic cluster. Furthermore, the Committee could try to schedule the Host Country report in such a way that draft resolutions could be seen ahead of time; that would allow for less pressure on the facilitators.
Action on Draft Resolutions and Observer Status Requests
The Sixth Committee approved without a vote the resolution on the United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law (A/C.6/71/L.17).
Also approved without a vote was the resolution on Diplomatic protection (A/C.6/71/L.14).
The Sixth Committee then approved without a vote the resolution on Consideration of prevention of transboundary harm from hazardous activities and allocation of loss in the case of such harm (A/C.6/71/L.20).
The resolution on Consideration of effective measures to enhance the protection, security and safety of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives (A/C.6/71/L.18) was approved with a vote.
Also approved without a vote was the resolution titled Commemoration of the seventieth anniversary of the International Court of Justice (A/C.6/71/L.16).
The Committee then approved the resolution on the scope and application of the principle of universal jurisdiction (A/C.6/71/L.23).
Also approved without a vote was the resolution requesting Observer status for the Central American Bank for Economic Integration in the General Assembly (A/C.6/71/L.19).