Through regional courses, online resources and legal publications, as well as a new project producing accessible digital files, the Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law was stepping up to the demanding task of meeting the increased need for international law training and research materials, the Sixth Committee (Legal) heard today as it began its consideration of the Secretary-General’s report on the matter.
As delegates took up the relevant report of the Secretary-General (document A/72/517), Huw Llewellyn, Acting Secretary for the Advisory Committee of the Programme, underscored that the Programme’s Audiovisual Library of International Law was “a practical and living tool,” reaching 1.5 million users from all 193 Member States. Leading practitioners and scholars of international law, giving freely of their time, had recorded 56 new lectures in Chinese, English, French, Spanish and Russian.
That they had so, he emphasized, was a testament to the importance they attributed to the Audiovisual Library. At the same time, he also acknowledged the difficulties that users of the Library faced in countries with limited access to reliable high-speed Internet. To support them, the Codification Division had begun to make audio files of the lectures available on the Library web platform regardless of access to a high-speed Internet connection.
Also noteworthy, he pointed out, was the publication of the International Law Handbook, made possible through voluntary contributions by Member States. The Regional Courses in International Law, however, had been funded through the Organization’s regular budget and had been held in Africa, Latin-America and the Caribbean and the Asia-Pacific in 2016 and 2017.
Valentina Germani, Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, also briefed the Committee today on the implementation of the Hamilton Shirley Amerasinghe Memorial Fellowship on the Law of the Sea, which had been established in 1981 to assist Government officials and other professionals of developing States to acquire additional knowledge the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
However, she pointed out that due to insufficient funds, no awards under that Fellowship had been made from 2007 to 2009, and in 2014 and 2016. It was critical that those awards be implemented consistently in order to ensure full realization of UNCLOS, an instrument that was essential for the sustainable use of oceans. In that regard, she called for voluntary contributions.
Daniel Okaiteye (Ghana), speaking for the Advisory Committee of the Programme, thanked Ethiopia, Thailand, and Chile, for hosting regional courses. Those countries and others had enabled the Advisory Committee to make to make great progress in 2017. He also thanked the recently-retired Secretary of the Advisory Committee, Virginia Morris for her past work with the Programme of Assistance.
Chile’s delegate reported that more than 20 young lawyers from various countries as well as many top-rate academics had participated in the Programme’s Regional Course in International Law for Latin America and the Caribbean, recently held in his country. Training young lawyers and creating professional networks among specialists had had a positive impact on relations between States, he said, lauding the Programme for achieving much with limited resources.
Brazil’s representative reminded the Committee that the inclusion of funding for all three regional courses in the regular budget for the current biennium was no minor achievement. In addition, the high number of applications submitted in 2016 and 2017 for those courses demonstrated that there was a significant demand for them.
Joining the many delegates in praise of the Audiovisual Library, Peru’s representative also called for new ways to enable more developing countries to use the Library’s online lectures. Those efforts could include social networks and working with academic societies that dealt with the dissemination of international law. The rule of law and development were closely related and mutually reinforcing, he said.
Many lawyers from Singapore, that country’s representative said, had contributed to the Audiovisual Library. He noted that offsite recordings would enable broader participation by lecturers who were unable to travel to New York. International law was critical to international order, and as a small State, Singapore depended on the multilateral system for its existence and success.
“Limited human capacity is a reality for my country,” stressed Tonga’s delegate, highlighting the importance of the Programme of Assistance in his country. Legal counsels were often inundated with domestic legal affairs, and lack of funding was an additional problem. Expressing appreciation for the foundational knowledge in international law provided by regional courses, he added that, as a small island developing State, the topic of international law and sustainable development was especially crucial for Tonga.
Myanmar’s representative cited the Secretary-General who had told the Security Council that the international community spent far more time and resources responding to crises rather than preventing them. Promoting a wider awareness of international law among youth was crucial for strengthening rule of law and preventing conflict, she stressed.
Also speaking today were representatives of Ecuador (for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Algeria (for the African Group), El Salvador (for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Cambodia (for the Association of South-East Asian Nations), Australia, Sudan, Paraguay, Russian Federation, Thailand, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Trinidad and Tobago, Bangladesh, Portugal, Cyprus, United States, Morocco, Mexico, Lebanon, and Iraq, as well as the European Union delegation.
The Sixth Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 20 October to begin its consideration of the effects of armed conflicts on treaties.
Opening Remarks on Programme of Assistance
DANIEL OKAITEYE (Ghana), Advisory Committee on the Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law, acknowledged the Secretary-General’s report, which had provided a review of both past and upcoming activities. A summary of the Advisory Committee meeting was also captured in that report.
Thanking Virginia Morris for her past work with the Programme of Assistance, he also reiterated his gratitude to those who made it possible for the Advisory Committee to make great progress in 2017, including Ethiopia, Thailand, and Chile. In addition, those countries had hosted Regional Courses in International Law.
VALENTINA GERMANI, Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, gave an update on the implementation of the Hamilton Shirley Amerasinghe Memorial Fellowship on the Law of the Sea. The Fellowship had been established in 1981 to assist Government officials and other professionals of developing States to acquire additional knowledge the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
That objective was still important today, she emphasized, noting that it had been highlighted in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, as well as the “Our ocean, our future: call for action” adopted by the Ocean Conference in June 2017 and adopted by the General Assembly. The implementation of international law in that area was essential in order to enhance the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources. Thus, it was critical that awards under that Fellowship were implemented consistently. Due to insufficient funds, no awards had been made from 2007 to 2009, and in 2014 and 2016. She strongly encouraged voluntary contributions in support of that Fellowship.
HUW LLEWELLYN, Acting Secretary, the Advisory Committee, Programme of Assistance, said that the extraordinary support of the Sixth Committee had enabled the Codification Division to respond to the increased need for international law training and research materials. Recalling that funding through the regular budget had an enormous impact on the Programme, he noted that the Regional Courses in International Law had been held in Africa, Latin-America and the Caribbean and the Asia-Pacific regions, in 2016 and 2017.
The Audiovisual Library, he added, was reaching 1.5 million individual users in all 193 Member States. As well, 56 new lectures had been recorded in Chinese, English, French, Spanish and Russian, by leading practitioners and scholars of international law, who had given freely of their time and efforts — a testament to the importance they attributed to the dissemination of such informational under the auspices of the Programme. Acknowledging the difficulties that users of the Library faced in countries with limited access to reliable high-speed Internet, he added that the Codification Division had begun a project to make audio files of the lectures available on the Library, in addition to video files. That would allow users to benefit from the lectures regardless of the user’s access to high speed Internet.
The Audiovisual Library was “a practical and living tool,” he said, inviting delegates to consult that resource. Of particular note was the publication of the International Law Handbook, the preparation and publication of which had been made possible through voluntary contributions by Member States. Reminding delegates that applications were currently being accepted for the next regional course for international law in Africa, to take place in February 2018, while the applications period for the regional course in Latin America and the Caribbean would open in the coming weeks, he urged them to share that information with qualified candidates.
LUIS OÑA GARCÉS (Ecuador), speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the Programme of Assistance was one of the cornerstones of the United Nations efforts to promote international law. The Audiovisual Library of International Law enables international lawyers to access low-cost and high-quality legal training through the Internet. It was important to promote access and utilization of that Library by scholars and academics in developing countries. The Codification Division should continue with the podcast projects by undertaking off-site recording session in order to promote a broader geographical and linguistic representation of recorded lectures. In addition, lecturers who were unable to travel to New York should be recorded as well.
He said the Programme of Assistance played a vital role in promoting the rule of law at the national and international levels, one of the targets of Goal 16 of the 2030 Agenda. The Programme’s capacity-building activities would contribute to the better participation of developing countries in different multilateral frameworks and help strengthen the rule of law. He voiced his strong commitment to include in the Organization’s regular 2018-2019 budget funding for the International Law Fellowship Programme, the seminars and regional training on treaty law and practice and the legal publications and training materials, as well as for the Hamilton Shirley Amerasinghe Memorial Fellowship.
MEHDI REMAOUN (Algeria), speaking for the African Group and associating himself with the Group of 77, expressed concern that the Secretary-General’s report did not contain detailed information about the use of the additional $2 million provided by the General Assembly to the Programme for the current biennium. Calling on the Secretariat to provide the information in a transparent manner so the Committee could make informed decisions, he added that administrative and financial aspects were an important part of the report. Since regular budget funding had been increased by $2 million for the current biennium, the report should inform States about the transfer of funds and other relevant information.
The United Nations was founded on the conviction that international law was the basis for peace and cooperation, and to that end, the Programme of Assistance had an important role to play in training generations of lawyers, he emphasized. The Programme must remain committed to that goal. Reporting on the recent establishment of the African Institute on International Law, he said it would contribute to the codification and progressive development of international law in Africa. Paying tribute to Virginia Morris who recently retired after 30 years of service in the United Nations, he said the work she accomplished over her years of service would benefit lawyers around the world, including his region.
HECTOR ENRIQUE CELARIE LANDAVERDE (El Salvador), speaking for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said that it was important to strengthen the teaching, study and dissemination of international law. Highlighting several parts of the Secretary-General’s report, he noted that scholarships and courses had a multiplier effect on the student and the professional community. There were entire generations of lawyers from various States who had benefited from the lessons provided by leading experts on issues on the international legal agenda.
Regional courses were also seen to be highly effective platforms for the teaching and dissemination of international law, he continued, noting that the Regional Course in International Law for Latin America and the Caribbean had been held in April in Chile in cooperation with the Chilean Foreign Ministry and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). As well, the academic community benefited a great deal from the work of the Office of Legal Affairs with regard to legal publications. Such efforts enabled access to legal materials including the legislative series and the summaries of advisory opinions and judgements from the International Court of Justice and the Permanent Court of Justice.
ERIC CHABOUREAU, the European Union delegation, expressed strong support for the Programme of Assistance and commended its effective contribution to the rule of law, particularly by addressing the need for international law training and dissemination of legal knowledge and material to all countries. The establishment and continuous expansion of the Audiovisual Library was an especially significant achievement, offering easy access to a vast range of legal resources, free of charge, in several languages. He also commended the Codification Division for finalizing the preparation of the English edition of the “International Law Handbook” and said he looked forward to the publication’s French edition.
RY TUY (Cambodia), speaking for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), recognized the Programme of Assistance as an important tool promoting wider appreciation for international law among Member States. The Programme strengthened international peace and security, promoted cooperation and enhanced respect for the rule of law at all levels. As such, implementation of the Programme was of “utmost importance”, he stressed, adding that voluntary contributions must not represent its sole financing resource. He reiterated his steadfast conviction that funding for the Programme should come from the regular United Nations budget.
The Programme has been the cornerstone of United Nations efforts to promote international law and foster friendly relations among States, he said. Regional Courses in International Law remained a central component to the Programme. Yet, several courses had been cancelled in recent years due to budgetary constraints. He welcomed the application of advanced technology to disseminate international law-related materials; such access was invaluable to scholars, researchers and practitioners around the world. The Audiovisual Library played an important role in that regard and should continue to expand, he said, expressing support for calls to continue funding the Programme during the biennium 2018-2019.
CHRISTIANA MURATIDI (Australia) said that international rules-based order was critical to the peaceful settlement of disputes, the maintenance of human rights and human and economic development. Compliance with international law required the effective dissemination of international law, including through capacity-building at all levels and information sharing. In that context, the Programme of Assistance was a vital tool for the dissemination of international law globally. Over the last half century, the Programme had made a strong contribution to achieving the goals of the United Nations by providing scholars and practitioners access to rich and varied training and other valuable resources on international law.
ELSADIG ALI SAYED AHMED (Sudan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said that he placed great priority on the Programme of Assistance and commended efforts by the Codification Division, which played a key role in enshrining the activities of that Programme, including fellowships and regional courses. The Programme had made a clear contribution to raising awareness of the principles of international law among scholars and diplomats. In addition, the Audiovisual Library had been crucial in disseminating international law. He also thanked the Codification Division and the regional partners who had created the Regional Courses in International Law.
LUKE TANG (Singapore), associating himself with ASEAN and the Group of 77, commended the outstanding work of the Codification Division and acknowledged the important contributions made by Ms. Morris. His country was a small State that depended on the multilateral system for its existence and success. The wider appreciation of international law was critical to international order. The Audiovisual Library provided high-quality training and research materials to lawyers around the world; many lawyers from his country had contributed to the lectures. Offsite recordings would enable broader participation by lecturers who were unable to travel to New York. Also voicing support for the regional courses, he called them important avenues for catering to the specific interests of countries in a particular region. However, there was room for improvement regarding the representation of major legal systems in those courses.
RENE FIGUEREDO CORRALES (Paraguay), associating himself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, expressed support for the teaching and dissemination of international law through the regional courses. As a former participant, he said he had witnessed the great intellectual capacity of academics who had come from different parts of the world, as well as the diversity in the professional backgrounds of attendees. Commending the work of Ms. Morris who had worked to make the courses possible, he said that Paraguay had participated twice consecutively in their regional course. Commending the initiative to establish permanent venues for those courses, he said that the summer courses in The Hague were also invaluable opportunities for legal training. Turning to the Audiovisual Library, he said the publications should be made available in all the official languages of the United Nations.
ANGEL HORNA (Peru), associating himself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, said that the law placed small and larger countries on an equal footing because States were equal before the law. He was pleased to see the regional course held in Chile, he said. Voicing support for the Audiovisual Library, he called for new ways that could encourage and enable more developing countries to use the Library’s online lectures. Those efforts could include social networks, and working with academic societies that dealt with the dissemination of international law. The rule of law and development were closely related and mutually reinforcing, he said, and the Programme of Assistance was an important tool that would enable the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
ELENA MELIKBEKYAN (Russian Federation) said that the Programme was an important factor in promoting the rule of law and it should be developed and supported. She noted that the regular budget for the Programme ensured that it had been able to be run in a sustainable and predictable way. Regular courses in international law had been conducted as scheduled and the Audiovisual Library was regularly in receipt of new materials, she said.
HECTOR ENRIQUE CELARIE LANDAVERDE (El Salvador), associating himself with CELAC and the Group of 77, said that the application of rule of law enabled the fulfilment of the Organization’s Charter. Reiterating support for the Programme of Assistance, he said that given the continuous changes taking place on the international scene, with new branches forming such as international criminal law, environmental law, commercial law and “now even… international space law,” there was a complex web of issues. The Fellowship Programme, the regional courses and the Audiovisual Library, taken together, had contributed enormously in training legal officials and lawyers from different legal systems. The recent regional course held in Chile had been attended by 23 students from 17 countries, including one participant from his country. In addition, for developing countries, the Fellowship provided invaluable training that strengthened domestic capacities which then had a multiplier effect at the national level.
SUN THATHONG (Thailand), associating himself with ASEAN, hailed the 50‑year old Programme of Assistance, which had helped promote greater understanding of international law worldwide. The Audiovisual Library was an essential tool to open access to high-quality legal training and a useful archive of international law materials to a wider public. He said the regional courses had brought people from various professions together to extend their networks. Those people would be key to further dissemination of knowledge to others at the community level; that, in turn, would truly strengthen the rule of law. He also noted that his country had co-hosted several of the Regional Courses in International Law for Asia-Pacific in the past years and would continue to do so.
BELLO ALIYU DOGONDAJI (Nigeria) said that he welcomed the resources proposed in the regular budget for the biennium 2018-2019. He said he was also pleased that, as a result of the funding provided to the Programme in the 2016-2017 budget, the Codification Division had been able to organize regional courses in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia-Pacific. The course held in Addis Ababa in 2017 had helped participants deepen their understanding of the system of international law and its functioning in global politics. He voiced his appreciation for the publication of some judicial materials by the Division of Codification and emphasized that it should be well funded to continue its publication of important law materials.
ELIAB TSEGAYE TAYE (Ethiopia), associating himself with the African Group and the Group of 77, said that the sophisticated nature of current international relations demanded an equally sophisticated knowledge of the intricate rules, customs and practices that governed those relations. Hence, it was very crucial for developing countries such as his to have qualified experts and practitioners. The Regional Course in International Law for Africa gave a timely opportunity to Government legal officers and teachers of international law to expand their knowledge of international law by creating a platform for the transfer of knowledge and information. Being aware of those benefits, his country had exerted all its efforts to successfully host the regional course for Africa for seven consecutive years since 2011.
PENELOPE BECKLES (Trinidad and Tobago) said that she recognized the importance of the Programme of Assistance in fostering a better understanding and appreciation of international law through its regional law courses and law fellowship programmes. She commended the Codification Division for its hard work in finalizing the preparation of the English edition of the International Law Handbook: Collection of Instruments. The publication of the Handbook in other official United Nations languages would require financing, she noted and she called upon States in a position to do so to contribute to that financing.
MOHAMMAD HUMAYUN KABIR (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that the breadth of issues covered by the Programme gave exposure to many participants on issues of international law. He reiterated the need to give preference to participants from the least developed countries, while noting that his country looked forward to participating in the upcoming regional course in Bangkok. He also underscored his support for the creation of regular venues for the regional courses. In case that decision was deferred, his Government was willing to consider providing a venue for a course. He also said he was pleased that desktop publishing activities had been resumed under a pilot project, and voiced his support for that project to be funded from the regular budget.
PATRICK LUNA (Brazil), associating himself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, said that he was pleased to note that regional courses had been conducted in Addis Ababa and Santiago earlier in 2017 and that a regional course would also be held in Bangkok later in the year. The inclusion of funding for all three regional courses in the regular budget for the current biennium was no minor achievement, he pointed out. The high number of applications submitted in 2016 and 2017 for those courses demonstrated that there was a significant demand for them. He welcomed the fact that the necessary resources had been proposed regarding the biennium 2018-2019.
JAVIER GOROSTEGUI OBANOZ (Chile), associating himself with CELAC and the Group of 77, said that the Programme of Assistance had achieved so much despite limited resources. His country had hosted the Regional Course on International Law for Latin America and the Caribbean, welcoming more than 20 young lawyers from various countries as well as many top-rate academics. Training young lawyers and creating professional networks among specialists had had a positive impact on relations between States. Reiterating the offer to host the Course again, he commended the ongoing assistance of the Codification Division. Ms. Morris and Mr. Stewart were excellent people to work with, he said.
MAHE’ULI’ULI SANDHURST TUPOUNIUA (Tonga), associating himself with the Group of 77, emphasized that “limited human capacity is a reality for my country.” Legal counsels were often too inundated with domestic legal affairs, and lack of funding was an additional problem. Expressing appreciation for the foundational knowledge in international law provided by regional courses, he added that, as a small island developing State, the topic of international law and sustainable development was especially crucial for Tonga. Engaging in negotiations, particularly through the many processes at the United Nations was an essential learning opportunity, he said, expressing gratitude for the partnership with Italy through the Joint Commitment Mechanism, which was facilitating a capacity-building project that had brought three young technical experts from Tonga to the United Nations.
CRISTINA PUCARINHO (Portugal), welcoming the ever-increasing demand for training and access to sources of international law, said that, in today’s globalized era, the need for international law awareness was greater than ever. Commending the Office of Legal Affairs for organizing regional courses, particularly with its efforts to identify suitable permanent locations for organizing those courses on a regular basis in Africa, Asia and Latin America, she noted that the materials did not always reach users in developing countries, mostly due to the lack of Internet access. She underlined the importance of efforts to reach the beneficiaries of the Programme of Assistance in all necessary aspects, including with regards to language.
KORNELIOS KORNELIOU (Cyprus), associating himself with the European Union, noted his country had been a proponent of the Programme of Assistance since its inception. The Programme effectively contributed to international law and regular budget support was crucial for the continuation of regional courses. Those courses and the Audiovisual Library were important resources for the legal community, students and historians. Noting with appreciation the work of the Codification Division in disseminating legal publications online, he urged increased efforts to secure voluntary contributions to supplemented existing budgets.
EMILY PIERCE (United States) said that she was impressed by the number of applicants for the International Law Fellowship Programme; some 450 applications were received for 21 Fellowships. In addition, there were 463 applications for about 80 spots for the regional courses. She also voiced appreciation for the Programme’s efforts to reach those practitioners and students of international law who were not able to participate in the courses, in particular through the provision of over 50 new lectures that were recorded for the lecture series of the Audiovisual Library.
YIN MAY HNYNN (Myanmar), associating herself with ASEAN, recalled the Secretary-General’s statement to the Security Council that the international community spent far more time and resources responding to crises rather than preventing them. Knowledge and capacity-building were crucial for conflict prevention, she said, welcoming the allocation of budget for the Programme for the biennium 2018-2019. Laying the foundation of legal knowledge and promoting wider awareness of international law among youth was crucial for strengthening rule of law. As a young democracy in transition that placed emphasis on the rule of law, Myanmar should be considered a priority recipient for the Programme of Assistance, she said. Thanking the countries that had hosted regional courses, she added that the courses were also important for strengthening the capacity of legal officials.
MOHAMMED MATLASSI (Morocco), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said that the Programme of Assistance had had a beneficial impact on legal scholars in his region. The regional courses in Africa had highlighted the importance of teaching international law, he said, voicing support to ensure the continuation of those courses, given their importance as a useful tool for strengthening peace and international security. He also underscored that the Programme was also a tool to strengthen the rule of law at the international level and they should be funded by the regular budget and not by voluntary resources.
ANA FIERRO (Mexico), noting that her country had made a voluntary contribution to the Programme, underscored it was vital that it received funding under the regular budget of the United Nations. The twenty-fourth International Meeting on Law and Society had been held recently in Mexico City, promoting a greater appreciation of that subject. The promotion of international law was key to the creation of friendly cooperation among States, she stressed, voicing her gratitude for the regional course for Latin America and the Caribbean that had been recently held in Chile.
YOUSSEF HITTI (Lebanon), offering condolences for the tragic terrorist attack that had taken place in the Somalian capital on Saturday, said that the large number of candidates applying for the regional courses was an indication of the quality of the Programme. Noting that the allocation in the regular budget enabled the Programme’s work to continue, he also expressed support for the Audiovisual Library’s podcast project. The Library was mainly used by people in developing countries, he said, calling for increased commitment to multilingualism.
AHMED ABDULMUNEEM (Iraq) said that he supported the efforts of the Programme, including the regional courses and the internet-based learning materials, both of which had a positive effect on the widening of the appreciation of international law. The regional courses were crucial as they were interactive, and participants could exchange ideas and experience. He thanked States that had made a contribution to the efforts of the Programme and encouraged them to continue their support so that regional courses could continue to be held. For his own country, Iraq sought to participate regularly in those courses, in order to promote its experiences in the legal sphere, he said.