Press Releases

    GA/L/3196
    12 November 2001

    ATTENTION SOUGHT FOR PROBLEM OF EFFECTS ON "THIRD
    COUNTRIES" OF SANCTIONS IMPOSED BY UNITED NATIONS

    Legal Committee Says General Assembly Should Invite Security
    Council to Consider Measures to Mitigate Unintended Consequences

    NEW YORK, 9 November (UN Headquarters) -- The General Assembly would ask all relevant actors in the United Nations system and the international community to address the problem of the effects of United Nations-imposed sanctions on third countries, by a draft resolution approved by the Sixth Committee (Legal) this morning.

    By the text, one of two approved without a vote, the Assembly would renew its invitation to the Security Council to consider establishing mechanisms for consulting with the affected States. It would welcome measures taken by the Council to improve the effectiveness of the sanctions process, and also invite the Council, its sanctions committees and the Secretariat to continue efforts to mitigate the unintended impact of sanctions, including through assessment reports, consultations and working groups to consider situations.

    In a related draft text on the report of the Special Committee on the United Nations Charter, the Assembly would ask the Special Committee to give priority consideration to the question of implementing Charter provisions related to assisting third States affected by the application of sanctions under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. The Special Committee would also be asked to begin a substantive debate on the matter at its 2002 session based on the full range of relevant recent work within the United Nations.

    Four draft resolutions related to the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) were introduced in the Sixth Committee this morning. By one of them, the General Assembly would take note of the Commission's adoption of its draft Convention on the Assignment of Receivables in International Trade and of the Model Law on Electronic Signatures. It would recommend that States favourably consider that Law together with the Model Law on Electronic Commerce adopted by the Commission in 1996.

    The other drafts concern the report of the 2001 session of the UNCITRAL; enlargement of the Commission’s membership from 36 to 60; and the United Nations Convention on the Assignment of Receivables in International Trade adopted by the Commission.

    Also this morning, the Committee took up two new items: United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law, and the Report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country. Draft resolutions on the texts were introduced by the representatives of Ghana and Cyprus respectively. The Committee is expected to take action on them on Tuesday, 13 November.

    In another action, the Committee concluded its consideration of the International Law Commission’s report on its fifty-third session.

    The representatives of Poland, Turkey and India spoke on aspects of the report. In closing remarks, the Commission’s Vice-Chairman, Gerhard Hafner, said the Commission's first women members were elected a few days ago by the General Assembly, which augured well for the Commission's future.

    Also addressing the Committee this morning, in the context of introduction of drafts, or action on them, were the representatives of Cuba, Russian Federation, United States, United Kingdom, Egypt, Iraq, Portugal and Libya.

    The Committee will meet again at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, 12 November, when it is expected to begin its consideration of the report of the Preparatory Commission for the International Criminal Court.

    Background

    The Sixth Committee (Legal) met this morning to conclude its consideration of the report of the International Law Commission with focus on the topic of Diplomatic protection, Unilateral acts of States and other decisions and conclusions reached by the Commission at its fifty-third session this year.

    The Committee was then to take up two new items: United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law, and the Report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country.

    The Committee had before it a report on the Programme of Assistance (document A/56/484), as well as a draft resolution that was expected to be introduced (document A/C.6/56/L.13) on the matter. The Committee also had before it the report of the Host Country Committee (document A/56/26), along with a draft resolution expected to be introduced on the item (document A/C.6/56/L.15).

    Also this morning, the Committee was to act on two draft resolutions which were introduced yesterday. One is on the 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.6/56/L.14). The other covers the Implementation of the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations related to assistance to third States affected by the application of sanctions (document A/C.6/56/L.6/Rev.1).

    The Committee was also expected to receive this morning four draft resolutions on a report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) on the work of its thirty-fourth session.

    The draft resolution entitled "Report of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on Strengthening the role of the Organization" (document A/C.6/56/L.14), sponsored by Egypt, requests the Special Committee to continue its consideration of all proposals relating to the maintenance of international peace and security in order to strengthen the role of the United Nations. It further requests that the Special Committee consider on a priority basis the question of the implementation of the provisions of the Charter related to assistance to third States affected by the application of sanctions under Chapter VII of the Charter. In that endeavour, the Special Committee should consider reports of the Secretary-General, proposals submitted on the subject and the latest Sixth Committee debate on the question, as well as previous General Assembly resolutions on it.

    The Special Committee would also be requested to continue considering proposals related to the peaceful settlement of disputes, including the proposal to establish a dispute settlement service offering or responding with its services early in disputes as well as those proposals relating to the enhancement of the role of the International Court of Justice. It would be requested to continue considering proposals related to the Trusteeship Council and to consider, on a priority basis, ways and means to improve its own working methods to enhance its efficiency to identify measures for future implementation.

    By the draft, the Assembly would further commend the Secretary-General for continued efforts to reduce the backlog in the publication of the Repertory of Practice of United Nations organs, endorsing his efforts to eliminate delays in the publication of the repertory related to the Security Council. It would invite the Special Committee to continue identifying new subjects for its work to contribute to the revitalization of the work of the United Nations, taking note of its own readiness to assist working groups in the effort to reform the Organization. Finally, the draft would request the Special Committee to report to the Assembly’s next session, which would have an item on the topic among its provisional agenda.

    The Sixth Committee was also expected to take action on a draft sponsored by Bulgaria, Russian Federation and Ukraine, entitled "Implementation of the provisions of the United Nations Charter related to assistance to third States affected by the application of sanctions" (document A/C.6/56/L.6/Rev.1). By the draft, the Assembly would renew its invitation to the Security Council to consider establishing mechanisms for consulting with those States on the relevant problems. It would welcome measures taken by the Council to improve the effectiveness of the sanctions process, also inviting the Security Council, its sanctions committees and the Secretariat to continue efforts to mitigate the unintended impact of sanctions, including through assessment reports, consultations and working groups to consider situations.

    Further by the draft, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to ensure that the Secretariat developed the capacity, modalities, technical procedures and guidelines to coordinate information about international assistance to third States affected by sanctions, and also requesting it to continue developing a possible methodology for assessing adverse consequences to such States. It would welcome the Secretary-General’s report on the findings of the ad hoc expert group on that methodology, also requesting him to expedite his report to the Assembly on that work. Reaffirming the roles of United Nations bodies in mobilizing and monitoring economic assistance efforts to such States, the Assembly would take note of the Economic and Social Council’s decision to continue considering the question next year. It would ask all relevant actors in the United Nations system and the international community to address the problem and maintain dialogue on the matter, including with the affected States.

    Finally, the Assembly would request the Special Committee to hold a substantive debate on the matter at its session in 2002 based on the full range of the relevant recent work on the issue within the United Nations, deciding to consider progress at the Assembly’s next session, also asking the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of the present resolution.

    Introduction of new texts

    The first draft resolution related to the work of UNCITRAL, entitled "Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law" (document A/C.6/56/L.8), is sponsored by 92 States.

    By its terms, the General Assembly would note with satisfaction the completion and adoption by the Commission of its draft Convention on the Assignment of Receivables in International Trade, and of the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Signatures.

    The Assembly would take note of the progress the Commission had made on arbitration and insolvency law, and of its decision to commence work on electronic contracting, privately financed infrastructure projects, security interests and transport law. It would express its appreciation to the Commission for its decision to adjust its working methods to accommodate its increased workload without endangering the high quality of its work.

    By other provisions of the draft, the General Assembly would reaffirm the mandate of the Commission, as the core legal body within the United Nations system on international trade law, to coordinate legal activities in that field. Accordingly, it would call upon all United Nations bodies, and also invite international organizations, to avoid duplication of effort and to promote efficiency, consistency and coherence in the unification and harmonization of international trade law.

    The Assembly would appeal to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other bodies responsible for development assistance, such as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, as well as to Governments, to support the training and technical assistance programme of the Commission.

    Also the text, the Secretary-General would be asked to adjust the terms of reference of UNCITRAL's Trust Fund for Symposia to make it possible for its resources to be also used for the financing of training and technical assistance activities undertaken by the Secretariat.

    A draft on "Enlargement of the membership of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law" (document A/C.6/56/L.10), would have the General Assembly increase the Commission's membership from 36 to 60 states by electing 24 additional members at its fifty-seventh session on the following basis: six from African States; five from Asian States; three from Eastern European States; four from Latin American and Caribbean States, and six from Western European and Other States.

    Of the 24 additional members, the terms of 11 would expire on the last day prior to the opening of the Commission's thirty-seventh session in 2004, while the term of the other 13 members would expire on the last day before to the opening of the fortieth session of the Commission, in 2007. The President of the General Assembly would, drawing lots, select those members as follows:

    For a term up to the last day prior to the thirty-seventh session of the Commission, in 2004: three from those elected from African States and three from those elected from Western European and Other States; two from those elected from Asian States and two from those elected from Latin American and Caribbean States, and one from those elected from Eastern European States.

    For a term up to the last day before the fortieth session of the Commission, in 2007: three from those elected from African states, three from those elected from Asian States and three from those elected from Western European and Other States; two from those elected from Eastern European states and two from those elected from Latin American and Caribbean States.

    According to the draft resolution, the 24 additional members would take office on 1 January 2003.

    The Commission would be asked to evaluate at its fortieth session in 2007 the effects of the present enlargement and to report to the General Assembly on the implications of an enlargement of its membership to 72 States.

    By the terms of a third UNCITRAL-related draft, entitled "Model Law on Electronic Signatures of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law" (document A/C.6/56/L.11), the General Assembly would express its appreciation to UNCITRAL for completing and adopting the model law and preparing a guide to its enactment. It would recommend that States consider favourably the model law when they revise their laws relating to alternatives for paper-based communication and its storage or authentication. It would recommend wide dissemination of the law and guide, as well as those of the Model Law on Electronic Commerce.

    Also, before the Sixth Committee was a draft on "United Nations Convention on the Assignment of Receivables in International Trade" (document A/C.6/56/L.12). By the draft, the Assembly would express appreciation to UNCITRAL for preparing the document. It would also adopt the Convention and open it for signature or accession, calling on Governments to consider becoming a party to it.

    The Convention is annexed to the draft resolution. An annex to the Convention deals with such elements as registration and priority rules. Chapter one pertains to scope of application and chapter two to general provisions. Chapters three and four concern effects of assignment and rights obligations and defences respectively. Chapter five is concerned with autonomous conflict-of-laws rules.

    International Law Commission: Statements

    ZDZISLAW GALICKI (Poland) addressed articles nine through 11 articulated by the Commission on diplomatic protection, continuous nationality and exhaustion of local remedies. He said proposals on continuous nationality were important but they needed further consideration. The principle that an injury to an individual was an injury to the State had become a reality. Diplomatic protection encompassed other considerations, and the parallel competencies of multiple States could be drawn into the situation. Also, further differentiation needed to be made in terms of the applicability of the principle to natural and legal persons.

    On the issue of unilateral acts of States, he said it was not feasible to delineate some forms of unilateral acts. A questionnaire to governments should be circulated to further explore the issue. There were no problems with regard to applying the relevant sections of the Geneva convention to the area of unilateral acts. There should be more work on the matter during the next session of the Commission.

    GUNSELI YASTI (Turkey) addressed the issues of unilateral acts of States and reservations to treaties, recalling that the Commission’s report had focused on classification and interpretation of unilateral acts. She spoke of the distinctions between treaties and unilateral acts, saying that as a general rule of interpretation, international law held sway. It was important to avoid ambiguity about a unilateral act. Regarding the interpretative element, the scope of the issue should be taken into account. The Commission should focus on a step-by-step approach.

    She said the language on draft guidelines for reservations to treaties could pose a problem. When reservations to treaties were lodged, an important consideration was that they should not impact on the rights of other States.

    NARINDER SINGH (India) recalled that the Commission had provisionally adopted provisions on "simple" and "conditional" interpretative declarations, saying the difference between them was in the time of their formulation and effects. A reservation was made during the signing process while a simple interpretative declaration could be formulated at any time, unless a treaty specified otherwise. The two should not be confused and since the Guide to Practice could not usefully deal with them separately, conditional interpretative declarations should not be included in the Guide. Further, the depositary should have no role in rejecting a reservation since that was a function of States Parties under the law of treaties. Its role was more that of an umpire and should be distinguished from that of a facilitator.

    Turning to unilateral acts of States, he said a number of important issues had been raised and the topic remained inconclusive. The Commission should identify a set of conclusions rather than proceeding with preparing draft articles. With regard to diplomatic protection, he said the institution was better served if it was not confused or modulated to become an instrument to promote and implement human rights. Calling for discretion in applying the rule of continuous nationality, he said that perhaps the articles on exhaustion of local remedies and the one on indirect injury should be merged.

    GERHARD HAFNER, Vice-Chairman of the International Law Commission, delivered a concluding statement. He said the annual debate on the Commission’s report was the highlight of the Committee’s agenda and was of great importance to the Commission. He encouraged governments to cooperate with the Commission beyond the confines of the room, by submitting written comments on the issues identified as needing guidance, as well as by providing responses to the questionnaire on unilateral acts of States.

    Noting highlights of the report and of the Commission’s work in revitalizing itself in recent years, he noted that the Commission had concluded texts on some of the most complex and controversial issues of international law. It was also worth noting, he added, that two days ago the first women members in the history of the Commission had been elected.

    Introduction of drafts

    ALEXANDER MARSCHIK (Austria) introduced the draft resolution on the UNCITRAL report (document A/C.6/56/L.8), saying he was introducing it on behalf of well over 90 co-sponsors. He reviewed its provisions, and noted the seminars that would be taking place throughout the year.

    THOMAS KWESI QUARTEY (Ghana) introduced the report and a draft resolution on United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law (document A/C.6/56/L.13).

    He said the Programme encompassed a variety of practical hands-on activities that benefited both individuals and institutions in the developing and developed world. Fellowships were awarded that allowed for the study of all aspects of international law, including the law of the sea. Regional courses on international law were encouraged and organized. The United Nations Audiovisual Library in International Law had also been created under the Programme.

    While a great deal was being done with a zero-growth budget, he said much more could be accomplished with greater contributions from Member States and from institutions within those countries to the Programme. He announced that free access to the United Nations Treaty Collection was provided to national governments, United Nations permanent missions, non-governmental organizations, United Nations agencies and United Nations staff, as well as individuals and institutions (including universities) within developing countries.

    Furthermore, local and regional governments and non-profit organizations (including universities other than those located in developing countries) received access to the Collection at half the cost to commercial entities -- $50 per month or $500 yearly. Additionally, documents relating to 67 important treaties available at the site were accessible free of charge to all users, including all 19 United Nations and regional treaties dealing with terrorism; 23 treaties focusing on women and children; and 23 core treaties. Since the Secretary-General's Report had been issued, he said, the 1995 United Nations Yearbook had been published.

    ANDREAS JACOVIDES (Cyprus) expressed deep appreciation of the efforts of the United Nations Secretariat for its work on the Programme. He recalled the role of his country in setting up the Programme in 1965. He noted that the Programme was of great value to the developing countries, and urged the exploration of means to solicit funds from institutions and individuals to support further the activities carried out under the Programme.

    Report of Host Country Committee

    SOTIRIOS ZACKHEOS (Cyprus) introduced the report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country (document A/56/26).

    He said that on behalf of the Committee he wished to express condolences to the victims of the families of the 11 September terrorist attacks.

    SORAYA ALVAREZ NUNEZ (Cuba), a member of the Host Country Committee, also expressed sympathy for the victims' families. She said her delegation believed that the Committee was of special importance to all Member States. Its smooth functioning required the cooperation of all. She said the conclusions and recommendations of the Committee properly reflected the debates which took place in the Committee.

    Subjects such as security of missions, timely issuance of visas, travel restrictions imposed on personnel of certain missions, and financial obligations of missions were properly covered in the report. Recent events were lending importance to the committee’s work.

    VLADIMIR TARABRIN (Russian Federation) said his delegation valued the activities of the Committee in finding solutions to problems encountered by the various permanent missions to the United Nations. It was prepared to work with other members of the Committee and jointly with the Host Country in finding solutions to those problems.

    CAROLYN WILSON (United States) said her delegation, at the appropriate time, would reply to statements made.

    KONSTANTINOS MOUSHOUTAS (Cyprus) introduced the draft resolution on the report (document A/C.6/56/L.15). He said the other sponsors beside his own were Bulgaria, Canada, Costa Rica and Côte d'Ivoire. He said the sponsors hoped the text would be approved by consensus.

    The Chairman of the Sixth Committee said action on the text would be taken next Tuesday, 13 November.

    Action on drafts

    The Committee then took up the two draft resolutions introduced yesterday. The first concerned the 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.6/56/L.14).

    The representative of the United Kingdom said she had intended to make an amendment to paragraph 3C of the draft, concerning peaceful settlement of disputes and establishment of a dispute settlement service. At the end of the paragraph calling for enhancement of the role of the International Court of Justice in those regards, the phrase, "with a view to completing its consideration of these proposals" should be added. This would reflect the fact that the Commission was still considering the proposals.

    The representative of Egypt asked for a rereading of the proposed amendment.

    The representative of the United Kingdom reiterated her strong support of the resolution submitted by Sierra Leone and repeated the proposed amendment.

    Egypt’s representative said he would be happy to accommodate the amendment, but he hoped there would be consensus on the draft. Would an oral amendment suffice or would it require redrafting? he asked.

    Iraq’s representative said he did not oppose the amendment, but was concerned over a possible impasse if consensus could not be reached.

    The representative of Cuba said she had no substantive problem with the proposal of the United Kingdom, but guidelines for the drafting of text proposals should be followed. Perhaps the Committee should focus on priority subjects. From that perspective, the formulation of text concerning third States affected by sanctions should be given maximum priority. Further, the wording of texts should not be prejudicial about priorities.

    The United Kingdom’s representative said she appreciated the views expressed by Iraq and Cuba, hoping that the amendment was not prejudicial. The dispute settlement proposal had been under the Commission’s consideration in previous years.

    Portugal’s representative said he supported the modification and perhaps the volume of work done in previous years should be highlighted. Perhaps the General Assembly should indicate the usefulness of work already completed. The Charter Committee should also be informed about the work already done. Iraq’s concern was understandable but surely language could be found to address the situation. Maybe the phrase "if possible" should be included in the proposed amendment, as it was desirable to complete work on the item today.

    Iraq’s representative expressed the desire to be flexible. The term "if possible" could leave enough flexibility for the Committee, if it were needed.

    Cuba welcomed Portugal’s proposal and asked for another reading.

    The representative of the United Kingdom read out the amendment as: "With a view to completing, if possible, its consideration of these proposals".

    Egypt’s representative said he hadn’t realized action was being taken on the resolution.

    The representative of Libya said paragraph 3B, which dealt with the priority consideration of assistance to third States affected by the application of sanctions, would give the Committee the opportunity to examine the effect of sanctions on third States, as his country had proposed last year. The paragraph should be drafted more clearly to indicate that a substantive debate was being called for on all related reports of the Secretary-General.

    The Committee then approved without a vote the draft resolution on the Charter Committee’s report.

    The Committee then took up the draft on implementation of Charter provisions related to assistance to third States affected by the application of sanctions (document A/C.6/56/L.6/Rev.1).

    The resolution was approved without a vote.

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