26 September 2006
Treaty-Signing Event Produces 86 Actions; 20 New Signatories for Convention on Safety of United Nations Personnel
NEW YORK, 25 September (UN Headquarters) -- Eighty-six treaty actions -- 30 signatures, 50 ratifications (or accessions, approvals, or any other type of consent to be bound), 2 declarations and 4 other treaty actions -- were undertaken by representatives of 40 States, including 6 Heads of State or Government and 18 foreign ministers, during this year's opening of the General Assembly (through Friday evening). An optional protocol that will boost protection for United Nations personnel in the field when it enters into force received 20 signatures, more actions than on any other single treaty.
Convention against Torture and Its Optional Protocol
The Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel or Inhuman Treatment or Punishment received six treaty actions, and the Convention itself, one. Four States -- Armenia, Benin, Peru and Ukraine -- deposited instruments that indicate their "consent to be bound" by the Protocol with the United Nations Secretary-General and, as specified within the Protocol, they will become States parties on the thirtieth day after that. Germany and South Africa signed the Protocol, indicating the intention to ratify. The Protocol now has 26 contracting parties and 54 signatories. Andorra ratified the Convention against Torture, which now has 142 and 74.
The purpose of the Optional Protocol, which entered into force on 22 June of this year, is to enhance the protection of persons deprived of liberty from torture and other cruel and degrading treatment or punishment. It provides for the establishment of two forms of preventive measures: an international expert body and national preventive mechanisms carried out by the Parties. It also provides for regular monitoring of places where persons may be deprived of their liberty, "places of detention" -- which it defines more broadly than the Convention -- through regular visits by expert bodies.
Including the Convention against Torture and its Protocol, human rights treaties garnered a total of 27 treaty actions, 20 ratifications, accessions, etc., 3 signatures and 3 other actions.
Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, President of Maldives, deposited instruments indicating "consent to be bound" by three treaties, two of the most basic -- often considered essential -- human rights treaties and one protocol; the two international covenants, one guaranteeing economic, social and cultural rights, the other guaranteeing civil and political rights with its optional protocol. These treaties, taken together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and a second optional protocol, are considered the International Bill of Rights.
Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, Foreign Minister of Bahrain, deposited an instrument of accession without reservation to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
On Friday, Juli Minoves-Triquell, Foreign Minister for Andorra, deposited five instruments of ratification and one of accession, indicating Andorra's "consent to be bound" by four major human rights treaties and two protocols: the conventions against genocide, against torture, to eliminate racial discrimination, and the two international covenants, on civil and political rights, and on economic, social and cultural rights. One of the protocols established an international complaint mechanism for violations of human rights and the other aims to abolish the death penalty.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights now has 159 contracting parties and 67 signatories, and the International Covenant on Economic and Social Rights has 154 and 66.
Bulgaria ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979) and Austria partially withdrew a reservation relating to women in the workforce. Armenia acceded to the Optional Protocol to the Convention, which provides for a complaint process for individuals in States that are party to it. The Convention now has 184 contracting parties and 98 signatories.
Human Security and Trafficking
Of 11 treaty actions taken in the human security category, 10 were ratification or accessions. Four countries -- Bulgaria, Chile, Indonesia and Poland -- ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption (2003), boosting it to 66 contracting parties and 140 signatories. The Convention contains models for effective preventive policies such as establishing anticorruption bodies, enhancing transparency in the financing of election campaigns and political parties, and reinforcing international cooperation.
The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (2000) and its three protocols -- on human trafficking, the smuggling of migrants and the illicit manufacture and trafficking of firearms -- received a total of six new contracting parties: Mozambique ratified all four treaties; Sri Lanka ratified the Convention; and Belize acceded to the protocol against smuggling migrants. The Convention now has 126 contracting parties and 147 signatories; human trafficking, 107 and 117; smuggling migrants, 99 and 112; and firearms, 55 and 52.
Safety of United Nations Personnel
Twenty countries signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel, including the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Prime Minister of Slovakia, Robert Fico, and the Vice-President of Sierra Leone, Solomon Berewa. It was also signed by seven Ministers of Foreign Affairs (Australia, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Romania, Spain and Ukraine).
The protections of the Convention extend only to United Nations operations that are for the purpose of maintaining or restoring international peace and security, or where the Security Council or the General Assembly has declared that there is exceptional risk for the personnel. The Protocol extends protection to include all other United Nations operations, whether emergency humanitarian assistance, peacebuilding or delivery of humanitarian, political or development assistance. With the 20 signatures it has gained through the treaty event (Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Chile, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Republic of Korea, Liberia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Tunisia, Ukraine and Uruguay) it has 2 contracting parties, Norway and Sweden, and 29 signatories.
Other Treaty Actions
Switzerland and the Lao People's Democratic Republic became contracting parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, 2000.
Madagascar and Sierra Leone signed the new E-Commerce Convention.
Trinidad and Tobago acceded to the Fish Stocks Agreement (Law of the Sea).
The first part of this year's event coincided with the High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development, and highlighted 30 treaties regulating a broad range of cross-border issues. In addition to treaties relating to migration, refugees and stateless persons, the event showcased treaties on human trafficking, organized crime, corruption, climate change, sustainable development, indiscriminate or excessively injurious weapons, torture and food security.
The annual event, first held in 2000, seeks to promote increased participation of countries in the more than 500 multilateral treaties deposited with the Secretary-General and, by so doing, to strengthen the rule of law.
Contact: Ellen McGuffie, Information Officer; Department of Public Information; tel.: 212 963 0499; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org .
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