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United States Delegate Calls for Continued Engagement through Informal Channels, Says Some Concerns Have Already Been Addressed

Complaints and concerns about the abuse of the Headquarters Agreement by the United States dominated discussion in the Sixth Committee (Legal) today, as delegations took up the report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country.  (For background, see Press Release GA/L/3622.)

The representative of Iran spotlighted the denial by the United States of a visa for his country’s Minister for Foreign Affairs to attend a Security Council meeting, calling it an example of weaponization of host country privileges.  Who should hold the host country accountable for its failures, he asked, also bringing attention to the fact that his Mission’s personnel and their families have been given until 15 December to relocate to a section of Queens that is a coronavirus hotspot.  He called on the Secretary‑General to take appropriate steps under section  21 of the Host Country Agreement.

Syria’s delegate also urged the Secretary‑General to invoke the arbitration provisions set out in section 21, saying that reasonable time for resolving differences between the host country and the United Nations has lapsed.  Stressing that he was not seeking confrontation, but rather compliance with that Agreement, he called for the Government of the host country to lift restrictions imposed on his delegation and those of the Russian Federation, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The Russian Federation’s diplomatic premises, that country’s delegate said, continue to be under the control of the United States authorities who have refused access to these premises even to mitigate the risks of the COVID‑19 pandemic.  Recalling about how the previous seventy‑fourth General Assembly session of the Sixth Committee had to be aborted because of denial of visas to members of his delegation, he noted the Assembly resolution expressing concern about that.  “What has happened over the past year?” he asked, noting that nothing has changed as far as the delegates who were denied visas last year were concerned.

Responding, the representative of the United States said that her delegation is engaged in a productive dialogue with the Office of Legal Affairs, which has already led to concrete action on some of the concerns raised.  Calls for formal steps are unjustified, she said, adding that her country is committed to constructive engagement through informal channels.  It is an honour and a privilege for the United States to host the United Nations “in this great city of New York,” she said, voicing the hope that the Sixth Committee will fold the Host Country Committee’s recommendations into its own draft resolution for adoption by consensus.

The Sixth Committee also commenced its consideration of 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/75/33).

Introducing that report, Kira Christianne Danganan Azucena (Philippines), Chair of that Committee, noted that the report addresses issues ranging from the maintenance of international peace and security to peaceful settlement of disputes.

Gregor Boventer, Chief of the Security Council Practices and Charter Research Branch, Security Council Affairs Division, Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, introduced the report of the Secretary‑General on the Repertory and the Repertoire  (document  A/75/145).  Noting that the Repertoire has provided an authoritative overview of the Council’s contribution to the advancement of international law, he highlighted the Repertoire’s methodological adaptations to the new virtual working methods of the Council, such as the holding of video teleconferences in lieu of in‑person meetings.  The aim is to maintain a comprehensive and accurate record of the practice of the Council during this unique period in its history, he said.

Huw Llewellyn, Director of The Codification Division, drew attention to the updated chart on the status of the Repertory, adding that it has been made available electronically to delegations via “eStatements” and on the website of the Sixth Committee.  He also noted the increased financial constraint and stressed that voluntary contributions to the Fund remain a crucial element for sustaining progress on the Repertory.

The representative of the Philippines, recalling the history of the Special Charter Committee, reminded delegates that most Member States were not present at the founding of the United Nations and had no chance to express their opinions on it.  Therefore, the Filipino statesman Carlos P. Romulo advocated for a “restudy of the Charter” and the establishment of the Special Charter Committee.  Stressing that sanctions should be accurately targeted, she voiced support for Cuba’s proposal on strengthening the role of the United Nations and enhancing its effectiveness.

The Sixth Committee will next meet at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 27 October, to begin its consideration of the report of the International Law Commission.

Committee on Relations with Host Country

The representative of Cuba said the illegal measures imposed by the United States Government on her delegation were not lifted, “not even in the worst moments of the COVID‑19 pandemic”.  Pointing to arbitrarily imposed restrictions on movement for diplomats from various countries and their family members, she said that the United States also delays and denies visas.  Further, it unjustly expels diplomats accredited to the United Nations, seizes property and prevents Member States from accessing bank accounts to meet their financial commitments.  This selective and arbitrary use by the host country of the Headquarters Agreement was also a flagrant violation of the principle of sovereign equality between all members of the Organization.  Also noting that the most recent statement by the Legal Adviser refers to the lack of progress in conversations with host country representatives, she said the reluctance of the United States to solve differences peacefully shows their intention to continue to abuse their status as host country.

The representative of Syria, stressing that he was not seeking confrontation, but rather compliance with the Headquarters Agreement, called for the Government of the host country to lift without conditions all restrictions imposed on the delegations of Syria, Russian Federation, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  His country’s diplomats are issued six‑month single‑entry visas that must be renewed one month prior to expiration.  They also cannot travel beyond 25 miles from Headquarters or open bank accounts.  He called on the Secretary‑General to invoke the arbitration provisions set out in section 21 of the Host Country Agreement, saying that reasonable time for resolving differences between the host country and the United Nations has lapsed.

The representative of the Russian Federation recalled that the previous session of the Sixth Committee had to be aborted because of 18 members of his delegation not being issued visas and because of the imposition of unprecedented restrictions on the movements of Iran’s delegates.  In response to these gross violations, the General Assembly had adopted resolution 74/195, which called on the United States to issue the visas and to lift the restrictions on movement.  “What has happened over the past year?” he asked, adding that the interested delegations met with the Secretary‑General and received assurances from him that arbitration would be launched unless these issues are resolved.  Also noting that the Legal Adviser has reported on how he and the Secretary‑General conducted negotiations with the host country at different levels, he said that not a single delegate of the 18 mentioned earlier have yet to received their visas.  Further, he said, his delegation’s diplomatic premises have continued to be under the control of the United States authorities, who have refused to let his delegation use these premises even to mitigate the risks of the COVID‑19 pandemic.

The representative of Iran said that the United States’ denial of a visa for his country’s Minister for Foreign Affairs to attend a Security Council meeting was an example of that country weaponizing its host country privileges.  He added that restrictions on Iranian diplomats were aimed at forcing the closure of Iran’s Permanent Mission.  The 25‑mile restriction on the movement of the Permanent Mission’s personnel and their families has been reduced to 3 miles.  They have also been given until 15 December to relocate to a section of Queens that is a coronavirus hotspot.  “The question is, who should hold [the Host Country] accountable for its failures and for the humanitarian consequences of its wrongful acts,” he said, calling on the Secretary‑General to take appropriate steps under section 21 with a view to removing all illegal restrictions once and for all.

The representative of the United States said that her delegation remains deeply engaged with the Host Country Committee, Office of Legal Affairs and concerned States.  Noting that her country’s positions are reflected in detail in the Host Country Committee’s report, she said that her delegation is engaged in a productive dialogue with the Office of Legal Affairs.  That dialogue has already led to concrete action on some of the concerns raised in the report.  She added that the United States remains committed to constructive engagement through informal channels and that calls for formal steps are unjustified.  She hoped that the Sixth Committee will, as in the past, fold the Host Country Committee’s recommendations into its own draft resolution for adoption by consensus, she said, emphasizing that it was an honour and a privilege for the United States to host the United Nations “in this great city of New York” and that the host country does not take its responsibilities lightly.

Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations

KIRA CHRISTIANNE DANGANAN AZUCENA (Philippines), Chair of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization, introduced the report of the Special Committee’s 2020 session (document A/75/33).

She gave an overview of the report’s five chapters which all address procedural matters.  They include the maintenance of international peace and security, including sanctions and the use of force without prior authorization from the Security Council; the peaceful settlement of disputes; the Special Committee’s discussion on the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs and Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council; and consideration of remaining items on the Special Committee’s agenda.

HUW LLEWELLYN, Director Of The Codification Division, noted that the report of the Secretary‑General on the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs and Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council (document A/75/145) outlines the progress of work on the Repertory for the period 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020.  Drawing attention to the updated chart on the status of the Repertory, he said it has been made available electronically to delegations via “eStatements” and on the website of the Sixth Committee.  Concerning the backlog in the preparation of volume III of Supplements Nos. 7 to 9 (1985‑1999) of the Repertory, he noted that the Codification Division maintained regular contact with Peking University, where research and drafting of three studies on Article 23 of the Charter of the United Nations were completed.

Turning to the question of cooperation with academic institutions and use of the United Nations internship programme, he said that the well‑established cooperation with the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, which has taken place for the past 10 years, is still active.  With a view to revitalizing cooperation with academic institutions and pursuing a diverse geographical spread, the Codification Division continued to call upon permanent missions to the United Nations to identify academic institutions that may be interested in contributing to the preparation of studies.  The Codification Division also continued to invite academic institutions to which members of the International Law Commission are affiliated to consider contributing to the preparation of studies.  Turning to the question of funding for the Repertory, he noted an environment of increased financial constraint and stressed that voluntary contributions to the Fund remain a crucial element for sustaining progress on the Repertory.

GREGOR BOVENTER, Chief of the Security Council Practices and Charter Research Branch, Security Council Affairs Division, Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, introduced the report of the Secretary‑General on the Repertory and the Repertoire (document A/75/145).  Noting that the Repertoire has provided an authoritative overview of the Security Council’s contribution to the advancement of international law, he invited delegates to visit the Council’s website, where these proceedings have been duly chronicled.  The Repertoire is a fundamental tool for Council and non‑Council members alike, as well as for new delegates and seasoned diplomats, he said, noting that over the past year, the Branch has successfully adapted its methodology to enable the contemporaneous coverage of the practice of the Council, a milestone in the 68‑year history of the publication.

The focus of the reporting period was the simultaneous preparation of the twenty‑second and twenty‑third Supplements of the Repertoire, respectively covering the years 2019 and 2020, he continued.  Also pointing to the significant progress made in the research and drafting of the twenty‑third Supplement covering the year 2020, he said the Branch has implemented business continuity plans and remote working arrangements currently.  Highlighting the Repertoire’s methodological adaptations to the new virtual working methods of the Council, particularly as they relate to the holding of video teleconferences in lieu of in‑person meetings and the written procedures for the adoption of resolutions, he said the aim is to maintain a comprehensive and accurate record of the practice of the Council during this unique period in its history.  Also pointing to the need for additional financial support from Member States, he voiced gratitude for the contributions made to the Trust Fund and the sponsorship of Associate Experts for the Branch.

The representative of the European Union delegation, noting that sanctions are an important tool for the promotion and maintenance of international peace and security, said a targeted approach reflects key principles, such as compliance with international law.  Stressing that sanctions must be proportionate to their objectives, she added that respect for fundamental human rights and due process guarantees was essential for their credibility and effectiveness.  Underscoring the important role of the Ombudsperson to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Al‑Qaida Sanctions Committee and the need for the Security Council to enhance its due process standards in the implementation of sanctions regimes, she said that the targeted nature of sanctions is intended to reduce as much as possible any adverse humanitarian effects or unintended consequences, especially on civilian population and humanitarian aid workers.

The representative of Ghana, associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the African Group, noted the report’s reference to his country’s working paper on strengthening the relationship and cooperation between the United Nations and regional arrangements or agencies in the peaceful settlement of disputes.  Following discussions held at the 2020 Session of the Special Committee on the Charter in February, his delegation took note of views expressed by some delegations on the fact that Ghana’s paper may be duplicative in view of existing legal frameworks and also that the revised draft paper on guidelines for the cooperation between the United Nations and regional arrangements or agencies may have budgetary implications.  He assured the Committee that revised draft guidelines would be submitted, taking into account delegations’ comments, for consideration at the Special Committee’s next session.

The representative of India, associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, noted that, as stipulated in the Charter, the maintenance of international peace and security is the primary responsibility of the Security Council, acting on behalf of all Member States.  Sanctions imposed by the Council can be an important tool for fulfilling that responsibility, but they should be used as a last resort without violating the principles of international law.  He encouraged the Secretary‑General to explore ways to minimize the impact of sanctions on third countries.  He expressed appreciation for Ghana’s proposal for strengthened cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the principle of sovereign equality should be strictly observed in all United Nations activities. “Countries of the world, large or small, developed or developing, are all on equal terms, and no country is entitled to infringe upon the sovereignty of other countries,” he said, warning that threats and use of force continue unchecked while selectivity, double standards and partiality were becoming all the more undisguised.  Righteous self‑defensive measures to safeguard the sovereignty have been called into question and blamed as a threat to international peace, and States are being labelled as a “human rights violators” simply for failing to be obedient to a certain country.  Rejecting the “UN Command” as an illegal entity fabricated to legitimize the provocation of the 1950 Korean War, he said it has nothing to do with the United Nations.  It must be dismantled immediately, in accordance with prior resolutions of the General Assembly.

The representative of the Philippines, associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, recalled that most Member States were not present at the founding of the United Nations and thus had no chance to express their opinions on the Charter.  It was for that reason that the Filipino statesman Carlos P. Romulo advocated for a restudy of the Charter and the establishment of the Special Charter Committee.  On Security Council sanctions, she said that they should be accurately targeted, with clearly defined objectives and a clear time frame, subject to periodic review and used only as a last resort.  She added her support for Cuba’s proposal on strengthening the role of the United Nations and enhancing its effectiveness, and for Ghana’s proposal on strengthening the Organization’s relations and cooperation with regional arrangements.  She also reiterated the Philippines’ support for using the United Nations internship programme and cooperation with academic institutions in preparing the Repertory.

The representative of Nicaragua, associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the Special Charter Committee remains an integral instrument to ensure that countries act to benefit all peoples of the world, and not simply in their own selfish interests.  Noting that the Charter itself contains specific provisions aimed at strengthening peace in a world that so much needs harmony and just and lasting solutions, she called upon delegations to demonstrate flexibility and political will to reach agreements on the items on their agenda.  Rejecting the imposition of all unilateral coercive economic measures – especially those imposed during the COVID‑19 pandemic, which constitutes a crime against humanity – she emphasized that such measures run directly counter to the goals of the Charter.

The representative of Sudan said that sanctions regimes should avoid damage to third countries and undermining fundamental freedoms.  Targets sanctions should be timebound and lifted once their objectives are met.  The conditions imposed on sanctioned States must be clear and periodically reviewed, he added.

The representative of the United States said that targeted sanctions adopted by the Security Council in accordance with the Charter remain an important instrument for the maintenance of international peace and security.  However, she reiterated that the Special Charter Committee should not pursue activities in the area of the maintenance of peace and security that would be duplicative or inconsistent with the roles of the principal organs of the United Nations as set forth in the Charter.  With respect to proposals regarding new subjects of consideration, she said the United States continued to engage on matters that have the potential to add value.  Those should be practical, non‑political and not duplicate efforts elsewhere in the Organization.  In addition, the Special Charter Committee should not become a forum for the airing of bilateral concerns or for meaningful discussion within its mandate to be displaced by consideration of topics more appropriately raised in other forums.  For those reasons, she said she could not support the advancement of the proposal concerning unilateral coercive measures, noting her serious doubts about the proposal concerning Article 51.  Concerns about the host country should be raised in the dedicated Host Country Committee, she added.

The representative of Qatar, associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, stressed that sanctions imposed by the Security Council are one instrument that may be used in line with the Charter when a threat to international peace and security exists.  However, such sanctions must really be the last possible measure.  They must be periodically reviewed and lifted as soon as the conditions leading to their enactment no longer exist.  Qatar has defused many crises and reduced threats to international peace and security.  Still, some countries continue to undermine other nations’ sovereignty under false pretences.  Noting that the illegal embargo imposed against Qatar for over three years undermines the Special Charter Committee’s efforts to strengthen the Charter, he declared:  “We need to confront such trends.”  Turning to the peaceful resolution of disputes, he welcomed the essential work of the International Court of Justice and pledged to continue to strengthen the work of the United Nations in that arena.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Iran (for the Non‑Aligned Movement), Singapore, Venezuela, China, South Africa (for the African Group), Peru, El Salvador, Egypt and Viet Nam.

For information media. Not an official record.

MIL OSI United Nations News