Post sponsored by NewzEngine.com

Source: United Nations 4

As the Sixth Committee (Legal) took up the Secretary‑General’s report on the Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law (document A/75/389), delegates praised its unique contribution to promoting the rule of law by providing high quality, accessible training in international law education, even during an unprecedented pandemic.

Jessica M. Elbaz, Secretary of the Advisory Committee for the Programme of Assistance, stressed that international law training remains as important today as when the Programme was established 55  years ago.  Acknowledging the effects of the COVID‑19 pandemic, she said that, while the Programme was able to hold the Regional Course for Asia-Pacific and that for Africa, the international law course for Latin America and the Caribbean and the scholarship programme in international law could not be organized.  However, the Codification Division did set up an online training program to provisionally strengthen capacities until in-person programmes resume.

Highlighting other positive developments, she called attention to increased representation of women and improved geographical diversity among speakers and lecturers.  In addition, a pilot project allowed former participants of Regional Courses to ask questions of international law experts.  The Audiovisual Library continues to offer high-quality free online training and has been consulted by users from all 193 Member States during the period under consideration.  Although regular budget allocations enabled these activities, she urged delegates to support the Programme with voluntary contributions.

Vladimir Jares, Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, outlined progress made on the implementation of the Hamilton Shirley Amerasinghe Memorial Fellowship on the Law of the Sea, which was established in  1981 to assist officials from developing States to acquire additional knowledge on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  As of this November, as many as 33  Fellows from 30  developing countries have completed the Fellowship, he said, spotlighting 1994  Fellow  Maurice Kengne Kamga of Cameroon, who was recently elected as a member of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.  Noting that insufficient funding meant no awards could be made in 2014 and 2016, he stressed that this should be avoided, given the emphasis on oceans and their future.

Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee of Ghana, Chair of the Advisory Committee on the Programme of Assistance, also highlighted the large number of applications received for the Fellowship Programme and Regional Courses, underscoring that those numbers demonstrate the continued relevance of the Programme.  The Audiovisual Library of International Law is uniquely placed to make high-quality learning resources readily available to students and international law practitioners in every corner of the globe, at relatively low cost, she pointed out.  She also noted efforts to balance the representation of males and females among participants and lecturers of the training programmes.  While remarking that this would be her last address to the Sixth Committee as Chair, she stressed:  “This is an achievement that we need to celebrate, particularly in the twenty-fifth anniversary year after the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.”

In the ensuing debate, delegates took note of the Programme’s innovations in pivoting to virtual offerings during the pandemic while calling for its continued funding from the regular budget of the Organization.

Guyana’s representative, speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, emphasized that the Programme of Assistance furthers United Nations aims by training generations of specialists, particularly those from developing countries.  She commended the Codification Division and the Division of Ocean Affairs for providing virtual training, including a remote self-paced learning curriculum as an interim means of capacity-building due to the Regional Course in International Law for Latin America and the Caribbean and the International Law Fellowship Programme in The Hague not being held because of the pandemic.

Echoing those words, the representative of Eswatini, speaking for the African Group, said the Programme directly serves the principles of the United Nations.  Activities such as the International Law Fellowship Programme and the Regional Courses on International Law are particularly important in Africa, he said, pointing to the overwhelming number of applicants from the continent.  Calling individuals and groups to make voluntary contributions to the Programme, he welcomed the commitment made by Ministers of the Group of 77 to include necessary funding for the International Law Fellowship Programme and the seminars and regional training in the budget of the United Nations.

Moldova’s delegate applauded the Programme’s ability to embrace timely and innovative digital solutions.  Despite challenges posed by COVID‑19, the Programme was able to conduct some of the scheduled training programmes and provide participants with a remote learning curriculum, which referenced online sources.  This reconfirms the need to continue to invest in enhancing the websites maintained by the Codification Division and to expand them with scholarly research and writings from different legal systems and geographical regions, she emphasized.

The representative of the Philippines, along with other delegates, offered pointers for continued improvement, including a more geographically diverse, gender-balanced representation in the Programme’s lecture series.  Many Filipinos have benefited from the Programme over the years, which has helped in strengthening the country’s capacities in international law, she added.

Argentina’s representative suggested that the Programme facilitate access to documents in all the official languages and improve access to the archives.  It was crucial that the Programme should continue its capacity-building activities in developing countries, he said, adding his support for efforts to improve multilingualism.

The Sixth Committee also heard introductions of three draft resolutions concerning observer status requests for the Small Island Developing States Dock, Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Institute and Asian Forest Cooperation Organization, respectively.

The Sixth Committee will meet at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 10 November, to continue its consideration of requests for observer status and to take up the report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law on the work of its fifty-third session.  In the afternoon, it will also take up consideration of effective measures to enhance the protection, security and safety of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives.

Programme of Assistance

MARTHA AMA AKYAA POBEE (Ghana), Chair of the Advisory Committee on the United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law, noted that the fifty-fifth session of the reconstituted Advisory Committee was held on 9 October.  Despite the obvious challenges posed by the pandemic, interest in the Programme did not wane.  Spotlighting the large number of applications received for the International Law Fellowship Programme and Regional Courses in International Law, she said these demonstrate the continued relevance of the Programme, especially for developing countries.  The current provision in the Organization’s regular budget makes it possible to hold all three Regional Courses, she noted.

Turning to the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law, she highlighted its uniqueness within the Programme of Assistance.  However, its potential for making high-quality learning resources readily available to students and international law practitioners in every corner of the globe, at relatively low cost, can only be fully realized provided there is reliable internet connectivity.  The launch of the podcast series two years ago was a step in the right direction, as it has significantly increased accessibility.  Noting that Internet connectivity is a serious challenge, she said the Library, coupled with international law materials available on flash drives and CD-ROMs, remains a strong element of the Programme and must be supported.

Voicing appreciation for the Secretariat’s efforts in enhancing language and geographical diversity as well as gender parity in implementing the Programme, she said that Advisory Committee members also welcomed efforts to balance the representation of males and females among participants of the training programmes and to increase the number of female lecturers.  “This is an achievement that we need to celebrate, particularly, in the twenty-fifth anniversary year after the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action,” she said, stressing that the Programme constitutes an effective tool for promoting a better knowledge of international law.  Acknowledging the service of the Codification Division of the Office of Legal Affairs for the effective implementation of the Programme, especially in the year of COVID‑19, she thanked Jessica M. Elbaz, Principal Legal Officer in the Codification Division, and urged Member States to remain committed to ensuring that the Programme’s activities are well funded through the regular budget and through other voluntary contributions.

JESSICA M. ELBAZ, Secretary of the Advisory Committee for the Programme of Assistance, said that training needs in international law and in pedagogical material remain as important today as they were when the Programme was established 55 years ago.  The three Regional Courses and the scholarship programme provide professionals from developing countries with access to a complete training in international law provided by eminent specialists from different regions and different legal systems.  During the period under consideration, the Regional Course for Asia-Pacific and that for Africa were held, and among the 55 selected participants from 45 different States, 41 were awarded a scholarship covering their costs.  Highlighting the representation of women, she added that the Programme has continued to improve geographical diversity among speakers and lecturers.

Thanking the United Nations Regional Commissions for holding the courses, she voiced appreciation for the host countries, Thailand and Ethiopia, who contributed significantly to the convening of these programmes.  Unfortunately, the international law course for Latin America and the Caribbean and the scholarship programme in international law were not organized as a result of the COVID‑19 pandemic.  While the in-depth exchanges that can be provided in person cannot be replaced, the Codification Division did set up an online training program to provisionally strengthen capacities until in-person programmes can restart, she noted.  Turning to the Audiovisual Library, she noted that it has offered high-quality free online training to an unlimited number of people since it was established in 2008.  It has been consulted by users from all 193 Member States during the period under consideration.  Further, 14 new conferences were registered in the library, which now offers more than 600 conferences in total.

Also drawing attention to improvements in the linguistic and geographical diversity and the representation of women, she said the Division has also continued its efforts to improve the accessibility of the Library.  Further, it has designed and launched a mini-conference series to give a general overview of crucial subjects pertaining to international law.  Another highlight of the reporting period was enhanced communications with former participants, allowing for an exchange of information, including via a pilot project allowing former participants to ask questions of international law experts.  While noting that the regular budget allocations for the Programme enable these activities, she stressed that voluntary contributions are also crucial particularly when it comes to financing additional scholarships.

VLADIMIR JARES, Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, outlined progress made on the implementation of the Hamilton Shirley Amerasinghe Memorial Fellowship on the Law of the Sea.  The Fellowship was established in 1981 to assist Government officials from developing States to acquire additional knowledge on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to promote its wider application, and to enhance specialized experience in maritime affairs.  As of this November, as many as 33 Fellows from 30 developing countries have completed the Fellowship and are making important contributions in their respective countries and regions.  In particular, one of the 1994 Fellows, Maurice Kengne Kamga of Cameroon, was recently elected as a member of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

Recalling the most recent report by the Secretary‑General on oceans and the law of the sea in the context of the COVID‑19 pandemic (document A/75/34), he underscored the importance for developing countries to build and maintain the capacity to advance the Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 14, and to participate in ocean-related processes.  In order to do so, it is important to more effectively implement the international law of the sea as reflected in the Convention on the Law of the Sea and related international instruments, as well as ensure commitments under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Turning to the issue of funding, he expressed regret that, due to insufficient funding, no awards could be made from 2007 to 2009, in 2014 and in 2016.  In 2017, only a partial fellowship could be made.  “Such a situation should not repeat itself, especially taking into account the current emphasis on oceans and their future,” he stressed.  Although the current balance of trust funds allows for the 2020 award to be fully implemented, continued efforts are needed to provide sustainable financing for the Fellowship, which, he stressed, is “small in size but large in impact.”

The representative of Guyana, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the Programme of Assistance strengthens international peace and security, while promoting friendly relations among States by disseminating international law.  Fifty-five years after its establishment, the Programme continues to further United Nations aims by training generations of specialists, particularly those from developing countries, in international law.  Calling for the continued funding of the Programme, she said it remains vital for the International Law Fellowship Programme and the United Nations Regional Courses in International Law; issuing publications; developing and maintaining the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law; and the Hamilton Shirley Amerasinghe Memorial Fellowship on the Law of the Sea.

Unfortunately, she continued, the Regional Course in International Law for Latin America and the Caribbean scheduled for April-May 2020 in Santiago and the International Law Fellowship Programme in The Hague from June to August 2020 could not be held as a result of the COVID‑19 pandemic.  Adding that the 2020 Hamilton Shirley Amerasinghe Memorial Fellowship on the Law of the Sea also had to be postponed, she commended the Codification Division and the Division of Ocean Affairs for providing virtual training, including a remote self-paced learning curriculum as an interim means of capacity-building.  Moreover, in the case of the Regional Course in International Law for Latin America and the Caribbean, she notes that successful applicants were informed they would be afforded priority consideration when the course was held.

The representative of Eswatini, speaking for the African Group and associating with the Group of 77, said that the Programme of Assistance is instrumental in advancing the capacity of all Member States to be able to participate on an equal basis in the international order.  It directly serves the objectives and principles of the United Nations and the foundation of the current global order and represents an important tool assisting in the implementation of United Nations programmes worldwide.  He welcomed the activities outlined in the Secretary‑General’s report in relation to the International Law Fellowship Programme, including the United Nations Regional Courses in International Law.  He noted that such activities are particularly important in Africa, as evinced by an overwhelming number of applicants — 347 out of 433 — for the 2020 International Law Fellowship Programme coming from the continent.

He expressed regret that the Regional Course in Latin America could not be held due to the pandemic and welcomed the Codification Division’s efforts to make arrangements to address such exceptional circumstances, including by arranging a remote self-paced learning curriculum for participants.  He also expressed his hope that the recipient of the Hamilton Shirley Amerasinghe Memorial Fellowship, Linda Bana of Ghana, will be able to undertake her studies when pandemic-related travel restrictions eventually ease.  Turning to budgetary issues, he called on individuals and groups to make voluntary contributions to the Programme, for which there is rising demand.  In this context, he welcomed the commitment made by Ministers of the Group of 77 to include necessary funding for the International Law Fellowship Programme and the seminars and regional training on international treaty laws and practice, as well as legal publications and training materials, in the budget of the United Nations.

The representative of Cambodia, speaking for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the Programme had been greatly affected by the COVID‑19 pandemic during the reporting period, causing the cancellation of two programmes — the Regional Course in International Law for Latin America and the Caribbean scheduled for April-May 2020 in Santiago and the International Law Fellowship Programme in The Hague from June to August 2020.  Remote learning is an appropriate alternative to in-person programmes in international law, she noted, but should not be considered a permanent solution.

The use of information and communication technologies also provided value to the Programme during the pandemic, she said.  However, she stressed that they are not as effective as in-person learning, when students can benefit from one another through engaging discussions.  The Programme, she emphasized, provides bonds among participants and forges cooperation between nations.  It also plays a key role in promoting respect towards the rule of law, drawing in teachers and students from around the world, especially from developing countries.

The representative of Finland, speaking also for Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, stressed that rules-based cooperation is indispensable for tackling global warming, conflict, poverty and other challenges.  COVID‑19 has underlined this point.  Through the Programme of Assistance, generations of Government lawyers, judges and diplomats from all around the globe have been able to gain a deeper understanding of the body of law that governs the interconnected world.  The Fellowship Programme, as well as the Regional Courses, have been instrumental in providing training for young lawyers.

She went on to say that, although the Regional Courses for Asia-Pacific and Africa were held in person, the Regional Courses for Latin America and the Caribbean and the Fellowship Programme switched to a remote self-paced learning curriculum as an interim means of capacity-building.  She commended the continuous development of the Audiovisual Library of International Law to better service persons and organizations in areas with limited internet connection, adding that his country and those for which he was speaking would continue to examine requests for voluntary funding positively.

The representative of Argentina voiced appreciation for the efforts of the Programme of Assistance to meet its mandate in spite of the exceptional circumstances brought about by the COVID‑19 pandemic.  Spotlighting the tireless work of the officials and the leadership shown by the Ambassador of Ghana during her Chairmanship of the Advisory Committee, he said it was crucial that the Programme should continue its capacity-building activities in developing countries.  As well, it was especially important to facilitate access to documents in all the official languages and improve access to the archives.  Regretting that the Regional Course for Latin America and the Caribbean could not be held, he acknowledged the efforts that the Codification Division made to set up an online learning tool for participants as a provisional measure.  He also voiced support for efforts to improve multilingualism and the gender balance between participants and lecturers.

The representative of Moldova, aligning herself with the European Union, voiced appreciation for the Codification Division’s efforts in implementing Programme of Assistance activities despite challenges.  The ability to embrace timely and innovative digital solutions proved to be essential in conducting some of the scheduled training programmes, she said.  Noting that the selected participants were provided with a remote learning curriculum, which referenced important online sources such as the websites of the International Law Commission and the Audiovisual Library, she said this reconfirms the need to continue to invest in enhancing the websites maintained by the Codification Division and to expand them with scholarly research and writings from different legal systems and geographical regions.  Also noting the establishment of an alumni network of participants of the past training programmes, she said this helped them stay connected and encouraged the Codification Division to explore the possibility of online courses or virtual classrooms.

The representative of the Philippines, associating herself with ASEAN and the Group of 77, welcomed the work of the Codification Division, which implemented the Programme with commendable resilience and adaptability, despite challenges posed by the pandemic.  Many Filipinos have benefited from activities of the Programme over the years, which has helped in strengthening the country’s capacities in international law.  It has also helped establish vital networks of contacts in the field of international law.  She welcomed the Regional Course in International Law for Asia-Pacific held in Bangkok in November 2019, benefiting twenty-five participants, including one representative from the Philippines.  Turning to the Audiovisual Library, she called for a more geographically diverse, gender-balanced representation in its lecture series.  She noted that her country has contributed to funding for the Programme and encouraged other States to do so as well.

The representative of Poland said that the Programme of Assistance, for which her country is an Advisory Committee member, has helped further the knowledge and understanding of international law and capacity-building, benefiting the developing countries.  Wide dissemination and appreciation of international law is crucial for the strengthening of the rule of law and rules-based international order, which supports the United Nations goals of peace and security, human rights and development, as well as the promotion of friendly relations and cooperation among States.  It was regrettable that, owing to COVID19, the Regional Course for Latin America and the Caribbean and the Fellowship Programme could not be held.  On the Audiovisual Library, she stressed the need for increased diversity of the Library’s lecturers.  Poland will continue to support the Programme of Assistance, including by financially contributing to it, she said, calling for approval of necessary resources in the regular budget and for provision of in-kind and financial contributions.

The representative of Nigeria said the Programme of Assistance continues to have positive impacts on students and practitioners of international law worldwide, noting that the Office of Legal Affairs and the Codification Division have made relentless efforts to implement the Programme.  Although the International Law Fellowship Programme, scheduled to be held from 29 June to 10 August, could not go ahead as planned due to COVID19, he commended efforts made by the Division to provide applicants with a remote self-paced learning curriculum as an interim means of capacity-building.  The Audiovisual Library is another essential tool that aids in providing a wider understanding of the subject, he said, urging the United Nations to continue promoting the access and use of this important tool.  He also highlighted the resumption of desktop publishing activities that started in 2017, expressing hope that this would be sustained by the Division beyond 2021.

The representative of Thailand said the Programme of Assistance has played a significant role in promoting a better understanding of international law, which can strengthen the rule of law and enhance international peace and security.  Given the challenges posed by the pandemic, he encouraged the Codification Division to continue to explore innovative methods of carrying out its functions, and for the wider use of digital technology to disseminate and facilitate the Programme’s work.  Noting that Thailand will co-host the 2020 United Nations Regional Course when the global situation improves, he welcomed the expanded scope of participants, which will include those from Turkey and Palestine.  He commended the Codification Division for improving and updating the Audiovisual Library website and encouraged more recent videos to be uploaded to the site, as well as the addition of a tab in the website for “recent developments in international law”.  He called for more regular and adequate funding for the Programme’s activities in the regular budget and expressed hope Member States will continue to make voluntary contributions, financial and otherwise.

Requests for Observer Status

The Committee then took up the draft resolution on the request for observer status for the Small Island Developing States Dock in the General Assembly.

The representative of Belize, introducing draft resolution A/C.6/75/L.5, said that the Small Island Developing States Dock is designed to connect the energy sector in small island developing States (SIDS) with global markets for finance and sustainable energy technologies and carbon.  The statute of its establishment was deposited with the Secretary‑General in 2016, he noted, adding that 17 States are parties to the statute.  Highlighting its shared values with the United Nations, he noted the centrality of multilateralism to effectively respond to transboundary challenges.  The Small Island Developing States Dock addresses energy security, climate change and resilience-building, and acts as a facilitator of shared experience and mutual learning among SIDS.

The representative of Malaysia spoke in support of observer status for the Small Island Developing States Dock, calling it a transregional organization that supports programmes in development and conservation of renewable energy.

The representative of Micronesia also welcomed the request for observer status for the Dock, recalling his country’s involvement in the establishment of this important international platform.  It is the only recognized multilateral organization to represent the interests of small island developing States, he pointed out.

The representative of Singapore added her support for this observer request, saying that the Dock covers matters of interest to the General Assembly.  Further, its engagement as an observer in the work of the Assembly could enhance its ability to assist small island developing States in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, she stressed.

The Committee then took up the draft resolution on the request for observer status for the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Institute in the General Assembly.

The representative of China, introducing draft resolution A/C.6/75/L.6, said the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Institute, an intergovernmental organization, fulfils its mission by providing evidence-based research and capacity-building services to its member countries and networking with research institutions.  It aims to deepen and improve the level of economic cooperation in the region and coordinate the rapid development of the member countries through knowledge generation, knowledge service and knowledge management, thereby connecting Central Asia to the rest of the world.

The representative of Afghanistan said the Institute contributes to regional projects and initiatives, which promotes prosperity.  His country has benefited from the Institute’s activities in a number of fields, including energy and trade.  It will help reinforce his country as a hub for regional trade.

The representative of Azerbaijan said he is one of the contracting parties that established the Institute, which is an intergovernmental organization that enhances economic cooperation in the region.

The representative of Pakistan noted that the Institute’s activities, which foster sustainable development and poverty eradication, are in line with the objectives of the General Assembly.

The Committee then took up the draft resolution on the request for observer status for the Asian Forest Cooperation Organization in the General Assembly.

The representative of Republic of Korea, introducing draft resolution A/C.6/75/L.7, said that the Asian Forest Cooperation Organization aims to strengthen forest cooperation, specifically sustainable forest management, in order to address the impact of climate change.  Habitat destruction such as deforestation, resulting from climate change and other factors, is increasingly forcing disease-carrying wildlife closer to humans and allowing more pandemics to thrive.  The Asian Forest Cooperation Organization fully meets the two requirements for observer status in the General Assembly, he said, calling attention to its status as an intergovernmental organization.  Further, its activities cover matters of interest to the General Assembly, as it was established to strengthen cooperation in the forest sector and promote action-oriented sustainable forest management practices through policy support and capacity development.

The representative of the Philippines also spoke in support of observer status for the Asian Forest Cooperation Organization, highlighting its efforts to transform proven technology and policies into concrete actions in the context of sustainable forest management, thereby addressing the impact of climate change.

The representative of Viet Nam noted that the Asian Forest Cooperation Organization covers matters of interest to the Assembly by promoting international cooperation, capacity-building and exchange of experience in forest management, which will contribute to sustainable development.

The representative of Malaysia said that the Asian Forest Cooperation Organization is an intergovernmental body in Asia that aims to strengthen forest cooperation between Member States and with global stakeholders in the forest sector.  His country currently participates in a subregional project focusing on species that are on the verge of extinction.

The representative of Myanmar said his country is one of the founding members of the Asian Forest Cooperation Organization.  He also noted it has been engaging actively with international partners to contribute to sustainable development.

For information media. Not an official record.

MIL OSI United Nations News