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Source: United Nations 4

The General Assembly today reaffirmed the vital role of the Sixth Committee (Legal) as its primary forum for considering legal questions, adopting without a vote 19 draft resolutions and 10 draft decisions recommended by the Committee, including four new requests for observer status.

Solomon Korbieh (Ghana), Sixth Committee Rapporteur, introduced the Committee’s 29 reports, noting that the texts represent the Organization’s legal priorities — namely, the promotion of justice and international law; drug control, crime prevention and combating international terrorism in all its forms and manifestations; and organizational matters and administration.

Among the texts adopted today was the resolution titled “Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) on the work of its fifty‑third session”, which, among other things, saw the General Assembly commend the Commission for holding a series of online panels to discuss the connection between its work and the economic consequences of the COVID‑19 pandemic.

Another resolution adopted was on the report “United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law”, by which the General Assembly authorized the regular budget financing of activities including the International Law Fellowship Programme, the United Nations regional courses in international law and the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law.

The resolution titled “Crimes against humanity” was also adopted during the meeting and, while it represented mostly a technical update of the resolution introduced in 2019, it also spotlighted the International Law Commission’s draft articles on the prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity.

The representative of the United Kingdom, commenting on that text, pointed out a notable lacuna in international law.  Noting that some States prefer a cautious approach to this topic while others desire more immediate action in the form of a binding international convention, she expressed hope that Member States would be able to come to the seventy‑sixth General Assembly ready to achieve the progress that had not been possible in the current session.

Also approved without a vote was the resolution concerning the report of the International Law Commission on the work of its seventy‑second session.  The text mainly reflected technical updates to the 2019 draft resolution — as the COVID‑19 pandemic thwarted the issuance of a report for 2020 — but also called Governments’ attention to the importance of providing their views on topics on the Commission’s agenda by 31 December 2020, particularly on the issues of immunity of State officials, succession of States and sea level rise in relation to international law.

Volkan Bozkir (Turkey), President of the General Assembly, praised the Sixth Committee’s commitment, during a time of crisis, to the vital work of the progressive development and codification of international law.  The global challenges of 2020 engendered paeans to solidarity as the first line of defence, and the Sixth Committee embodied this sentiment in the 19 draft resolutions and 10 decisions it approved without a vote.  Noting the Committee’s effective working methodologies during this extraordinary session, he said the body’s work ethic and collegiality serve as an example for the entire Organization of how to move forward in difficult times.

Mr. Bozkir also took note of the exceptional circumstances that colored this session.  Highlighting the added value and unique role that observers bring to the sessions and work of the General Assembly, he stressed that the international community would find sustainable global solutions only through a multilateral system that promotes the rule of law.  “Together we will get through this and recover better,” he added.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 16 December, to consider the report of the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural).

Opening Remarks

VOLKAN BOZKIR (Turkey), President of the General Assembly, praised the Sixth Committee (Legal) for stepping up during a time of crisis and completing its work ahead of time.  Congratulating the delegates for their effective working methodologies, he noted their commitment to the vital work of the progressive development and codification of international law.  The Sixth Committee remains the primary forum for the consideration of legal questions in the Assembly, he said, highlighting the virtual events it held on International Law Day.

There was much talk of solidarity as the first line of defence in 2020, he said, noting that this was especially true for the Sixth Committee, where 19 draft resolutions were approved by consensus.  Noting the many important topics on which the Sixth Committee made progress, he pointed to four new observer status requests and thanked all existing observers for their meaningful participation.  Applauding the Committee for upholding the spirit of the Charter of the United Nations by maintaining focus on opportunities for progressive development and codification, he said the work ethic and collegiality of the Sixth Committee represent an example of how to move forward, for the entire Organization.

Sixth Committee (Legal) Reports

SOLOMON KORBIEH (Ghana), Sixth Committee Rapporteur, introduced that body’s reports addressing 29 substantive and 3 procedural agenda items that had been allocated to the Committee.  With the exception of the election of officers, they represented the Organization’s priorities in the legal sphere, namely the promotion of justice and international law; drug control, crime prevention and combating international terrorism in all its forms and manifestations; and organizational matters and administration.

Introducing the reports by heading order, he said that the 19 draft resolutions and 10 draft decisions had been approved by the Sixth Committee without a vote.  Adding he hoped the General Assembly would do the same, he pointed out that there was no report for the agenda item “Election of officers of the Main Committees”.  Consistent with previous practice, elections for the Sixth Committee’s seventy‑sixth session would be taken up at a later stage in the course of the current session.

The General Assembly turned to the report “Criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission” (document A/75/423), adopting the resolution contained therein without a vote.  By the text, the General Assembly urged the Secretary‑General to ensure that his zero‑tolerance policy for criminal activities — such as sexual exploitation and abuse, fraud and corruption — is made known to all Organization officials and experts on mission and is implemented in a coherent and coordinated manner throughout the United Nations.

The Assembly also urged States to ensure that crimes committed by these individuals do not go unpunished and to establish jurisdiction over crimes that are recognized by domestic law and committed by their nationals while serving in such a capacity.  The General Assembly also requested the Secretary‑General to bring credible allegations of such crimes to the attention of the States against whose nationals such allegations are made and subsequently request updates regarding investigative and prosecutorial efforts.

The General Assembly then adopted the draft resolution contained in the “Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) on the work of its fifty‑third session”.  The eponymous resolution (document A/75/424) had the General Assembly commend the completion of the Legal Guide to Uniform Legal Instruments in the Area of International Commercial Contracts and welcome the entry into force on 12 September the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation (Singapore Convention on Mediation).

Among other things, the General Assembly commended the Commission for holding a series of online panels during the first part of its fifty‑third session to discuss the connection between the work of the Commission and the economic consequences of the COVID‑19 pandemic.  It also noted that several legislative tools developed by the Commission can play an important role in assisting States in mitigating the effects of the measures required to control the pandemic, as well as in their economic recovery efforts.

The Assembly next adopted without a vote the resolution contained therein the report “United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law” (document A/75/425).  Among other things, the General Assembly authorized the financing of certain activities from provisions in the regular budget, including the International Law Fellowship Programme; the United Nations regional courses in international law; and the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law.  The General Assembly also authorized the Secretary‑General to award additional fellowships for the training programmes from available budget resources and voluntary contributions and requested that the Secretary‑General consider admitting self‑funded candidates for participation in these programmes.

The General Assembly then turned to the resolution contained within “Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its seventy‑second session” (document A/75/426).  Due to the COVID‑19 pandemic, there was no 2020 report.  Therefore, the resolution reflected technical updates to the draft resolution.  Among other things, the General Assembly called Governments’ attention to the importance of providing their views on topics on the International Law Commission’s agenda by 31 December 2020, particularly on the issues of immunity of State officials; succession of States; general principles of law; and sea level rise in relation to international law.

The General Assembly next adopted the report “Crimes against Humanity” (document A/75/427), noting that the resolution represented a technical update of the resolution introduced in 2019.  By the terms, the Assembly expressed its appreciation to the International Law Commission for its contribution to the codification and progressive development of international law, spotlighting the Commission’s draft articles on prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity.  The Sixth Committee would include the topic in its seventy‑sixth session’s provisional agenda.

The representative of the United Kingdom, speaking in explanation of position after action, said that the draft articles tackle an important lacuna in international law.  While many States desired to exchange views on this matter, a small number of others could not agree to hold a one‑off discussion on the draft articles.  Some States would like to take a cautious approach and others would like to move towards a convention now.  The first step is for countries to communicate with each other on the draft articles, she said, adding that while there has been no progress this year, hopefully Member States will come to the next session ready to make progress.

Adopting the report “Expulsion of aliens” (document A/75/428), the General Assembly noted that the text constituted a technical update, changing several references in the preambular paragraphs.  The Assembly acknowledged Government comments on the subject expressed in the Sixth Committee’s seventy‑fifth session.  It also decided to include the topic in the seventy‑eighth session’s provisional agenda, with a view to examining, inter alia, the future form of the draft articles on the expulsion of aliens.

Next, the General Assembly adopted the report “Status of the Protocols Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and relating to the protection of victims of armed conflicts” (document A/75/429).  Due to current circumstances arising from the pandemic, the text was a technical rollover and only introduced necessary updates.  Among other things, the General Assembly called on all State parties to the Geneva Convention to consider becoming parties to certain related international instruments, including the Additional Protocols, if they have not yet done so.

It also called on all States who are parties to the Additional Protocols to ensure their dissemination and implementation.  In addition, the Secretary‑General was requested to submit to the General Assembly at its seventy‑seventh session a report on the status of the Additional Protocols relating to the protection of victims of armed conflicts and on measures taken to strengthen the existing body of international humanitarian law based on information received from Member States and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The General Assembly continued by adopting without a vote the resolution “Consideration of effective measures to enhance the protection, security and safety of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives” (document A/75/430).  The Assembly noted the text represented a technical rollover and extended the relevant mandates regarding the reporting of serious violations of the safety and security of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives.

Also by the text, the Assembly urged States to strictly observe, implement and enforce — including during periods of armed conflict — international law governing diplomatic and consular relations and to ensure the protection, security and safety of the missions, representatives and officials present in territories under their jurisdiction.  Among other things, it also further urged States to comply with international law governing the protection and inviolability of certain diplomatic and consular premises and to take all appropriate measures to prevent any abuse of diplomatic or consular privileges and immunities.

The Assembly then adopted without a vote the resolution “Report of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization” (document A/75/431).  Among other things, the General Assembly recognized the International Court of Justice’s important role in adjudicating disputes among States and requested the Secretary‑General to distribute the advisory opinions.  It encouraged Member States to identify and provide the contact details of academic institutions capable of contributing studies for the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs.  The Assembly also called for voluntary contributions to the trust funds for eliminating the Repertory’s backlog and for updating the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council.

Also before the Assembly was the resolution “The rule of law at the national and international levels” (document A/75/432), adopted without a vote.  By the text, the General Assembly, among other things, stressed the importance of adherence to the rule of law at the national level and the need to strengthen support to Member States who so request in the domestic implementation of their respective international obligations through enhanced technical assistance and capacity‑building.  It called for enhanced dialogue among stakeholders to place national perspectives at the centre of rule of law assistance in order to strengthen national ownership, recognizing that States have different national experiences in the development of their rule of law systems while also acknowledging that there are common features founded on international norms and standards.

Acting again without a vote, the Assembly adopted the resolution “The scope and application of the principle of universal jurisdiction” (document A/75/433), noting that the text is mostly a technical update of the resolution introduced in 2019, with one notable change — the establishment of a working group to discuss this topic at the seventy‑seventh session of the General Assembly.  As well, the General Assembly invited Member States and relevant observers to submit information and observations on the topic before 30 April 2021, including information on germane international treaties, national rules and judicial practice.  It further requested the Secretary‑General to prepare and submit a report based thereon to the Assembly at its seventy‑sixth session.

The General Assembly then adopted the report “Responsibility of international organizations” (document A/75/434), in which it took note of the articles on the responsibility of international organizations; commended them to the attention of Governments and international organizations without prejudice to the question of their future adoption or other appropriate action; and decided to include in the provisional agenda of its seventy‑eighth session the item entitled “Responsibility of international organizations”, with a view to examining the question of the form that might be given to the draft articles.

Also adopted by the Assembly was the report “Protection of persons in the event of disasters” (document A/75/435), in which the Assembly decided, after the Sixth Committee circulated a zero draft on 23 October with a technical update of the previous resolution, to defer the item to the seventy‑sixth session.

The General Assembly then took up the report “Strengthening and promoting the international treaty framework” (document A/75/436), adopting the resolution therein.  The text, based on Assembly resolution 73/210, reaffirmed the importance of registering treaties.  Apart from technical updates, the key substantive changes included the reaffirmation of multilingualism and encouragement for an online treaty registration system.  The Assembly also welcomed the organization of workshops on treaty law and practice by the Treaty Section at Headquarters and at the national and regional levels as an important capacity‑building initiative, along with efforts to develop and enhance the United Nations electronic treaty database.

Further terms encouraged the Secretary‑General to develop — in consultation with and on the basis of feedback from Member States and within existing resources — an online treaty registration system to facilitate submissions of treaties for registration.  In addition, the Assembly decided to defer consideration of proposals on the regulations to the seventy‑sixth session, taking into account the limitations on meetings within the United Nations premises as precautionary measures aimed at containing the spread of COVID‑19.

The Assembly also adopted without a vote the resolution “Measures to eliminate international terrorism” (document A/75/437).  While the text reflected technical updates to the 2019 resolution, the language had been further refined through bilateral discussions.  The General Assembly, among other things, called upon all Member States, the United Nations and other appropriate international, regional and subregional organizations to implement the United Nations Global Counter‑Terrorism Strategy, as well as related resolutions.  All States and the Secretary‑General were urged to make the best use of the existing institutions of the United Nations.  Further, it recommended that the Sixth Committee, at the seventy‑sixth session, establish a working group with a view to finalizing the process on the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism, as well as discussions on the item concerning the question of convening a high‑level conference under the auspices of the United Nations.

The Assembly then adopted without a vote the decision contained in the report “Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly” (document A/75/453).  By that text, the Assembly adopted next year’s session of the Sixth Committee, which was made on the assumption of normalcy, with the future Bureau considering its most effective implementation.

The Assembly also took note of the report on Programme Planning (document A/75/452), which required no further action by the Assembly.

Adopting without a vote the resolution “Report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country” (document A/75/439), the General Assembly urged the host country to remove all remaining travel restrictions imposed on staff of certain missions and staff members of the Secretariat of certain nationalities.  In addition, it noted with concern the difficulties experienced by some permanent missions to the United Nations in obtaining suitable banking service.  The Assembly also expressed its appreciation for the efforts made by the United States Mission to the United Nations, including responding to requests from the diplomatic community in the challenging circumstances caused by the COVID‑19 pandemic, and affirmed the importance of the Host Country Committee being in a position to fulfil its mandate and meet on short notice to deal with urgent and important matters concerning the relations between the United Nations and the host country.

Before the General Assembly was the decision “Observer status for the Cooperation Council of Turkic‑speaking States in the General Assembly” (document A/75/440).  By that text, the sponsors requested that the Committee defer a decision on the request for observer status for the Cooperation Council of Turkic‑speaking States in the General Assembly until the seventy‑sixth session of the General Assembly.  The decision was adopted.

Also adopted by the Assembly was a decision on “Observer status for the Eurasian Economic Union in the General Assembly” (document A/75/441), in which the sponsors requested the Committee to defer a decision on the request for observer status for the Eurasian Economic Union in the General Assembly until the seventy‑sixth session of the Assembly.

The Assembly then adopted a draft decision on “Observer status for the Community of Democracies in the General Assembly” (document A/75/442), in which the sponsors requested the Committee to defer a decision on the request for observer status for the Community of Democracies in the General Assembly until the seventy‑sixth session of the Assembly.

Also adopted by the Assembly was a draft decision on “Observer status for the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands Secretariat in the General Assembly” (document A/75/443), in which the sponsors requested the Committee to defer a decision on the request for observer status for the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands Secretariat in the General Assembly until the seventy‑sixth session of the Assembly.

The Assembly also adopted without a vote a draft decision to defer the request “Observer status for the Global Environment Facility in the General Assembly” (document A/75/444) until the seventy‑sixth session of the Assembly.

Before the Assembly was the draft decision “Observer status for the International Organization of Employers in the General Assembly” (document A/75/445).  By that text, the sponsors requested that the Committee defer a decision on the request for observer status for the International Organization of Employers in the General Assembly until the seventy‑sixth session of the Assembly.  The Assembly adopted the decision.

Also adopted by the Assembly was the decision “Observer status for the International Trade Union Confederation in the General Assembly” (document A/75/446).  By that text, the sponsors requested that the Committee defer a decision on the request for observer status for the International Trade Union Confederation in the General Assembly until the seventy‑sixth session of the Assembly.

The Assembly also adopted without a vote the decision “Observer status for the Boao Forum for Asia in the General Assembly” (document A/75/447).  By that text, the sponsors requested that the Committee defer a decision on the request for observer status for the Boao Forum for Asia in the General Assembly until the seventy‑sixth session of the Assembly.

The General Assembly then adopted without a vote the resolution “Observer status for the Small Island Developing States Dock (SIDS DOCK) in the General Assembly” (document A/75/448).  Invited to participate in the sessions and the work of the General Assembly in the capacity of observer, the Dock is designed to connect the energy sector in small island developing States with global markets for finance and sustainable energy technologies.  It also addresses energy security, climate change and resilience‑building and acts as a facilitator of shared experience and mutual learning among small island developing States.

The General Assembly then adopted without a vote “Observer status for Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Institute in the General Assembly” (document A/75/449).  The General Assembly invited the Institute to participate in the sessions and the work of the General Assembly in the capacity of observer.  An intergovernmental organization, it 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.

Also adopted by the Assembly without a vote was the resolution “Observer status for the Asian Forest Cooperation Organization in the General Assembly” (document A/75/450).  Invited to participate in the sessions and the work of the General Assembly in the capacity of observer, the 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.  An intergovernmental organization, 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 General Assembly then adopted without a vote the resolution “Observer status for the Global Dryland Alliance in the General Assembly” (document A/75/451).  The General Assembly invited the Alliance to participate in its sessions and work in the capacity of observer.  The Alliance, by working collaboratively with a range of countries and organizations committed to addressing the food security of dryland residents, focuses on bridging current gaps in research, strategy and policy to enable dryland States to improve food security and ensure the future well‑being of their people.

For information media. Not an official record.

MIL OSI United Nations News