Chair Suspends Meeting Several Times to Allow Consultations, as Heated Exchanges Break Out over Situation in Ukraine
The Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on Strengthening the Role of the Organization failed to adopt its 2022 draft report in its entirety today, as it concluded its annual session following a heated debate on the principles of the maintenance of international peace and security amid the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine.
Established as a platform for the exchange of views on the Charter’s implementation, the Special Committee holds annual sessions, with Member States gathering to consider proposals and hold substantive discussions. Since its founding in 1945, the mission and work of the United Nations have been guided by the purposes and principles contained in its Charter, adopted in 1945 and amended three times — in 1963, 1965 and 1973. The Special Committee’s 2022 session, running from 22 February to 2 March, featured in-person and virtual discussions and working groups.
At the outset of today’s meeting, Gheorghe Leucă (Republic of Moldova), Chair of the Special Committee, suspended proceedings to give delegates time to cast their votes on a draft resolution tabled at the simultaneously held emergency special session of the General Assembly on the situation in Ukraine. (See Press Release GA/12407.)
Once the meeting resumed, Ligia Lorena Flores Soto (El Salvador), Special Committee Rapporteur, introduced that body’s five-chapter draft report (documents A/AC.182/2022/L.1 to L.11). Acting by consensus, the Special Committee then approved Chapter I, which contains an introduction and an overview of the 2022 session’s opening day, 22 February. (For details of that meeting, see Press Release L/3293.)
The draft report outlines proposals submitted by delegations relating to the items on the Special Committee’s agenda: maintenance of international peace and security; peaceful settlement of disputes; the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs and Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council; and working methods and identification of new subjects. The Repertory is a legal publication that analyses the decisions of the Organization’s principal organs under each Article of the Charter of the United Nations. It has been a constitutional and procedural guide to the proceedings of the Security Council since 1946.
Many proposals today triggered almost 70 interventions by delegates, and the Chair suspended the discussions several times to allow for additional consultations into the evening.
Contention emerged over paragraphs in Chapter II, on the maintenance of international peace and security, which summarizes discussions held during the session, on the following topics: implementation of the provisions of the Charter relating to assistance to third States affected by the application of sanctions; introduction and implementation of sanctions imposed by the United Nations; and several revised proposals and working papers.
A heated exchange ensued upon mention of the Ukraine situation, in paragraph 2 of the draft report. Georgia’s representative proposed, on behalf of the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, an amendment to include language relating to the territorial integrity of States, which is a “cornerstone of the Charter”, among other things. She also proposed the inclusion of language that reflects the violation of the rights of some Member States in that regard.
Many delegates expressed support for Georgia’s proposed amendment, while welcoming the newly adopted resolution and condemning the Russian Federation’s attack on Ukraine. They included representatives of the United Kingdom, Australia (also on behalf of Canada), New Zealand, Japan, Romania, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic.
The Head of the European Union delegation, in its capacity as observer, emphasized that there is no place in the twenty-first century for the use of force to change recognized borders, describing such an action as a serious violation of international law and the Charter.
Poland’s delegate agreed, stressing: “We cannot build on the Charter without ensuring its foundations are strong.”
Slovakia’s representative highlighted the Special Committee’s task of considering issues relating to peace and security at the very same time when one Member State is invading another.
Latvia’s representative, speaking also for Estonia and Lithuania, said the best option is to include Georgia’s proposal in the final report.
The representative of the United States said the attack on Ukraine also pertains to the issue of peaceful settlement of disputes, adding that Georgia’s proposal is relevant.
However, the Russian Federation’s representative said the Special Committee should be addressing discussions held during its own session and not new ones, recalling that delegates already expressed their views during the General Assembly’s emergency special session. The trilateral statement is already in the draft report and does not reflect the Russian Federation’s proposal, he added. Including the proposed amendment will result in a duplication, to which the Russian Federation will not agree, he cautioned, pointing out that his delegation’s proposal has not been heard. He went on to condemn “the blood‑thirsty illegal coup that took place in Kyiv in 2014 with the involvement of many today who spoke against Russia”, and ongoing support for flourishing neo‑Naziism in Ukraine. As for those “pushing for peace” today, he asked where they were when the Russian Federation was asking for security guarantees. He pointed out that the “coalition for peace” and the “war on terror” were all acts of aggression, “so don’t pretend something has changed now”.
The delegates of Syria and Belarus also rejected the inclusion of Georgia’s proposed amendment.
China’s representative emphasized that the Special Committee’s mandate is to deliberate on the wording of the draft report, and not to hear comments on regional situations.
The draft report’s Chapter III, on the peaceful settlement of disputes, is divided into two sections. Section A contains a summary of views expressed during the general debate and of the Special Committee’s annual thematic debate on the subtopic “Exchange of information on State practices regarding the use of judicial settlement”. Section B reflects discussions on a proposal, submitted by the Russian Federation, recommending a request that the Secretariat establish a website on the peaceful settlement of disputes and update the Handbook on Peaceful Settlement of Disputes between States.
Several delegations differed over provisions in Chapter III. The representative of Republic of Moldova, speaking on behalf of Georgia and Ukraine, proposed an amendment to paragraph 2, emphasizing the importance of implementing the decisions of international adjudicative bodies and the results of mediation conferences.
Ukraine’s representative requested a technical update to paragraph 3 so as to reflect the newly adopted General Assembly resolution by changing the words “military operation” to “aggression”.
The Russian Federation’s representative proposed the deletion of paragraph 3, explaining that the special military operation in question is intended to de-Nazify Ukraine. Regarding Ukraine’s statement, he said those words were not stated during the session’s discussions and therefore cannot be included in the Special Committee’s report.
Georgia’s representative proposed, on behalf of the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, adding several terms to paragraph 3, among them a sentence noting that neighbouring countries underlined that the military conflict’s consequences resulted in refugees crossing borders. She also proposed an amendment to paragraph 12, introducing language to the effect that a group of delegations underlined that implementation of International Court of Justice decisions should, among other things, be subject to careful monitoring by the Security Council.
Chapter IV, reflecting the Special Committee’s consideration of the item “Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs and Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council”, contains a set of draft recommendations prepared by the Bureau. Chapter V, on working methods and identification of new subjects, contains two sections covering the summaries of discussions on those issues. The representatives of the United States, Iran and the Russian Federation proposed amendments to several paragraphs of Chapter IV.
Also making interventions today were representatives of Costa Rica, Venezuela, Turkey, India, Chile, Indonesia, Singapore, Mexico and Morocco.