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Special Committee on United Nations Charter Adopts Draft Report, Sends Proposals to General Assembly, Concluding Session

The Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on Strengthening the Role of the Organization adopted its 2021 draft report today, concluding its annual session and sending a package of recommendations to the General Assembly.

Rapporteur Sarah Weiss Ma’udi (Israel) introduced the five-chapter draft report (documents A/AC.182/2021/L.1 to L.11), which begins with an introduction describing deliberations during the current session, which began in New York on 16 February.

Adopted as orally amended, the report outlines proposals submitted by delegations related 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 of the Articles of the Charter of the United Nations.  It has been a constitutional and procedural guide to the proceedings of the Security Council since 1946.

Chapter II of the draft report, on the maintenance of international peace and security, is divided into five sections.  Adopted without discussion, it summarizes the Special Committee’s consideration of a range of topics, including the implementation of sanctions imposed by the United Nations.

Also considered in Chapter II are:  a revised proposal submitted by Libya on strengthening the role of the United Nations in the maintenance of international peace and security; a revised working paper submitted by Belarus and the Russian Federation that suggests, among other things, seeking an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the use of force by States without prior authorization by the Security Council, except in the exercise of self-defence; a revised working paper submitted by Cuba titled “Strengthening the role of the Organization and enhancing its effectiveness:  adoption of recommendations”; and a further revised paper submitted by Ghana, “Strengthening the relationship and cooperation between the United Nations and regional arrangements or agencies in the peaceful settlement of disputes”.

Chapter III, on the peaceful settlement of disputes, reflects the views expressed on that subject during the Special Committee’s general debate, as well as a summary of its annual thematic debate on the subtopic “Exchange of information on State practices regarding the use of arbitration”.  Among other things, the Chapter outlines discussions on the Russian Federation’s proposal to request that the Secretariat establish a website on the peaceful resolution of disputes and update the Handbook on Peaceful Settlement of Disputes between States.  It also reflects discussions on a recommendation by the Philippines on the commemoration of the fortieth anniversary of the adoption of the Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes.

The representative of Ukraine, speaking on behalf of Georgia and the Republic of Moldova, proposed the addition of a sentence to paragraph 4 of Chapter III to explain that “some delegations stressed the importance of full implementation of the decisions of international adjudicative bodies”.  The representative of the Russian Federation suggested the insertion of an identical sentence, but without the adjective “full”.

The representative of Ukraine said that, in the spirit of compromise, his delegation and those of Georgia and the Republic of Moldova, would accept the Russian Federation’s proposed language.  He added, however, that it was not surprising to see a Member State which has carried out armed aggression against its neighbours disagree with the idea of full compliance with the decisions of international adjudicative bodies such as the International Court of Justice.

The representative of the Republic of Moldova cautioned that the urge to find consensus should not prompt attempts at censorship.

The representative of Georgia asked what it means to uphold the Charter if a Member State chooses not to implement international judicial decisions in full.

The representative of Iran, noting that the report’s Chapter III lacks any reference to the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal, proposed duly amending paragraph 11.

The representative of the United States suggested adding the Tribunal to the list of bodies cited in that paragraph, for which other delegations expressed appreciation.  Iran’s representative said his delegation could go along with that idea.

Chapter IV of the draft report reflects the Special Committee’s consideration of the Repertory and the Repertoire.  It also features draft recommendations prepared by the Bureau, which follow the language of previous recommendations adopted during past sessions, with some necessary updates.

By the terms of several draft recommendations, the General Assembly would note with appreciation the contributions of Member States to trust funds for eliminating the backlog in the Repertory and for updating the Repertoire.  It would also encourage Member States to identify academic institutions capable of contributing to the preparation of studies for the Repertory and welcome the initiative to invite members of the International Law Commission to recommend academic institutions for that purpose.

The General Assembly would call upon the Secretary-General to continue efforts towards updating the two publications and make them available electronically in their respective language versions and encourage continued updates of the Repertory website.  The Assembly would also note with concern that the backlog in preparing volume III of the Repertory — while slightly reduced — has not been eliminated and call upon the Secretary-General to address that matter on a priority basis.

Chapter V of the Special Committee’s draft report, on working methods and identifying new subjects, contains summaries of the deliberations on those items during the present session.

The representative of Iran proposed expanding the reference in paragraph 15 on the adverse impact of unilateral coercive measures on medical and humanitarian needs to include Government representation at the United Nations.  Doing so would reflect an element that Iran brought up during the session, he added.

The representative of the United States said she had no objection to such an insertion.

Annex I of the final report, if adopted by the General Assembly, would reproduce the text of a revised proposal for a new subject — contained in a working paper submitted by Mexico — “Discussion on the application of Article 51, in light of its interrelation with Article 2(4), of the Charter of the United Nations”, which reflects comments made during informal consultations on 22 February.


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