18 February 2014
273rd Meeting (AM)

Divergent Views Emerge on Whether UN Charter Committee Is Correct Platform for Discussing Sanctions, as Week-long Session Opens

The Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization opened its 2014 session today, as delegates debated questions surrounding economic sanctions, as well as wide‑ranging issues of reform.

The use of targeted sanctions was a key area of focus during the morning’s debate, with the delegate from the European Union noting that, since 2003, neither the General Assembly nor the Economic and Social Council found it necessary to take action related to economic problems arising from sanctions affecting third States.  “It should certainly not be a matter of priority for this Committee, as we do not see any concrete issues that would merit discussion.”

The representative of the United States agreed, saying that sanctions remained a robust tool for combating threats to international security and that the third States issue no longer merited discussion in the Committee.

The representative of the Russian Federation believed that the use of sanctions enabled the international community to avoid using force, although experience had shown that their use often followed a path of trail and error.  As such, the potential impact on third States did, in fact, deserve due consideration by the Special Committee.

Agreeing with the Russian Federation, the representative of Costa Rica, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said that, although no State had come forward with a third State appeal as of yet, the topic must remain on the Committee’s agenda, which should compile and evaluate data regarding the challenges faced by third States before drawing any conclusion about potential negative impacts.

Turning to the topic of reform of the Committee’s working methods, the representative of Cuba said that, in recent years, some delegations had hindered the Committee’s work, and, therefore, important initiatives to enhance the work of the Organization as a whole had stagnated.  Her delegation was opposed to efforts to reduce the work of or altogether abolish the Committee.

The representative of South Africa said that the Committee’s working methods had prevented it from effectively performing its primary functions — which should include a special focus on the rule of law and justice.  The delegate believed that the Committee must endeavour to protect the Organization from being labelled “hypocritical”.

The balance between the General Assembly and the Security Council was another area of concern for some delegations, with the representative of Iran, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, expressing concern about the encroachment of the Security Council on the work of the Assembly.  He said that the latter body was entrusted with being the chief policymaking body of the United Nations and efforts should be taken to ensure that its crucial role in international peace and security was preserved.

Also commanding attention was reform of the Security Council.  The representative of Qatar said the matter needed greater attention, as the Council should reflect contemporary realities.  He added that reform efforts should be comprehensive and include more than simply expanding the Council’s membership.

At the outset of the meeting, Marcel van den Bogaard ( Netherlands) was elected as incoming Chair of the Special Committee.  Elected as Vice-Chairs were Oleksandr Pavlichenko ( Ukraine) of the Eastern European States Group and Patricio Troya ( Ecuador) of the Latin American and Caribbean Group.  Thembile Elphus Joyini ( South Africa) of the African Group was elected as Rapporteur.  The Asia-Pacific States Group was encouraged to nominate a candidate for the Vice-Chair position.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Ghana, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Syria, Malaysia, Egypt, China, Nicaragua, Tunisia, India and the Republic of Korea.

The session, which will run until 26 February, will reconvene at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 19 February, to consider topics relating to the maintenance of international peace and security.

For information media. Not an official record.