17 February 2015
276th Meeting (AM)

Special Charter Committee Delegates Tackle Matters on Economic Sanctions, Institutional Reform, as Week-Long Session Commences

The Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization opened its 2015 session today with delegations debating questions related to economic sanctions, as well as institutional reform.

Delegates underscored their positions on such topics as maintenance of international peace and security — particularly the application of sanctions and assistance to third States — settlement of international disputes and improvement of working methods of the Organization.

The representative of the European Union recalled that the Secretary-General in his latest report noted that neither the General Assembly nor the Economic and Social Council had found it necessary in 2013 to take any action related to economic problems arising from sanctions affecting third States.  The Secretariat also highlighted that no State had appealed to the United Nations since 2003 for remedy and relief from economic problems relating to sanctions.  Therefore, it was no longer relevant for the Special Committee to study the question more often than every three years, she said.

The representative of China, urging the use of sanctions as a last resort, said an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of States’ use of force without prior authorization by the Security Council, except in the exercise of the right to self-defence, would be conducive to clarifying issues relating to the maintenance of international peace and security.

Concern was also expressed by several delegations regarding the encroachment by the Security Council on the functions and powers of the General Assembly.  The representative of Iran, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, stressed the need to democratize the principal organs of the United Nations and ensure respect for the role and authority of the Assembly.

The representative of Syria stated that selectivity and double standards exhibited over the past decades threatened the credibility and efficiency of the Organization, which necessitated reform of its working methods.

The representative of South Africa, speaking for the African Group, also emphasized that the Organization could not demand that its Members adhere to the rule of law while it made no attempt to demonstrate that principle.  Turning to the work of the Security Council, he pointed out that the Special Committee could contribute meaningfully towards promoting a more effective relationship between the Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council.

Speaking for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, the representative of Ecuador underscored that full implementation of the mandate of the Special Committee depended on the political will of Member States.  Genuine efforts, therefore, were needed to form a solid thematic agenda for the Committee’s work programme.

To that end, the United States representative, underscoring the need to enhance the Special Committee’s effectiveness, urged sponsors of long-standing proposals to scrutinize whether those issues had been taken up and addressed by the United Nations elsewhere.  He also requested the Secretariat to provide information on steps taken towards commemorating the seventieth anniversary of the Charter.

At the meeting’s outset, Odo Tevi (Vanuatu) was elected as Chair of the Special Committee.  Elected as Vice-Chairs were Alejandro Sousa (Mexico) of the Latin American and Caribbean Group and Idrees Mohammed Ali Mohammed Saeed (Sudan) of the African Group.  Sebastian Rogac (Croatia) of the Eastern European Group was elected as Rapporteur.  The Western European and Other States Group was encouraged to nominate a candidate for the third Vice-Chair position.

Also speaking today were representatives of Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Republic of Korea, Venezuela, Ukraine, Malaysia, Tunisia and Morocco.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea, Israel and Syria.

The session, which will continue through 25 February, will reconvene at 10 a.m. 18 February to continue consideration of topics related to the maintenance of international peace and security.

For information media. Not an official record.