Concluding its annual session today, the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on Strengthening the Role of the Organization adopted its 2017 draft report and forwarded its recommendations to the General Assembly.
Introducing the draft report, Special Committee Rapporteur Isaias Medina (Venezuela), in keeping with the Committee’s tradition, led delegations through a paragraph-by-paragraph reading of its contents.
The five-chapter report (documents A/AC.182/2017/L.1 to L.10) begins with an introduction covering the work of the body’s session, which began at Headquarters on 21 February. Adopted as orally amended, the document highlights proposals submitted by delegations pertaining to the items on the Special Committee’s agenda: maintenance of international peace and security; peaceful settlement of disputes; Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs and Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council; working methods; and identification of new subjects.
The Repertory is a legal publication which analyses the decisions of United Nations principal organs under each of the Articles of the United Nations Charter. The Repertoire is a constitutional and procedural guide to the proceedings of the Security Council since 1946.
Included in chapter II are summaries of discussions on the implementation of the Charter provisions related to assistance to third States affected by sanctions; Libya’s revised proposal, submitted in 1998, on strengthening the United Nations role in the maintenance of international peace and security; and Venezuela’s revised working paper, submitted in 2011, titled “open-ended working group to study the proper implementation of the Charter of the United Nations with respect to the functional relationship of its organs”.
Prior to adoption of chapter II of the report, Iran’s representative asked that the Non-Aligned Movement’s general statement — issued as a revised non-paper — on unilateral sanctions during the Committee’s debate appear in the document. The United States’ representative asked for more time to discuss the language, a request supported by her counterpart from the European Union. Cuba’s representative, however, said the report must reflect what occurred during debates and as the Movement’s general statement had already been discussed, there was no need for new negotiations on the text. Following a brief suspension of the meeting to consult on the matter, Committee Chair Ruslan Varankov (Belarus) said the sentence to be included would be the same as in the previous year’s text, which stated: “Some delegations also reaffirmed their concern about the imposition of unilateral sanctions in violation of international law.”
A revised working paper submitted by Belarus and the Russian Federation in 2014 concerning a request from the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of States’ use of force without prior Security Council authorization was also included, as was a working paper submitted by Cuba in 2012 on strengthening the role of the Organization and enhancing its effectiveness. The report also incorporates the Committee’s consideration of a working paper submitted by Ghana on strengthening the relationship and cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations on arrangements in the peaceful settlement of disputes.
Chapter III comprises a summary of discussions by the Special Committee on the proposal submitted by the Russian Federation in 2014 on updating the Handbook on the Peaceful Settlement of Disputes between States and establishing a website related thereto; and on the proposal submitted in 2015 by Iran, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, on pacific settlement of disputes and its impact on the maintenance of peace. The latter proposal by the Movement included a new paragraph by which the Assembly would decide that the Committee would hold an annual debate to discuss the means for settling disputes. The Assembly would invite Member States to focus their comments during the next Special Committee session on the subtopic titled “Exchange of information on State practices regarding the use of negotiation and enquiry”, while ensuring that the other means of dispute settlement be discussed in subsequent sessions. Furthermore, it would call on the Committee to include a summary of the subtopics in its annual report.
By a set of approved draft recommendations, to be included in chapter IV of the report, the Special Committee would have the Assembly note with appreciation the contributions made by Member States to trust funds for eliminating the backlog in the Repertory and for updating the Repertoire. It would call upon the Secretary-General to continue his efforts towards updating the two publications, and to address on a priority basis a backlog in the preparation of volume III of the Repertory. Further, it would welcome the Secretariat’s invitation to Member States to identify academic institutions capable of contributing to the preparation of studies for the Repertory and to provide their contact details.
Chapter V contains a summary of the discussions on working methods and the identification of new subjects.
Prior to adoption of chapter V, the United States’ representative proposed inclusion of a sentence on working methods that read: “Some delegations expressed concerns about these suggestions, including about the usefulness and status of the proposed Chair’s non-paper, and were not convinced a non-paper is needed in light of the existing process for drafting the report of the Special Committee and for organizing its programme of work and agenda.” The European Union supported the proposal.
Iran’s representative, questioning the appropriateness of including the sentence, asked for clarification of the Special Committee’s rules of procedure. In response, the United States’ representative said her comments were a reaction to the Movement’s suggestions for next year’s Committee bureau and she offered to modify the language from “proposed Chair’s non-paper” to “suggested non-paper”. Guatemala’s representative said that during the session the Chair’s non-paper was received favourably and that both positions — those in favour of it and those against — should be reflected in the report, a view supported by the representatives of Cuba and Morocco. Following a brief suspension of the meeting, the United States’ representative revised the sentence to read: “Some delegations expressed support for these suggestions while other delegations expressed concerns.”
Following the report’s adoption, Cuba’s representative proposed inclusion of a paragraph welcoming the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes, to be celebrated on 15 November 2017, calling on all States to promote the Declaration’s faithful implementation and to commemorate the anniversary. The proposal was supported by the representatives of the Philippines, Sudan, Nicaragua and Iran, speaking on behalf of the Movement, and Indonesia. The United States’ representative, however, said the proposal should not be included in the report, but should be considered for future action, a position supported by the representatives of the United Kingdom, France, Israel and the European Union. Cuba’s representative said the point was the anniversary should not go unrecognized, and that she was willing to retract the proposal for the current session if it did not have the Committee’s full agreement. Barring no objections, the proposal was withdrawn.
The Special Committee was established in 1975 to examine proposals to bolster the world body’s role in maintaining peace and security, to advance cooperation among nations and to promote international law.
The Special Committee will reconvene at a date and time to be announced.