After approving four draft resolutions concerning the work of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) today, the Sixth Committee (Legal) critiqued its own working methods, with delegates emphasizing the need to make better use of time and calling for an improved relationship with the International Law Commission.
The Sixth Committee approved without a vote the draft resolution “Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law on the work of its fifty-first session” (document A/C.6/73/L.11). By the text, the General Assembly would take note with appreciation of that report and endorse the efforts and initiatives of the Commission as the core legal body within the United Nations system in the field of international trade law.
The Committee also approved without a vote a draft resolution, “United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation” (document A/C.6/73/L.12). By its terms, the Assembly would adopt that Convention and authorize a ceremony for the opening for signature to be held in Singapore on 7 August 2019. It would also recommend that the Convention be known as the “Singapore Convention on Mediation”.
A third draft resolution approved today without a vote, on “Model Law on International Commercial Mediation and International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law” (document A/C.6/73/L.13) would have the Assembly request the Secretary-General to transmit the text of the Model Law to Governments and other interested bodies.
Also approved without a vote, the fourth draft resolution, “Model Law on Recognition and Enforcement of Insolvency-Related Judgments of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law” (document A/C.6/73/L.14), would have the Assembly recommend that all States give favourable consideration to the Model Law when revising or adopting legislation relevant to insolvency, bearing in mind the need for internationally harmonized legislation governing and facilitating instances of cross-border insolvency.
The Sixth Committee then turned to the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly, with the representative of Australia, also speaking for New Zealand and Canada, reminding delegates to make the best use of time in the Committee. Noting that the debate on the International Law Commission’s report ran longer than usual this session and impacted on time for informal consultations on draft resolutions, he called for the setting of time limits for interventions, both during Committee meetings and during the annual review of the Commission’s report.
Peru’s delegate, highlighting the relationship between the Commission and the Committee, underscored that cooperation and dialogue between the two is the key to success. However, that interaction must take into account the definition and distinction of roles. Spotlighting practical measures such as encouraging the Sixth Committee to endorse the Commission’s agenda topics, he encouraged the Commission to hold a part of its session in New York frequently.
The General Assembly represents 193 Member States, the representative of Uruguay emphasized, calling for improvements in gender balance, geographic representation and multilingualism. Lamenting that progress achieved in recent years appears to have stalled of late, he recalled former General Assembly President Miroslav Lajčák (Slovakia), who “exhausted all his resources in making revitalization a priority” through long days of negotiations. Member States must work through this impasse and grant the Assembly greater authority, he stressed.
Also speaking today were representatives of El Salvador (for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Nicaragua, Mauritius, Oman, Slovakia, Sudan and Barbados.
The Sixth Committee will next meet at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 13 November to take action on all remaining draft resolutions.
The Sixth Committee took up four draft resolutions on the work of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).
The first of those texts, “Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law on the work of its fifty-first session” (document A/6.6/73/L.11) was approved without a vote.
The Committee then turned to the draft resolution, “United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation” (document A/C.6/73/L.12). It was approved without a vote.
The representative of Singapore expressed his appreciation for the support of that resolution, which adopts the Convention and authorizes a ceremony in his country in August 2019. He said he looked forward to welcoming delegations to Singapore to be among the first signatories to the Convention.
The Committee also approved without a vote a third draft resolution, “Model Law on International Commercial Mediation and International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation” (document A/C.6/73/L.13), as well as a fourth draft text, “Model Law on Recognition and Enforcement of Insolvency-Related Judgements” (document A/C.6/73/L.14).
SAAD AHMAD WARRAICH (Pakistan) then introduced the draft resolution on “Criminal Accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission” (document A/C.6/73/L.15). He underscored that the draft resolution is the result of extensive consultations and takes into account the two meetings of the Working Group. The draft resolution includes one new preambular paragraph and one new operative paragraph.
He went on to say that in the new preamble, the General Assembly would take note of the oral report of the Chair of the Working Group. During the plenary debate, many delegations noted the low number of responses from Member States. In new operative paragraph 21, the General Assembly would encourage all States to provide to the Secretary-General a point of contact in order to strengthen cooperation and ask him to maintain and update the list of contacts.
Statements on Revitalization of the Work of the General Assembly
RUBÉN ARMANDO ESCALANTE HASBÚN (El Salvador), speaking for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said that a United Nations that is stronger and more transparent can only be achieved if its different bodies and its Member States work harmoniously. The General Assembly plays a crucial role in enhancing the universal nature of the Organization, he emphasized, reiterating his group’s support for achieving greater efficiency while fully respecting the competence and authority of the Assembly in establishing administrative and budgetary norms. He also stressed the usefulness of thematic debates to discuss matters of critical importance to the General Assembly.
Recognizing improvements made in the planning of meetings, he said it is still necessary to improve coordination to avoid calendar clashes between plenary meetings and those of subsidiary bodies. This has a particular impact on permanent missions with small delegations, he pointed out, also highlighting the importance of the one week dedicated to international law, particularly, the time assigned to meetings with legal advisors. Revitalizing the General Assembly means constantly updating its methods of work, he noted, spotlighting electronic co-sponsorship, electronic speakers’ lists, the e-delegate platform [e-deleGATE portal] and the practice of circulating a provisional list of speakers before the debate. Finally, he thanked the Bureau for keeping the curtains of the Trusteeship Council chamber open.
CARY SCOTT-KEMMIS (Australia), also speaking for New Zealand and Canada, expressed his full support for efforts to make the best use of time in the Sixth Committee. The debate under the three clusters of topics from the report of the International Law Commission ran longer than usual and impacted on time for other discussions such as the informal consultations on draft resolutions. Concrete measures to streamline work should also be looked at. Time limits should be set for speakers. For regular agenda items, time limits should be five minutes for national statements and eight for groups.
For the International Law Commission clusters, they could be capped at 8 minutes for national statements and 14 for groups, he continued. This step would not limit States’ ability to make their views known as they would always be open to submit lengthier statements to the Commission and PaperSmart. In addition, a gender perspective should be mainstreamed into all aspects of the Sixth Committee. This applies to the reports prepared by the Secretariat as well as the resolutions negotiated within the Committee.
ALINA JULIA ARGÜELLO GONZÁLEZ (Nicaragua), associating herself with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said that the democratization of the United Nations is of vital importance so that it can meet its aims and purposes, particularly the aims and purposes of its Charter. To meet the Sustainable Development Goals, measures must be taken to shore up the authority of the General Assembly. That organ must serve as a true bridge for communication with representatives of global governance to guarantee transparency and accountability.
RISHY BUKOREE (Mauritius) said that revitalization is vital to enhance the General Assembly as the chief policymaking organ of the United Nations. Recalling the historic adoption of Assembly resolution 70/305, which called for improvements to the transparency and accountability of the President’s Office, he called for full implementation of the decisions included in that resolution. The role and profile of the President of the General Assembly has evolved in recent times, he said, noting the high number and the frequency of visible activities that he or she is seen performing, representing the Assembly all over the world. Calling for adequate resources in keeping with that, he said it is also vital to establish institutional memory for that Office. Measures should be taken to maintain office records in the General Assembly President’s Office including archives as well as a compendium of best practices.
JORGE DOTTA (Uruguay), associating himself with CELAC, said that given the pace of change around the world, all the United Nations organs and bodies, including the General Assembly, should improve their work through improved working methods. Stressing that the General Assembly represents 193 Member States, he observed that progress achieved in recent years appears to have stalled of late. Recalling the great efforts made by former President Miroslav Lajčák (Slovakia), who “exhausted all his resources in making revitalization a priority” through long days of negotiations, he said that Member States must work through this impasse and grant the Assembly greater authority. Emphasizing the importance of gender balance and geographic representation in the main posts of the Organization, he said that the United Nations must also ensure the implementation of all relevant resolutions on multilingualism.
AHMED HAMOOD FAISAL AL BUSAIDI (Oman) said that any development on the revitalization of the General Assembly would require there be more effectiveness and more service provision. This pertains both to the General Assembly and the United Nations, he said, commending what has been done over recent years, including the establishment of a forum for discussion for Member States. The role of the President of the General Assembly has been bolstered as compared to previous years and these efforts have enabled the Secretary-General to conduct intensive negotiations with Member States before presenting his vision of strengthening the General Assembly.
ANGEL HORNA (Peru), associating himself with CELAC, turned to the Sixth Committee’s relationship with the International Law Commission, saying that cooperation and dialogue between the two is the key to success. This interaction must take into account the definition and distinction of roles. He suggested practical measures to improve interactions, such as encouraging the Sixth Committee to endorse the Commission’s agenda topics as well as ensuring that the Sixth Committee choose such topics. Further, the way in which the Sixth Committee sets the terms of reference of the Commission could be improved. As well, a possible informal meeting between the Chair of the Commission and the Chair of the Sixth Committee at the beginning of every session to go over the main areas of action could also be considered. There could also be an increase in informal dialogues that included the Sixth Committee members and the Commission but also members of the academic community. He also suggested that the Commission be encouraged to hold a part of its session in New York frequently.
PETER NAGY (Slovakia), noting the draft programme of work circulated earlier today, said that the formal debates of the Sixth Committee during the International Law Week are aimed at providing written comments to the Commission. It is also one of the main opportunities for interaction between the Commission and the Committee. That should be given sufficient time. While it is completely reasonable to avoid clashes with other events such as the International Court of Justice debate in the General Assembly, he voiced his support for scheduling plenary meetings on Monday or Tuesday afternoons during the International Law Commission week.
The Chair drew delegates’ attention to the Sixth Committee draft programme of work for the seventy-fourth session in 2019. The programme, provisional in nature, was intended to help delegates and the Secretariat organize for the next session and had been drafted on the assumption that the Sixth Committee session would commence on 7 October 2019 and would continue for six weeks. The General Assembly high-level debate was scheduled to conclude on 30 September 2019. The proposed programme would enable delegates to attend other meetings while preparing for their Sixth Committee session.
Noting two agenda items currently indicated in italics, “Strengthening and promoting the international treaty framework” and “Protection of persons in the event of disasters”, he said that negotiations on draft resolutions under those items are under way. Highlighting a minor change in the first week schedule, he said that the topics, “Responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts” and “Diplomatic protection”, were inserted there so that the working groups on those items could meet at the beginning of the second week.
The schedule for the second week continues the same sequencing as was done this year with plenary debates in the mornings and working group in the afternoons, he said. The third week will start with the annual debate on the report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) and the debate on the Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law would take place at the end of that week. The fourth week would be designated International Law Week and would be dedicated to the consideration of the annual report of the International Law Commission. The fifth and sixth weeks would see the consideration of the remaining debate of the Commission’s report as well as the annual consideration of the reports of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country and working groups.
Finally, as had been done in past sessions, he said that the Bureau had sought to coordinate the meetings of the Sixth Committee with those of other bodies of particular interest to Sixth Committee delegates. The Bureau reached out to the respective Presidencies of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals and the International Criminal Court to seek their views regarding how best to accommodate the dates on which their reports would be considered by the General Assembly with the Committee’s programme of work.
Mr. DOTTA (Uruguay) recalled that during International Law Week it is an established practice to have two afternoons for meetings of legal advisers. Therefore, it should be ensured that they do not overlap with the plenary. Any change to the practice would require consensus, he said, stressing he would oppose any change in this regard.
ELSADIG ALI SAYED AHMED (Sudan) said that he recognized that the programme of work is at the proposal stage. However, on 18 October the topic of “Protection of persons in event of disasters” is scheduled. To his knowledge, it has not yet been decided whether that topic will be discussed next year or the year after, he said.
JULIETTE ROSITA RILEY (Barbados), associating herself with CELAC, congratulated the Chair regarding the scheduling of meetings, which has taken into account the requirements of States with less capacity. The programme of work should be structured in a way that encourages the participation of all delegations, including small ones like her own. As a member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) it is her delegation’s intention to increase its work in the Committee during the next session, she said.
ANA FIERRO (Mexico), associating herself with CELAC and Uruguay, said that her delegation is grateful that the two afternoons for the meetings of legal advisers have been maintained on the programme of work. This is very important and it should not overlap with other meetings of the Sixth Committee.