For information only - not an official document.
Press Release No:  UNIS/SG/2567
Release Date:    18 May 2000
Secretary-General to Encourage Universal Participation in Multilateral
Treaty Framework During Forthcoming Millennium Summit

 NEW YORK, 17 May (UN Headquarters) -- Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called upon all heads of State and government to use the unique opportunity presented by the forthcoming Millennium Summit to rededicate themselves to the international legal framework and actively contribute to the strengthening of the international rule of law.  In particular, he has encouraged those States which are not already party to the vast body of treaties deposited with him to sign and ratify them.

During the three-day Summit, to be held from 6 to 8 September in New York, a large number of world leaders are expected to participate in round-table discussions focusing on strengthening the role of the United Nations in meeting the challenges of the twenty-first century.  Those challenges include expanding and enhancing the rule of law in international relations.  A comprehensive network of international treaties deposited with the Secretary-General affects a wide scope of human activity and has been the foundation of much of the political, social and economic progress achieved since the end of the Second World War.

In his letter sent today to all heads of State or government, the Secretary- General has identified 25 core treaties, which reflect the key policy goals of the United Nations, to be the focus of a sustained effort to encourage signature and ratification during the Millennium Summit.  Included among them are a range of human rights conventions, as well as treaties on refugees and stateless persons, international criminal matters, disarmament and the environment.  Some of these instruments have been opened for signature for years, but have not been successful in attracting universal participation. 

The priority list of treaties includes the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide and conventions to eliminate discrimination against women, racial discrimination and to protect rights of the child.  Other instruments in this list are the international covenants on economic, social and cultural rights and on civil and political rights, conventions to protect refugees, suppress terrorist bombings, the Statute of the International Criminal Court, instruments on the prohibition of certain conventional weapons, chemical weapons, landmines and treaties dealing with climate change, biological diversity and desertification. 

The Secretary-General's letter also requests every Member State to carry out a general review of all multilateral treaties deposited with him.  He invites them to assess the participation by their countries in this vast legal framework developed by the international community under the umbrella of the United Nations.  In that connection, he has also sent heads of State and government a full list of over 500 conventions that are deposited with him. Governments are requested to respond by 1 August 2000 of their intention to sign, ratify or accede to any of the instruments on both lists during the Millennium Summit. 

For those States who have not been able to ratify these treaties due to a lack of resources, the Secretary-General has requested all United Nations agencies to provide appropriate technical assistance.  The objective is to help States to become parties to these treaties and to implement them at the national level. 

The United Nations has made the status of all treaties deposited with the Secretary-General accessible to the public through The UN Treaty Collection on the Internet (  In addition, full texts may be obtained in the printed publication, the United Nations Treaty Series. 

For further information, contact Palitha Kohona, Treaty Section, Office of Legal Affairs, 212-963-5048; e-mail

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