8 April 2003

Impact of Sanctions, Importance of Adhering to UN Principles Debated in Context of Iraq War, As Special Charter Committee Opens Session

NEW YORK, 7 April (UN Headquarters) -- The impact of sanctions on affected third States and the critical importance of adhering to the United Nations Charter were debated in the context of the ongoing conflict in Iraq this morning, as the United Nations Charter Committee opened its 2003 session.

The Special Committee on the United Nations Charter and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization, whose session will conclude on 17 April, was established in 1974 to examine proposals to enhance the Charter, strengthen the role of the Organization in maintaining peace and security, develop cooperation among nations, and promote the rules of international law. Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel Hans Corell opened the meeting.

The representative of the Russian Federation, stressing the need for the United Nations to remain the primary forum for ensuring international security based on Charter principles, said that unilateral approaches, especially involving the use of force, were unacceptable. On sanctions, adoption by the General Assembly of a declaration on the basic conditions and standard criteria for the introduction of sanctions and other coercive measures and their implementation, as contained in his revised working paper, would assist the Security Council in discharging its Charter authority in the area of sanctions.

Asserting that the use of sanctions must have clearly defined start and end dates, Syria's representative said the Security Council must be fair and equitable in imposing them and look carefully at their potential effects. Failure to implement the Council's resolutions was a legitimate basis for sanctions. Highlighting the use of military sanctions against Iraq without the Council's authorization, he said the use of force to replace international law was a dangerous precedent. Moreover, a double standard was being applied with regard to a State in the Middle East, which threatened peace and security in the region with its nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.

As an affected third State bordering Iraq, Turkey had suffered considerably from sanctions, that country's representative said. She highlighted some practical ideas to tackle the hardships shouldered by those countries, including granting commercial exemptions to affected third States, establishing a kind of assistance trust fund, and giving priority to the contracts of affected third States for the investments of the target State. The Security Council had a responsibility to act, without delay, in response to the application of the measures outlined in Article 50 of the Charter, by which third States could request damages and other equitable measures.

Turning to the other item on the Committee's agenda, namely improving its working methods, Japan's representative said that strengthening the Committee itself would serve its aim of strengthening the role of the United Nations. He advocated a review of that issue and drew attention to his proposed set of concrete measures to increase the Committee's efficiency. Together with the delegation of the Republic of Korea, he would submit a revised working paper on that question.

In other business, the Committee elected Jagdish Dharamchand Koonjul (Mauritius) as Chairman. Ivica Dronjic (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Angela Cavaliere de Nava (Venezuela) and Giuseppe Nesi (Italy) were elected as vice-chairs. Mohammed Hag Ibrahim (Syria) was elected Rapporteur.

Also speaking in this morning's general debate were the representatives of the Republic of Korea, China, Greece, on behalf of the European Union, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Libya, Ukraine, Egypt and Algeria.

The Committee will meet in closed session and again in plenary at a date and time to be announced.

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