Note No. 5963
13 September 2005

Note to Correspondents

Leaders Invited to Sign, Ratify Key Treaties at 2005 World Summit

Nuclear Terrorism Treaty to Be Opened for Signature

NEW YORK, 12 September (UN Headquarters) -- United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has invited Heads of State and Government attending the 2005 World Summit to take the opportunity to sign, ratify or accede to key treaties for which the Secretary-General is depositary.  This continues an initiative begun at the Millennium Summit in 2000 that has since become an annual treaty event held during the opening of each General Assembly.

More Heads of State or Government are expected to participate in this year's Summit than at any previous international meeting ever, and expectations for such a high level of participation extend to the treaty event, as well.  Heads of State or Government and Foreign Ministers do not need "full powers" to sign treaties.  Treaty actions to be undertaken during the treaty event can be scheduled any time during the three-day Summit for any treaty deposited with the Secretary-General.

A high level of participation among world leaders is expected at the treaty event.  A special area has been set aside for this purpose, near the Kuwaiti Boat by the Delegates Entrance to the General Assembly Building.

The treaties selected for this year's event, rather than focus on any specific aspect of international law, as has been the case in the past, reflect what the Secretary-General calls "the central challenge for the twenty-first century" -- "to fashion a new and broader understanding ... of what collective security means".  In his letter to Heads of State and Government inviting them to participate in this year's treaty event, the Secretary-General wrote, "Ours is an age of unprecedented interconnectedness.  The destinies of peoples around the world and the threats they face are interwoven; and ... 'we all share responsibility for each other's security'."

The 32 treaties featured at this year's event span a broad range of issues, including human rights, refugees, penal matters, terrorism, organized crime and corruption, the environment (including the Kyoto Protocol), the law of the sea, disarmament and health.

At this year's event, the recently adopted International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism will be opened for signature.  The United Nations Convention against Corruption, which was adopted in 2003, is expected to enter into force during the treaty event, as is one of the Amendments to the Constitution of the World Health Organization.  The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court approaches its 100th ratification or accession.

Treaties Affect Millions of Lives Every Day

In his foreword to the booklet prepared for the event, Focus 2005: Responding to Global Challenges, the Secretary-General describes the 500-plus multilateral treaties deposited with him as "an impressive normative framework that is one of the most important achievements of the United Nations".  And he points out that, based on these norms, untold numbers of daily activities are carried out, by States, businesses and individuals -- activities involving transportation and shipping, commercial fishing, international trade, telecommunications, financial transactions and commercial arbitration, among many others.

Every day, the lives of individuals everywhere are directly affected by a global framework of treaty-based rules.  By increasing participation in -- and enforcement of -- these treaties, the international rule of law is strengthened, and the protection of the rights of peoples around the world is advanced.  The Secretary-General views the promotion of the rule of law as one of the main responsibilities of the United Nations, and, each year at the treaty event, he urges world leaders to rededicate themselves to the multilateral treaty framework.

Accredited correspondents are invited to access updated information on the status of various international treaties at the official United Nations website: . [User Name: treaty Password: 12345].

For additional information, please contact Palitha Kohona, Chief of the Treaty Section in the Office of Legal Affairs, tel: (212) 963-5047, or, in the Department of Public Information, Ellen McGuffie, tel: (212) 963-0499, e-mail: .

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