13 April 2006

Concluding 2006 Session, Special Committee on Charter Adopts Report

NEW YORK, 12 April (UN Headquarters) -- The United Nations Committee mandated by the General Assembly to weigh proposals on enhancing the world body's Charter wrapped up its 2006 session today, adopting, as orally amended, its report, as well as several recommendations on updating the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs and Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council.

The Committee, formally known as the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization, was established in 1974 to examine proposals to strengthen the Organization's role in maintaining peace and security, develop cooperation among nations and promote the rules of international law.

Under Assembly resolution 60/23, adopted last November, the Committee will now also consider, "on a priority basis and in an appropriate substantive manner and framework", the question of the implementation of the Charter's provisions related to assistance to third States affected by the application of sanctions; keep on its agenda the question of the "peaceful settlement of disputes between States"; and, among other things, consider, as appropriate, any Charter-related proposals referred to it by world leaders at the 2005 World Summit.

Adopting the draft recommendations at the end of its two-week session, the Committee recommended that the Assembly call upon the Secretary-General to continue his efforts to update the Repertory and the Security Council Repertoire, considered by many to be the world body's "institutional memory".  The Committee also recommended that the Assembly recognize the desirability of making the reports available electronically in the Organization's six official languages, and reiterate its call for voluntary contributions to the Trust Fund for the updating of the Repertoire, as well as the Trust Fund for eliminating the backlog in the Repertory.

The Repertory generally focuses on the presentation of decisions of United Nations organs and summarizes relevant views of delegations and the Organization's practice regarding the Articles of the Charter, while the Council Repertoire gives an analytical summary of its proceedings and arranges the material by categories in texts and tables, organized according to the Council's provisional rules of procedure and by the Charter's Articles.

The Committee's seven-chapter report, which was introduced by Committee Rapporteur Thomas Fitschen (Germany) and contained in documents A/AC.182/2006/CRP.1 to CRP.12/Add.2, reflected its consideration of such issues as the maintenance of international peace and security, the peaceful settlement of disputes and proposals concerning the Trusteeship Council.  It also included a working paper on strengthening the role of the Organization and enhancing its effectiveness, submitted by Cuba at the Committee's 1997 session, as well as a revised Libyan proposal on strengthening the United Nations role in the maintenance of international peace and security.

Among the other decisions taken today, the Committee agreed on a proposal by Japan, in chapter VII of its report (document A/AC.182/2006/CRP.12/Add.2), on several ways to improve its working methods and enhance efficiency, including by encouraging delegations submitting new proposals to submit them as far in advance as possible, and to ascertain, to the extent possible, that such proposals did not entail exactly the same work being done by other bodies on the same subject.  The Special Committee also expressed its determination, among other things, to ensure that its meetings were conducted as efficiently as possible, and to accord priority to the consideration of those areas of its agenda where general agreement was possible.

Under chapter IV of the report, on the consideration of matters related to the peaceful settlement of disputes (document A/AC.182/2006/CRP.9), the Committee also adopted a draft resolution containing a proposal by Egypt, by which the General Assembly would commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the International Court of Justice.

Before the draft report's approval and during the Committee's traditional paragraph-by-paragraph review, the United States representative objected to the inclusion of a reference stating that "one delegation" had expressed opposition to the Committee's consideration of a proposal, contained in a revised working paper submitted by Belarus and the Russian Federation, on seeking an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice, as to the legal consequences of the resort to the use of force by States without prior authorization by the Security Council, except in the exercise of the right to self-defence.

Saying that the Committee's practice had never been to single out, in its draft report, the views expressed by a particular delegation during its discussions, the United States offered several alternative constructions, including "A view was expressed…" or "The point was made that…".  But, other speakers stressed, repeatedly, that, if only one delegation had expressed that view, then that was what should be reflected in the report.  Some were concerned that, due to the Committee's consensus practice, something as simple as the adoption of a draft report was getting bogged down by semantics.

Meanwhile, Syria's representative, who stressed that the Committee had been approaching agreement on the revised working paper, proposed an addition to the paragraph, reflecting his delegation's intervention during the Committee's discussion of the item, as follows: "The view was expressed that the consensus practice prevented the adoption of this proposal, due to the opposition of one delegation."

In the end, that section of the report (document A/AC.182/2006/CRP.8, paragraph 6) was approved as written.

Summing up the Special Committee's work over the past two weeks, Chairman Eduardo Sevilla Somoza (Nicaragua) said that he was particularly pleased to note that the work had been successfully completed, especially with the adoption of the two highly important proposals.  Furthermore, delegations had been involved in discussions on a number of items (regarding the Committee's working methods and the sixtieth anniversary of the International Court of Justice), and he was confident that the concerned sponsors had taken note of the Committee's comments and observations, and would consider them thoroughly in any revisions they might wish to submit to future sessions.

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