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Libyan Newswire

Sixth Committee Delegates Tackle Sanctions, Security Council Reform, Working Methods, as Debate on Special Charter Committee Begins

Commencing its debate on the work of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on Strengthening the Role of the United Nations, the Sixth Committee (Legal) today reaffirmed the importance of that entity’s work, while remaining divided on the value of some of its agenda items.

Outlining the Special Charter Committee’s report (document A/72/33), its Chair, Ruslan Varankov, pointed out that several items relating to maintenance of peace and security were contained in chapter II, including the question of the introduction and implementation of sanctions imposed by the Organization.

While chapter III dealt with peaceful settlement of disputes, he noted that a summary of the working methods of the Special Charter Committee was to be found in chapter V of the report, which also summarized the views expressed on the identification of new subjects.

In the ensuing debate, several delegates emphasized the importance of reforming the United Nations in accordance with the principles and procedures established by the Charter.

The representative of Iran, speaking for the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that Security Council‑imposed sanctions remained an issue of serious concern.  Emphasizing that the objectives of such sanctions regimes should be clearly defined, he said the Special Charter Committee must continue studying the legal nature of the implementation of Chapter IV, particularly those Articles dealing with the General Assembly’s functions and powers.

That view was echoed by the representative of Sudan who said that the General Assembly’s democratic and intergovernmental nature made it more qualified to address the Organization’s agenda.  However, the Security Council was encroaching on the Assembly’s functions and the use of sanctions regimes by the Security Council raised ethical questions, including whether the objective of sanctions was to punish the population or retaliate against them.

El Salvador’s delegate, speaking for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said the international community must continue to consider the question of the application of the provisions of the Charter on assistance to third States affected by the application of sanctions under Chapter VII.  The fact that no State had yet requested that kind of assistance did not entail that the issue should be discontinued from the Special Charter Committee’s agenda.

The representative of the United States, however, disagreed, saying that no official appeals had been conveyed.  She recalled that the Special Charter Committee had agreed in 2016 to biennalize consideration of the item.  That reflected a better, albeit imperfect, balance between the views of those who believed that the issue was no longer appropriate for consideration and those who believed that the issue should be kept on the agenda in the event of changed circumstances in the future.

The European Union’s delegate also addressed the matter of agenda items, reiterating the need to review their practical relevance and the likelihood of achieving consensus on them in the future.  Nonetheless, although he was unconvinced about updating the Handbook on the Peaceful Settlement of Disputes between States, he expressed support for the Committee’s recommendation to undertake a debate on the matter.

Also voicing support for that thematic debate, the representative of Nicaragua reaffirmed the importance of the work of the Special Charter Committee and highlighting its collaborative spirit.  More importantly, calls to reduce the number of working sessions were divorced from reality, she emphasized.  The Special Charter Committee needed every minute of every session.

Also before the Committee was the Secretary General’s report on the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs and Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council (document A/72/184)

Yvette Blanco, Chief, Security Council Practices and Charter Research Branch, Department of Political Affairs, highlighted updates to the Security Council’s Repertoire website.  Improvements to the website were being explored with a view to making the information on the Repertoire more promptly and easily accessible to Member States and other interested audiences, she said, adding that those improvements would not have been possible without the contributions received to the Trust Fund.  However, the Branch continued to be highly dependent on voluntary contributions to the Trust Fund, she noted, adding her gratitude for the contributions made by China and Turkey.

Huw Llewellyn, Director of the Codification Division on the Status of the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs, also stressed that voluntary contributions to the Fund remained a crucial element for sustaining progress on the Repertory and on maintaining its website.  Spotlighting the progress of that Repertory’s work over the last year, he reported that studies from 43 complete volumes were available on the United Nations website for the Repertory and the electronic version continued to include a full‑text search feature.

Also speaking today were representatives of Algeria (for the African Group), Philippines, Qatar, Libya, Russian Federation, Cuba, Bangladesh, China, India, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Belarus, Malaysia, Ghana, Maldives, Cameroon, and Iraq.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The Sixth Committee will next meet at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 11 October, to begin consideration of the principle of universal jurisdiction.

Special Committee on Charter and Strengthening Role of Organization

RUSLAN VARANKOV (Belarus), Chair, Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on Strengthening the Role of the Organization, introduced that body’s report on its session in February (document A/72/33).  The report contained five chapters and one annex, he said, noting that several items relating to maintenance of peace and security were contained in chapter II, including the question of the introduction and implementation of sanctions imposed by the Organization.  The summary of the consideration of the revised proposal by Libya with a view to strengthening the role of the United Nations in the maintenance of international peace and security was also in that chapter.

Turning to chapter III, he noted that it dealt with peaceful settlement of disputes.  It included the Special Charter Committee’s discussion on the proposals introduced by the Russian Federation recommending that the Secretariat be requested to establish a website dedicated to the peaceful settlement of disputes between States and an update to the 1992 Handbook on that topic.  A summary of the working methods of the Special Charter Committee was to be found in chapter V of the report, which also summarized the views expressed on the identification of new subjects.

YVETTE BLANCO, Chief, Security Council Practices and Charter Research Branch, Department of Political Affairs, said that there had been sustained progress in the updating of the Repertoire.  In the past year, the nineteenth Supplement to the Repertoire covering the period 2014‑2015 had been completed.  All parts of the Supplement were now available on the Security Council’s Repertoire website.  The website offered a broad range of other information resources, including tables, graphs, and statistical data on the practice of the Council, among other items.

She went on to say that, notwithstanding the limited resources, improvements to the website were being explored with a view to making the information on the Repertoire more promptly and easily accessible to Member States and other interested audiences.  Progress made in the preparation and publication of the Repertoire would not have been possible without the contributions received to the Trust Fund.  Thanks to funds available, the Branch was able to retain the services of an Associate Political Affairs Officer, who had been instrumental in advancing the completion of the Supplement and in preventing new backlogs from forming.  However, the Branch continued to be highly dependent on voluntary contributions to the Trust Fund, she noted, adding her gratitude for the contributions made by China and Turkey.

HUW LLEWELLYN, Director of the Codification Division, introducing the Report of the Secretary‑General on the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs and the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council (document A/72/184), outlined the progress of the work of the Repertory over the last year.  On the backlog in Volume III of the Repertory, research and drafting of a study on Article 49 of the Charter for Volume III, Supplement Nos. 7 to 9 (1985‑1999), had been completed and would be submitted to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations for final review.  Progress had also been achieved in the preparation of studies for Volume III of Supplement No. 10 (2000‑2009).  Further progress had also been made on Supplement No. 11.

As indicated in the report, studies from 43 complete volumes, including the volumes being processed for publication, were available on the United Nations website for the Repertory, he said.  The electronic version of the Repertory continued to include a full‑text search feature.  On the question of cooperation with academic institutions, the well‑established cooperation with the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law was still active.  With regards to funding, since the issuance of the 2016 report, the Secretary‑General had welcomed the contribution to the Trust Fund of $10,000 from Turkey and, as of mid‑September 2017, the total balance of the Fund was $45,288.  In an environment of financial constraint, voluntary contributions to the Fund remained a crucial element for sustaining progress on the Repertory and on maintaining its website.

ESHAGH AL HABIB (Iran), speaking for the Non‑Aligned Movement, reiterated his concern over the Security Council’s continuing encroachment on the functions and powers of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.  Reforming the United Nations should be carried out in accordance with the principles and procedures established by the Charter and should preserve that instrument’s legal framework.  It was important for the Special Charter Committee to continue studying the legal nature of the implementation of Chapter IV, particularly those Articles dealing with the General Assembly’s functions and powers.  Emphasizing that Security Council-imposed sanctions remained an issue of serious concern, he said such measures should only be considered as a last resort in response to a threat to international peace and security or an act of aggression.  The objectives of sanctions regimes should be clearly defined, based on tenable legal groups, imposed according to a specified time frame and lifted as soon as the objectives were achieved.

He also expressed deep concern regarding the imposition of unilateral sanctions and other coercive economic measures against developing countries, in violation of the Charter and World Trade Organization rules, and he called for their immediate end.  Thanking the Department of Political Affairs for its briefing on sanctions, he also said he had expected to hear more about the socio‑economic and humanitarian consequences of sanctions by the Security Council’s sanctions committees and the methodology used for assessing the humanitarian implications of sanctions.  The Special Charter Committee should redouble its efforts, inter alia, to examine suggestions and proposals regarding the Charter and the strengthening of the role of the United Nations.  In that regard, he said he was ready to discuss the establishment of a work programme for that body.

SABRI BOUKADOUM (Algeria), speaking for the African Group and associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the Sixth Committee had not lived up to its full potential, largely due to the method of work and tendency to allow ideological battles that prevented legal analysis.  The Committee should ensure that the Organization upholds the rule of law and justice while protecting it from being labelled hypocritical.  In addition, as the premier organ mandated to ensure peace, security and stability, the Security Council must become more representative.  The status quo would only contribute to the further erosion of its credibility and legitimacy, while ultimately weakening the Organization.

To that end, he called for the meaningful consideration of the Committee’s agenda, voicing support for Ghana’s working paper on strengthening the relationship and cooperation between the United Nations and regional arrangement or agencies in the peaceful settlement of disputes.  The Special Charter Committee could contribute meaningfully to its development.  “This could allow us to break free from the ideological chains which so often burden the work of this Committee and our deliberations,” he stated.  He also noted the successful finalization of the proposal entitled “Pacific settlement of disputes and its impact on the maintenance of peace” and its related annual thematic debates.

HECTOR CELARIE (El Salvador), speaking for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said that the issue of United Nations‑imposed sanctions, including due process, was of interest to the whole membership.  Sanctions should be enforced in accordance with the Charter and other relevant rules of international law.  In addition, the international community must continue to consider the question of the application of the provisions of the Charter on assistance to third States affected by the application of sanctions under Chapter VII.  The fact that no State had yet requested that kind of assistance did not entail that the issue should be discontinued from the Special Charter Committee’s agenda.

The General Assembly, he added, and the Economic and Social Council had continued to play their respective roles in the area of mobilizing and monitoring the economic assistance provided by the international community and the United Nations system, to third States affected by the application of sanctions.  Furthermore, the Secretariat had continued to monitor and evaluate the information related to the economic and social problems facing some States as a consequence of sanctions.  Noting the notable contribution of the Repertory of Practice of the United Nations and the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council to international law, he also acknowledged the work of the Secretariat in updating those documents.

ERIC CHABOUREAU, the European Union delegation, said he supported the recommendation made by the Special Charter Committee in February to undertake a debate under the agenda item entitled “peaceful settlement of disputes” to discuss the means for the settlement of disputes, in accordance with Chapter VI of the Charter, including in particular those contained in Article 33.  He remained ready to participate in the debate, he said.

On the question of updating the Handbook on the Peaceful Settlement of Disputes between States and of establishing a website dedicated to that issue, he said he was still unconvinced about the added value of such efforts.  As already expressed by several delegations during the Committee’s sessions, multiple resources and legal tools were already available and easily accessible.  He reiterated the need to review the list of agenda items to consider whether there was value in continuing to discuss those items, taking into account their practical relevance and the likelihood of achieving consensus on them in the future.

ELSADIG ALI SAYED AHMED (Sudan), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that the General Assembly’s democratic and inter‑governmental nature made it more qualified to address the Organization’s agenda.  However, the Security Council was encroaching on the Assembly’s functions and powers, as well those of the Economic and Social Council.  Calling for a restoration of balance and order, he urged that the Special Charter Committee continue studying the legality of implementing Chapter IV of the Charter.  He also said that the use of sanctions regimes by the Security Council raised ethical questions, including whether the objective of sanctions was to punish the population or retaliate against them.  Sanctions regimes must avoid unintended consequences in target States and third States.  Their objectives must be clearly defined and built on an applicable legal basis and their implementation must be for a limited time.  Commending recent initiatives in the peaceful settlement of disputes, particularly by the African Union which had achieved promising results providing African solutions to African problems, he called on the United Nations to encourage regional mechanisms to play an effective role in the maintenance of peace and security.

ANIKA FERNANDEZ (Philippines), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that all Member States were duty bound to settle disputes by peaceful means, underscoring that it was a priority for the United Nations.  The Special Charter Committee had supported Member States in efforts to make the Organization function more effectively, particularly in the area of the settlement of disputes by peaceful means.  Regarding Cuba’s proposal, she voiced her agreement on the need to clarify the symbiotic relationship between the General Assembly and the Security Council.  She also said she looked forward to studying Ghana’s revised working paper including possible guidelines to facilitate cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations.

ESSA ALI AL-MOHANNADI (Qatar), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said efforts must be made to strengthen the work of the United Nations to ensure the appropriate balance between the mandates of the General Assembly and Security Council.  Sanctions must only be imposed after the exhaustion of all other remedies.  Coercive unilateral measures had no legal basis, as their aim was to serve narrow interests.  They were also a serious threat to the international order, he said, noting that it was only the Security Council that had the right to impose such measures.  Unilateral measures targeting Qatar were in clear violation of international law.  Imposing such measures on countries that were known for their efforts to promote rule of law and human rights undermined international multilateralism and was a source of instability in the region.  Emphasizing the need to respect the spirit of the Charter, he said the United Nations could only be strengthened through settling conflicts and crises peacefully.

MOHAMMED NFATI (Libya), associating himself with the African Group and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that he attached great importance to the Special Charter Committee’s work as the main forum for discussing reform of the United Nations.  His Government contributed to some proposals for reform, he noted, expressing support for Ghana’s proposal.  Special focus should be placed on the General Assembly being the main policymaking body, so that it could carry out its work with regard to the settlement of conflicts by peaceful means.

ELENA MELIKBEKYAN (Russian Federation) noted that the mandate of the Ad‑Hoc Committee was important to ensuring the role of international law as a platform for dialogue.  In that regard, she recalled the proposal to update the manual for the peaceful settlement of disputes between States, noting that it would be useful to dedicate a United Nations website to the matter with useful links.  The Special Charter Committee must think about how to optimize its work while being careful about undermining its potential, she said, adding that she welcomed the efforts of the Repertory and Repertoire.

ALINA ARGUELLO (Nicaragua), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and CELAC, reiterated her view that the work of the Special Charter Committee was vital for the work of the Organization.  She welcomed the outcomes of its latest session and thanked the collaborative spirit of the delegations involved.  At its next meeting, the thematic debate of the peaceful settlement of disputes would relate to the use of negotiation as a settlement tool.  Alternative measures such as arbitration and judicial settlement would be discussed at later sessions of the Committee.  Calls to reduce the number of working sessions of the Special Charter Committee were divorced from reality.  It needed every minute of every session, she said.

INDIRA GUARDIA GONZALEZ (Cuba), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and CELAC, underscored principles of the Charter, particularly in respect for a nation’s sovereignty.  As developed countries intervened in the internal affairs of some States, developing countries were particularly targeted.  It was critical to strengthen and promote the leading role of the General Assembly as the most representative and leading body of the United Nations.  The Special Charter Committee was the appropriate space to put forward recommendations and ensure that all Member States were heard.  It had a role in fostering draft resolutions, decisions or actions, and, despite the many attempts to stunt its work, real outcomes had been achieved.  The current situation of the Special Charter Committee had improved over the last couple of years.  However, a lack of political will from certain States continued to interrupt progress.  She urged Member States to constructively participate in discussions.

MOHAMMAD HUMAYUN KABIR (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the peaceful settlement of disputes should be a core issue of the Special Charter Committee’s work.  The renewed focus on reform of the Organization created an opportunity for that body.  The role of the General Assembly and the Security Council in the maintenance of international peace and security was being discussed both in the Ad‑hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the General Assembly and in inter‑governmental negotiations on Security Council reform.  Such discussions, however, should ideally take place in a holistic manner in the Special Charter Committee, which should also address the question about the growing encroachment of the Council into issues under the remit of the Assembly.  The Special Charter Committee could also add value to ongoing deliberations on the merits of a sanctions regime.

ZHANG PENG (China) said that his country consistently advocated peaceful settlements of disputes, while maintaining the right of all countries to freely choose the means of such settlements.  The principle of States’ consent must be strictly complied with.  In addition, prudence must be practiced regarding sanctions.  Engaging that instrument should be used as a last resort after all non‑coercive means had been exhausted and then only in line with the United Nations Charter and other international law.  Negative impact on ordinary people must be minimized, and implementation must be strictly in accordance with Security Council resolutions.  Voicing his opposition on the imposition of additional unilateral sanctions, he added that he welcomed the discussion on strengthening relationships with regional entities for the peaceful settlement of disputes.  Such entities must abide by the Charter and report fully to the Council on relevant actions taken.  He also welcomed progress made in compiling the Repertory of Practice and updating the Repertoire, expressing hope for the simultaneous publication of both in all official languages.

EMILY PIERCE (United States) recalled that the Special Charter Committee had agreed in 2016 to biennalize the consideration of the item on the effects of sanctions on third party States.  That reflected a better, albeit imperfect, balance between the views of those who believed that the issue was no longer appropriate for consideration and those who believed that the issue should be kept on the agenda in the event of changed circumstances in the future.  Furthermore, Special Charter Committee members should continue to improve efficiency and productivity, including by considering shorter sessions and biennial meetings.  Regarding the issues of international peace and security, the Committee should not pursue activities that would be duplicative or inconsistent with the roles of the principal organs of the Organization.  Positive developments elsewhere in the United Nations had been designed to ensure that the system of targeted sanctions remained a robust tool for combating threats to international security.  Since no official appeals had been conveyed by third party States to monitor or evaluate unintended adverse impacts of sanctions, the Special Charter Committee should decide in the future that the issue no longer merited discussion.

SANDEEP KUMAR BAYYAPU (India), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that the United Nations represented the collective recognition that only cooperative and effective multilateralism could enable peace and prosperity.  That States were obliged to settle their disputes by peaceful means was one of the fundamental principles of the Charter.  The International Court of Justice played an important role in that regard.  He voiced support for the retention of the “Peaceful Settlement of Disputes between States” on the agenda of the Special Charter Committee.

KIM IN RYONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) pointed out that Article 24 of the Charter said that the Security Council would act in accordance with the principles of the United Nations.  However, the Security Council’s actual conduct was in violation of the Charter.  The Council had never taken issue with the United States, which had posed a nuclear threat to his country for more than half a century.  However, that body had condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s measures to strengthen its self‑defensive nuclear force.  The Council did not have legal grounds to justify its taking issue with his country while keeping silent about nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches by the United States.  The issue of the United Nations Command stationed in South Korea was a vivid example of the United Nations being misused.  In 1975, the General Assembly had adopted a resolution on dissolving the illegal Command.  More than 40 years had passed but the United States refused to implement the resolution and the United States forces stationed there still claimed the name of the United Nations forces.

ANNA BAGDASAROVA (Belarus), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that the Special Charter Committee should consider proposals on working methods that be in line with the rules of procedure and would not misuse the principle of consensus.  Currently only the Security Council had the right to impose sanctions.  Sanctions must be as limited as possible, and also be time bound.  Extra‑territorial measures that bypassed the Security Council undermined the prestige of the Organization and did not have moral grounds.  Furthermore, the United Nations should set up a website on the peaceful settlement of disputes, she said.

LIYANA MUHAMMAD FUAD (Malaysia) said that the Report of the Special Committee on the Charter contained several useful proposals that should be deliberated until they were finally adopted.  However, she expressed concern with the number of items that the Committee had to consider, as it might cloud its focus and disrupt the progress that had been made.  She also noted that in the first part of the report on the maintenance of international peace and security, the Committee had been required to consider at least six proposals or papers.  After perusing them, there seemed to be some considerable overlap that could be avoided by merging some of those documents.

ABBAS BAGHERPOUR ARDEKANI (Iran) said that the Special Charter Committee was the only enduring mechanism within the United Nations framework to discuss issues related to the Charter.  He expressed support for seeking the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the resort to the use of force without authorization by the Security Council.  Emphasizing that the Security Council could only introduce sanctions as a last resort, he also said that sanctions imposed pursuant to arbitrary and political motivated determination and based on political manipulation were unlawful and illegitimate.  Yet, some developing countries were unjustly targeted by arbitrary unilateral sanctions.  “It is unfortunate that such measures have almost always been initiated by one State,” he said.  Emphasizing the need to enhance the efficiency of the Special Charter Committee’s working methods, he reiterated the need for genuine political will in order to advance long‑standing issues on the agenda.

SOLOMON KOIRBIEH (Ghana), associating himself with the Non‑Alignment Movement and the African Group, said that at the next session of the Special Charter Committee, he would submit a revised proposal on strengthening relationships and cooperation between the United Nations and regional arrangements or agencies in the peaceful settlement of disputes.  The proposal sought to identify gaps in several relevant General Assembly resolutions in light of current developments.

ALI NASSER MOHAMED (Maldives) said the United Nations would continue to be the chief facilitator of peace, sustainable development and democratic governance. The Charter was explicit that embargoes or sanctions should not be employed as punitive measures, but as incentives to support and encourage countries to defuse situations that threaten peace and security, as approved by the Security Council. “Unilateral sanctions or interventions without the explicit mandates from the Security Council have no place in the Charter and are therefore, illegal,” he stressed.  States must be vigilant in protecting the functions and competencies of the General Assembly, which was the most representative body in the United Nations body and demonstrated the sovereign equality principle enshrined in the Charter.  The sovereignty and political independence of small States were compromised time and again.  The international community must ensure that the security of small States be protected.  As a small State, the Maldives had limited material resources to mobilize for defence.   Thus, his country relied on international law and the Charter to guarantee its political independence.

NYANID ZACHARIE SERGE RAOUL (Cameroon) said he commended the progress made with the updating of the Repertory and the Repertoire.  Those welcome advances would be in vain if they were not accompanied by a number of reforms that restructured the Organization in order to meet the major challenges of the times.  The restricted circle of permanent members of the Security Council called for a necessary revision of its composition, ensuring that Africa had two permanent seats with veto rights and two additional seats over and beyond the three non‑permanent seats.  The Organization should also be reworked by an updating of its decision‑making mechanisms and resolutions by focusing on peace, security and development for developing countries.

AHMED ABDULMUWEEM (Iraq), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, stressed the importance for countries to support the work of the Special Charter Committee.  The General Assembly was the widest forum to express international positions, he said.  He commended the work of the Special Charter Committee to achieve the goals for which it had been established in its work on the peaceful resolution of conflicts.

The representative of Republic of Korea, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, stressed that the Special Charter Committee must not be used to challenge a well‑functioning United Nations entity or be used to justify grave violations of the United Nations Charter and Security Council resolutions.  The invalidity of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s allegations had been made clear and, as such, his delegation had no intention to repeat them.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, responding to his counterpart, said that allegations that the United Nations Command issue was an inappropriate item on the agenda were simply false.  The United Nations Command continued to destroy the peace and security of the region and the world.  Under the leadership of that Command large scale military exercises of South Korea had been carried out.  The issue must be discussed in all cases.  The United States had launched a war against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 1950, abusing the name of the United Nations.  It brought the United Nations Command to the region to carry out its policy against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The United Nations Command must be dismantled without further delay as it was jeopardizing international peace and security.

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