Approving 14 Texts without Vote, Sixth Committee Concludes Session, as Speakers Voice Concern over Use of Consensus as Impediment to International Law’s Future

Concluding its seventy-seventh session today, the Sixth Committee (Legal) upheld its tradition of consensus and approved without a vote 12 draft resolutions, a draft decision and a draft letter, even as some delegates spotlighted the emerging trend of that mechanism’s failure to adequately represent substantive — albeit diverging — discussions in the Committee concerning the future of international law.

 

As an example of that, the representative of Bangladesh, introducing “Criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission”, pointed out that consensus was only able to be achieved on one preambular paragraph.  Several paragraphs were amended with technical updates, replicating previous resolutions, he added.

 

The representative of Canada, speaking for a group of States and the European Union, pointed out that the lack of criminal accountability for such officials and experts remains a problem, and that most referrals concerning potential criminal conduct go unanswered.  Despite these ongoing issues, however, he noted that the resolution is, essentially, a technical rollover.  He stressed that consensus in the Committee should serve to promote dialogue and compromise, not be used as a tool to block meaningful progress.

 

El Salvador’s representative also took issue with the resolution’s nature as a technical rollover, noting that her delegation, during informal consultations, emphasized the importance of revitalizing the text.  She stressed that resolutions prepared by the Sixth Committee should reflect delegations’ substantive participation and commitment, even when positions do not agree.  The Committee should not technically push forward a text and then, by default, approve it, since this does not do justice to preceding discussions.

 

As the Sixth Committee turned to its agenda item, “Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its seventy-third session”, a related issue — the Committee’s deadlock on certain products and recommendations of the International Law Commission — was highlighted.

 

The representative of Slovakia, reporting on efforts to coordinate a draft resolution on the identification and legal consequences of peremptory norms of general international law (jus cogens), reported that several rounds of informal consultations were held on this topic.  However, he observed that irreconcilable views emerged therein among delegations.  Despite efforts to explore several options to reach consensus, it became clear that more time would be needed to narrow the gaps in delegations’ positions.  With regret, he informed the Committee that general agreement on the text of a draft resolution on this subject was not reached during this session.

 

The representative of South Africa, speaking for a group of countries, pointed out, after the Sixth Committee approved a draft resolution concerning the International Law Commission’s report, that the existence of divergent views is being increasingly used as an excuse to prevent the Committee from adequately following up on the Commission’s recommendations.  “The work of the Committee cannot be a zero-sum game,” she stressed, expressing concern over some delegations’ attempts to reflect their substantive views on the topics in the corresponding resolutions — which, in most cases, has meant ignoring the Commission’s recommendations, as was the case with jus cogens.

 

The representative of Colombia also spotlighted that dynamic after the approval of a draft resolution on “Diplomatic protection”.  Speaking for a group of countries, she noted that, 16 years after the International Law Commission recommended the elaboration of a convention on this topic, the Sixth Committee’s engagement thereon has been limited.  She voiced her disapproval regarding the excessive utilization of technical rollovers, also expressing concern over the Committee’s inconsistent treatment of the Commission’s products and recommendations.

 

Delegations welcomed progress, however, made in the draft resolution on “Crimes against humanity”.

 

The representative of Gambia, introducing that text, said that it offers an opportunity to further consider the Commission’s recommendation for the elaboration of a convention on the basis of its draft articles on this topic.  Further, it sets out a clear timeline for the Committee’s consideration of the draft articles during the seventy-ninth session, as well as a process for consideration during preceding sessions.

 

Singapore’s representative, while expressing certain concerns over the way negotiations were conducted this year, welcomed that further engagement resulted in a revised text that enjoyed consensus.  Singapore actively supported engagement, flexibility and compromise in finding a procedural way forward, he added, welcoming the efforts of other similarly minded delegations in this regard.

 

The observer for the State of Palestine said that international law is a true indicator of human progress, and there is no greater challenge to humanity than that posed by crimes that concern the international community as a whole, including crimes against humanity.  The Committee took an important step today towards further consolidating international law on a most important issue, he noted, welcoming that delegations with concerns showed flexibility and engaged constructively to achieve today’s result.

 

At the close of the meeting, Edgar Daniel Leal Matta (Guatemala), Vice-Chair of the Sixth Committee for its seventy-seventh session, noted that the Committee discussed 28 substantive agenda items over the course of 36 meetings during the main part of its session this year.  The Committee adopted 21 draft resolutions and nine draft decisions, also approving two letters on certain agenda items.  Congratulating all delegations on this session’s outcomes, he said that, due to their flexibility and cooperation, the Committee was able to conclude its session on time while preserving its tradition of consensus.

 

Also speaking today were representatives of Brazil, Ghana, Mexico, Senegal, Sweden, Egypt, Philippines, Mauritius, Georgia and Cyprus.

 

The Sixth Committee will meet again at a time and date to be announced.

 

Introduction and Action on Draft Resolutions

 

The Committee turned to the draft resolution “Responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts” (document A/C.6/77/L.17).

 

The representative of Brazil, introducing the draft resolution, noted that three new preambular paragraphs have been added to the draft resolution, by which the General Assembly would, among other things, acknowledge the constructive dialogue in the context of successive working groups on the question of a convention or other appropriate action on the basis of the draft articles on responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts, and all the views expressed thereon.

 

Detailing several operative paragraphs, he said that the draft resolution would also request the Secretary-General to provide a report on all procedural options based on precedents regarding actions taken on other products of the Commission.  He added that the draft resolution represents an important further step in the Committee’s consideration of the articles on responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts.

 

By the text, the General Assembly would continue to acknowledge the importance and usefulness of the articles on responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts.  It would also request the Secretary-General to invite Governments to submit further written comments on any future action regarding the articles.  Further acknowledging that a growing number of decisions of international courts, tribunals and other bodies refer to the articles, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to update the technical report listing such references and to submit such material — along with other specified, relevant information — during the eightieth session.  The Assembly would also encourage all Member States to continue the substantive dialogue on this topic on an informal basis during the period prior to the eightieth session and decide to include this item on the provisional agenda for that session.

 

The Sixth Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote.

 

The Committee then turned to the draft resolution “Criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission” (document A/C.6/77/L.5).

 

The representative of Bangladesh, introducing the draft resolution, said that, upon consideration of a number of proposals, consensus was achieved only on preambular paragraph 14.  In addition, several paragraphs were amended with technical updates, replicating previous resolutions.  He pointed out that the Working Group is expected to meet at the seventy-ninth session of the General Assembly.  He further expressed confidence that the draft resolution will enhance efforts to ensure criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission.

 

By the text, the General Assembly would express concern over all alleged crimes on the part of United Nations officials and experts on mission and welcome the Secretary-General’s reaffirmation that there will be no tolerance for any corruption at the United Nations.  It would also urge the Secretary-General to continue to ensure that his zero-tolerance policy for criminal activities is made known to all such officials and experts at all levels, especially those in managerial positions.  Further, the Assembly would express concern over the low rate of response from States to referred allegations, particularly the significant number of instances where States to which allegations have been referred have failed to advise the United Nations on any steps taken in response.

 

Further, the Assembly would also strongly urge States to take all appropriate measures to ensure that crimes by such officials and experts do not go unpunished and to consider establishing jurisdiction over certain crimes committed by their nationals while serving as United Nations officials or experts on mission.  The Assembly would additionally encourage all States and the United Nations to cooperate with each other in the exchange of information and in facilitating the conduct of investigations and, as appropriate, prosecutions.  It would encourage all States to provide to the Secretary-General a point of contact in order to strengthen and enable efficient communication and cooperation between the United Nations and Member States in this area.

 

The General Assembly would also stress the critical importance of ensuring that victims of criminal conduct perpetrated by such officials and experts are made aware of available victim assistance and support — including from a gender perspective — and decide to include this item in the provisional agenda for the seventy-eighth session.

 

The Sixth Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote.

 

The representative of Canada, speaking in explanation of position after action, and on behalf of a group of States and the European Union, said the lack of criminal accountability for United Nations experts and officials on mission remains a problem.  The majority of referrals for potential criminal conduct to States go unanswered.  Despite these ongoing issues, he noted that the resolution is essentially a technical rollover, with a reference to the United Nations trust fund in support of victims of sexual exploitation and abuse.  While welcoming that important reference, he expressed significant disappointment on the lack of progress on the resolution as a whole.  Many delegations advanced meaningful and modest proposals addressing the screening and vetting of United Nations personnel to be deployed on mission, whistleblowing and sexual harassment.  Only one State opposed them, with no scope for compromise.  He stressed that consensus in the Committee should promote dialogue and compromise, not as a tool to block meaningful progress.  Tackling genuine issues of criminal responsibility is far too important to avoid progress, he affirmed.

 

The representative of El Salvador, said that during the informal consultations her delegation underscored the importance of revitalizing the text and, thus, presented relevant aspects relating to the significant elements of the resolution.  The additional proposal in the preambular part underscores that sexual abuse committed by United Nations officials and experts on mission needs to be addressed.  It encouraged efforts of the Secretary-General to condemn and address any incident of sexual harassment within the system.  She reiterated her commitment to a zero-tolerance policy towards such conduct.  She also noted that the text has strengthened language regarding the ‘abuser’ and ‘victim’ of sexual abuse.  However, she expressed regret that this was not reflected in the rest of the proposal.  The resolutions prepared by the Sixth Committee should reflect the substantive participation and commitment of delegations, even when the positions do not agree, the Committee should not technically push forward a resolution and then, by default, approve it, since this does not do justice to the preceding discussions.

 

The Committee then turned to the draft resolution “United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law” (document A/C.6/77/L.15).

 

The representative of Ghana, introducing the draft resolution, said that the text contains both necessary technical updates, along with several new paragraphs.  The draft resolution’s operative paragraphs would provide a mandate in 2023 for the awarding of fellowships for the United Nations Regional Courses in International Law and for the International Law Fellowship Programme; for publication and dissemination of legal texts; and for websites maintained by the Office of Legal Affairs.

 

She also noted that, through the resolution, the General Assembly would authorize the continuation and further development of the Historic Archives of the Audiovisual Library of International Law in all official languages of the United Nations.  It would also authorize the Secretary-General to further expand certain activities using voluntary contributions, and request Member States and others to make voluntary contributions to the Audiovisual Library and Regional Courses.  She recommended that the Committee approve the draft resolution without a vote.

 

By the text, the General Assembly would authorize the Secretary-General to carry out certain activities, including the following to be financed from provisions in the regular budget:  the International Law Fellowship Programme, with a minimum of 20 fellowships; the United Nations Regional Courses in International Law for Africa, for Asia-Pacific and for Latin America and the Caribbean, with a minimum of 20 fellowships for each course; the continuation and further development of the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law, including the availability of its Historic Archives in the official languages of the United Nations; and the dissemination of legal publications and lectures of the Audiovisual Library to developing countries to the extent that there are sufficient resources.

 

Further by the text, the Assembly would also urge the Secretary-General to conduct interactive online workshops when such training programmes cannot take place in person owing to the COVID‑19 pandemic.  In addition, it would request the Codification Division of the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs to continue to maintain and expand certain websites as invaluable tools for the dissemination of international law materials and for advanced legal research.  The Assembly would also reiterate its request to Member States and interested organizations, institutions and individuals to make voluntary contributions to the Audiovisual Library and to the Regional Courses.  The Assembly would decide to include this item in the provisional agenda of its seventy-eighth session.

 

The Sixth Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote.

 

The representative of Slovakia reported on the efforts to coordinate a draft resolution on the identification and legal consequences of the peremptory norms of general international law (jus cogens).  Noting that several rounds of informal consultations were held, accompanied by the extensive bilateral exchanges with the interested delegations, irreconcilable views among delegations emerged.  To breach the diverging views, a draft resolution, attempting to strike a middle ground of the considerations, was placed under the silent procedure, which was further broken by several delegations.  This triggered a further gathering of interested delegations, as a final attempt to reach consensus.

 

He went on to say that despite exploring multiple further options, including within text-based negotiations, it became clear that more time would be needed to narrow down the nuances and gaps in delegations’ positions.  He informed the Sixth Committee with regret, that despite all efforts the general agreement on the text of the draft resolution has not yet been reached.  Therefore, it was recommended that the draft resolution be deferred to the seventy-eighth sessions of the General Assembly, based on the relevant precedent.  It was also recommended that the Committee continue deliberations next year in such a way that only the remaining matter — the negotiation of the draft resolution — be considered.  The proposed procedural way forward has been endorsed by the Bureau and supported by the Sixth Committee.

 

The Committee then turned to the draft resolution “Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its seventy-third session” (document A/C.6/77/L.16).

 

The representative of Colombia, introducing the draft resolution, noted that the Bureau had agreed that the recommendation of the Commission on that topic’s draft conclusions continue to be considered at the seventy-eighth session.  Proposing the inclusion of operative paragraph 2 bis, she also spotlighted operative paragraph 4, drawing the attention of Governments to the importance for the International Law Commission having their views on the various aspects of the topics by the deadlines specified in Chapter 3 of the Commission’s report.  After the draft resolution was issued earlier this week, she reported that she received a request from a delegation to consider revising operative paragraph 4 in order to include mention to the topic “Subsidiary means for the determination of rules of international law”.  Exceptionally, she proposed an oral revision.

 

By the text, the General Assembly would draw the attention of Governments to the importance of the Commission having their views on the various aspects of the topics on the Commission’s agenda, particularly:  general principles of law; sea-level rise in relation to international law; prevention and repression of piracy and armed robbery at sea; and settlement of international disputes to which international organizations are parties.  It would also draw the attention of Governments to the importance of the Commission having their comments and observations by 1 December 2023 on the draft articles on immunity of State officials from foreign criminal jurisdiction.  Further, the Assembly would encourage the Commission to take particular account of the capacity and views of Member States — as well as its own workload — when including topics in its current programme of work.

 

The General Assembly would also invite the Commission to continue to take measures to enhance its efficiency and productivity, and to consider making proposals to Member States to that end.  It would also recall the importance of an in-depth analysis of State practice and the consideration of the diversity of Member States’ legal systems to the Commission’s work.  In addition, it would underline the importance of having the Commission’s documents published in due time in the six official languages of the United Nations.  To this end, it would request the Special Rapporteurs to submit their reports within the specified time limit and the Secretariat to give due consideration to the quality of the translation of such documents.  Additionally, the Assembly would stress the desirability of further enhancing the dialogue between the Commission and the Sixth Committee.

 

The Sixth Committee approved the draft resolution, as orally revised, without a vote.

 

The representative of South Africa, speaking in explanation of position after action and on behalf of a group of countries, said that the institutional relationship between the General Assembly and the International Law Commission is being significantly hampered by the Sixth Committee’s lack of ability to effectively address recommendations put forward by the Commission.  The existence of divergent views — instead of being lauded as a natural and enriching element of a legal debate — is more and more being used as an excuse to depart from practice and prevent the Committee from adequately following up on the International Law Commission’s recommendations.

 

“The work of the Committee cannot be a zero-sum game,” she stressed, expressing concern over the emergence of a consistent attempt by some delegations to reflect their substantive views on the topics in the corresponding resolutions, which, in most cases, has meant ignoring the recommendations of the Commission altogether, as was the case with jus cogens.  She urged all Member States to reflect on the trend that is emerging in the Committee and re-evaluate their responsibility to work collegially with the International Law Commission.

 

The Committee then turned to the draft resolution “Protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts” (document A/C.6/77/L.22).

 

The representative of Mexico, introducing the draft resolution, said that the text welcomes the conclusion of the International Law Commission’s work on the topic of protecting the environment in relation to armed conflicts.  Further, it takes note of the Commission’s recommendations, annexes the text of the relevant draft principles and encourages States, international organizations and all who would have an interest in this topic to disseminate the same as much as possible.  She also noted that the draft resolution is based on resolutions previously approved in the Sixth Committee on similar issues and reflects consensus among delegations, recommending that the Committee approve the draft resolution without a vote.

 

By the text, the General Assembly would welcome the conclusion of the International Law Commission’s work on protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts, along with its adoption of the draft principles on this topic and commentaries thereto.  The Assembly would also express its appreciation to the Commission for its continuing contribution to the codification and progressive development of international law.  Further, it would take note of the views and comments expressed in the Sixth Committee’s debates on this subject, as well as the comments and observations submitted in writing by Governments on the draft principles.  The Assembly would also take note of the principles; bring them to the attention of States, international organizations and all who may be called upon to deal with the subject; and encourage their widest‑possible dissemination.

 

The Sixth Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote.

 

The Committee then took up the draft resolution on “Diplomatic protection” (document A/C.6/77/L.20).

 

The representative of Senegal, introducing the resolution, said that it includes technical updated and several new paragraphs.  Turning to the technical updates, operative paragraph 1 commends the articles on diplomatic protection and invites Governments to submit any comments on the elaboration of a convention.  Operative paragraph 2 noted that the General Assembly decided to include this item on the agenda at its eightieth session, taking into account the relevant comments and views.  At that session, Member States would continue to consider the question of a convention on diplomatic protection or any other necessary follow-up.  Introducing new paragraphs, he pointed out that the preambular paragraph notes a close connection between the draft articles on diplomatic protection and the articles on the responsibility of States on internationally wrongful acts.  Operative paragraph 3 encourages Member States to continue a substantive dialogue on an informal basis.

 

By the text, the General Assembly would commend the articles on diplomatic protection to the attention of Governments and invites them to submit in writing to the Secretary-General any further comments, including comments concerning the recommendation by the International Law Commission to elaborate a convention on the basis of the articles.

 

The General Assembly would also decide to include in the provisional agenda of its eightieth session the item entitled “Diplomatic protection”, and taking into account the written comments submitted to the Secretary-General, as well as the views expressed in the debates held at the sixty-second, sixty-fifth, sixty-eighth, seventy-first, seventy-fourth and seventy-seventh sessions of the General Assembly, to continue to examine the question of a convention on diplomatic protection, or any other appropriate action, on the basis of the articles on diplomatic protection, with a view to identifying any difference of opinion on the articles.

 

The Sixth Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote.

 

The representative of Colombia, speaking in explanation of position after action, and on behalf of a group of countries, noted that 16 years after the International Law Commission recommended the elaboration of a convention, the engagement of the Sixth Committee with the subject has remained limited.  Recognizing the major importance of the topic, she underscored the efforts of delegations to revitalize the agenda item and deliver an action-oriented resolution.  While commending the text, she pointed out that delegations would have preferred to have the fruitful discussions reflected more accurately.  In the spirit of flexibility, the delegations decided to accept operative paragraphs 2 and 3, as adopted.  Providing some clarifications of the position, she underscored that the terms “or any other appropriate action” include discussing at the eightieth session whether to re-establish the Working Group on Diplomatic Protection, as foreseen by the relevant resolutions.

 

While delegations would have preferred an explicit clarification to that effect, she noted that during the informal consultations, several delegations endorsed the understanding that the words “appropriate action” encompasses this procedural option.  In this regard, she encouraged Member States to address a possible reconstitution of the Working Group.  Turning to operative paragraph 3, she emphasized that the verb “continue” accurately accounts for the ongoing substantive dialogue on diplomatic protection.  However, she noted that it does not preclude the necessary discussion on the re‑establishing of the Working Group or any other procedural options conducive to the Committee taking an informed decision about this topic.  She also voiced her disapproval regarding the excessive utilization of the technical rollovers for diplomatic protection and expressed concern about the inconsistent treatment of the products and recommendations of the International Law Commission.  The resolution adopted provides a mandate to advance discussions on diplomatic protection in earnest, she added.

 

The Committee then took up the draft resolution, “Status of the Protocols Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and relating to the protection of victims of armed conflicts” (document A/C.6/77/L.19).

 

The representative of Sweden, introducing the draft resolution, noted, among other comments, that a new preambular paragraph 8 was introduced to welcome the important role of relevant regional fora in promoting the respect for international humanitarian law.  It also included two new preambular paragraphs — 18 and 19 — noting Security Council resolution 2573 (2021) on the protection of civilian objects in armed conflict, and resolution 2601 (2021) on the protection of children affected by armed conflict and facilitating the continuation and protection of education in armed conflict.  Relatedly, new preambular paragraph 26 was introduced to note resolution 2222 (2015) on the protection of journalists, media professionals and associated personnel in situations of armed conflict.  She further cited the expansion or addition of operative paragraphs 8, 9, 12 and 15.

 

By the text, the General Assembly would welcome the universal acceptance of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and notes the trend towards a similarly wide acceptance of the two Additional Protocols of 1977.  It would also call on all State parties to the Geneva Convention to consider becoming parties to certain related international instruments, including the Additional Protocols if they have not yet done so, and call on all States who are parties to the Additional Protocols to ensure their dissemination and implementation.

 

The General Assembly would also call upon Member States to actively participate in the thirty‑fourth International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, to be held in Geneva in 2024.  In addition, it would request the Secretary-General to submit to the General Assembly at its seventy‑ninth session a comprehensive report on the status of the Additional Protocols relating to the protection of victims of armed conflicts, as well as on measures taken to strengthen the existing body of international humanitarian law, inter alia, with respect to its dissemination and full implementation at the national level, based on information received from Member States and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

 

The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote.

 

Next, the Committee turned to the draft resolution “Report of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization” (document A/C.6/77/L.13).

 

The representative of Egypt, introducing the draft resolution, said that the text is based on a previous resolution, with necessary technical updates.  The draft resolution incorporates recommendations made by the Chair of the Special Committee, along with suggestions made by the Non-Aligned Movement regarding subtopics for thematic debates in future sessions of the Special Committee.  Adding that the text reflects consensus among delegations, he recommended that the Sixth Committee approve the draft resolution without a vote.

 

By its terms, the General Assembly would decide that the Special Committee shall hold its next session from 21 February to 1 March 2023.  It would also request the Special Committee to continue its consideration of all proposals concerning the question of the maintenance of international peace and security in all its aspects in order to strengthen the role of the United Nations.  In this context, it would also request the Special Committee to consider other proposals already submitted or which may be submitted to the Special Committee at its session in 2023, including strengthening the relationship and cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations or arrangements in the peaceful settlement of disputes.

 

Further terms would have the General Assembly recognize the important role of the International Court of Justice in adjudicating disputes among States, and would request the Secretary-General to distribute, in due course, the advisory opinions requested by the principal organs of the United Nations as official documents of the United Nations.

 

The General Assembly would also commend the Secretary-General for the progress made in the preparation of studies for the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs, as well as the progress made towards updating the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council.  It would also call upon the Secretary-General to continue his efforts towards updating the two publications and making them available electronically in all their respective language versions and encourage the continued updating of the Repertory and the Repertoire websites.

 

The Sixth Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote.

 

The representative of the Philippines, speaking in explanation of position after action, welcomed the draft resolution’s identification of peaceful means for the settlement of disputes and noted that both the list and order thereof indicate its recommendatory nature.  Joining the common understanding that the current language does not preclude other such means, she stressed that relevance ‑ rather than novelty ‑ is the key criteria in the consideration of other peaceful means for dispute settlement.  She also spotlighted the fortieth anniversary of the Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes, noting that the same is not simply a recapitulation of the relevant machinery in the Charter of the United Nations.  Rather, the Declaration considers how Member States can make best use of the Charter to resolve disputes, or at least ensure that they do not escalate to a point at which force is threatened or used.

 

The Committee then took up the draft resolution “The scope and application of the principle of universal jurisdiction” (document A/C.6/77/L.21).

 

The representative of Mauritius, introducing the text, noted that it is based on last year’s text with necessary technical updates.  As well, a number of informals and bilateral contacts were held to consider several proposals, on which consensus was reached for some.

 

Drawing attention to changes that go beyond the technical, she said that regarding operative paragraph 3, the General Assembly would invite a working group of the Sixth Committee to be established at its seventy-ninth session to consider and comment on the question “on the relevant elements of a working concept of universal jurisdiction”.

 

As well, by the text, the General Assembly would request the Secretary-General to prepare and submit to the Assembly, at its seventy-ninth session, a report reviewing all the submissions of Member States and relevant observers, as well as views expressed in the debates of the Sixth Committee, since the sixty-second session of the General Assembly and identifying possible convergences and divergences on the definition, scope and application of universal jurisdiction for the consideration of the Sixth Committee.  Such a report will not be an additional report of the Secretary-General, but rather an updated request for the content of the annual report, she noted.

 

The Sixth Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote.

 

Next, the Committee took up the draft resolution “Measures to eliminate international terrorism” (document A/C.6/77/L.18).

 

The representative of Canada, introducing the draft resolution, said that the general aim among delegations was to avoid a replication of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy’s efforts.  Accordingly, the draft resolution mostly constitutes technical update of last year’s resolution.  Addressing the most important changes, she noted that preambular paragraph 5 was updated to note with appreciation of the first United Nations Global Congress of Victims of Terrorism.  A new preambular paragraph, which encourages women to continue to play an important role in countering terrorism, was also added.

 

Furthermore, operative paragraph 23 was updated to spotlight the issuance of the fourth edition of the compendium of international instruments related to the prevention and suppression of international terrorism in all the six official languages of the United Nations, she continued.  Operative paragraph 25 contains a recommendation to establish a working group to finalize the process on the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism and discuss the convening of a high-level conference.  Finally, operative paragraph 27 includes the provisional agenda of its seventy-eighth session under the item entitled “Measures to eliminate international terrorism”.

 

By the text, among other things, the General Assembly would call upon all Member States, the United Nations and other appropriate international, regional and subregional organizations to implement the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, as well as the resolutions relating to the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh reviews of the Strategy, 10 in all its aspects at the international, regional, subregional and national levels without delay, including by mobilizing resources and expertise.

 

It would also recall the General Assembly’s pivotal role in following up the implementation and the updating of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, and look forward to the eighth review in 2023.  It would also request the Secretary-General to provide information on relevant activities within the Secretariat to ensure overall coordination and coherence in the counter-terrorism efforts of the United Nations system.

 

The Sixth Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote.

 

The Committee then turned to the agenda item, “Administration of Justice at the United Nations”.

 

The representative of Georgia, introducing a draft letter from the Chair of the Sixth Committee to the President of the General Assembly on that topic, stated that the draft letter underlines the importance of the independence of the judiciary.  It also emphasizes the need for knowledge of the internal system of administration of justice and for outreach activities and underlines the importance of transparency and consistency of jurisprudence and judicial directions.  It further renewed its interest in improving the regulatory framework, including measures to address racism and promote dignity for all at the United Nations.  Regarding the informal system of internal justice, delegations commended the Management Evaluation Unit, the United Nations Dispute Tribunal and the United Nations Appeals Tribunal for their continued important roles in enabling the resolution of work-related disputes of staff members.

 

With regard to remedies available to non-staff personnel, she said that the Sixth Committee reiterated that the United Nations should ensure that effective remedies are available to all categories of personnel, including non-staff personnel, and recommended to continue the discussions on ways to provide non-staff personnel with access to fair, affordable and effective mechanisms for resolving work-related disputes.  The Committee further encouraged the continuation of the pilot project within existing resources and requested the Office of the Ombudsman and Mediation Services to include in its next report information regarding the expected resources that would be required to expand its mandate to cover non-staff.  Citing amendments to a number of articles, she recommended that the draft letter be approved without a vote.

 

The Vice-Chair then recommended that the letter be signed by the Chair of the Sixth Committee and be sent to the President of the General Assembly and noted that, following past practice, the letter would contain a request that it be brought to the attention of the Chair of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) and circulated as a document of the General Assembly.

 

The Sixth Committee then authorized the Chair to sign the letter and forward it to the President of the General Assembly.

 

The Committee then took up the draft resolution “Crimes against humanity” (document A/C.6/77/L.4).

 

The representative of Gambia, introducing the draft resolution, said that the text has three main objectives.  First, it offers a dedicated space for a substantive exchange of views on all aspects of the draft articles on the prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity.  It also offers an opportunity to consider further the International Law Commission’s recommendation for the elaboration of a convention on the basis of the draft articles.  Second, the draft resolution sets out the process for the Committee’s consideration of this topic at the seventy-seventh, seventy-eighth and seventy-ninth sessions.  Third, it sets out a clear timeline for the Committee’s consideration of the draft articles during the seventy-ninth session.  Noting that no further action is required on this agenda item until such session, he recommended that the Committee approve the draft resolution without a vote.

 

By the text, the General Assembly would express its appreciation to the International Law Commission for its continuing contribution to the codification and progressive development of international law and take note, once again, of the International Law Commission’s draft articles on prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity.  It would invite States to submit, by the end of 2023, written comments and observations on the draft articles and on the recommendation of the Commission and request that the Secretary-General prepare and circulate a compilation of those comments and observations well in advance of the session of the Sixth Committee to be held in 2024.

 

The General Assembly would also decide that the Sixth Committee, at the seventy-ninth session of the General Assembly, in the light of the written comments and observations of Governments, as well as the views expressed in discussions at the seventy-seventh and seventy-eighth sessions of the General Assembly and the written summary, would further examine the draft articles and the recommendation of the Commission and take a decision on this matter, without prejudice to the question of their future adoption or other appropriate action.

 

The Sixth Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote.

 

The representative of Singapore, speaking in explanation of position after action, said that his delegation joined consensus, as his country supports open, constructive discussion on the substance of the draft articles and on the issue of what further action, if any, to be taken thereon.  Noting diverging views on the draft articles, he expressed hope that the Committee’s 2023 and 2024 sessions will help resolve the complex issues that have been raised in numerous statements and written submissions on this topic.  While he expressed certain concerns over the way negotiations were conducted this year, he welcomed that further engagement resulted in a revised text that enjoyed consensus.  Singapore actively supported engagement, flexibility and compromise in finding a procedural way forward, he said, welcoming the efforts of other similarly minded delegations in this regard.

 

The observer for the State of Palestine said that each generation has the responsibility to “preserve the edifice of international law”.  Such law is a true indicator of human progress, and there is no greater challenge to humanity than that posed by crimes that concern the international community as a whole, including crimes against humanity.  The Committee took an important step today towards further consolidating international law on a most important issue.  He therefore thanked the co-facilitators for their work, along with all delegations, especially those with concerns that showed flexibility and engaged constructively to achieve today’s result.

 

The Committee turned to the draft resolution “Report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country” (document A/C.6/77/L.14).

 

The representative of Cyprus, introducing the draft resolution, highlighted several new and amended parts of the text.  Preambular paragraph 3 underscores that bringing issues to the attention of the host country may in some cases help to have them expeditiously resolved.  Operative paragraph 2 urges the host country to continue ensuring that diplomats transiting to and from the United Nations Headquarters are treated respectfully.  The language of operative paragraph 6 recalls the stringent travel restrictions applied to a mission in 2021 and the additional restrictions applied to the same mission in 2022.  Operative paragraph 15 addresses the text notes of the discussions that have been formalized between the United Nations Legal Counsel and the competent authorities of the host country regarding unresolved issues.  It also mentions the reports on the outcome of these discussions and further notes with concern a number of unresolved issues.

 

By the terms of the text, among others, the General Assembly would strongly urge the host country to remove all remaining travel restrictions imposed by it on staff of certain missions and staff members of the Secretariat of certain nationalities.  It would further note the statements of affected delegations that travel restrictions impede their ability to carry out their functions and negatively impact their staff and families.

 

In addition, the General Assembly would express serious concern regarding the denial and delay of entry visas to certain representatives of certain Member States and would note that the Committee remains seized of an increasing number of entry visa-related issues raised at its meetings.  The General Assembly would also stress the need for the permanent missions and the United Nations to benefit from appropriate banking services, anticipating that the host country will continue to assist the permanent missions accredited to the United Nations and their staff in obtaining such services.

 

The Sixth Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote.

 

The Committee next took up the draft decision “Provisional programme of work of the Sixth Committee for the seventy-eighth session” (document A/C.6/77/L.24), under the agenda item “Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly”.  Debate on this agenda item was held on 10 November.  The draft decision reflects that proposed programme.  (For background, see Press Release GA/L/3677.)

 

The Vice-Chair noted that no comments from the Bureau on the proposed programme of work had been received.  He further cited a typographical error on page two.

 

The Sixth Committee approved the draft decision without a vote.

 

Election of Officers

 

The Vice-Chair then turned to the item on the election of the officers of the Main Committees, noting that as per General Assembly resolution 72/313, concerning the “pattern for the rotation of the Chairs of the Main Committees of the General Assembly”, the Chair of the Sixth Committee for the seventy-eighth session will come from the Asia-Pacific group.  The Committee will meet one more time during the present session of the General Assembly in approximately early June 2023 to elect the Bureau for the seventy-eighth session, he said, proposing that regional groups hold consultations in due course to ensure that the Committee will be in a position to elect its next Chair, three Vice-Chairs and a Rapporteur.

 

Closing Remarks

 

EDGAR DANIEL LEAL MATTA (Guatemala), Vice-Chair of the Sixth Committee, in closing, noted that the Committee discussed 28 substantive agenda items over the course of 36 meetings during the main part of its session this year.  The Committee adopted 21 draft resolutions and nine draft decisions, also approving two letters on agenda items allocated jointly with the Fifth Committee.  Congratulating all delegations on this session’s outcomes, he thanked the same for their support, cooperation, professionalism and understanding.  He added that, because of delegations’ flexibility and cooperation, the Committee was able to conclude its session on time while preserving its tradition of reaching agreement by consensus.

 

Source: United Nations