45th Plenary Meeting - General Assembly 75th Session

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15-Dec-2020 01:04:27
Adopting 29 legal texts, General Assembly reaffirms Sixth Committee’s vital role in progressive development of international law.

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The General Assembly today reaffirmed the vital role of the Sixth Committee (Legal) as its primary forum for considering legal questions, adopting without a vote 19 draft resolutions and 10 draft decisions recommended by the Committee, including four new requests for observer status.

Solomon Korbieh (Ghana), Sixth Committee Rapporteur, introduced the Committee’s 29 reports, noting that the texts represent the Organization’s legal priorities — namely, the promotion of justice and international law; drug control, crime prevention and combating international terrorism in all its forms and manifestations; and organizational matters and administration.

Among the texts adopted today was the resolution titled “Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) on the work of its fifty‑third session”, which, among other things, saw the General Assembly commend the Commission for holding a series of online panels to discuss the connection between its work and the economic consequences of the COVID‑19 pandemic.

Another resolution adopted was on the report “United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law”, by which the General Assembly authorized the regular budget financing of activities including the International Law Fellowship Programme, the United Nations regional courses in international law and the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law.

The resolution titled “Crimes against humanity” was also adopted during the meeting and, while it represented mostly a technical update of the resolution introduced in 2019, it also spotlighted the International Law Commission’s draft articles on the prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity.

The representative of the United Kingdom, commenting on that text, pointed out a notable lacuna in international law. Noting that some States prefer a cautious approach to this topic while others desire more immediate action in the form of a binding international convention, she expressed hope that Member States would be able to come to the seventy‑sixth General Assembly ready to achieve the progress that had not been possible in the current session.

Also approved without a vote was the resolution concerning the report of the International Law Commission on the work of its seventy‑second session. The text mainly reflected technical updates to the 2019 draft resolution — as the COVID‑19 pandemic thwarted the issuance of a report for 2020 — but also called Governments’ attention to the importance of providing their views on topics on the Commission’s agenda by 31 December 2020, particularly on the issues of immunity of State officials, succession of States and sea level rise in relation to international law.

Volkan Bozkir (Turkey), President of the General Assembly, praised the Sixth Committee’s commitment, during a time of crisis, to the vital work of the progressive development and codification of international law. The global challenges of 2020 engendered paeans to solidarity as the first line of defence, and the Sixth Committee embodied this sentiment in the 19 draft resolutions and 10 decisions it approved without a vote. Noting the Committee’s effective working methodologies during this extraordinary session, he said the body’s work ethic and collegiality serve as an example for the entire Organization of how to move forward in difficult times.

Mr. Bozkir also took note of the exceptional circumstances that colored this session. Highlighting the added value and unique role that observers bring to the sessions and work of the General Assembly, he stressed that the international community would find sustainable global solutions only through a multilateral system that promotes the rule of law. “Together we will get through this and recover better,” he added.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 16 December, to consider the report of the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural).

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