General Assembly

General Assembly: 46th Plenary Meeting, 77th Session…

General Assembly: 46th Plenary Meeting, 77th Session
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General Assembly adopts over 100 texts of First, Sixth Committees tackling threats from nuclear weapons, international security, global law, transitional justice.

Acting on the recommendations of its First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) and Sixth Committee (Legal), the General Assembly today adopted a total of 86 resolutions and 17 decisions on items ranging from the threat posed by nuclear weapons in a deteriorating international security environment to the restoration of confidence in the rule of law as a key element of multilateral and transitional justice.

Prior to taking action on the reports of the First and Sixth Committees, the General Assembly heard from their Special Rapporteurs, respectively.  Introducing the reports of the First Committee was Nazim Khaldi (Algeria), who said that, despite the current challenging international political environment, a high level of professionalism prevailed in the Committee, allowing it to fulfil its mandate and complete its work within the time allotted by the General Assembly.  Sarah Zahirah Ruhama (Malaysia), highlighting the Sixth Committee’s tradition of consensus, reported that the draft resolutions and decisions had been approved by the Committee without a vote, expressing hope that the Assembly would do the same.

Taking up the First Committee’s body of work for the seventy-seventh session, the General Assembly adopted 66 resolutions and 8 decisions, through which it expressed deep concern at the deteriorated international security environment, including in Ukraine, and that the threat of nuclear-weapon use today is higher than at any time since the cold war.

Through a wide-ranging text, “Steps to building a common road map towards a world without nuclear weapons”, the Assembly expressed concern at the rapid quantitative expansion and qualitative improvement of nuclear forces by some nuclear-weapon States and the continued role of those weapons in security policies, as well as at the uneven level of transparency surrounding these activities.  It called on nuclear-weapon States to honour security assurances undertaken not to use or threaten to use those weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States.

The Assembly urged all States, especially nuclear-weapon States, to make every effort to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used again — pending their total elimination — and to refrain from any inflammatory rhetoric concerning their use.  It also called for measures to mitigate risks of miscalculation, misperception, miscommunication or accident.

The representative of Costa Rica, speaking in explanation of position after action on that resolution, noted that her delegation voted in favour of the text, as it values all initiatives towards a world without nuclear weapons.  She expressed concern, however, that it places conditions on nuclear disarmament, stressing that such disarmament requires States to commit to working together for the common good.

Among many other texts, the Assembly adopted a resolution, “Ethical imperatives for a nuclear-weapon-free world”, through which it acknowledged its condemnation of nuclear war as contrary to human conscience and a violation of the fundamental right to life.  Given their indiscriminate nature and potential to annihilate humanity, nuclear weapons are inherently immoral, it declared.

Closing the General Assembly’s consideration of the reports of the First Committee was its Vice-President, Brian Christopher Manley Wallace (Jamaica).  Speaking on behalf of the Assembly’s President.  He noted that the number of issues dealt with by the Committee — and the substance of its decisions — attest to the complex and often-unprecedented nature of challenges in the security and disarmament field.  The resolutions adopted today stand for a collective reaffirmation of Member States’ responsibilities and commitments towards disarmament and non-proliferation, he said, adding that they are also a testimony to the importance of finding multilateral solutions.

Turning to the Sixth Committee’s body of work for the seventy-seventh session, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, 20 resolutions and 9 decisions, also postponing action on one draft resolution and taking note of a report.  Such texts contemplated a wide variety of legal issues, also addressing the work of bodies such as the International Law Commission and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).

Among other texts, the General Assembly adopted without a vote a resolution concerning the Organization’s flagship legal-education initiative, the Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law.  By its terms, it authorized the Secretary-General to further expand certain Programme activities using voluntary contributions, also requesting Member States and others to make such contributions to the Audiovisual Library of International Law and Regional Courses in International Law.  The Assembly also urged the Secretary-General to conduct interactive online workshops when such training programmes cannot take place in person owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Assembly also adopted without a vote the resolution “Consideration of effective measures to enhance the protection, security and safety of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives”.  Through the text, it urged States to strictly observe, implement and enforce — including during armed conflict — all applicable rules and principles of international law governing diplomatic and consular relations.  The Assembly also called on States to make use of the means available for the peaceful settlement of disputes when one arises in connection with a violation of international obligations in this area.

Another resolution adopted without a vote, “The rule of law at the national and international levels”, had the Assembly recognize the importance of restoring confidence in the rule of law as a key element of transitional justice.  Stressing the importance of promoting the sharing of national practices and of inclusive dialogue, the Assembly invited Member States to voluntarily exchange relevant national best practices in informal meetings, including in an electronic depository on the United Nations rule-of-law website.

A further text adopted without a vote was a resolution on “The Report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country”.  Through that resolution, the Assembly strongly urged the host country to remove all remaining travel restrictions imposed by it on staff of certain missions and Secretariat staff members of certain nationalities.  The body also expressed serious concern regarding the denial and delay of entry visas to certain representatives of certain Member States and stressed the need for Permanent Missions and the United Nations to benefit from appropriate banking services.

The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking in explanation of position after action, noted that, during this session, Member States “came within a hair’s breadth” of destroying the Sixth Committee’s long-standing tradition of consensus.  Underscoring that States must consider matters on the Committee’s agenda in a uniform, consistent manner, he said that “the hottest heads here” should realize that renouncing consensus on certain issues — while maintaining the practice on others — “will not work”.

In closing remarks, Csaba Kőrösi (Hungary), President of the General Assembly, pointed out that the Sixth Committee “is tasked to grapple with some of the most complex issues and crises this Organization and the global community face”.  He added that adherence to the law paves the way for a more peaceful, prosperous and just world — for both the current generation, as well as future ones.

At the end of the meeting, the General Assembly adopted without a vote a draft resolution concerning cooperation between the United Nations and the Latin American and Caribbean Economic System.  By the text, the Assembly emphasized that the latter is an important partner in implementing the 2015-2030 regional action plan for the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 in the Americas and the Caribbean.

The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 8 December, to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the adoption and opening for signature of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.