Criminal accountability of UN officials, terrorism convention, UN internal justice among issues, as UNGA adopts 17 texts recommended by Legal Committee

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Sixty-fourth General Assembly
64th Meeting (AM)

Also Adopts Text on Assistance to Palestinian People, Defers Resolution on Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force

Acting without a vote on the recommendations of its Sixth (Legal) Committee, the General Assembly this morning adopted 15 resolutions and two decisions on issues ranging from international terrorism to the rule of law, as it also adopted a text on assistance to the Palestinian people and continued its consideration of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

The recommendations of the Legal Committee were contained in 15 reports. The Assembly also took note of two others, one on programme planning and another on observer status in its work for the Council of the Presidents of the General Assembly.

Of the others, a report on the rule of law at the national and international levels contained a resolution by which the Assembly stressed the importance of adhering to the rule of law and the need to strengthen support to States toward that end. It called on the United Nations system to address rule of law issues and expressed full support for the year-old Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group supported by the Rule of Law Unit. Calling for high priority to be accorded to rule of law activities, the Assembly invited the International Court of Justice, United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) and the International Law Commission to comment on their activities.

Another report on the new two-tiered administration of justice system in the United Nations contained a resolution and a decision. By the resolution, the Assembly adopted the rules of procedure of both the United Nations Dispute Tribunal and the United Nations Appeals Tribunal. By adopting the decision, it approved of the Legal Committee continuing to consider outstanding legal aspects of the system, in collaboration with the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).

Further dealing with rule of law at the United Nations, the Assembly adopted a resolution in a report on criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission. With that, the Assembly called on States to establish jurisdiction in existing domestic criminal law over crimes of a serious nature committed by their nationals while serving as United Nations personnel. It also requested the Secretary-General to report on allegations and the actions taken in response.

By another resolution, the Assembly called on States to contribute to regional activities of the United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law, noting that the year-old Audiovisual Library on International Law had received the 2009 Best Website Award from the International Association of Law Librarians in October. The Assembly also encouraged the use of the internship programme and authorized the Secretary-General to award a minimum of one scholarship each year in both 2010 and 2011 under the Hamilton Shirley Amerisinghe Fellowship on the Law of the Sea, subject to the availability of contributions.

By a resolution on the principle of universal jurisdiction, the Secretary-General was requested to report on State practice with regard to scope and application. By a resolution on measures to eliminate international terrorism, the Ad Hoc Committee would continue elaborating a comprehensive convention at its next meeting from 12 to 16 April 2010.

By resolutions on reports under the Committee's consideration, the Assembly requested the Host Country, through the Host Country Committee, to continue its training of security, border and custom officials so that diplomatic privileges and immunities would be upheld. The Charter Special Committee was called on to continue considering questions related to third States affected by sanctions. States were called upon to contribute to the trust fund enabling electronic publication of the repertoire and repertory of United Nations organs.

Further, the Assembly took note of the report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) by one resolution, welcoming the continued revisions of texts and endorsing the Commission's decision to work in areas such as electronic commerce, transport law and commercial fraud. By another resolution on the Commission's report, the Assembly adopted the Commission's Practice Guide on Cross-Border Insolvency Cooperation.

By a resolution on the International Law Commission's report, the Assembly urged Governments to offer their views on matters related to the Commission's agenda, including responsibility of international organizations, expulsion of aliens and shared natural resources. Governments were also urged to send legal advisors when the Commission's report was considered in Committee during International Law Week, so that high-level discussions on international law could be held.

Finally, by adoption of a resolution of each organization, the Assembly granted observer status in its work to the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region of Africa and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean.

Turning to other matters on its agenda, the Assembly resumed its consideration of the item on "Assistance to the Palestinian People" and adopted a consensus plenary text of the same name. By it, the Assembly expressed grave concern at the deterioration in living conditions of the Palestinian people and welcomed the development of projects, notably on infrastructure, to revive the Palestinian economy. It further expressed its grave concern at the humanitarian situation in Gaza and underlined the importance of the International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Economy for the Reconstruction of Gaza, held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt on 2 March, in addressing that situation.By other terms, the Assembly welcomed the work of the Palestinian Authority to implement the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan for 2008-2010, as well as action by the Special Representative of the Quartet, charged with developing a multi-year agenda to strengthen institutions, promote economic development and mobilize international funds. It urged Member States, international financial institutions of the United Nations system, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to extend, as rapidly as possible, economic and social assistance to the Palestinian people. In that regard, it called on donors that had not yet converted their budget support pledges into disbursements to transfer funds as soon as possible, and encouraged all donors to increase their direct assistance to the Palestinian Authority.

Speaking in explanation of position after action, Israel's delegate said his Government joined consensus on the text, as it was "constructive" and sought to assist Palestinians in increasing their economic and development capacity. Due in part to Israeli measures, economic growth stood at an "impressive" 8 per cent in the West Bank, while construction projects moved forward at an exceptional pace. Israel had reservations about particular aspects of the resolution, notably vis-à-vis the policy of assistance to the Gaza Strip. Such provisions must reflect Israel's security needs with regard to delivering assistance.

Speaking in general statement after action, the Observer of Palestine said assistance had become a "virtual lifeline" for the Palestinian people, particularly families in the Gaza Strip who continued to suffer as a direct result of Israel's illegal blockade. While the resolution had been adopted by consensus, her delegation could not ignore Israel's continued obstruction of assistance. International pledges made at Sharm el-Sheikh had yet to be received by the Palestinian people. Illegal Israeli policies undermined donor support and that required serious redress.

The Assembly decided to defer action on a draft resolution entitled "Institutionalization of the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force", which would have it request the Secretary-General to provide resources to finalize the institutionalization of the Task Force without delay in order to ensure overall coordination and coherence in the counter-terrorism efforts of the United Nations system.

Speaking in general statement on that topic were the representatives of Austria, Pakistan, Burkina Faso and Croatia.

Also today, the Assembly adopted, as orally revised, the report of the Credentials Committee entitled "Credentials of representatives to the sixty-fourth session of the General Assembly", which contained a draft resolution recommending the Assembly's approval of the report.

Speaking in explanation of position after action were the representatives of Iran and Madagascar.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m., 18 December, to take up the reports of its Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural).


The General Assembly met today to consider the reports of its Sixth Committee (Legal), as well as to consider matters related to the Palestinian People, the Counter-Terrorism Strategy and a report of the Credentials Committee.