Charter Committee reports progress regarding UN fact-finding process

Charter Committee reports progress regarding UN fact-finding process – Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization; includes brief background of the committee

The Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization, at its 1990 session, reported progress in its work on fact-finding by the UN and approved recommendations on rationalization of existing UN procedures.

During a three-week session (New York, 12 February-2 March), the Committee also considered issues related to peaceful settlement of disputes among States, including progress on a draft handbook prepared by the Secretariat on the issue.

The session was marked by an intensified search for practical ways to enhance the effectiveness of the Organization. A number of new ideas were put forward, including a working paper A/AC.182/L.65) in which the USSR made several new proposals, including how to expand co-operation between the UN and regional organizations and broaden the peace-making efforts by the Secretary-General.

Carl-August Fleischhauer, UnderSecretary-General for Legal Affairs and the UN Legal Counsel, said the Committee’s mission was extremely important, as the Soviet proposals

The Soviet working paper calls for expanding co-operation with regional organizations in efforts to create a healthier political climate”. Mechanisms and safeguards of regional security should be developed. The permanent members of the Security Council could act as “guarantors” in that respect by committing themselves never to use force or the threat of force and by renouncing such practices as military “demonstrations” and supplying arms to parties in conflict.

To broaden his peace-making efforts, the Secretary-General could submit information, including confidential information, to the Security Council on a regular basis about developments in any area of conflict, and more frequently exercise his right under Article 99 of the UN Charter to bring to the Council’s attention any matter threatening international peace and security.

The Special Committee could also examine the SecretaryGeneral’s proposal on establishing, under UN auspices, a centre for reducing the risk of war.

Other tasks suggested for the Special Committee:

* Elaborating a draft general instrument on peaceful settlement of disputes, as well as a long-term programme on developing international within the framework of the UN Decade of International Law (the 1990s).

Considering enforcement actions against a State breaching the peace or failing to comply with Security Council resolutions.

Exploring how to broaden the sphere of application of preventive UN activities, including prevention of potentially explosive situations caused by internal socio-economic and other factors.

Forming, under UN auspices, an extensive network to monitor, collect and process information on the situation in areas of conflict.

Considering ways to strengthen the collective security regime provided for in the UN Charter. UN procedures

After six years of work, the Special Committee completed a draft document on rationalization of existing UN procedures.

It was recommended, inter alia, that:

Before an Assembly session ends, the General Committee should formulate observations on the organization of the session’s work to facilitate the work of future sessions.

The Assembly agenda should be simplified by grouping or merging related items and setting an interval of two or more years for the discussions of some issues.

When electronic voting is available for recording votes, a roll call vote should not be requested. maintenance of international peace and security and the peaceful settlement of disputes affected the very purpose of the United Nations. The role of the Organization, which the Committee must strengthen, raised “highly sensitive” questions, at the core of which was the question of the advancement of the role of law in international relations. Committee Chairman Andreas Mavrommatis of Cyprus said that recent developments, especially in Europe, had not only brought about an improved political climate in the world, but had also imposed an obligation on the Committee to produce quick results. The 47-member Committee, which meets annually, was created by the General Assembly on 15 December 1975 to consider suggestions regarding the UN Charter and the Organization’s role in maintaining international peace and security (see box). UN fact-finding

A revised working paper on UN fact-finding was submitted by Belgium, the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, japan, New Zealand and Spain in 1989. Also reviewed was another revised text on the same subject, put forward by Czechoslovakia and the German Democratic Republic, also in 1989.

After joint discussions, a unified document A/AC182/L.66) was prepared, stressing that the UN, to maintain international peace, should consider undertaking factfinding activities. Fact-finding was defined as “any activity designed to ascertain facts which the competent UN organs need to exercise effectively their functions” in maintaining international peace and security, and should be “comprehensive, objective and impartial”.

Among other suggestions:

While fact-finding missions might be undertaken by the Security Council, the General Assembly or the Secretary-General, preference should be given to the Secretary-General, who could designate a special representative or a group of experts to report to him.

The Secretary-Gencral, on his own initiative or at the request of States concerned, should consider undertaking such missions in areas where a situation exists which may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security. Such information could be brought to the attention of the Security Council.

Special attention should be given to using UN fact-finding capabilities as early as possible. Lists of experts should be kept current and capabilities for emergency fact-finding maintained and developed.

States should bring any situation likely to threaten international peace and security to the attention of a competent UN organ, and should admit UN fact-finding missions to their territory.

States should co-operate with, and assist, UN fact-finding missions, which should enjoy all freedoms and facilities needed to discharge their mandate.

* A world-wide survey of the state of international peace and security should be made to help prevent situations which might threaten international peace and security. Early warnings of such situations should be enhanced. The Secretary-General should fully use and strengthen the Secretariat’s information-gathering capabilities. UN information centres might collect publicly available information related to international peace and security.

COPYRIGHT 1990 United Nations Publications

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group