Sixth Committee Speakers from African States Highlight Programme of Assistance’s Contribution to Continent, Development of International Law, as Debate Concludes
As the Sixth Committee (Legal) concluded its debate on the Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law, representatives of African States highlighted the impact that the Programme has had on the continent through its trainings to individuals, as well as its contribution to the development of international law and promotion of the rule of law at the national and international levels. (For background, see Press Release GA/L/3667.)
The representative of Eritrea emphasized the Programme’s importance for qualified professionals, lawyers and students in developing countries and emerging economies. The increasing complexity of issues covered by international law requires more qualified professionals in different, specific fields, he observed, underlining the Programme’s special benefit for those from developing countries.
Zambia’s representative echoed that point, noting the creation of a “cadre of lawyers” with hands-on understanding of international public law. These individuals can effectively contribute to the development and codification of such law. As such, his country encourages its citizens to participate in international-law courses to expand their knowledge and enhance their global participation, he said.
Similarly, the representative of Algeria said that if the international community is committed to promoting the rule of law at the international level, it is important to train an ample number of academics and jurists. He observed that an increased number of applications to, and demand for, the Programme’s Regional Courses in International Law demonstrates their efficacy and importance.
The representative of Sudan said that such Regional Courses provide participants the opportunity to exchange ideas and, thus, promote regional cooperation. Expressing hope that more financial resources are allocated to the Programme, he also urged increased support for the African Institute of International Law, as its studies promote African jurists’ contributions to the development of international law.
Uganda’s representative, while underscoring the importance of ensuring the diversity of legal traditions and gender balance among the participants, also called for the Programme to be funded from the regular budget of the United Nations and highlighted the need for voluntary contributions in expanding the Programme’s activities.
Nigeria’s representative pointed out that her country, through voluntary contributions, supports the participation of countries from the region in the Nigerian Law School each year. She also highlighted the Programme’s impact on students and legal practitioners in further facilitating effective multilateral frameworks, strengthening friendly relations and promoting international peace and security.
At the outset of the meeting, the representatives of Saudi Arabia and Bolivia asked for clarification regarding the Sixth Committee’s delay of action on draft resolutions on observer status in the General Assembly for the Digital Cooperation Organization and the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization, respectively. Pedro Comissário Afonso (Mozambique), Chair, informed them that delegations had requested more time to review the requests.
Also speaking on the Programme of Assistance were representatives of the United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Chile, Thailand and the Philippines. An observer for the State of Palestine also spoke.
The Sixth Committee will next meet at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 25 October, to consider the report of the International Law Commission on the work of its seventy-third session.
Programme of Assistance
MELINA LITO (United Kingdom) commended the Codification Division for finding ways to deliver the Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law, despite the difficulties caused by the COVID‑19 pandemic and expressed hope for more in‑person training in 2023. The Programme plays an important role in delivering international law training and dissemination of legal knowledge globally, while also facilitating the effective participation of diverse countries in multilateral frameworks and fora, she said. To that end, the United Kingdom continues to provide voluntary contributions to the Programme, supporting, among others, the International Law Handbook and Seminar, Audiovisual Library of International Law, Hamilton Shirley Amerasinghe Memorial Fellowship on the Law of the Sea and the Trust Fund for the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.
EVGENY A. SKACHKOV (Russian Federation) noted with appreciation the Programme’s resumption of in-person training activities, including the International Law Fellowship Programme, and expressed hope that all Regional Courses will also return to their usual modalities. He underscored the importance of fair geographical representation among both the participants of the Programme and the lecturers. Further, the allocation of Fellowships should be given to the worthiest candidates. He welcomed the continued additions to the Audiovisual Library and encouraged the continued circulation of the respective materials in print form, including the International Law Handbook and the Reports of International Arbitral Awards. He also expressed his confidence that the Programme will continue to gather pace with the best possible use of the resources from the regular budget and the voluntary contributions.
JOSE JUAN HERNANDEZ CHAVEZ (Chile), associating himself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China and the Non‑Aligned Movement, expressed support for the dissemination and teaching of international law, particularly among developing countries. Strengthening the validity of, and respect for, international law requires a robust Programme of Assistance that has the necessary resources and a long‑term approach. To this end, he welcomed that the Programme is funded through the regular budget and thanked those States that have made voluntary contributions. He went on to express regret that the Regional Course in International Law for Latin America and the Caribbean was not held in-person between 2020-2022 due to the COVID‑19 pandemic but noted that it will return to such a format in Santiago in 2023. He also welcomed progress made in the Audiovisual Library of International Law, expressing hope that it will continue its efforts while keeping in mind diverse regions and legal traditions. He added a call for the International Law Handbook to be made available in Spanish as soon as possible.
Ms. SUWANNASRI (Thailand), aligning herself with the Association of South‑East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Group of 77 and China and the Non-Aligned Movement, said: “if knowledge is power, then knowledge of the law is empowering”. Welcoming the Codification Division’s efforts to promote better knowledge of international law, she highlighted the advantage of in‑person training. Such a format allows for networking, the sharing of best practices and interaction with prominent jurists and practitioners. In that regard, she welcomed that an increasing number of Programme activities can now be held in‑person. Thailand will soon host the Regional Course in International Law for Asia-Pacific in Bangkok, which will strengthen legal knowledge through capacity-building and promote the rule of law ‑ the “bedrock of interstate relations”. The dissemination of knowledge should reach far beyond attendees, she stressed, encouraging the use of technology and digital platforms ‑ such as podcasts, online resources and social media ‑ to provide recordings of on‑site courses.
MARTIN MUYAYI LUKWASA (Zambia), associating himself with the African Group, Non-Aligned Movement, and the Group of 77 and China, encouraged the Organization to increase the frequency of traditional in-person trainings. Zambia continues to strengthen its legal education curricula and encourage its citizens to participate in international law courses to expand their knowledge and enhance their global participation. He spotlighted the creation of a “cadre of lawyers” with hands-on understanding of international public law, allowing them to effectively contribute to the development and codification of international public law. He thus encouraged training institutions and other entities involved in legal theory and expertise to collaborate with Zambian training institutions and the Law Association of Zambia to map out possible areas of cooperation and exchange. “Through such exchange programmes, we can ‘cross-pollinate’ our ideas and contribute to the well-being of the peoples of our respective countries,” he added.
MARVIN IKONDERE (Uganda), associating himself with the African Group, Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77 developing countries and China, welcomed the resumption of in-person activities of the Programme. He underscored the importance of ensuring the diversity of legal traditions and gender balance among the participants, and expressed support for the funding of the respective activities from the regular budget. However, he also highlighted the need for voluntary contributions in expanding these activities. Turning to the Audiovisual Library, he encouraged the use of new technologies, in particular social media, to ensure wider dissemination of its content. He welcomed the revamping of the website of the Library and encouraged the continuous enhancement of its content. In this regard, he also welcomed the initiative of conducting off-site recording sessions and suggested that the suitable presentations be uploaded to the Library. Finally, he noted that adding content in more languages would only enrich the materials.
AMMAR MOHAMMED MAHMOUD (Sudan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, thanked the Codification Division and regional partners for the Regional Courses, expressing particular gratitude to the Economic Commission for Africa and the African Union for carrying out the Regional Course in International Law for Africa. He also welcomed steps to resume an in-person format for the same in coming months, expressing hope that more financial resources are allocated to the Programme. This will facilitate the provision of more Regional Courses, which are high-quality and provide participants the opportunity to exchange ideas and, thus, promote regional cooperation. He also called for increased support for the African Institute of International Law, as its studies promote African jurists’ contributions to the development of international law. Underscoring the importance of the Programme of Assistance, he appealed to all Member States to facilitate its leading role in the teaching and dissemination of international law.
MOHAMED FAIZ BOUCHEDOUB (Algeria), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that, if the international community is committed to promoting the rule of law at the international level, it is important to train an ample number of academics and jurists. Welcoming the Regional Courses in International Law, especially those pertaining to Africa, he said that increasing applications to, and demand for, those trainings demonstrates their efficacy and importance. He called on the Codification Division to promote the use of all official languages of the United Nations to ensure equal opportunity amongst all candidates, especially in Africa. Turning to the Audiovisual Library of International Law, he welcomed the development of innovative means to serve users operating with lower bandwidths, particularly those in developing countries. It was also important to advance multilingualism within the Library to cater to all needs. He went on to welcome States’ voluntary contributions to support the Programme of Assistance, calling for more resources to be allocated thereto from the regular budget.
AMANUEL GIORGIO (Eritrea), associating himself with the African Group, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77 and China, recognized the significant role of the Programme in the advancement of international law through its teaching and dissemination. He highlighted its particular importance for qualified professionals, including mid-level Government officials, lawyers and students in developing countries and emerging economies. In this regard, he welcomed the Regional Courses organized in Ethiopia and the mini-series of lectures, historic archives and research available in the Audiovisual Library; those Courses and materials are significant for delegations covering the Sixth Committee meetings with either legal or no legal professional backgrounds. Pointing out that the increasing complexity of the issues covered by international law requires more qualified professionals in different specific fields, he spotlighted the special benefit of the Programme for persons from developing countries. He thus suggested that such activities continue to be funded from the regular budget and receive support from the States, international and regional organizations, and academia.
Ms. DAKWAK (Nigeria), associating herself with the African Group, Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77 and China, highlighted the impact of the Programme on students and legal practitioners in further facilitating effective multilateral frameworks, strengthening friendly relations and promoting international peace and security. She also underlined the need to conduct the Regional Courses in English to allow for wider coverage and participation, especially for the African Group. She pointed out that, through voluntary contributions, Nigeria supports the participation of countries from the region in the Nigerian Law School each year. She also spotlighted the training programmes organized by the National Judicial Institute. In this regard, the Institute is willing to work with the Legal Office to adapt and model its curriculum for the relevant courses and further engage in the implementation of the Programme of Assistance.
AZELA GUERRERO ARUMPAC-MARTE (Philippines), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, Non‑Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said she was pleased with the return of traditional in‑person training of the International Law Fellowship Programme, as these help participants create vital lifelong networks for its participants. “A networked community of international law advocates is an important pillar of the rules-based international order,” she added. She praised the Codification Division’s work on its legal publications and its efforts to make them available to the international legal community in a timely and professional manner, including through desktop publishing. The online publishing of the Reports of International Arbitral Awards and the United Nations Juridical Yearbook provide readers with credible sources of developments in international law. Noting the redeployment in 2023 of a principal legal officer from the Codification Division to the Office of the Under‑Secretary General, she hoped the shift would enable Member States’ requests for legal technical assistance.
LOUREEN O. A. SAYEJ, an observer for the State of Palestine, associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, and the Non-Aligned Movement, said devising the Regional Courses in International Law for Africa, Asia and the Pacific, as well as Latin America and the Caribbean, will ensure a more just, equitable and inclusive Programme. For more than half a century, the Programme of Assistance has developed accessible, practical and interactive approaches to teaching and disseminating international law, and shaping its details. With thousands of scholars, including many Palestinian diplomats and lawyers, the Programme has become a powerful forum for preparing future decision-makers and accommodating current ones. It is an investment in justice and peace, and affirms the international community’s commitment to the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations.