Special Committee on Charter Of United Nations Approves Section of Draft Report to General Assembly, amid Diverging Views on ‘Specific Situations’ References
The Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on Strengthening the Role of the Organization today failed to approve its annual draft report as a whole, approving instead one section of the text to forward to the General Assembly, as members concluded their 2023 session without consensus on several elements.
Established as a platform to exchange views on the Charter’s implementation, the Special Committee holds annual sessions, with Member States gathering to consider proposals and hold substantive discussions. Since its founding, the United Nations mission and work have been guided by the purposes and principles contained in its Charter, adopted in 1945 and amended three times — in 1963, 1965 and 1973. The Special Committee’s 2023 session, running from 21 February to 1 March, featured in-person discussions and working groups. (For details of its opening meeting, see Press Release L/3295.)
At the outset of the meeting, Azela G. Arumpac-Marte (Philippines), Special Committee Rapporteur, introduced that body’s five-chapter draft report (documents A/AC.182/2023/L.1 to L.9). The draft outlined proposals submitted by delegations relating to the items on the Special Committee’s agenda, namely: The maintenance of international peace and security; the peaceful settlement of disputes; the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs and the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council; and the Special Committee’s working methods and identification of new subjects. The Repertory is a legal publication that analyzes the decisions of the Organization’s principal organs under each Article of the Charter of the United Nations, and the Repertoire has been a constitutional and procedural guide to the proceedings of the Security Council since 1946.
Delegates ultimately approved document L.1, the report’s introduction, without a vote, to forward to the General Assembly.
However, disagreements arose as the Special Committee turned to Chapter II of the report, concerning the maintenance of international peace and security. The Chair of the Special Committee, Zéphyrin Maniratanga (Burundi), suspended the meeting several times to allow time for consultations and possible compromise solutions.
The representative of the Russian Federation, stressing that the Special Committee does not have the mandate to address specific disputes or situations, proposed the deletion of paragraph 4 of Chapter II, pertaining to the situation in Ukraine. The representatives of Syria, Nicaragua, Eritrea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea concurred with that view, also stressing the need to avoid politicization in the draft report.
The representative of Ukraine, meanwhile, supported the inclusion of that language, but took issue with paragraph 5 of the Chapter. He stated that, as it stands, the draft paragraph establishes a false equivalency between the position of an overwhelming majority of States and the isolated position of a violator of the Charter of the United Nations.
The representatives of the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Georgia, Australia and Guatemala also objected to the deletion of paragraph 4, emphasizing that it is an accurate description of the discussion that took place in the meetings of the Special Committee and, therefore, should be reflected in its draft report.
Offering a different proposal on that matter was the representative of Iran, who suggested retaining the first sentence of paragraph 4 while deleting the remaining language referring to a specific case. The representatives of Venezuela and Equatorial Guinea supported that solution, joining others in underlining the need to avoid politicization in the Special Committee.
Later in the day, the representative of the European Union — supported by the representatives of the United States and the United Kingdom — offered an alternative proposal, suggesting that less-specific language be used in paragraph 4. The representative of the Russian Federation, however, reiterated that the Special Committee does not deal with specific situations and expressed his delegation’s support for Iran’s proposal, instead. The representative of Syria concurred, emphasizing that the draft report should reflect interventions made by delegations without referring to any specific situations.
Ultimately, neither proposal was able to achieve consensus.
Another major point of contention throughout the day centred on Chapter III of the draft report, concerning the peaceful settlement of disputes.
The observer for the State of Palestine expressed her delegation’s desire to add language to paragraph 4 of that Chapter, indicating that the General Assembly may discuss any situation — regardless of origin — if that situation is likely to hamper friendly relations among nations.
The representative of Israel, however, said that issue was not raised during previous discussions of the Special Committee, and its inclusion in the draft report — which is intended to accurately reflect the body’s working discussions — was therefore inappropriate.
The representative of Iran suggested the language in paragraph 4 be changed to reflect, verbatim, the statement made by the Non-Aligned Movement during previous discussions in the Special Committee.
The representatives of Ukraine and the Russian Federation also proposed amendments to paragraph 5 of that Chapter, relating to decisions by the International Court of Justice.
The Special Committee was also unable to reach consensus on these proposals.
Closing the meeting, Chairperson Maniratanga characterized the continued lack of consensus on those matters — and the Special Committee’s subsequent inability to approve its draft report as a whole, much like in 2022 — as “unfortunate”. Several delegates echoed that regret, while highlighting their efforts to reach consensus. The Chair adjourned the meeting, expressing his hope that the Special Committee’s next session will see a different outcome.
Also speaking today were representatives of Mexico, China, Belarus, Egypt, Türkiye, Iran (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement) and Jordan.