The General Assembly today reaffirmed the vital role of the Sixth Committee (Legal) as its primary forum for considering legal questions, adopting without a vote 19 draft resolutions and 10 draft decisions recommended by the Committee, including four new requests for observer status.
Concluding its seventy-fifth session today — after weeks of deliberations marked by socially distanced meetings and masked delegates — the Sixth Committee (Legal) upheld its tradition of consensus by approving without a vote 15 draft resolutions, 4 requests for observer status and 10 draft decisions, as delegates came to terms with the limitations placed on their work by the COVID‑19 pandemic and sought a way forward despite the uncertainty created by the virus.
Speakers called for a regulatory framework that will underpin international cooperation efforts when protecting persons in the event of disasters and assisting affected States, as the Sixth Committee today concluded its consideration of that agenda item.
As climate‑related hazards and natural phenomena continue to loom over many countries and the world continues to reel from the COVID‑19 pandemic, the debate on the protection of persons in the event of disasters took on an urgency that went beyond legal abstractions, as the Sixth Committee (Legal) today considered the Secretary‑General’s report on the matter (document A/75/214) and deliberated the merits of codifying related draft articles into an international agreement.
Despite long-held principles found in the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations, delegates spotlighted recent attacks against their missions and staff, as the Sixth Committee (Legal) took up the Secretary‑General’s report, “Consideration of effective measures to enhance the protection, security and safety of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives” (document A/75/168).
As the Sixth Committee (Legal) took up the Secretary‑General’s report on the Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law (document A/75/389), delegates praised its unique contribution to promoting the rule of law by providing high quality, accessible training in international law education, even during an unprecedented pandemic.
In lieu of International Law Week - rendered impossible due to COVID‑19 - the Sixth Committee (Legal) heard oral reports from the Chair‑Designate and the Secretary of the International Law Commission today, as delegates, praising the Commission’s adaptation of work methods around the pandemic’s limitations, spotlighted the importance of its recent issuance of the first issues paper on sea‑level rise in relation to international law.
As the Sixth Committee (Legal) took up the Secretary‑General’s annual report on the Status of the Protocols Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and relating to the protection of victims of armed conflicts (document A/75/263), some speakers highlighted the importance of ratifying the Protocols universally, while others voiced reservations based on their national experience.
Frustration with a lack of meaningful progress and divisions over the appropriate scope and application of universal jurisdiction permeated the discussion in the Sixth Committee (Legal) today, as delegates took up the report of the Secretary‑General, “The scope and application of the principle of universal jurisdiction” (document A/75/151).
Complaints and concerns about the abuse of the Headquarters Agreement by the United States dominated discussion in the Sixth Committee (Legal) today, as delegations took up the report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country. (For background, see Press Release GA/L/3622.)