Chapter III. General review of the legal activities of the United Nations and related intergovernmental organizations

SUMMARY

A. General review of the legal activities of the United Nations 1. Disarmament and related matters 59 2. Other political and security questions 3. Environmental, economic, social, humanitarian and cultural questions 67 4. Law of the sea 5. International Court of Justice 6. International Law Commission 7. United Nations Commission on International Trade Law 8. Legal questions dealt with by ... (see full summary)

 
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  1. General review of the legal activities of the United Nations

    1.   Disarmament anD relateD matters1

      (a)  2000 review Conference of the Parties to the treaty   on the non-Proliferation of nuclear Weapons

      the 1968 treaty on the non-Proliferation of nuclear Weapons2 has been the  cornerstone of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime. the number of states  parties has steadily risen to 187, which has also rendered the treaty the most widely  adhered to multilateral disarmament agreement.

      in  accordance  with  article  Viii  of  the  treaty,  review  Conferences  of  the  States parties have been held at five-year intervals since 1975. The 2000 Review Conference was convened from 24 april to 19 may in new York, with a total of 158  out of the 187 states parties participating. Cuba and Palestine attended as observers,  as well as a number of United nations specialized agencies and international and  regional intergovernmental organizations.

      The Conference marked the first time in 15 years that the parties had been able to achieve an agreed Final Document, which reaffirmed the central role of the non-Proliferation  treaty  in  ongoing  global  efforts  to  strengthen  nuclear  non-proliferation and disarmament. the most critical and delicate achievement was  the incorporation in the document of a set of practical steps for the systematic and  progressive efforts to implement article Vi. those steps will provide benchmarks by  which future progress by the states parties, especially by the nuclear-weapon states,  can be measured. The most significant among the practical steps is the nuclear-weapon States’ agreement, for the first time, to undertake unequivocally to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament.

      Consideration by the General Assembly

      During its fifty-fifth session, on 20 November 2000, the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the First Committee, adopted resolution 55/33 D, the draft  of which had been introduced by algeria in the First Committee. By the resolution,  the assembly welcomed the adoption by consensus on 19 may 2000 of the Final  Document of the 2000 review Conference of the Parties to the treaty on the non-Proliferation  of  nuclear  Weapons,  including  in  particular  the  documents  entitled  “review of the operation of the treaty, taking into account the decisions and the  resolution adopted by the 1995 review and extension Conference” and “improving  the effectiveness of the strengthened review process for the treaty”.3

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      (b)  Other nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation issues

      Despite the ratification by the Russian Federation in 2000 of the 1996 Comprehensive nuclear-test-Ban treaty4 and the 1993 start ii treaty,5 as well  as the adoption by the 2000 non-Proliferation treaty review Conference of a substantive Final Document, the Conference on Disarmament was unable to agree on a  programme of work and therefore did not conduct any substantive work on nuclear  disarmament in 2000. regarding  the  Comprehensive  nuclear-test-Ban  treaty,  the  agreement  to  regulate the relationship between the United nations and the Preparatory Commission  for the Comprehensive nuclear-test-Ban treaty Organization6 was signed on 26 may  2000—the first such relationship agreement that the United Nations had concluded with a preparatory commission for the establishment of another international organization, and its first such agreement with an autonomous international organization responsible for verification activities since the conclusion of the Relationship agreement with the international atomic energy agency, in 1957.

      International Atomic Energy Agency

      Within the framework of the iaea safety programme for the year 2000, the  international Conference on the safety of radioactive Waste management was held  in spain in march 2000.7 in its conclusions, the Conference emphasized that effective national strategies for waste disposal would require the clear definition of a detailed, transparent approach that would enable all parties, including the general  public, to participate in the decision-making process. During the forty-fourth regular  session of the IAEA General Conference, the Scientific Forum on Radioactive Waste management was convened to build on the conclusions of the Cordoba Conference,  and in its report to the General Conference, the Forum urged the IAEA to facilitate the international exchange of experience on technical and social issues, collaboration on creating opportunities for research and development, and continuing peer  reviews of programmes and activities in member states.

      Export controls

      The Nuclear Suppliers Group held its plenary meeting in Paris on 22 and 23 June 2000, during which the Group agreed that its activities continued to fulfil the aim of preventing the proliferation of nuclear-weapons through export controls on  nuclear and nuclear-related material, equipment, software and technology. The Group would also continue to promote greater transparency and openness in its activities, particularly towards non-members. The Group encouraged all States that had not yet done so to conclude the iaea model additional Protocol as soon as  possible and to bring such protocols into force. the  missile  technology  Control  regime  held  its  15th  plenary  meeting  in  Helsinki from 10 to 13 October 2000, during which the members discussed responses  to the challenges posed by indigenous missile programmes and missile exports, noting that export controls continued to play an important role in facing those challenges and that the Control regime must continue to adapt itself to technological  developments. the members also renewed their commitment to implement strictly  their export controls and to strengthen them as necessary. moreover, they continued  their deliberations, begun in 1999, on a set of principles, commitments, confidence-building  measures  and  incentives  that  could  constitute  a  code  of  conduct  against  missile proliferation and thus decided to engage non-members in a broader common  effort to reach agreement on a multilateral instrument open to all states.

      Consideration by the General Assembly

      During 2000, the General Assembly, at its fifty-fifth session, on the recommendation of the First Committee, took action on 12 draft resolutions concerning  nuclear  disarmament  and  non-proliferation,  including  resolution  55/33  C  entitled  “towards a nuclear-weapon-free world: the need for a new agenda”, introduced by  sweden;  and  resolution  55/33  n  entitled  “reducing  nuclear  danger”,  introduced  by india. the United states of america had ascribed its negative vote on the latter  resolution in the First Committee to its view that the draft failed to acknowledge the  real progress made on unilateral, bilateral and multilateral fronts to reduce nuclear  dangers, and in particular the successful outcome of the non-Proliferation treaty  review Conference. it felt that an international conference on nuclear issues was  inopportune; however, if it was necessary to consider such a conference, the United  States would support a fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament with balanced agenda objectives.

      The draft of resolution 55/34 G, entitled “Convention on the prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons” had also been introduced by india. the United states,  which had voted against the draft, and Japan, which had abstained, expressed similar views, namely, that the only way to achieve nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation was through a step-by-step process, which the draft did not reflect. the United states further stated that it was convinced that such a practical approach  would be achieved through bilateral, unilateral and multilateral measures. the draft of resolution 55/31, entitled “Conclusion of effective international  arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon states against the use or threat of use  of nuclear weapons”, had been introduced by Pakistan. india had voted in favour,  holding that, pending the elimination of nuclear weapons, states possessing them  had an obligation to provide internationally binding, credible, universal and non-discriminatory negative security assurances, and reiterated its willingness to enter  into arrangements on “no first use”.

      the  draft  of  resolution  55/41,  entitled  “Comprehensive  nuclear-test-Ban  treaty”, had been introduced by australia. in the First Committee, the syrian arab  republic had abstained on the vote because of loopholes in the treaty itself. in its  view,  the  treaty  disregarded  the  legitimate  concerns  of  the  non-nuclear-weapon  States: guarantees of negative security assurances and the right to acquire advanced technology. moreover, the treaty set no time frame for the nuclear-weapon states  to phase out their nuclear arsenals; made no explicit statement on the illegal use or  threat to use nuclear weapons; and recognized no need to achieve the universality of  the non-Proliferation treaty. it also rejected the inclusion of israel in the region of  the middle east and south asia. israel had voted in favour of the draft, reiterating  its willingness to continue its active role in non-proliferation efforts, including the  Comprehensive nuclear-test-Ban treaty. Pakistan, voting in favour of the draft,  reaffirmed its unilateral moratorium on further testing until the Treaty’s entry into force and stated that it would sign it once the sanctions against it were removed. the  revised  draft  of  resolution  55/33  B,  entitled  “Preservation  of  and  compliance with the treaty on the limitation of anti-Ballistic missile systems”, was  introduced by the russian Federation. the United states did not support the revised  draft because it objected to the General Assembly’s taking sides and making judgements on substantive issues in ongoing discussions between itself and the russian...

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