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 147 2. Other political and security questions 151 3. Environmental, economic, social, humanitarian and cultural questions 153 4. Law of the sea 177 5. International Court of Justice 179 6. International Law Commission 219 7. United Nations Commission on International Trade 220 8. Legal... (see full summary)

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

    1. DISARMAMENT AND RELATED MATTERS'

      (a) Nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation issues

      During 1999, differences among Member States persisted in all disarmament forums—the United Nations Conference on Disarmament, the United Nations Disarmament Commission and the First Committee of the General Assembly—concerning issues related to nuclear disarmament.

      At the bilateral level, the United States of America and the Russian Federation continued to reduce their nuclear arsenals on the basis of the START treaties.2 No new negotiations were begun, although some discussions on START III3 were carried out in the second half of the year.

      Preparations for the 2000 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons of 19684 continued at the third session of the Preparatory Committee; however, the Committee was unable to agree on any substantive recommendations to the Review Conference, and adopted decisions only on procedural issues.

      Regarding IAEA safeguards, as of the end of the year, the 1997 Model Protocol Additional to Safeguards Agreements5 had been signed by 45 States, including four nuclear-weapon States and Cuba, and was in force in eight States.6 The Model Protocol provides IAEA with the legal authority to implement a more effective safe-guards system to detect and verify possible non-peaceful nuclear activities in a State at an early stage.

      When the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) suspended, as of mid-December 1998, its Security Council-mandated activities related to verifying Iraq's declarations concerning full, final and complete disclosure of its chemical, biological and missile programmes, the monitoring of Iraq's nuclear weapons programmes by IAEA also was suspended. The Agency's inability to implement its mandate in Iraq, under the relevant Security Council resolutions, rendered it unable to provide any assurances that Iraq was in compliance with its obligations under those resolutions.

      Regarding nuclear terrorism, the General Conference of IAEA, at its forty-third session, adopted a resolution entitled "Measures against Illicit Trafficking in Nuclear Materials and Other Radioactive Sources",7 in which it welcomed the activities in the fields of prevention, detection and response undertaken by its Secretariat, and invited all States to participate in the illicit trafficking database programme on a voluntary basis. The General Assembly, in its resolution 54/110 of 9 December

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      1999, decided that the Ad Hoc Committee charged with elaborating a draft international convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism8 should continue its work and should address the means of further developing a comprehensive legal framework of conventions dealing with international terrorism.9

      Questions related to nuclear safety and radioactive waste continued to be of

      concern to a great number of Member States and were the subject of a number of resolutions of the General Conference of IAEA, e.g., on "The safety of radiation sources and the security of radiological materials"; "Safety of transport of radioactive materials"; and "The radiological protection of patients".10 The first Review Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the 1994 Convention on Nuclear Safety" was held at Vienna in April 1999 and featured presentation of national reports of States parties on steps and measures they were taking to implement the Convention.

      Consideration by the General Assembly

      The General Assembly, at its fifty-fourth session, on the recommendation of the First Committee, took action on 12 draft resolutions dealing with nuclear disarmament, adopting them on 1 December 1999.

      These resolutions included resolution 54/54 D, entitled "Nuclear disarmament with a view to the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons"; resolution 54/54 K, entitled "Reducing nuclear danger"; resolution 54/52, entitled "Conclusion of effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons"; resolution 54/63, entitled "Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty";12 resolution 54/54 A entitled "Preservation of and compliance with the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems";13

      resolution 54/54 Q, entitled "Follow-up to the advisory opinion of the International

      Court of Justice on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons"; and resolution 54/54 C, entitled "Prohibition of the dumping of radioactive wastes".

      (¿>) Biological and chemical weapons conventions

      Efforts to strengthen the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention14 through the elaboration of a protocol on verification and confidence-building measures continued throughout the year in the framework of the Ad Hoc Group, with all States parties agreeing that the completion of the work was vital and should be done by 2000.

      The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) continued its activities under the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention,15 the Conference of States Parties holding its fourth session at The Hague from 28 June to 2 July 1999. The Conference approved the draft relationship agreement between the United Nations and OPCW, and also approved model facility agreements for chemical weapons storage and for chemical weapons production facilities. In July 1999, following the departure of UNSCÔM from Iraq the previous year, the United Nations team, including OPCW inspectors, closed its laboratory, destroying 250 millilitres of mustard gas and various chemical weapon agent reference standards.

      UNSCOM was unable to carry out its inspection activities in connection with the proscribed biological, chemical and missile programmes in Iraq, and at the end of the year the Security Council established a new body, the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (ÜNMOVIC), to carry out the mandate entrusted to UNSCOM.

      Consideration by the General Assembly

      Resolutions concerning the Biological Weapons Convention (resolution 54/

      61), and on the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (resolution 54/54 E) were adopted, on the recommendation of the First Committee, on 1 December 1999.

      (c) Conventional weapons issues

      In 1999, a number of United Nations organs continued to be involved in the question of small arms and light weapons, notably the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the United Nations Secretariat. On 17 September 1999, the Security Council adopted resolution 1265 (1999) on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, and at a ministerial meeting held on 24 September on the question of small arms in the context of the challenges facing the international community in that regard, the Council, in considering the implementation of arms embargoes, noted the growing attention paid within the United Nations system to the problems associated with the destabilizing accumulation of small arms, welcomed the various initiatives to address the issue and called for effective implementation of arms embargoes imposed by its relevant resolutions.16

      The United Nations Register of Conventional Arms and the United Nations

      system for the standardized reporting of military expenditures continued to contribute to building transparency in military matters. However, differences among Member States regarding further development of the Register continued to be reflected in the deliberations of the General Assembly and the Conference on Disarmament.

      With respect to anti-personnel mines, the 1997 Mine Ban Convention17 entered into force on 1 March 1999 after receiving the required number of ratifications. Subsequently, the First Meeting of States Parties was convened in Maputo, and an inter-sessional work programme was developed. Also, the States parties to the 1996 Amended Protocol II on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby Traps and Other Devices18 held their first annual conference in December.

      Consideration by the General Assembly

      In 1999, the General Assembly took action, on the recommendation of the First Committee, on nine draft resolutions and one draft decision. Resolutions adopted by the Assembly included resolution 54/54 J, entitled "Assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and collecting them"; resolution 54/43, entitled "Objective information on military matters, including transparency of military expenditures"; resolution 54/54 B, entitled "Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on Their Destruction"; and resolution 54/58, entitled "Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects".19

      The Assembly also adopted decision 54/419, entitled "Review of the implementation of the Declaration on the Strengthening of International Security".20

      (d) Regional disarmament

      During the year, efforts continued towards consolidating the existing nuclear-weapon-free zones or towards creating a new one. The increasing number of intra-State conflicts, especially in Africa, underlined the urgent need for measures to curb

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      the proliferation of conventional weapons, especially small arms and light weapons, and to curtail the illicit traffic of such weapons.

      The vast majority of States, especially those belonging to nuclear-weapon-free zones, supported the concept during the debates in the Conference on Disarmament, the Disarmament Commission, the First Committee of the General Assembly and the Preparatory Committee for the 2000 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. No major developments occurred with respect to the 1967 Treaty of Tlatelolco21 or the 1996 Treaty of Pelindaba.22

      The latter had not received the requisite number of...

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