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


A. General review of the legal activities of the United Nations 1. Disarmament and related matters 105 2. Other political and security questions 110 3. Environmental, economic, social, humanitarian and cultural questions 113 4. Law of the Sea 137 5. International Court of Justice 138 6. International Law Commission 154 7. United Nations Commission on International Trade Law 156 8. Legal... (see full summary)




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


      (a) Non-proliferation issues

      The question of non-proliferation was one of the most prominent disarmament issues discussed at all levels in 1994. While there was general support for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, differences persisted with regard to the manner of the extension of the non-proliferation Treaty.1 By its resolution 49/75 F of 15 December 1994,2 the General Assembly invited States parties to provide their legal interpretations of article X, paragraph 2, of the Treaty, which provides for the holding of a conference twenty-five years after the entry into force of the Treaty to decide whether the Treaty shall continue in force indefinitely or shall be extended for an additional fixed period or periods and their views on the different options and actions available, for compilation by the Secretary-General as a background document of the 1995 Review and Extension Conference of States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Moreover, by its resolution 49/73, of the same date,3 the General Assembly noted with satisfaction that in the Conference on Disarmament there was no objection, in principle, to the idea of an international convention to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, and appealed to all States, especially the nuclear-weapon States, to work actively towards an early agreement on a common approach and, in particular, on a common formula that could be included in an international instrument of a legally binding character.

      Further progress was made regarding the non-proliferation of other weapons of mass destruction. By the end of the year, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction4 had been signed by the overwhelming majority of States; however, the requisite number of ratifications for entry into force was not achieved by December. Furthermore, the parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction5 agreed, at a Special Conference, to establish an ad hoc group to consider appropriate measures, including possible verification measures, tostengthen the Convention.

      (b) Comprehensive test-ban treaty

      The General Assembly, by its resolution 49-70 of 15 December 19946, reaf-firming that a comprehensive nuclear-test ban was one of the highest priority objectives of the international community in the field of disarmament and non-prolifera-

      tion and reaffirming the conviction that the exercise of utmost restraint in respect of nuclear testing would be consistent with the negotiation of a comprehensive test-ban treaty — urged all States participating in the Conference on Disarmament, in particular the nuclear-weapon States, to continue to negotiate intensively, as a high priority task, and to conclude a comprehensive test-ban treaty. Moreover, the General Assembly, by its resolution 49/69 of the same day,7 noted the intention of the President of the Conference on Disarmament to convene another special meeting of the States parties to the Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and under Water,8 as envisaged by the General Assembly in its resolution 48/69, to review developments and assess the situation regarding a comprehensive test ban and to examine the feasibility of resuming the work of the Amendment Conference.

      (c) Nuclear arms limitation, disarmament and related matters

      In 1994, the most important in the area of nuclear disarmament was the entry into force of START I,9 as a result of Ukraine’s accession to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. In addition to the traditional resolutions on bilateral nuclear-arms negotiations, by which the General Assembly encouraged the two major nuclear-weapon States to continue their efforts to reduce their nuclear arms, the Assembly adopted two new resolutions, both calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons, with one reflecting the views of those who considered that an agenda for nuclear disarmament should be set within a given time-frame, while the other was of a more general nature.

      Another significant development was the agreement reached in the Conference on Disarmament that that body would be the most appropriate international forum in which to negotiate an international agreement banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other explosive devices.

      In addition to its traditional resolutions with regard to a convention banning the use of nuclear weapons and to a prohibition of the dumping of radioactive wastes, the General Assembly adopted resolution 49/75 of 15 December 1984,10 by which it requested an opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons, which proved to be the most controversial of all the resolutions adopted on disarmament in 1994.

      Several positive developments took place in 1994 concerning existing or future nuclear-weapon-free zones. By its resolution 49/138 of 19 December 1994,11

      the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to take the appropriate action in order that the drafting of a treaty on a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Africa could be finalized and submitted to the Assembly at its fiftieth session.

      The Assembly by its resolution 49/83 of 15 December 1994,12 welcomed the concrete steps taken by several countries of the region during the past year for the consolidation of the regime of military denuclearization established by the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco),13 and noted with satisfaction the full adherence of Argentina, Belize, Brazil and Chile to the Treaty of Tlatelolco. Furthermore, by its resolution 49/84 also of 15 December,14 the Assembly welcomed the commitment made by the States of the Zone of Peace and Cooperation of the South Atlantic to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, in accordance with internationally recognized legal instruments. There were no major advances with respect to the long-standing proposals for the establishment of

      nuclear-weapon-free zones in the Middle East and South Asia, nor with respect to implementation of the Declaration of the Indian Ocean as a Zone of Peace.

      (d) Special Conference of the States parties to the biological weapons Convention

      At the forty-ninth session of the General Assembly, in parallel with concerns expressed with regard to the danger of the proliferation of biological weapons (see

      (a) above), delegations voiced general satisfaction with the outcome of the Special Conference and viewed the adoption of the Final Declaration15 by consensus as a significant step in the direction of the full implementation of the Convention. By its resolution 49/86 of 15 December 1994,16 the General Assembly welcomed the final report of the Special Conference, adopted by consensus on 30 September 1994, in which the States parties agreed to establish an ad hoc group, open to all States parties, whose objective would be to consider appropriate measures, including possible verification measures, and draft proposals to strengthen the Convention, to be included in a legally binding instrument for the consideration of the States parties. By the same resolution, the Assembly further welcomed the information and data provided to date and reiterated its call upon all States parties to the Convention to participate in the exchange of information and data agreed to in the Final Declaration of the Third Review Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction.

      (e) Outer space missions

      The Conference on Disarmament continued to discuss the issue of preventing an arms race in outer space, but was not able to overcome the long-standing fundamental differences with regard to questions whether an arms race in outer space existed; whether measures further to those already in existence on the subject was necessary; and whether it would be desirable to begin negotiating confidence-building measures in outer space as a means of making progress towards preventing an arms race in that environment.

      By its resolution 49/74 of 15 December 1994,17 the General Assembly reaf-firmed the importance and urgency of preventing an arms race in outer space and the readiness of all States to contribute to that common objective, in conformity with the provisions of the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies;18 also reaffirmed its recognition, as stated in the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Prevention of an Arms Race and Outer Space, that the legal regime applicable to outer space by itself did not guarantee the prevention of an arms race in outer space, that the legal regime played a significant role in the prevention of an arms race in that environment, that there was a need to consolidate and reinforce that regime and enhance its effectiveness, and that it was important strictly to comply with existing agreements, both bilateral and multilateral; and requested the Conference on Disarmament to re-establish an ad hoc committee with an adequate mandate at the beginning of 1995 session and to continue building upon areas of convergence, taking into account the work undertaken since 1985, with a view to undertaking negotiations for the conclusion of an agreement or agreements, as appropriate, to prevent an arms race in outer space in all its aspects.

      (f) Conventional weapons and advanced technologies


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