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 63 2. Other political and security questions 71 3. Environmental, economic, social, humanitarian and cultural questions 73 4. Law of the Sea 86 5. International Court of Justice 87 6. International Law Commission 97 7. United Nations Commission on International Trade 98 8. Legal questions... (see full summary)

 
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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 (a) Comprehensive approaches to disarmament

(i) United Nations disarmament bodies and their activities in 1988 The general improvement in the international situation and the optimism regarding the United Nations itself, generated by the active role it had played in 1988 in alleviating regional conflicts and by the fact that its peacekeeping forces had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, led many Member States to hope that the Organization’s role in disarmament would also be enhanced.

However, following the inconclusive outcome of the third special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament, held in 1988, the Assembly, by its resolution 43/75 R of 7 December 1988,1 requested the Disarmament Commission to continue its consideration of the role of the United Nations in the field of disarmament as a matter of priority at its next substantive session, in 1989, with a view to the elaboration of concrete recommendations and proposals. Furthermore, the General Assembly, by its resolution 43/78 A of the same date,2 while commending the Commission for its adoption by consensus of a set of principles of verification on disarmament issues and guidelines for appropriate types of confidence-building measures, called upon the Commission to persevere in its efforts to complete all outstanding items.

The two resolutions adopted on the report of the Conference on Disarmament, 43/78 M3 and 43/78 I,4 both of 7 December 1988, reflected the divergence of views among members of the General Assembly concerning the advisability of the Conference’s conducting negotiations on all its agenda items. The General Assembly also adopted resolution 43/75 H of 7 December 1988,5 wherein it deemed important that all Member States make every effort to facilitate the consistent implementation of General Assembly resolutions in the field of disarmament.

Finally, the General Assembly, by its resolution 43/79 of 7 December 1988,6 renewed the mandate of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Indian Ocean and requested it to intensify its work and complete the remaining preparatory work relating to the Conference on the Indian Ocean to enable the convening of the Conference at Colombo in 1990.

(ii) General and complete disarmament and the comprehensive programme of disarmament

Although the Conference on Disarmament continued throughout the year with its efforts to negotiate the comprehensive programme of disarmament, Member States focused their attention on specific aspects and interim measures of disarmament. In this regard, the General Assembly, by its resolution 43/75 B of 7 December 1988,7 requested the Secretary-General to take action through the appropriate organs, within available resources, for the implementation of the action programme adopted at the International Conference on the Relationship between Disarmament and Development, and to submit a report to the General Assembly at its forty-forth session. By resolution 43/75 G of the same date,8 the General Assembly recommended that all States should implement the international system for the standardized reporting of military expenditures, with the aim of achieving a realistic comparison of military budgets, and invited all Member States to communicate to the Secretary-General measures they have adopted towards those ends, for submission to the Assembly at its forty-fourth session.

The General Assembly, by its resolution 43/75 L of 7 December 1988,9 having examined the report of the Chairman of the Disarmament Commission on the substantive consideration of the question of the naval arms race and disarmament during the 1988 session of the Commission, requested the Commission to continue, at its forthcoming session in 1989, the substantive consideration of the question and to report on its deliberations and recommendations to the General Assembly at its forty-fourth session. The General Assembly also adopted resolution 43/75 M of 7 December 1988,10 concerning the preparations for the Third Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of the Emplacement of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction on Sea-Bed and the Ocean Floor and in the Subsoil Thereof.

(iii) Verification and compliance

In 1988, the question of verification was pre-eminent in the deliberations of the Disarmament Commission, in those of the General Assembly at its third special session devoted to disarmament and at its forty-third regular session, and in those of the Conference on Disarmament. The General Assembly, by its resolution 43/81 A of 7 December 1988,11 urged all States parties to arms limitation and disarmament agreements to implement and comply with the entirety of the provisions of such agreements, and called upon all Member States to give serious consideration to the implications of non-compliance with those obligations for international security and stability, as well as for the prospects for further progress in the field of disarmament.

(b) Nuclear disarmament

(i) Nuclear arms limitation and disarmament

The General Assembly, both at its third special session and at its forty-third regular session, devoted attention to nuclear disarmament. No major progress, however, was achieved within the multilateral framework. Once again, in the Conference on Disarmament, there was no agreement to set up an ad hoc committee to deal with the item on nuclear disarmament. On the other hand, with

the entry into force in 1988 of the Treaty between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States of America on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty),12 the two countries expressed their determination to achieve the full implementation of all the provisions of the Treaty.

The General Assembly, by its resolution 43/75 A of 7 December 1988,13

called upon the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States of America to exert every effort to achieve the goal they set themselves of a treaty on a 50 per cent reduction in strategic offensive arms as part of the process leading to the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. By its resolution 43/75 E of the same date,14 the Assembly urged the USSR and the United States, which possessed the most important nuclear arsenals, further to discharge their special responsibility for nuclear disarmament, to take the lead in halting the nuclear-arms race and to negotiate in earnest with a view to reaching early agreement on the drastic reduction of their nuclear arsenals. The General Assembly, by its resolution 43/76 B of the same date,15 urged once more the USSR and the United States, as the two major nuclear-weapon States, to agree to an immediate nuclear-arms freeze, which would, inter alia, provide for a simultaneous total stoppage of any further production of nuclear weapons and a complete cut-off in the production of fissionable material for weapons purposes; and called upon all nuclear-weapon States to agree, through a joint declaration, to a comprehensive nuclear-arms freeze. By its resolution 43/78 E of the same date,16 the Assembly reaf-firmed that both bilateral and multilateral negotiations on the nuclear and space arms race are by nature complementary to one another; and again requested the Conference on Disarmament to establish an ad hoc committee at the beginning of its 1989 session to elaborate on paragraph 50 of the Final Document of the Tenth Special Session of the General Assembly17 and to submit recommendations to the Conference as to how it could best initiate multilateral negotiations of agreements, with adequate measures of verification. Finally, by its resolution 43/82 of the same date,18 the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to render the necessary assistance and to provide such services as may be required for the Fourth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and its preparation — the Conference to be convened in 1990.

(ii) Prevention of nuclear war

All nations have a vital interest in the negotiation of effective measures for the prevention of nuclear war, since nuclear weapons pose a unique threat to human survival. If nuclear war were to occur, in all certainty its consequences would be global, not simply national. Therefore, the scientific advances that have led to a clearer understanding of the global consequences of a major nuclear war should be pursued internationally.

The General Assembly, by its resolution 43/78 B of 7 December 1988,19 ex-pressed the hope that those nuclear-weapon States which have not yet done so will consider making declarations with respect to not being the first to use nuclear weapons; and requested the Conference on Disarmament to commence negotiations on the item in its agenda concerning prevention of nuclear war and to consider, inter alia, the elaboration of an international instrument of a legally binding character laying down the obligation not to be the first to use nuclear weapons. By

its resolution 43/78 F of the same date,20 the Assembly reiterated its conviction that, in view of the urgency of the matter and the inadequacy or insufficiency of existing measures, it was necessary to devise suitable steps to expedite effective action for the prevention of nuclear war; and again requested the Conference on Disarmament to undertake, as a matter of the highest priority, negotiations with a view to achieving agreement on appropriate and practical measures that could be negotiated and adopted individually for the prevention of nuclear war and to establish for that purpose an ad hoc committee on the subject at the beginning of its 1989 session. Finally, by its resolution 43/76 E of the same date,21 the Assembly, noting with regret that the Conference on Disarmament, during...

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