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 35 2. Other political and security questions 43 3. Environmental, economic, social, humanitarian and cultural questions 45 4. Law of the sea 56 5. International Court of Justice 58 6. International Law Commission 70 7. United Nations Commission on International Trade Law 72 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) Comprehensive approaches to disarmament

      (i) Follow-up of the special sessions of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament

      The general discussion relating to follow-up of the special sessions of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament was held in both the Disarmament Commission and the Conference on Disarmament.

      Furthermore, the General Assembly considered the matter at its fortieth session under two collective agenda items entitled "Review of the implementation of the recommendations and decisions adopted by the General Assembly at its tenth special session" and "Review and implementation of the Concluding Document of the Twelfth Special Session of the General Assembly". Altogether, the Assembly adopted 27 resolutions and one decision within the framework of those two items in 1985. By resolution 40/1521 of 16 December 1985,' the General Assembly, stressing again the urgent need for an active and sustained effort to expedite the implementation of the recommendations and decisions unanimously adopted at its tenth special session as contained in the Final Document of that session2 and confirmed in the Concluding Document of the Twelfth Special Session of the General Assembly,3 called upon all States, in implementing the Final Document, to make active use of the principles and ideas contained in the Declaration on In'ernational Cooperation for Disarmament by actively participating in disarmament negotiations, with a view to achieving concrete results, and by conducting them on the basis of the principles of reciprocity, equality, undiminished security and the non-use of force in international relations. And by resolution 40/152 L of the same date,4 the General Assembly called upon all States to reaffirm their commitment to the Declaration of the 1980s as the Second Disarmament Decade and to take appropriate steps to halt and reverse the nuclear-arms race with a view to improving the international climate and enhancing the efficacy of disarmament negotiations.

      Moreover, by its resolution 40/152 M of 16 December 1985,5 the General Assembly urged the Conference on Disarmament to undertake, without further delay, negotiations with a view to elaborating a draft treaty on a nuclear-test ban and to intensify further its work on the elaboration of a draft convention on the prohibition of the development, production and stockpiling of all chemical weapons and on their destruction. And by resolution 40/152 O, also of the same date,6 the Assembly called upon Member States to intensify their efforts towards achieving agreements on balanced, mutually acceptable, verifiable and effective arms limitation and disarmament measures.

      (ii) General and complete disarmament

      Member States reaffirmed their commitment to general and complete disarmament under effective international control in 1985 in spite of their apparent scepticism about its feasibility in the foreseeable future. In those circumstances, many countries concentrated on advocating limited and what could be considered interim measures that could pave the way to the ultimate goal, mentioning various approaches to nuclear-arms limitation and other ideas such as regional measures as steps towards more comprehensive arrangements.

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      By resolution 40/941 of 12 December 1985,7 the General Assembly, reaffirming once again that seas and oceans, being of vital importance to mankind, should be used exclusively for peaceful pur-poses in accordance with the regime established by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,8 reaffirmed once again its recognition of the urgent need to start negotiations with the participation of the major naval Powers, in particular the nuclear-weapon States, and other interested States on the limitation of naval activities, the limitation and reduction of naval armaments and the extension of confidence-building measures to seas and oceans, especially to areas with the busiest international sea lanes or to regions where the probability of conflict situations was high. By its resolution 40/94 J, also of 12 December 1985,9 the Assembly, emphasizing the interest of all States in the progress of the exploration and use of the seabed and the ocean floor and its resources for peaceful purposes, requested the Conference on Disarmament, in consultation with the States parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of the Emplacement of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction on the Seabed and Ocean Floor and in the Subsoil Thereof,10 to continue its consideration of further measures in the field of disarmament for the prevention of an arms race on the seabed, the ocean floor and in the subsoil thereof. Furthermore, by resolution 40/94 N, also of 12 December 1985," the Assembly, taking into account the existence of negotiations in multilateral, regional and bilateral forums, called upon all States faithfully to comply with and implement all provisions of multilateral, regional and bilateral disarmament and arms limitation agreements to which they were a party and to negotiate in good faith for the conclusion of additional treaties and conventions, multilateral, regional or bilateral as appropriate, taking into account the need for strict observance of an acceptable balance of mutual responsibilities and obligations for nuclear- and non-nuclear-weapon States.

      (iii) World Disarmament Conference

      The two different approaches to convening a world disarmament conference prevented the Ad Hoc Committee on the World Disarmament Conference from achieving any tangible results in 1985.

      By resolution 40/154 of 16 December 1985,12 the General Assembly decided to renew the mandate of the Ad Hoc Committee on the World Disarmament Conference and retain the item on its agenda.

      (b) Nuclear disarmament

      (i) Nuclear arms limitation and disarmament

      As to the consideration of the subject in the Disarmament Commission, the Conference on Disarmament and the General Assembly at its fortieth session, no substantive progress could be observed.

      By resolution 40/18 of 18 November 1985,l3 the General Assembly, noting the agreement between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States of America to begin negotiations on "a complex of questions concerning space and nuclear arms, both strategic and intermediate-range", reaffirmed that bilateral negotiations did not in any way diminish the urgent need to initiate and pursue multilateral negotiations on the cessation of the nuclear-arms race and nuclear disarmament and on the prevention of an arms race in outer space. By resolution 40/152 C of 16 December 1985,14 the Assembly called upon the Conference on Disarmament to proceed without delay to negotiations on the cessation of the nuclear-arms race and nuclear disarmament and especially to begin the elaboration of pratical measures for the cessation of the nuclear-arms race and for nuclear disarmament in accordance with paragraph 50 of the Final Document of the Tenth Special Session of the General Assembly, including a nuclear-disarmament programme, and to establish for that purpose an ad hoc committee. By resolution 40/152 P of 16 December 1985," the Assembly again requested the Conference on Disarmament to establish an ad hoc committee at the beginning of its 1986 session to elaborate on paragraph 50 of the Final Document and to submit recommendations to the Conference as to how it could best initiate multilateral negotiations of agreements, with adequate measures of verification, in appropriate stages for: (a) cessation of the qualitative improvement and development of nuclear-weapon systems; (fc) cessation of the production of all types of nuclear weapons and their means of delivery, and of the production of fissionable material for weapons purposes; (c) substantial reduction in existing nuclear weapons with a view to their ultimate elimination. And by resolution

      40/152 H of the same date16 the Assembly reaffirmed its request to the Conference on Disarmament to start without delay negotiations within an appropriate organizational framework, with a view to concluding a convention on the prohibition of the development, production, stockpiling, deployment and use of nuclear neutron weapons as an organic element of negotiations, as envisaged in paragraph 50 of the Final Document of the Tenth Special Session of the General Assembly.

      (ii) Non-use of nuclear weapons and prevention of nuclear war

      It was clear in 1985, as in previous years, that while there was agreement on the absolute need to prevent nuclear war if the survival of humankind was to be assured, there was no consensus on how to deal with the issue at the multilateral level.

      By resolution 40/152 A of 16 December 1985," the General Assembly considered that the solemn declarations by two nuclear-weapon States made or reiterated at the twelfth special session of the General Assembly, concerning their respective obligations not to be the first to use nuclear weapons, offered an important avenue to decrease the danger of nuclear war; expressed the hope that those nuclear-weapon States that had not yet done so would consider making similar declarations with respect to not being the first to use nuclear weapons; and requested the Conference on Disarmament to consider under its relevant agenda item the elaboration of an international instrument of a legally binding character laying down the obligation not to be the first to use nuclear weapons. Furthermore, by resolution 40/152 Q of 16 December 1985,'8 the Assembly 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 for the prevention of nuclear war and to establish for that purpose an ad hoc committee on the subject at the beginning of its 1986...

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