UN Decade Report
During each year of the UN Decade on International Law, States and international
provided their responses to the UN Decade of International Law to the UN Secretary-General.
reports of these responses have been summarized in various issues of this Newsletter. The
following is my
selective summary of salient features of the 1995 Secretary-General's Report, General Assembly
A/50/368, 30 August 1995, Fiftieth Session, Item 143 of the provisional agenda, original English.
Richard Hartzman, an ASIL representative at the UN, obtained the nearly 50-page report for me
loading it from the Internet "gopher," and then transferring it between home computers via our
private on-line e-mail services).
Prior to this Newsletter's summary of the Secretary-General's Report, one should note the
quote regarding funding (extracted from paragraphs 99. & 100.):
99. * * * it is recognized that, within the existing overall level of appropriations, adequate
for the implementation of the programme for the Decade is necessary and should be provided.
Voluntary contributions from Governments, international organizations and other sources,
the private sector, would be useful and are strongly encouraged. To this end, the
establishment of a
trust fund to be administered by the Secretary-General might be considered by the General
100. * * * With reference to paragraph 7 of General Assembly resolution 49/50, in which the
bly appealed, inter alia, to international organizations to make financial or in-kind contributions
the purpose of facilitating the implementation of the programme for the third term of the
(1995-1996), UNESCO indicated that it was pursuing this objective on a general level through
promotion of international cooperation in the field of international law, and more specifically,
distributing its numerous publications worldwide.
The 1995 Report of the Secretary-General on the UN Decade of International Law is divided
introduction, analytical presentation of replies, and activities of the United Nations relevant to the
development of International Law/codification. Given space and time constraints, the UN portion
1995 Report is not herein covered. UN activities regarding the UN Decade are generally
available from other
sources, while those of States and international organizations are not as generally publicized. (For
convenience, however, one should be aware of two UN publications. The first is the Multilateral
Deposited with the Secretary-General, Status as of [31 December of each year]. That publication
available in an electronic format, and accessible on-line to Member States and other users. This
implemented in conjunction with the Electronic Services Division Internet access. (Consideration
given to levying a fee from users.) The second is the Treaty Section of the Office of Legal Affairs
programme of computerizing the UN Treaty Series. Funding has been approved by the General
the current biennium to convert the text of the Treaty Series to optical disk format and to provide
access to text and editorial data to Member States and other users. The project was expected to
by the end of 1995.)
The 1995 Report incorporates responses received from (a) two States, the Cook Islands
and (b) 14 international organizations. The relative degree of responses during this reporting
to the comparative dedication of international organizations to the ideals of the UN Decade.
States have been invited to submit suggestions for consideration by the UN's Sixth Committee.
particular, efforts should be made to identify areas of International Law which might be ripe for
progressive development of International Law or its codification.
International organizations have been encouraged to report to the Secretary-General on ways
and means for
implementing the multilateral treaties to which they are parties.
Both States and international/regional organizations have been encouraged to publish, if they
already done so, summaries, repertories, or yearbooks of their practice.
Part One of this Editor's summary thus addresses some introductory matters, prior to the
Secretary-General's report of specific responses to the UN Decade in the 1995 Report. The UN
Decade has, thus far,
been organized into inclusive two-year terms: first term 1990-1992; second term 1993-1994; third
1995-1996. In GA Resolution 49/50 (9 Dec. '94), the General Assembly invited all States to
disseminate the guidelines for military manuals and instructions on the protection of the
environment in times
of armed conflict (A/49/ 323, annex) received from the International Committee of the Red Cross
to give due consideration to the possibility of incorporating them into their military manuals and
instructions addressed to their military personnel. The UNGA also invited the ICRC to continue
to report on
activities undertaken by the ICRC, and other relevant bodies, with regard to the protection of the
in times of armed conflict.
Part Two of this Newsletter summarizes the highlights of State and organizational
responses to the UN
Decade (for this reporting period). The Editor has rearranged the Secretary-General Report
format, so as to
include all activities of a particular State or international organization under one heading, rather
the Report's five-part organizational scheme which divides the work of these entities into the five
parts of the
UN Decade program (see the four basic parts under "UN Decade Objectives" at page
two of this
One noteworthy matter is that no State provided any input regarding the UN Decade
promoting methods for the peaceful settlement of disputes between States. Entries reported
particular heading were limited to international organizations. The entries in this portion of the
have also been rearranged alphabetically for reader convenience:
- Cook Islands--while there was no society of International Law yet
the Government of the Cook Islands has followed with interest the developments relating to the
- Cyprus --reported that the management courses which its Police Academy had
upon the promotion of members of the Police Force to the post of Inspector, Chief Inspector,
and Chief Superintendent, has for the last two years included lectures on the subject of human
- Institute of International Law, United Nations International Drug Control Programme
(UNDCP)--provided legal assistance to 27 African States, 17 States of Europe and the
Middle East, and nine States in the Asia-Pacific region (1994-1995). UNDCP is also collecting
publishing national drug control laws and regulations to ensure mutual disclosure among parties,
preparing an annual analytical index of that legislation to allow for the easy retrieval of the laws'
Tools prepared by UNDCP for the implementation of the conventions also included an annual
listing national authorities competent to take action under specific articles of the UN Convention
Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988. UNDCP is preparing a
commentary to that Convention, in order to provide States with a uniform
interpretation as well as with practical recommendations for implementing the Convention.
- International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)--its Review Conference of
UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons of September- October 1995 involved the
governmental experts. ICRC has submitted proposals on the regulation of the use of landmines,
laser weapons and other new weapons. This measure is particularly relevant since the first U.S.
Bosnia-peacekeeping-casualty resulted from a landmine.
The ICRC work of experts on the law of war at sea led to the 1994 adoption of the San
on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea, and an Annex entitled "Explanation."
Manual could be viewed as a modern version of the "Oxford Manual on the Laws of Naval War"
the Institute of International Law in 1913. In addition to State practice, the new Manual
developments in modern technology and their effects in certain areas governed by International
Law, such as
the air, the sea and the environment.
- International Council of Environmental Law--in partnership with the
Law Centre (IUCN), it maintained probably the world's most extensive collection of documents
environmental law and policy (international treaties, supranational instruments, national
legislation, soft law,
literature and documents of international organizations, especially the United Nations system).
collected from all countries, and in all languages, to provide as broad a coverage as possible.
references to the documents were entered into the computerized Environmental Law Information
(ELIS) data bank.
- International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce
(ICC)--observed that progress made in the world-wide acceptance of international
arbitration was exemplified by the
fact that parties involved in ICC arbitrations had originated from 100 countries last year.
- International Institute of Humanitarian Law--organized five military courses
on the law
of armed conflict for officers of national armed forces in 1995. It also organized two refugee law
government officials and NGOs.
- International Labour Organization (ILO)--indicated that it would publish
revised Manual of Procedures relating to International Labour Conventions and
Recommendations. A new
edition of the ILO computer-based system of ILO Conventions and Recommendations and recent
ILO supervisory bodies (ILOLEX) was issued earlier in the year, holding 56,000 full-text
documents. A new
edition of ILOLEX, including all general surveys on law and practice under selected ILO
Recommendations of the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and
from 1985, will be issued in 1996.
The ILO also updated its compendium of International Labour Conventions and
published August 1995, to be followed by updated editions in French and Spanish.
- Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)--through its
for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, is pursuing an active policy of consolidating its
standards, monitoring of their implementation, and providing assistance to States in carrying out
provisions. In order to further and strengthen their commitment to settle disputes exclusively by
means, and in accordance with the Helsinki Decisions of 1992 to develop a comprehensive and
of measures available within CSCE for the peaceful settlement of disputes, the OSCE Ministers
measures to enhance the Valletta Mechanism through modification of the procedure for selecting
settlement mechanism; adopted the text of a Convention on Conciliation and Arbitration
general conciliation and for arbitration on the basis of agreements ad hoc or, in advance, on the
reciprocal declarations, and declared it open for signature by interested participating States; and
conciliation procedure as an option available to participating States on the basis of agreements ad
hoc or, in
advance, on the basis of reciprocal declarations; and decided that the Council or the Committee of
Officials of CSCE may direct any two participating States to seek conciliation to assist them in
dispute that they have not been able to settle within a reasonable period of time. OSCE stated
that the Code
of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security (adopted at Budapest in December 1994)
important milestone on the road leading to cooperative security. The Code underscores the
participating States to act in solidarity if OSCE norms and commitments were violated, and to
concerted responses to security challenges they might face.
- Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)--its Financial Assistance Fund was
established in October of 1994. Because of a generous initial contribution by the Government of
Netherlands, the Fund had already become operational. The PCOA Steering Committee has
making recommendations in three specific areas: the development of rules of procedure for
commissions of inquiry; the inclusion of international organizations as parties having "standing" in
dispute settlement proceedings; the establishment of an express basis for conciliation.
The Secretary-General of the Court emphasized that, by providing facilities and
procedures for a
broad range of methods of settling international disputes, the PCA could complement the role of
tional Court of Justice as the principal judicial organ of the UN, drawing attention to the recent
of the Financial Assistance Fund and to decentralization of the functioning of the ICJ.
The International Bureau of the Permanent Court of Arbitration observed that a Steering
had been established to consider the possible revision of the 1907 Convention on the Pacific
- United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)--has continued wide
of information on International Law in the field of the environment. The Council called on States
that had not
yet done so to sign, ratify or accede to environmental conventions and protocols to which they
were eligible to
The Governing Council noted with appreciation the quality and usefulness of the Register of
Treaties and Other Agreements in the Field of Environment and requested the Executive Director
regular publication of the Register. UNEP has been issuing and distributing the Register
1977. The 1993 version of the Register issued in the six official languages of the UN was sent to
Governments and relevant organizations. (The preparation of its 1995 version is underway.)
continues (upon request) to provide developing countries with technical assistance for developing
environmental policy, legislation and institutions. Together with the Economic Commission for
(ECA), and the Organization of African Unity (OAU), UNEP convened an African subregional
meeting of conventions at Nairobi in March 1995 in conjunction with the African Ministerial
the Environment. There a number of recommendations were made relating to the implementation
tional environmental agreements, including a coordinated strategy for strengthening Africa's
effective participation in environmental conventions, and strategic elements for enhancing national
for participating in such conventions.
The Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from
Activities (which was expected to be adopted at an intergovernmental conference in Washington
1995) is designed to provide norms, principles and procedures for Governments to protect the
environment from land-based activities. After its adoption, that document can contribute to the
implementation of relevant provisions of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the
various regional maritime conventions and protocols.
UNEP has provided officials from developing countries with legal training to enhance
in dealing with international environmental law, including the implementation of the conventions
guidelines concluded under its auspices.
- United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)--organized
workshop on international legal instruments for Geneva-based diplomats to provide them with
knowledge of the techniques regarding the drafting and interpretation of international legal
UNITAR observed that 158 persons from 67 countries had filed applications for the 1995
Fellowship Programme organized under the United Nations Programme of Assistance in the
Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law. A Joint Selection Committee
chairmanship of the Legal Counsel of the United Nations had awarded 18 fellowships. (The
programme took place at The Hague, from 3 July to 11 August 1995.)
UNITAR published the fifth, entirely revised, edition of Shabtai Rosenne's comprehensive
the structure and functioning of the International Court of Justice, entitled "The World Court:
What it is and
How it Works." It will also be publishing the report on a research project conducted by the
coordinator of the
UNITAR/IPA Fellowship Programme in Peacemaking and Preventive Diplomacy on the topic
Nations as a Dispute Settlement System: Improving Mechanisms for the Prevention and
- World Health Organization (WHO)--held an inter-regional meeting at
New Delhi in
March 1995 on prevention and control of a plague epidemic, where it considered the need to
revise any of the
provisions of the International Health Regulations. The forty-eighth World Health Assembly
resolution WHA48.7 of May 1995, entitled "Revision and updating of the International Health
urging member States to participate in the revision of the International Health Regulations, and
WHO Director-General to take steps to prepare a revision of the Regulations for submission to
Copyright 1997 American Society of International Law