Delegates Take up Expulsion of Aliens, International Trade Commission Report
Despite long-held principles found in the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations, delegates spotlighted recent attacks against their missions and staff, as the Sixth Committee (Legal) took up the Secretary‑General’s report, “Consideration of effective measures to enhance the protection, security and safety of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives” (document A/75/168).
Finland’s representative, also speaking for Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, stressed that universally recognized rules and principles of international law – reflected in the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations – oblige States hosting the diplomatic and consular missions of others to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises and staff of those missions.
However, the representative of Iran pointed to increasing violence against diplomatic and consular missions and their staff, specifically calling out attacks against his country’s consulates in Iraq in 2018 and 2019. Despite repeated appeals to Iraqi authorities to strengthen security arrangements, the response by local authorities and security forces was inadequate, resulting in brutality and damages.
The United States’ delegate also noted a lack of sufficient response by the Iraqi Government to an attack on her country’s embassy in Baghdad. While a host State may not always be able to prevent these attacks, that State must make every effort to guarantee the inviolability of embassies, she said, pointing to her country’s rapid response to shots fired outside the Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C., in April as an example.
Cuba’s representative begged to differ, calling the United States’ response to that incident questionable and objecting to that country’s failure to classify the act as one of terrorism. As well, Cuban officials have been the victims of many such attacks in both Washington, D.C., and New York, she added.
The representative of Iraq, speaking in the exercise of the right of reply, also noted his disagreement with his counterparts’ remarks. Condemning all hostile acts targeting missions or embassies on Iraqi soil, he detailed the steps taken by his Government to ensure the ensure the safety and security of diplomatic and consular missions and staff on Iraqi soil.
New modalities, said the representative of Cameroon, should be considered in addressing the matter. Joining many speakers, he called for a stronger adherence of the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations. There was an urgent need to reaffirm these principles of international law, he said, adding that such measures “aim at protecting States, not individuals”. To that end, a United Nations resolution calling for States’ compliance with and enforcement of the Conventions’ provisions might support such efforts.
The Sixth Committee also took up the agenda item on the expulsion of aliens and the International Law Commission’s draft articles on the matter, as speakers wrestled with how to balance a State’s sovereign right to expel aliens and the human rights of those people subject to removal.
The representative of Portugal underlined that the draft texts struck a good balance between individual rights in situations of expulsion and the sovereignty of the expelling State and should remain an overview of already existing legal norms. For its part, during the state of emergency due to the COVID‑19 pandemic, Portugal extended access to health care to over 130,000 migrants and refugees with pending proceedings on immigration or asylum‑seeking, regardless of their status or legal situation.
El Salvador’s representative, also focusing on the human element, pointed out that expulsion is an extreme measure that seriously impacts an individual’s autonomy. As migratory infractions are administrative – rather than criminal – in nature, the deprivation of migrants’ freedom through detention must be thoroughly considered in light of due process. Further, she stressed that children should not be separated from their parents.
The representative of Mexico concurred, appealing for families to be kept together during any removal process. While a State has the inherent right to expel an alien, this power must be carried out in accordance with current international law, including human rights instruments. “We must not forget that people, regardless of their migratory status, are human beings,” he admonished.
At the top of the meeting, the Sixth Committee also considered the Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) on the work of its fifty‑third session (document A/75/17).
Eric Anderson Machado (Peru), Chair of the Commission, introducing the report, detailed how UNCITRAL adapted its working methods in light of the COVID‑19 pandemic, including presenting a series of webinars on the Commission’s texts and response to the pandemic. These events were popular and well attended, confirming the importance of UNCITRAL’s work in helping States modernize and strengthen their legal systems.
Such work is even more important now, as States must cope with severe economic shocks arising from the crisis caused by the pandemic, he noted. Therefore, despite difficulties arising from COVID‑19, the Commission’s working groups will continue with their legislative work on matters such as arbitration, reform of the investor‑State dispute settlement system, electronic commerce, insolvency and judicial sale of ships.
The Sixth Committee also concluded its consideration of the draft resolution concerning the request for observer status for the Asian Forest Cooperation Organization in the General Assembly (for background, see Press Release GA/L/3627) and heard the introduction of a draft resolution requesting observer status for the Global Dryland Alliance.
The representatives of Ethiopia, Cyprus and Mexico, Chairs of the relevant Working Groups, also introduced draft resolutions on: the Report of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization (document A/C.6/75/L.3); the Report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country (document A/C.6/75/L.2); and the rule of law at the national and international levels (document A/C.6/75/L.4), respectively.
The Sixth Committee will next meet at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 11 November, to hear oral reports from the Chairs of the Working Groups established this session and to begin consideration of the responsibility of international organizations and the protection of persons in the event of disasters.
United Nations Commission on International Trade Law
ERIC ANDERSON MACHADO (Peru), Chair of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), introduced the report on its fifty‑third session (document A/75/17). Recalling that under normal circumstances, the sessions of the Commission last two weeks with eight‑hour days each, he reported that due to the exceptional conditions caused by COVID‑19, the sessions were restricted. In light of that, the Commission adjusted its work programme and did not adopt any new legislative instruments. In August, through a series of informal consultations, the Commission decided on the methodologies of its working groups during the pandemic, he said, noting that these decisions highlighted the need to preserve transparency, inclusiveness, flexibility, effectiveness and a level playing field.
Further, he said, at the request of Member States, UNCITRAL’s Secretariat organized a series of webinars on the Commission’s texts and response in relation to COVID‑19. These events were popular and well attended by a total of 2,333 participants. The organization of these panels confirmed the importance of the Commission’s work and its role in continuing to develop instruments and other legislative tools to help States to modernize and strengthen their legal systems. This is especially crucial in order to improve States’ ability to cope with severe economic shocks arising from the crisis caused by the pandemic. Highlighting the webinar organized on gender, trade and COVID‑19, he said it was recognized by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN‑Women) during the annual meeting of the gender focal points of the United Nations.
Noting the completion of the Legal Guide to Uniform Legal Instruments in the Area of International Commercial Contracts (with a focus on sales), he then pointed to the archive of information published about the Commission’s Rules on Transparency in Treaty‑based Investor‑State Arbitration. Reiterating that the Secretariat should continue to maintain and update this archive, he expressed his gratitude to the European Commission for its renewed commitment to provide financing for a period of three years. The Commission also recommended to the General Assembly to request the Secretary‑General to keep the archive in operation, until the end of 2023.
Turning to the preparations under way under the auspices of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption for a special session of the General Assembly, which is scheduled for June 2021, he said the Commission requested that appropriate measures be adopted so that UNCITRAL’s contribution to the international fight against corruption is recognized duly and included as part of the Political Declaration that will emanate from that special session. Also noting the progress made in the different working groups, he said that despite the difficulties generated by the pandemic, the groups will continue with their legislative work on matters ranging from arbitration, reform of the investor‑State dispute resolution system, electronic commerce, insolvency and legal sale of ships.
The observer for the European Union stressed that, of the topics discussed by UNCITRAL, reform of the investor‑State dispute settlement system must be prioritized. A standing body and multilateral approach are best suited to address the issues at stake where dispute resolution involves public matters. She also said that resources and time for additional meetings are needed so that the Commission can make progress on this and other issues. Noting the Commission’s advantages of transparency, openness and accessibility, she encouraged all Member States, international organizations and observers to actively participate in that body’s discussions.
The representative of India expressed regret that the proposed conference with the UNCITRAL National Coordination Committee for India could not be held due to the pandemic. However, he welcomed the Commission’s Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific for the webinars it organized on India‑specific topics. It was crucial to move ahead with the Commission’s work using alternative methods such as remote means of communication. Further, the work process should be flexible as well as inclusive, taking into account the limitations faced by States. He noted the progress made on the by Working Group I on the legislative guide for an UNCITRAL limited liability organization, aimed at reducing legal obstacles faced by micro-, small- and medium‑sized enterprises, particularly in developing economies. As well, progress made by Working Group II in preparing draft provisions on expedited arbitration, which will appear as an appendix to the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules, was also welcomed, he said, stressing the need for interaction between the latter and the expedited arbitration provisions to ensure coherence between the two texts. In addition, he commended the progress made by Working Group III on investor‑State dispute settlement reform, noting that it is moving ahead on the two possible reforms, reforming the current system and bringing about structural reform through the creation of a world investment court, in order to accommodate all parties and foster consensus going forward.
The representative of Honduras welcomed the entry into force of the Singapore Convention, noting that her country was one of the first to sign the Convention. The Convention is a result of recognizing the value of international trade and mediation, she said, stressing the importance of UNCITRAL’s work on cooperation and technical assistance for developing countries in the area of international trade law. She also expressed hope for further cooperation with the Commission in order to improve the legal framework throughout the life cycle of micro-, small- and medium‑sized enterprises as an alternative to opportunities that positively impact migration, alleviate inequality of income and encourage sustainable development in the country. This is especially crucial in terms of economic recovery after the COVID‑19 pandemic and due to the damage caused by the tropical storm Eta. She further recalled that Honduras enacted laws on developing competitiveness for micro-, small- and medium‑sized enterprises in 2009 as well as the new law on promoting micro- and small enterprises, approved in 2018.
The representative of Israel said the current global health crisis further stresses the need for flexible, adjustable international dispute settlement mechanisms such as mediation. The Singapore Convention, which entered into force last month, could provide certainty among parties to international transactions relating to the enforceability of agreements resulting from such a process. If ratified on a global scale, it could significantly contribute to promoting the use of mediation in international trade and to the efficient dispute resolution of cross‑border commercial disputes. She also lauded the Commission’s decision to organize a colloquium to further explore legal issues related to the digital economy. The colloquium is expected to address the development of tools to better facilitate dispute resolution in the field of high tech, based on a joint proposal submitted by her country and Japan to the Commission in 2019. Israel, in cooperation with Japan, the Czech Republic and UNCITRAL Secretariat, organized various events in the past few months, at which this issue was discussed.
The representative of the Republic of Korea, praising UNCITRAL’s flexibility, expressed appreciation for the timeliness and relevance of the Commission’s consideration of assisting States with economic response and recovery efforts in the context of the COVID‑19 pandemic. He also noted his country’s hosting of the Commission’s first regional Office and the Government’s provision of financial and human resource support thereto. This office has enabled UNCITRAL to expand its influence in the Asia‑Pacific region and better promote the study and dissemination of international trade law. He added that the Office has also provided capacity‑building and technical assistance to States in the region and has supported public, private and civil society initiatives to enhance international trade and development.
The representative of the Russian Federation, while thanking UNCITRAL’s Secretariat for allowing the body to continue its work during this difficult time, expressed hope that the Commission will soon return to its customary format and discuss issues of international trade law in person. This will make the process more inclusive. Noting support for his country’s proposal to update UNCITRAL’s agenda in relation to COVID‑19, he called on other States to join this initiative. He also highlighted the efforts of the Commission’s working groups, including their discussions on: reducing obstacles faced by micro-, small- and medium‑sized enterprises; expedited arbitration; and reform of the investor‑State dispute settlement system. On this latter topic, he called for a cautious, balanced approach, underpinned by broad consensus and an objective analysis of existing relevant mechanisms.
The representative of Chile, praising the Commission for its work during the pandemic, said that among the most important lessons from the reporting period was the emphasis on transparency and inclusion. Voicing support for the Commission’s focus on equality and rule of law, he said it promotes greater consistency and harmonization of international trade law, while keeping in mind the different realities, traditions and approaches of different States. Also noting UNCITRAL’s webinars, he reaffirmed that the Commission’s leadership in developing new legal frameworks and revising those that already exist is especially crucial in promoting economic recovery worldwide. Highlighting a matter of special importance for his region, he drew attention to the Commission’s work on the reform of investor‑State dispute resolution, noting that Chile participated actively in the development of a multilateral reform document with model clauses that enable modernization of international agreements in different States.
The representative of Japan underlined the importance of reducing legal obstacles faced by micro-, small- and medium‑sized enterprises throughout their life cycle, particularly in developing economies. She also welcomed the progress made regarding the exploratory work undertaken by UNCITRAL on legal issues related to the digital economy, including high‑tech dispute settlement. To that end, she noted that recently Japan contributed, together with other institutions including UNCITRAL and the Government of the Czech Republic, to the 2020 Conference on Society, Law, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. Highlighting the challenges posed by the COVID‑19 pandemic, Japan also submitted to the Commission a proposal aiming to provide UNCITRAL with the mandate to conduct necessary activities, including research, webinars and online consultations to compile relevant information on the latest trends and developments on the ground in the area of dispute resolution. Obtaining such information would be the starting point to consider how best to enhance resilience as the international community starts to envisage a post‑COVID‑19 world.
The representative of Peru said the Commission’s work is vital for promoting economic, political and social development. Thanking the Secretariat for adapting working methodologies to hold the first half of the fifty-third session virtually during the pandemic, she highlighted the round tables and seminars that were held online. Stressing the importance of exploring good practices in order to mitigate the damage done to international trade because of the pandemic and to stimulate economic recovery, she recalled the progress of the Working Group on micro-, small- and medium-sized business. With regards to the Working Group on dispute resolution, she also welcomed the progress made in revising the draft on accelerated arbitration.
The representative of the United Kingdom welcomed the work of Working Group I to develop standards to reduce the legal obstacles faced by small businesses. The United Kingdom will soon consult with domestic stakeholders on its possible participation in the Singapore Convention. She also noted the inclusive and efficient work in Working Group III, as UNCITRAL brings together a wide variety of stakeholders to develop international investment law and business rules. She expressed support for the work of Working Group IV and its work on developing a model law for cross‑border recognition of identity management and trust services. As well, she commended the Commission’s commitment to allot time from the upcoming session of Working Group V to carry out an additional colloquium, which will cover applicable law in cross-border insolvencies, including the insolvency of micro- and small entities. In addition, she welcomed development of an international instrument, related to the judicial sale of ships, that is fair for all interested parties.
The representative of Zambia said the COVID‑19 pandemic has further underscored the pivotal role UNCITRAL plays in development of international trade law and modernization of rules for global business. Unfortunately, the pandemic has been more than just a transient setback or trifling obstacle to development, as it is likely to continue disrupting international trade and economic activity for the foreseeable future. However, as history has steadfastly demonstrated, crises drive innovation, which can serve to transform the pandemic into an opportunity for novelty. He urged the Commission to continue developing instruments and other legislative tools that will assist States in strengthening their legal frameworks and improving their resilience amidst the severe economic shocks brought on by the pandemic. Particularly highlighting the benefits of UNCITRAL’s Model Laws on Electronic Commerce, Model Law on Electronic Signatures and Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records, he said these tools will help mitigate the disruption of international trade and business due to the pandemic.
The representative of Belarus said the pandemic’s negative impact on the global economy and trade highlights the need to strengthen measures to simplify the conclusion of deals, including electronic signatures. He supported the proposal by the Russian Federation, which called for the Commission’s agenda to be adapted to address unified legal mechanisms for international trade, he said, adding that the issue can be discussed in the regional conference to be held in 2021 in Minsk. Turning to working methods, while acknowledging the growing role of the use of internet technology, without which the Commission’s work would have been limited this year, he emphasized the need to preserve in‑person meetings. Investor‑State dispute settlement reform must remain a key topic for the Commission to address. More so, it must be depoliticized to ensure trust in the system as a whole.
The representative of Belgium, aligning himself with the European Union, praised UNCITRAL’s continued work during the COVID‑19 pandemic, underscoring that exceptional circumstances require exceptional measures. Noting that micro-, small- and medium‑sized enterprises are part of Belgium’s DNA, he supported Working Group I’s efforts on this topic. Turning to other working groups, he emphasized the necessity of ensuring consistency between new rules aimed at expediting arbitration and current regulations on this practice and expressed support for far‑reaching reform of the investor‑State dispute settlement system. He also highlighted the importance of Working Group VI’s discussions on the judicial sale of ships to Belgium — a nation of sea trade — and called for a prioritization of germane national legislation and clarification of the terms “ship” and “judicial sale”.
The representative of Singapore, spotlighting the Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation, known as the Singapore Convention on Mediation, said the instrument entered into force in September, a year after it opened for signature. “It is a significant development, as the Convention enables international settlement agreements resulting from mediation to be enforced or invoked more readily, filling a gap in the enforcement framework for cross‑border commercial disputes,” he said. The Convention is also important in the context of the COVID‑19 pandemic, as it allows businesses to opt for mediation, which is more advantageous than more adversarial forms of dispute resolution, in cross‑border disputes. Recalling that the Convention has 53 signatories and 6 parties, he hoped more Member States will become a party to the instrument in the near future. He also welcomed the public webinar series organized by the Commission as part of its fifty‑third session. Turning to ongoing and future work of the Commission, he noted that it has more potential topics than there are available working groups, adding that in light of limited resources and increasing challenges, priorities could be set.
Requests for Observer Status
The Committee then returned to considering the draft resolution concerning the request for observer status for the Asian Forest Cooperation Organization in the General Assembly. (For background, see Press Release GA/L/3627.)
The representative of Lao People’s Democratic Republic reaffirmed that the Asian Forest Cooperation Organization is an intergovernmental organization that aims at strengthening forest cooperation by transforming proven technologies and policies into concrete actions in the area of sustainable forest management, in order to address the impact of climate change. Granting it observer status in the General Assembly will contribute to efforts to address environmental degradation and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, he said.
The representative of Cambodia said that the Asian Forest Cooperation Organization promotes cooperation among member countries, regional and global players. It has actively engaged with relevant United Nations agencies and other international partners.
The representative of Indonesia also joined in support for observer status for the Asian Forest Cooperation Organization, adding that the organization is in alignment with the principles of the United Nations and will help contribute to larger global targets, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The Committee then took up the draft resolution on the request for observer status for the Global Dryland Alliance in the General Assembly.
The representative of Qatar, introducing draft resolution A/C.6/75/L.8, said the Alliance, by working collaboratively with a range of countries and organizations committed to addressing the food security of dryland residents, will focus on bridging current gaps in research, strategy and policy to enable dryland States to improve food security and ensure the future well‑being of their people.
The representative of Malaysia welcomed the valuable work of the Alliance in finding solutions to the food crisis, which threatens the well‑being and livelihood of the inhabitants of drylands. The work of the Alliance is in line with the 2030 Agenda, adopted by the General Assembly in 2015, and it is poised to meet the Zero Hunger Challenge introduced in 2012 by former Secretary‑General Ban Ki‑moon, he added.
The representative of Tunisia said the Alliance will foster cooperation among its States to achieve relevant Sustainable Development Goals.
Protection of Diplomatic and Consular Missions and Representatives
The representative of Finland, also speaking for Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, recalled that this item was originally included in the agenda of the General Assembly on the initiative of the Nordic countries. Voicing concern that diplomatic agents and premises are experiencing serious violations in the receiving States despite the special duty to protect them, she noted that cooperation between States is pivotal in these exceptional circumstances after the outbreak of the COVID‑19 pandemic. Diplomatic and consular missions and representatives are the cornerstone of that cooperation. “While understanding the grave health concerns in many countries, the rules of diplomatic and consular law are applicable even in exceptional circumstances,” she said.
Noting that there are some new States parties to the international legal instruments relevant in this field, she welcomed the new ratifications and accessions and appealed to all States that have not yet done so to become parties to the instruments relevant to the matter at hand. Universally recognized rules and principles of international law, as reflected in the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations, place upon the receiving States a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the diplomatic and consular premises; to prevent any attacks on the diplomatic and consular representatives; and to accord full facilities for the performance of the functions of the diplomatic missions and the consular posts. Where attacks have occurred, they have to be fully investigated and prosecuted, she stressed, voicing concern about violations documented in the Secretary‑General’s report.
The representative of Venezuela, noting that the obligation to protect diplomatic missions and their staff is outlined in the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations, stressed the importance of compliance with these instruments in promoting friendly relations among States. However, as a result of the United States’ policy seeking to institute unconstitutional regime change in Venezuela, the latter country’s diplomatic and consular representatives have been endangered by systematic violations of Venezuelan diplomatic missions. He detailed examples of such violations in Peru, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Brazil, Colombia and the United States, pointing out that no response has been received from these States to date concerning legal proceedings resulting from such incidents. These violations have caused severe damage to Venezuela’s ability to provide consular assistance to its nationals living abroad, which is even more problematic due to the effects of the COVID‑19 pandemic. He condemned these acts, adding that these violations run counter to the principle of cooperation among States and are not in line with the Vienna Conventions.
The representative of the United States recalled an attack carried out by Iraqi militia against her country’s embassy in Baghdad and the subsequent passivity of the Iraqi Government after that violation of the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations. The attack was followed by multiple rocket attacks on diplomatic premises in Iraq that resulted in the deaths of both European diplomats and Iraqi civilians. While acknowledging that host States are not always able to prevent such attacks, she stressed that they should make every effort to guarantee the inviolability of embassies. She also highlighted her country’s rapid response to shots fired outside the Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C., in April.
The representative of Saudi Arabia said taking effective measures to protect diplomatic and consular missions and representatives is a vital responsibility of States, in line with the Vienna Conventions. Saudi Arabia is committed to respecting customary rules, which later became one of the written rules drafted by the International Law Commission. It has taken the lead in effecting measures to protect diplomatic and consular missions in the capital and other cities, for which it has dedicated a standing Committee in its Ministry of Interior. Therefore, she expressed regret that some States were lenient in providing protection for her country’s diplomatic and consular missions. Instances in which there were flagrant violations of the safety and integrity of Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic missions made her country committed to strengthening measures to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future, she said, calling on States to guard against such violations and to respect the sovereignty and independence of diplomatic missions.
The representative of Iran, noting the increase in violence against diplomatic and consular missions and their personnel, stressed that the premises of missions are inviolable. Recalling incidents targeting Iranian consulates in Iraq in 2018 and 2019 — particularly in Basra, Najaf and Karbala — in which property and documents were destroyed, he said that the reaction by security forces was either insufficient or futile to avoid brutality and damages. Further, prior to these attacks, Iranian diplomatic personnel in those cities submitted requests to local authorities and police for increased security arrangements and warned security forces before the violence erupted; however, their response was far from adequate. He called on all States to take appropriate measures to ensure the safety and security of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives.
The representative of Cameroon expressed concern over instances of grave violations of the protection and security of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives. The development of friendly relations — a core principle of the United Nations — has prompted States to agree upon a sacrosanct principle of diplomatic immunities. This is a long-standing principle, existing in all cultures and having vital importance to international relations, he said, noting that these measures are to ensure calm relations among States. “They aim at protecting States, not individuals,” he asserted. There is an urgent need to reaffirm these principles of international law on diplomatic and consular relations and to consider new modalities to end violations. He warned against attempts to break down the protections that have been established under the relevant Vienna Conventions. In this regard, it would be desirable to reaffirm — through a United Nations resolution — that States are called upon to comply with and ensure enforcement of the provisions.
The representative of China said his country provides all-year-round protection by armed police for the premises of diplomatic and consular missions. During the COVID‑19 pandemic, China offered diplomatic and consular representatives in the country necessary assistance, timely information and medical services. However, recent years have seen an uptick in the risks concerning the safety of China’s diplomatic and consular missions and personnel in several countries, he pointed out. Some personnel were burglarized and mugged and some of China’s diplomatic premises were maliciously graffitied. Some premises received bomb threats by phone calls and email. Under the two Vienna Conventions, the receiving country should take proactive, preventive measures to shield the diplomatic and consular missions and representatives from any threat to their security and safety, he stressed, calling on States to provide missions with dedicated security guards all year round, maintain regular communications with these missions and bring perpetrators to accountability.
The representative of Brazil said that diplomatic and consular immunities lie at the core of international law, as they protect the channels through which States communicate, cooperate and peacefully settle disputes. The Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations affirm that archives and documents are inviolable “wherever they may be” and establish a duty to permit diplomatic and consular missions free communication for all official purposes. Noting advances in information technology, she pointed out that archives and documents also exist on digital platforms and stated that it is beyond doubt that diplomatic and consular communications, archives and documents must be protected both offline and online.
The representative of Cuba expressed concern about violent acts against diplomatic and consular missions, as noted in the Secretary‑General’s report. All relevant measures must be adopted to prevent violations from taking place, she said, calling for concerned States to prosecute actors committing such acts. Recalling an incident referred to in the report in which a gunman with an AK‑47 opened fire at the Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C., in April, she upbraided the United States for its questionable response to the incident, including its failure to classify the act as one of terrorism. Many such attacks have taken place against Cuban officials in New York as well as Washington, D.C., she said, recalling the killing of Cuban diplomat Felix Garcia-Rodriguez in 1980 in New York. She called for the strictest enforcement of international law to protect diplomatic and permanent missions, to strengthen diplomatic relations and compliance with international law.
Right of Reply
The representative of Iraq, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, expressed his strong rejection of the use of Iraqi territory as a “theater for score settling,” regardless of motivation. Condemning all hostile acts targeting missions or embassies on Iraqi soil, he emphasized that Iraqi security forces provide for the safety and security of the Iranian consulate and its staff in Basra. The Government has taken further steps to provide protection in the wake of incidents that occurred, and judicial proceedings in Basra have examined the damage and rendered a ruling to prosecute the perpetrators. Iraq is wedded to compliance with international measures, including the Vienna Conventions. These acts will not besmirch the strategic relationship between Baghdad and other missions, he emphasized.
The representative of Ecuador stressed that the appropriate treatment of diplomatic and consular representatives, archives, documents and communications is a key issue for peaceful, constructive relations among States. Acknowledging that diplomatic privileges and immunities ensure the effective function of diplomatic representatives, she condemned any violations against these individuals and stated that the Government has taken all legal measures to protect diplomatic and consular missions and their staff on Ecuadorian soil.
Expulsion of Aliens
The representative of El Salvador voiced concern that the draft articles had been deemed finalized when there were still unaddressed substantive issues. The issue of expulsion of aliens is intimately linked with norms of international human rights law and the corresponding obligation of States to respect and guarantee the rights of individuals under their jurisdiction without any discrimination. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has indicated in its jurisprudence that due process must be guaranteed to any individual, regardless of migratory status. The standards on the exceptional nature of the deprivation of freedom should be considered at an even higher level when it comes to detention of migrants due to the fact that migratory infractions are administrative in nature and not criminal in nature. Noting that article 19 of the draft texts retains a presumption of detention against any migrant, she said that expulsion is an extreme measure that has a serious impact on the autonomy of an individual. Further, children should not be separated from their parents, she stressed, calling for review of the draft articles in light of international human rights standards, including the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants, the Global Compact on Migration as well as the 2030 Agenda.
The representative of Portugal said that the draft texts were a good framework for the protection and respect of individual rights in situations of expulsion. They struck a good balance between such rights and the sovereignty of the expelling State. For the time being, the draft articles should remain an overview of already existing legal norms; they provide a general guide of law on the expulsion of aliens. On a national level, during the COVID‑19 pandemic, Portugal extended access to its National Health Service to all migrants and refugees, regardless of their status or legal situation. Indeed, approximately 130,000 aliens with pending proceedings on immigration or asylum-seeking before Portuguese authorities by the date on which a State of Emergency was declared have been granted temporary residence status. The implementation of this measure has been extended once and the Portuguese Government is considering extending it to 2021.
The representative of Mexico said discussions on this topic must be guided by clear respect for human rights and the dignity of individuals who are facing or have faced a removal process. While the right to expel an alien is inherent in the State and both theory and jurisprudence are in agreement on this point, that power must be carried out in accordance with current international law, in particular, human rights instruments. “Human rights are universal,” he said, adding that neither the national origin of the individual nor the legal situation of that individual in the territory of a given State can be used as a basis for denying human rights protection for individuals in the removal process. Also highlighting the importance of providing particular care for vulnerable people, he appealed for families to be kept together during the removal process. Migration is a global phenomenon. Increasingly, people cross borders for a variety of reasons, he said, stressing: “We must not forget that people, regardless of their migratory status, are human beings.”
The representative of Malaysia said that his small country is considered a destination country by many migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. Thus, the draft articles might not ensure full respect for Malaysia’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and national security. The draft texts replicate some existing principles already provided in other international treaties. Among several examples offered, he noted that rules relating to the expulsion of Stateless persons in article 7 replicate those already codified in the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons. Some elements in the draft articles have expanded the scope of the principle of non‑refoulement in article 23 in relation to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. It took the Commission a decade to adopt the draft articles because of different opinions and the significant number of existing, well-established State practices pertaining to many of the issues covered by the draft articles. States should keep using their discretion as they take reasonable measures regarding the expulsion of aliens in accordance with relevant domestic laws, particularly in light of global migration patterns and the COVID‑19 pandemic. Rather than the elaboration of a convention based on the draft articles, the General Assembly should merely take note of them.
An observer for the Holy See stressed that fundamental human rights must always take precedence over State interests. Moreover, refugees, asylum seekers, migrants and victims of human smuggling have no fewer human rights than lawful residents. Their rights must therefore be fully ensured and protected. It is also important to improve conditions of detention and to ensure the procedural rights of those being detained, he said, noting with concern that draft article 19 is based on the assumption that persons subject to expulsion would be detained. Detention should be the exception rather than the rule. More so, children should never be detained. Their best interests should be the primary consideration in all decisions made on their behalf. It is critical to provide both substantive rights to aliens facing expulsion and the procedural means by which to obtain those rights. Otherwise, providing substantive rights while denying the procedural means to claim and obtain such rights would render them virtually meaningless, he stated.
Also speaking today were representatives of Austria, Argentina, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Thailand, Italy, Turkey and Norway (also speaking for Denmark, Iceland, Finland and Sweden).