Speakers called for a regulatory framework that will underpin international cooperation efforts when protecting persons in the event of disasters and assisting affected States, as the Sixth Committee today concluded its consideration of that agenda item. (For background, see Press Release GA/L/3629.)
Colombia’s delegate, taking note of the Secretary‑General’s report on this topic (document A/75/214), highlighted the increasing number of bilateral, regional and multilateral mechanisms that have resulted in disorganized and fragmented legal instruments. The International Law Commission’s draft articles respect State sovereignty and the rights of people affected by disasters, he observed, adding that they also reflect existing foundational agreements such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. “The Commission deserves to see the General Assembly acknowledge its recommendations and attach to them the relevance they require,” he emphasized.
Voicing strong agreement to that, Tonga’s delegate called for the draft articles to be elaborated into a convention. Citing the 2016 World Risk Report, he pointed out that his country has been ranked the world’s second most at-risk country to all disasters (including climate change‑induced disasters and geological disasters). In addition, Tonga continues to be imperiled by tropical cyclones of unprecedented and destructive magnitudes and has also recently experienced drought, record rates of coastal erosion and flash flooding, further compounded by the rise in sea level — three times higher than the global average. Also noting that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted that the intensity and frequency of such phenomena will continue to grow, he cautioned delegates that this will increase the possibility of more countries experiencing large-scale disasters, necessitating more international cooperation.
At the same time, Haiti’s representative emphasized international cooperation should not be an excuse for trampling on the dignity of the people in need of protection. He also called for increased financial transparency, underscoring the need to ensure that the victims on whose behalf funds are collected are the actual beneficiaries. Haiti’s long history with natural disasters has led his country to adopt a raft of legislative and regulatory measures on this matter, he said, noting that this was in line with the Commission’s draft article 1. He further recalled Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, as well as the 16 cyclones, more than 25 floods, 7 droughts and a powerful 7.3 magnitude earthquake that devastated the country in the period 1990‑99, outlining how these events motivated the Government to strengthen its civil protection system.
The representative of Viet Nam also expressed concern at the increasing number of human-made and natural disasters, stressing that improved international cooperation and assistance could play a crucial role in preventing them or dealing with their consequences. There is an urgent need to increase international cooperation and strengthen solidarity, she said, without creating additional protocols or procedures to complicate the process. She welcomed discussion on the draft articles, expressing hope that they would boost international cooperation.
The Sixth Committee also heard the introduction of two draft resolutions, both of which consisted of technical updates.
The representative of Pakistan, introducing the text on “Criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission” (document A/C.6/75/L.9), said a technical rollover, extending current mandates, seemed the best option given the particular current circumstances.
The representative of Ghana, introducing the draft resolution on “United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law” (document A/C.6/75/L.10), said the text includes the necessary technical updates, to mandate for the award of fellowships for the United Nations Regional Courses in International Law and the International Law Fellowship Programme.
Also speaking today were representatives of Israel, Iran, China, Nigeria, Brazil and the United States.
The Committee will next meet at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 19 November, to take action on the drafts and take up the revitalization of the General Assembly and programme planning.