Sixth Committee, 14th meeting – General Assembly, 76th session.
Ambassador Harold Agyeman
Ghana Permanent Mission to the United Nations
October 21, 2021, New York City
PRESENTATION OF THE REPORT OF THE ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON THE PROGRAMME OF ASSISTANCE IN THE TEACHING, STUDY, DISSEMINATION AND WIDER APPRECIATION OF INTERNATIONAL LAW BY HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN AMBASSADOR AND PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE.
DURING THE SIXTH COMMITTEE’S CONSIDERATION OF AGENDA ITEM 81: “UNITED NATIONS PROGRAMME OF ASSISTANCE IN THE TEACHING, STUDY, DISSEMINATION AND WIDER APPRECIATION OF INTERNATIONAL LAW” AT THE 76TH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY.
I have the honour and privilege to address the Sixth Committee for the first time in my capacity as the Chair of the Advisory Committee on the United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law.
During its fifty-sixth session held on 6th October, 2021, from 10:00am to 11:25am, the Advisory Committee focused its work on the consideration of the draft report of the Secretary-General, contained in document No. A/76/404.
The Committee reviewed the activities of the Programme of Assistance undertaken during the reporting period as well as activities proposed for the year 2022, including the resulting administrative and financial implications.
17 members of the Committee participated in the session with Thailand participating as an observer in its capacity as host-country for the Regional Course in International Law for the Asia- Pacific region.
On behalf of the Committee, I would like to thank Mr. Miguel de Serpa Soares, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel, for his participation and personal interest in the effective implementation of the Programme of Assistance. The Committee shares the Legal Counsel’s views that the Programme of Assistance is important not only in providing academic opportunities but also opportunities for building lasting ties of multilateral cooperation, particularly necessary for the work of the Sixth Committee.
Ms. Jessica Elbaz, Principal Legal Officer of the Codification Division and Secretary to the Committee, informed the Committee that the International Law Fellowship and the Regional Courses in International Law could not he held as scheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting restrictions imposed on in-person activities worldwide.
On behalf of the Committee, may I express sincere appreciation to Ethiopia, Thailand and Chile for their initial preparations to host the Regional Courses in International Law for Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean, respectively. We also commend the Regional Commissions and The Hague Academy of International Law for their continued support.
The interactive online workshops held on wide ranging topics of international law as well as the remote self-paced curricula developed by the Codification Division as interim capacity building measures for applicants of the training courses which were cancelled were taken note of by the Committee.
Further, note was taken of the establishment of the alumni network to support continuing education activities of alumni of the Programme of Assistance.
Sharing on the experience of the interim online workshops and activities, the Secretariat bemoaned the lack of reliable internet connectivity which prevented participants from developing countries, especially, from effectively participating and benefiting from the virtual programmes.
In General, the Committee is satisfied and remains appreciative of the innovative efforts by the Codification division to ensure continuity of the Programme of Assistance despite the hurdles of the COVID-19 pandemic. Taking into account the difficulties associated with the online workshops, however, the Committee underscores the importance of resuming the traditional in-person format for the International Law Fellowship and the Regional Courses in International Law as soon as it is safe to do so. In the meantime, the online programmes could be developed and administered as complementary resources to the traditional training programmes.
On the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law, it was indicated that while the pandemic afforded fewer opportunities to record lectures, work was advanced on its Historic Archives and on revamping the website. The Committee welcomed the work carried out and urged the Codification Division to continue developing its content and explore further opportunities for its dissemination.
The need for greater linguistic diversity in the content of the Audiovisual Library to ensure a wider reach to all regions and linguistic groups was emphasized, however, without prejudice to first directing resources to the six official languages of the United Nations.
In view of the objective for a progressive development of international law, the Committee urged the Secretariat to seek greater diversity in the legal traditions, professional backgrounds and gender balance of the lecturers and experts relied upon for the programmes.
The Secretariat was also encouraged to continue the dissemination of international law publications in both digital and printed formats.
May I express the Committee’s support for the budget proposals in the UN Regular Budget for the 2022 programmes and activities. I also take this opportunity to express the Committee’s gratitude to Member States who generously contributed to the Voluntary Fund and the Hamilton Shirley Amerasinghe Memorial Fellowship on the Law of the Sea.
The imperative for strengthening the teaching and learning of International law in the 21st Century is stronger today as the rules and principles of international law remain essential to the proper functioning of our interdependent world across a wide range of interacting issues including climate change, terrorism, law of the sea, Artificial Intelligence, Science, Technology and Information, to mention a few.
The work of the Advisory Committee therefore is important to sustain and ensure the success of the Programme of Assistance and by that, pursue the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
Ghana will continue to lend its full support to the teaching and study, appreciation and wider dissemination of International law, especially for experts from developing countries and counts on the support of all Member States in this regard.
In my capacity as Chair of the Advisory Committee, I take this opportunity to particularly, express my appreciation to the members of the Committee for their constructive participation in the work of the session. The attachment of the members to the success of the Program of Assistance was well demonstrated in the frank, open and constructive interventions that followed the consideration of the Secretary-General’s report.
I also would like to express sincere appreciation to Ms. Jessica Elbaz and the entire team of the Codification Division of the Office of Legal Affairs for the continued dedication and dynamism to sustain the momentum of the Programme of Assistance despite the apparent challenges of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
I wish to conclude by indicating that Ms. Khalilah Hackman, Counsellor and Legal Adviser of the Permanent Mission of Ghana, will be introducing the zero draft at the close of today’s debate with the intention to undertake transparent consultations on the draft resolution. We look forward to the active participation of distinguished delegates in the informal consultations and count on your support and cooperation.
I thank you.