Wednesday 26 October 2011
Statement of the Holy See before the Sixth Committee of the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly on the Report of the International Law Commission, Chapter IV , New York, 26 October 2011
Statement of the Holy SeeBefore the Sixth Committee of the 66th session of the United Nations General Assemblyon the Report of the International Law Commission, Chapter IVNew York, 26 October 2011Mr. Chairman,I take this opportunity to thank you for your work in leading these discussions and I join those in welcoming legal experts to discuss the work of the International Law Commission (ILC).The work of the ILC provides an important contribution to the growth and establishment of the rule of law both at the national and international levels.  In an ever interconnected world, the need for the establishment and implementation of the rule of law is of increasing importance in order to promote equitable relations between states and within society and the work of the International Law Commission provides a valuable resource for the further development of the rule of law. While my delegation recognizes that the substantive discussions on the Guidelines on the Reservations to Treaties is going to place at a future meeting, my delegation would like to address one area of particular importance in those Guidelines.In regards to the role of treaty monitoring bodies found in draft guidelines 3.2.1, 3.2.2, 3.2.3, 3.2.4, 3.2.5 and 4.5.3, my delegation notes its concern over giving authority to such bodies to address the permissibility and scope of reservations formulated by States. The competence and functions of treaty bodies are defined in their constituent instruments. They cannot, therefore, be modified or extended through decisions of bodies outside the meetings of States Parties or through, in this instance, the adoption of guidelines by the ICL and the General Assembly. In addition, treaty monitoring bodies’ authority is limited by that given to it by the treaty and therefore such bodies cannot assume competences beyond those expressly given to it by States Parties. Therefore my delegation believes that if treaty monitoring bodies are to be given the task of assessing the permissibility and scope of reservations, such authority must be given by States Parties within the treaty or through the adoption of an amendment or protocol to a treaty. Absent such permission, monitoring bodies must respect the text of the treaty and work within their respective competences.The negotiation, adoption and subsequent ratification of a treaty requires a number of political, social and legal decisions by States and, particularly in the case of human rights treaty bodies, these carefully weighted considerations must be taken into account. The practice of making reservations to treaties play an important role in allowing States to work together to address some of the greatest challenges of the world. It is therefore important that the Guidelines pay due consideration to the concerns of States and recognize that treaty monitoring bodies must also respect the primary role of States to determine the permissibility and scope of reservations. Failure to recognize the role of States and the contractual nature of treaties, such as permissibility of reservations and scope, would not only give bodies new competencies but may place the very nature of multi-lateral treaties in jeopardy.Mr. Chairman,My delegation looks forward to discussing the Guidelines during next year’s session in order to address the many delicate challenges presented by the Guidelines.Thank you Mr. Chairman.