Sixth Committee of the General Assembly — Press Conference

By Emilia KLIX

Today, the first press conference of Cologne MUN 2018 was held at the Legal Committee. The delegates, who were nominated and voted to represent the committee,

were given five minutes in order to present what happened so far and then, for the following ten minutes, they got questioned by the members of the Press.

Five members of the United Times listened to the Member States’ presentations by the People’s Republic of China, United States, Republic of France and Dominican Republic.

The delegate of the Dominican Republic started, explaining what had been discussing in general – Topic A: Jus ad Bellum – the Right to Go to War. The other delegates then furthermore elaborated on that.

When being asked about what exactly had been decided on the issue of pre-emptive self-defence, the issues that the Committee faced regarding effectiveness became even more obvious. The discussion’s outcome appeared to be limited to a general recognition of the need to be able to strike against non-state actors and that time is an important factor. The discussion regarding further definitions were not presented in the Press Conference.

Regarding the addition of non-permanent members to the United Nation Security Council(UNSC), it was very interesting that the P5 delegates did not seem to regard that as a threat to their power in the UNSC.

A question to the U.S.A about specific actions regarding Humanitarian Intervention was answered by emphasizing the general importance of that issue.

All in all, the impression given to the United Times is that several issues need more specific elaboration. Hopefully the Draft Resolution provides a solution for that.

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Discussions in the Legal Committee — a hopeless venture?

By Emilia KLIX

Today, the Sixth Committee of the United Nations (the Legal Committee) had their first three sessions regarding Jus ad Bellum — the Right to Go to War. So, what has happened so far?

Well, sadly, I need to inform you that the answer is: lots of talking and discussing, forming of blocks and insulting each other. But actually finding and deciding on a consensus? Not so much.

To the credit of all delegates: they do an amazing job at debating, but also repeating each other and themselves. The repetitions are necessary, because apparently there are lots and lots of misunderstandings. I guess truly listening to each other the very first time is just too boring for the delegates!

Someone who is especially present and active is the delegate of the Republic of France – not only is he a driving force in the drafting of working papers, but he also seems to be quite an expert on the topic of insults. Not only did he say that one cannot rely on the predictability of Member States, especially regarding the election of a “certain President”. (I don’t believe President Trump would think that’s a compliment, but then again…does he think at all?)

He later made some”strong” statements about China – laughing at China’s eagerness to stick to international law (as opposed to changing it) and calling the delegation out for “not [being] a credible defender of international law”. When I asked him about that even later, he remained with his position and pointed out that China’s government ignores decisions of international courts. Well if that isn’t the spirit of working together as truly united nations, then I don’t know what is!

China’s delegate, however, seems to be surprisingly relaxed. When I talked to him about the statements from France’s delegation, he told me that that “China stands for mutual respect, dignity and equality” of the Member States and that France’s statement “wasn’t well considered”. However, China nevertheless looks forward to working with all of the Member States and France’s statement will not hinder the diplomatic work.

Despite small fights like this, it appears that the Member States prefer talking about their differences in details rather than focusing on finding a consensus. At least it can be said about the discussions regarding the requirements for preemptive self-defence. As Mozambique’s delegate said it: there were hardly any differences between the two working groups in the end. Yet no solution has been properly decided on.

And what do we learn from that? Law is complicated. Definitions are complicated. Yet sometimes it is important to make amendments to your own suggestions in order to be able to produce a draft resolution within a reasonable amount of time.

I do believe that the delegates are able to do so, but maybe they need to realize that themselves. In the words of Switzerland’s delegate, “as long as we achieve this goal [of creating a consensus and legal certainty], it is worth to have this intense debate.” Let’s hope the second day this plan works out!

Is there the Need of a New Convention in Light of the Criminal Accountability of UN Officials?

By Emilia KLIX

The Member States of the United Nations once again discussed the issue of criminal accountability of UN officials during missions. During the 22nd session of the General Assembly’s Sixth Committee in October 2017, the Member States did agree that officials and experts must be held accountable of crimes. What the Member States could not agree on was the necessity of a Convention regarding that topic.

It is very apparent what benefits such a Convention would have. There would be a standard for the establishment of jurisdiction over serious crimes committed by their nationals. In addition, as stressed by South Africa’s representative, such an instrument could act as a means of preventing future occurrences. There could also be the establishment of a guideline for the investigation after an allegation. The protection of victims, that was demanded by various states, can also benefit from such a convention, thereby encouraging victims to report crimes.

So why do Member States deny the need for a Convention? The representative of Pakistan, for example, said that it was “premature” to discuss such a drat convention. In the delegation’s opinion, the focus should much rather be on strengthening the capacity of national institutions and criminal justice systems. What this opinion fails to recognize is that a convention would not contradict, but support this. It remains to be hoped that soon all Member States realize the necessity of such a convention and begin drafting.

Trump’s Attack on Syria – an Accepted Crime

By Emilia KLIX

It was not the first time that an attack with chemical weapons in Syria shocked the world. Already in August of 2013, Bashar al-Assad’s regime decided to use chemical weapons, resulting in a massacre in the region of Ghuta. On the 4th of April 2017, the city of Chan Schaichun suffered an attack with chemical poison – the alleged attacker being once again Assad.

This time, the international community did not react solely with diplomatic urges. The President of the United States, Donald Trump, attacked a Syrian Air Force base shortly after on the 7th of April.

From the perspective of law, this was neither an act of self-defence, nor was it an authorized attack by the United Nations Security Council. This means that it was an act of aggression, which is strictly forbidden by international law. Nevertheless, Trump’s actions were not interpreted as a crime by the international community. Many, including the German chancellor Angela Merkel as well as the former French President François Hollande, did not condemn the US attack, but supported it. Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, issued a statement highly criticising Trump – however, the number of supporters did exceed the critics.

The question remaining is: in times where the international community supports an act such as the one by the United States – is it time to update international law on the topic of war? The leaders of politics should find an answer to this question soon.