UN urges Member States to sign up to treaties with global reach

16 September 2009
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Top United Nations officials have urged Member States to sign, ratify or accede to treaties with global reach in areas ranging from climate change to terrorism and the use of nuclear weapons as the world body begins its annual campaign to promote such conventions.

This year, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has chosen to highlight 39 treaties on issues of global reach, or those on issues which can not be contained within national borders, during the treaty event, which coincides with the high-level segment of the General Assembly.

These treaties include conventions on terrorism and crime, human rights, the protection of environment, sustainable development and climate change, sanitation, disarmament, and the protection of UN and associated personnel.

“One of my priorities as UN Secretary-General is to promote global goods and remedies to challenges that do not respect borders,” Mr. Ban said in a letter to Heads of State and Government. He invited them to make use of the treaty event “to demonstrate their continuing commitment to the central role of the rule of law at the international and national levels.”

UN Legal Counsel Patricia O'Brien told a press briefing today that 25 countries had already indicated their intention to participate in the event.

“The United Nations was founded not only to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, but also to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties can be maintained,” she said. “Encouraging the development of international law as a way to regulate international relations has been a major objective of the UN since its very beginning.”

At the same briefing, Craig Mokhiber of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, focused on the new Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which opens for signature on 24 September. Mr. Mokhiber described the Additional Protocol as correcting a “historical imbalance” between civil and political rights on the one hand, and economic, social and cultural rights on the other.

“This new mechanism will, for the states party to it, allow complaints to be received of violations by, or on behalf of, victims. It will be extremely important to the international human rights movement that has lobbied so hard for its development,” Mr. Mokhiber said.

The annual treaty event was instituted in 2000 as an awareness-raising measure to promote participation in the treaty framework and the rule of law. This year’s event will take place from 23 to 25 September, and from 28 to 29 September.


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