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Profile: UN General Assembly
UN General Assembly was a participant or observer in the following events:
The UN General Assembly adopts Resolution 2131, titled, “Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention in the Domestic Affairs of States and the Protection of Their Independence and Sovereignty,” which recognizes that “armed intervention is synonymous with aggression and, as such, is contrary to the basic principles on which peaceful international cooperation between States should be built.” It also states that “direct intervention, subversion and all forms of indirect intervention are contrary to these principles and, consequently, constitute a violation of the Charter of the United Nations.” In its declaration, which as a General Assembly resolution is non-binding, it prohibits all forms of intervention by one state “in the internal or external affairs of any other State.”
[United Nations, 12/21/1965]
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The UN General Assembly adopts the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). One hundred twenty member-states vote in favor of the Statute with 21 abstaining and only seven voting against. The countries which oppose its creation are the United States (will sign Statute on December 31, 2000 but later withdraw (see May 6, 2002)), Israel (will sign Statute on December 31, 2000 but later withdraw (see August 28, 2002)), China, Iraq, Qatar, Libya, and Yemen. [Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, 7/17/1998; CNN, 7/8/2002; Anne E. Mahle, 1/15/2005] The Clinton administration’s vote against the ICC was made under pressure from the Pentagon which believes that US troops, military officers and officials will become subject to politically motivated or frivolous prosecutions. Additionally, the US says it does not want the court to supplant its own domestic and military court system. [Human Rights Watch, 4/14/1998; Anne E. Mahle, 1/15/2005] On April 11, 2002, the countries of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ireland, Jordan, Mongolia, Niger, Romania and Slovakia will submit their ratifications to the UN bringing the total number of countries to ratify the Rome Statute to 66, well beyond the 60 needed to make it a binding treaty. The Statute is entered into force on July 1, 2002. [Amnesty International, 4/11/2002; Coalition for the International Court, 4/11/2002 ] The International Criminal Court (ICC) “is the first ever permanent, treaty based, international criminal court established to promote the rule of law and ensure that the gravest international crimes do not go unpunished.” [International Criminal Court, 3/27/2005] It has authority to try cases involving genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Significantly, Article 12 of the Rome Statute gives the court jurisdiction over the nationals of any state if the alleged crime takes place on the territory of a state that is a party to the Statute or that delegates jurisdiction for that case to the ICC—even in cases where the defendant’s state of nationality is not a party to the treaty. [Morris, 2001]
In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly, President Bush states, “We must speak the truth about terror. Let us never tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories concerning the attacks of September the 11th; malicious lies that attempt to shift the blame away from the terrorists, themselves, away from the guilty.”
[US President, 11/19/2001]
In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly, President Bush says: “Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons.… Iraq has made several attempts to buy high-strength aluminum tubes used to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon.” [PBS, 9/12/2002; US President, 9/16/2002; Age (Melbourne), 6/7/2003] Bush also says that the US “will work with the UN Security Council.” [US President, 9/16/2002; Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pp. 285] Deputy press secretary Scott McClellan will later describe the speech somewhat differently: “The UN speech… had been an ultimatum—either the UN acts to disarm Saddam Hussein or the United States will. The zero tolerance message was a further sign of how determined the president was to topple the regime by force. Saddam was never going to come completely clean. His power was grounded in brutality and in his ability to portray the regime as stronger than it was to intimidate the populace and potential enemies like Iran. The zero tolerance policy and the new ‘last chance’ resolution gave Bush plenty of room to maneuver and plausible justifications for his policy of regime change.” [McClellan, 2008, pp. 142]
The UN General Assembly approves the Optional Protocol to the Convention on Torture after 10 years of negotiations. The protocol is adopted with 127 votes in favor, 4 against, and 42 abstentions. The four states that oppose the treaty are the US, Nigeria, the Marshall Islands, and Palau. [Truthout (.org), 6/9/2004] One of the states voting in favor, Israel, later notifies the UN that its vote was cast by mistake because of a “human technical error.” [Ha'aretz, 6/3/2004] The purpose of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on Torture is to strengthen the means of enforcing the Convention’s provisions. Under the new protocol, a system of regular visits to prison facilities will be established. A 10-member subcommittee, funded by the UN, will serve as the executive arm of the existing committee on torture. [Ha'aretz, 6/3/2004]
For the fourteenth consecutive year, the UN General Assembly, in a record 182 to 4 vote, calls on the US to end its four-decade-old embargo against Cuba (see 1960). Voting against the measure are the US, Israel, Palau, and the Marshall Islands. Micronesia abstains, while El Salvador, Iraq, Morocco, and Nicaragua do not vote. [Associated Press, 11/8/2005; CBC News, 11/8/2005; EuroNews, 11/9/2005] (The Palau Archipelago was administered by the United States as the last UN trust territory until 1994. The Marshall Islands, taken by the US during World War II, became self-governing under US military protection in 1976, achieving free-association status in 1986. The combined population of Palau and the Marshall Islands is less than 80,000.) [Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed., 2005; Columbia Encyclopedia. Sixth edition, 2005] Before the vote, speaker after speaker in the General Assembly debate speaks out against the US sanctions [Associated Press, 11/8/2005] , while Ronald Godard, a deputy United States ambassador, asserts that “if the people of Cuba are jobless, hungry, or lack medical care, as Castro admits, it’s because of his economic mismanagement.” [New York Times, 11/9/2005] After the votes are tallied up, many delegates in the General Assembly hall reportedly burst into applause. [Associated Press, 11/8/2005] US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton, calls the vote “a complete exercise in irrelevancy.” [Associated Press, 11/8/2005]
The UN General Assembly votes in favor of creating an international treaty aimed at curbing the illicit trade in guns and other light weapons. The United States, the world’s largest supplier of small arms, is the only country to vote against the resolution. Supporters of the resolution say that the small arms trade fuels conflict, poverty, and serious human rights violations. Inter Press Service reports that “independent experts who have worked closely with the United Nations on the issue of small arms proliferation estimate that in the past three years more than one million people have been killed as a result of the unchecked flow of guns and other small weapons.” [UN General Assembly, 10/26/2006; Inter Press Service, 10/27/2006]
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