I have the honour to speak on behalf of the five Nordic Countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and my own country, Norway.
Allow me to make first some general remarks about the work of the International Law Commission.
We would like to commend its Chairman, Mr Ernest Petrič, and through him the whole Commission and its able secretariat for a productive session. The report that is before us is very comprehensive. As Denmark on behalf of the Nordic Countries has already stated, the chapter on draft articles on responsibility of international organizations is impressive.
We are pleased to note the presence of members of the ILC here in the 6th Committee, while we regret that financial constraints have impeded Special Rapporteurs to be present when the relevant parts of the report are being deliberated.
The Nordic countries welcome the work of the Commission on the topics concerning the Most-Favoured Nation clause and Treaties over time and look forward to the contributions from the respective Study Groups in this regard.
We would like to use this opportunity to briefly make some remarks on the work concerning Reservations to treaties, Expulsion of aliens, Shared natural resources and The Obligation to Extradite or Prosecute.
Reservations to treaties
The topic has been on the agenda of the Commission since 1994. We are pleased to note the progress made by the Commission in producing the comprehensive text on the guidelines. The Nordic countries commend the Commission for the work done and in particular the substantial work carried out by Special Rapporteur, Mr Alain Pellet.
We would like to see the Commission finalizing its work on this issue as soon as possible, and we intend to revert to the issue next year for more comprehensive comments, when the draft guidelines hopefully can be considered as a whole. The Nordic countries would in this context like to express the wish that the format of the document be made as user friendly as possible. The aim is to provide a Guide to Practice, in the form of draft guidelines with commentaries. An important challenge will therefore be to facilitate access to this practice, keeping in mind that the primary target group of users will be officers in legal departments of Foreign Ministries, who traditionally may find little time to devote to other States’ reservations to treaties. This may therefore have implications for the structure and categorizations in the final document, or at least for its indexing – which we hope will be as accessible and user friendly as possible.
Expulsion of aliens
Focusing on the topic Expulsion of aliens, the Nordic countries would like to commend the discussions that have taken place on the basis of the fifth report of the Special Rapporteur, Mr Kamto.
The Special Rapporteur has in this report dealt with the limits to the right to expulsion relating to the requirement of respect for fundamental rights. While recognising the importance of this issue, the Nordic countries are not entirely convinced that drawing up a list of rights that must be respected in situations of expulsion, is the most appropriate approach. Since all human rights must be respected – including with variations at regional levels - it may not appear to be fruitful to attempt to describe all the applicable requirements in this field. The indivisible nature of human rights is also of paramount importance. These principles should in our view guide the way forward for this topic.
The Nordic countries have previously expressed their doubts as to the elaboration of articles regarding this topic, since it is difficult to find a real need for such an approach in view of the already existing instruments relevant to expulsion in the human rights field and the field of refugee law. These doubts remain and it is our recommendation that the Commission do not give priority to this work on its agenda.
Shared natural resources
I would now like to turn to the issue of Shared natural resources. Let me first of all reiterate the view we expressed also last year, that the Nordic countries are in general pleased with the draft articles on transboundary aquifers, as the concept was more aptly renamed.
The Nordic countries still consider that the management challenges related to transboundary oil and gas reserves are quite different from those related to transboundary aquifers. While transboundary aquifers by their own nature may have an impact on or be of concern to a larger number of States, this is not the case for transboundary hydrocarbon deposits. The specific and complex issues related to transboundary oil and gas reserves have been adequately addressed in bilateral relations for a number of years, and do not seem to be causing insurmountable problems in practice. Legal certainty is key in dealing with these issues. This is provided for as States according to international law have a sovereign right to the exploitation of these resources, have a duty to cooperate in such cases and have entered into bilateral agreements to handle the individual cases specifically. This is key, in practice, to ensure a rational, effective and equitable exploitation between neighbours.
For these and other reasons noted earlier, including as regards the interface between inter-State treaties and commercial agreements between corporations related to transboundary field exploitation, it is our view that it may be more productive for the Commission to note the existence of such practice, rather than attempt to engage in a process of codification or otherwise further explore these complicated issues, in particular in light of the new topics emerging on the agenda of the ILC. We note that the response of States in this regard, whether in answering questionnaires or in expressing their views in this august body at earlier sessions, clearly seems to confirm such a cautious approach.
The Nordic countries are thus not persuaded that further codification work by the Commission on this topic will have added value. Instead it might inadvertently lead to more complexity and confusion in relation to transboundary oil and gas reserves, in what we have found to be fully functional working bilateral relationships.
The Obligation to Extradite or Prosecute
Finally, turning briefly to the topic of “The Obligation to Extradite or Prosecute” we would like to express our gratitude to the Special Rapporteur, Mr Galicki. As the Nordic countries have stated on earlier occasions, this is an important topic and an area where we believe there is substantial potential for the Commission to contribute to a better understanding of international law. The obligation to extradite or prosecute is of significant practical importance, and states and other actors of international law, are frequently faced with determining the scope and application of the relevant conventions. The topic is furthermore distinct from but in several ways related to the principle of universal jurisdiction; a key principle for the removal of cultures of impunity and, in the view of the Nordic countries, a central element in ensuring that there are no safe havens for those responsible for the most serious crimes.
Thus, the Nordic countries would be pleased to see further progress on the topic of the obligation to extradite or prosecute. We note with appreciation the establishment of a Working Group under the Commission. We look forward to more substantial discussions on this topic at next year’s General Assembly on the basis of further input from the Commission through the Special Rapporteur and the Working Group.
Thank you, Mr Chairman.