EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 In order to facilitate the work of the United Nations, its member states are divided into five regional groups.

 Israel is the only member state of the UN which is actively excluded from joining a regional group.

 This exclusion has severely disadvantaged Israel in a number of ways: its candidates cannot, as a matter of practice, be elected to many UN bodies; its right to vote in a number of UN bodies has been curtailed; and its right to participate in much UN decisionmaking has been severely abridged.

 This exclusion — in effect, discrimination — contradicts the concept of universality, supposedly at the core of the UN’s structure and work, and violates crucial charter principles:

  1. The right of states to be treated in accordance with the principle of sovereign equality.
  2. The right to vote and participate equally in the decisionmaking process at the General Assembly (GA).
  3. The right to participate equally in GA discussions.

 Ideally Israel should be admitted to the Asian group, the group to which Israel belongs on the basis of geographical location; there is no possibility of this occurring in the near future. In the meantime, the Western European and Others Group (WEOG) is the regional group to which Israel is best suited. WEOG has the framework to incorporate Israel and the UN bears a responsibility to redress Israel’s unjust exclusion from the Group System.

 

  1. IMPORTANCE OF GROUP SYSTEM[1]

[1] UN Watch would like to thank Avner M. Shapiro, Esq. for his substantial contribution to the preparation of this brief. UN Watch has consultative status with the UN through its affiliation with the World Jewish Congress.

Since the mid-1960’s the member states of the United Nations have been divided into five regional groups: the Western European and Others Group (WEOG), the African, the Asian, the Latin American and the Eastern European groups (the “Group System” — see Appendices A1-2).

Organized on a voluntary basis, the Group System is not provided for in the UN Charter. As the number of UN members has grown, however, the UN has increasingly relied on the Group System to facilitate the organization’s work.[2] The Group System is now integral to the way in which the UN manages the involvement of its member states.

Two of the most important UN organs, the General Assembly (GA) and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), have passed numerous resolutions granting the Group System a central role in UN elections.[3] These resolutions stipulate that representation at the UN is to be based on a predetermined ratio between the five regional groups[4] (see Appendices A5-A10).

Thus, the regional groups divide the elected positions of the GA and ECOSOC among themselves, selecting slates of candidates in advance of formal GA and ECOSOC elections.[5] Usually, formal elections merely rubber-stamp decisions already made by states selecting candidates from within their respective regional groups.[6]

The Group System is also used to select candidates for non-permanent seats on the Security Council (SC) and positions on the bench of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), as well as high offices in a number of other important UN bodies and agencies. The officers of UN international conference bureaus generally consist of representatives from each regional group.

The Group System also serves as the primary venue for many substantive negotiations, as well as an important channel for consultation on many procedural matters.[7] The Latin American Group, for example, meets weekly.[8] At these meetings states engage in a number of activities, including the formulation of common positions on issues of the day, decisions on slates of candidates for various posts in the GA and other UN organs, the drafting of proposals, and the coordination of common tactics to ensure the defeat or passage of proposals coming before the GA and other UN bodies.[9]

Informal negotiations and discussions within and between the regional groups have to some extent replaced debate in UN bodies.[10] In the case of the GA plenary, its procedural practices, such as half-hour time limits on speechmaking and limitations on the right of reply, have encouraged the GA’s reliance on prior meetings and deliberations of the regional groups.[11]

 

  1. BLATANT DISCRIMINATION

 

Although the Group System performs essential functions at the UN, Israel — a UN member state since 1949 — has never been admitted to a regional group and is the only UN member consciously excluded from the Group System (see Appendices A1-A2).

Israel’s exclusion from the Group System has harmed it in a number of ways. Most quantifiably, Israel’s representation at the UN has suffered because the regional groups generally promote only the candidacies of their own members.[12]

Israel cannot, as a matter of practice, be elected inter alia to three of the UN’s principal organs: the SC, ECOSOC and the ICJ. Israel has also been deprived of representation in all ECOSOC sub-bodies such as the Commission on Human Rights, as well as many other important UN organs, agencies, and committees.[13] Israel has no entrée to the bureaus established for UN international conferences.

Israelis have been elected to UN bodies only in those rare cases where the elections are ad personam and not dependent on the Group System. For the vast majority of elections, particularly in the principal UN organs, the Group System plays a decisive role in their outcome.[14]

Exclusion from the Group System has also undermined Israel’s ability to participate effectively in UN activities in ways unrelated to the issue of representation. Israel cannot participate in Group System meetings where important topics are discussed and decisions taken. Israel cannot rely on a regional group to increase its bargaining power when it interacts with other states.[15] Finally, unlike fellow members, Israel cannot look toward a regional group as a catalyst for cultivating the loyalty and support of like-minded states at the UN.[16]

Israel’s isolation, resulting from the anomaly of its exclusion from the Group System, has made it easier for Israel’s adversaries to generate international hostility against it at the UN. Over the last thirty years, Israel’s exclusion has aided the passage of hundreds of GA resolutions directed against Israeli interests.[17] For instance, Israel’s isolation at the GA arguably made it easier for states hostile to Israel to rally support in favor of the passage of GA Resolution 30/3379 (1975), since repealed, which equated Zionism with Racism.

 

  1. A VIOLATION OF THE PRINCIPLES OF THE UN CHARTER

 

Israel’s exclusion from the Group System violates fundamental Charter principles.

First, Article 2(1) of the UN Charter proclaims, “The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.” This Article defines “the position of member states with regard to and within the Organization.”[18] It enjoins “UN organs [to] . . . treat states equally,” and to “maintain equality among their member states.”[19]

The right of sovereign equality is the Charter’s primary organizational principle. It is pre-eminent in relations between member states and the UN.[20] This principle governs the activities of all UN organs, unless otherwise stated in the Charter.[21] According to the ICJ, “The equality of rights and obligations [of states] is, unless otherwise expressly provided, a fundamental feature of the Charter.”[22]

In terms of the GA, the Charter permits no deviation from the principle of sovereign equality.[23] To the contrary, the Charter affirms the supremacy of this principle at the GA by expressly guaranteeing equal voting rights to all member states regardless of their economic strength, military power, geography, population, or politics.[24] These provisions manifest an intent by the UN’s founders to enshrine the principle of sovereign equality at the GA as a check on strength of the Great Powers.[25]

As an integral part of the UN machinery, the Group System must operate in a manner consistent with the principle of sovereign equality.[26] While Articles 23, 33, 52 and 53 of the Charter assume a world organization resting on a number of closer, pre-existing associations of member states, “such arrangements are permissible only to the extent that they are consistent with the purposes and principles of the UN.”[27]

In affirming the principle of sovereign equality, the Charter endorses the notion that all states have an equal right to representation at the UN unless it expressly provides otherwise.[28] The Charter specifies procedures for preserving the right of all states to equal representation by mandating a maximum of five representatives per state in the GA and by granting each member state an equal vote in GA elections.[29] The GA’s own rules of procedure specify that elections should promote a “representative character” within UN organs.[30]

The Group System must operate in a manner that advances the cause of “equitable representation” within the UN. The UN originally mandated the Group System to control GA elections, in order to promote equitable representation and uphold the principle of sovereign equality.[31] During a 1963 debate, Iran’s representative to the GA’s Special Political Committee offered the following rationale for instituting such a system:

 

The decisions of the United Nations [will] be respected and its actions justified only if Member States [are] convinced that the Organization [is], in accordance with the provisions of Article 2(1) of the Charter, based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members …. it [is] difficult to see how fifty-odd Member States could feel that its decisions [are] just if they [are] not adequately represented in its various bodies. . . All [Member States] have the obligation to contribute to the maintenance of world peace and security and, by the same token, the right to participate in the work of the bodies entrusted with that task.[32]

 

In the case of Israel, the Group System has failed to function as intended. For thirty years the Group System has effectively deprived Israel of its right to equal representation at the UN. In so doing, the Group System has violated the principle of sovereign equality, a clear breach of international law.

Second, Israel’s exclusion from the Group System has denied it the right to vote and participate equally in the decisionmaking process at the GA, a right inherent in Article 18 of the Charter.[33] All states at the GA must “be placed in a position of equality as regards the taking of decisions, [and they must] all participate to the same extent in the process whereby the decisions are adopted.”[34]

In the GA, the Group System has been the primary forum for the taking of decisions on important substantive and procedural matters.[35] Israel has had no chance, let alone an equal chance, to participate in these decisions. Israel only casts its vote in the GA after the other states have essentially determined the outcome of votes through their respective regional groups. This unjust interference with the voting rights of a member state is not a political problem; rather, it represents a serious breach of international law.[36]

Third, pursuant to Article 10 of the Charter, the GA has a wide mandate to discuss a variety of issues.[37] When read in the context of the overriding Charter principle of sovereign equality, this Charter provision guarantees the equal right of states to participate in all GA discussions at whatever level and in whatever forum. Israel has been wrongly and unjustly excluded from regional group meetings where important discussions take place about matters which are later debated in the GA.[38] Therefore, the Group System has abridged Israel’s right to participate equally in GA deliberations, which is again a clear violation of international law.

The UN bears a special responsibility with regard to the continuation of these Charter violations. First, this discrimination contradicts the concept of universality, supposedly at the core of the UN’s structure and work. Second, although it did not create the Group System, the UN has endorsed its role through successive resolutions and become institutionally reliant on it. Therefore, the UN has an obligation to ensure that the Group System operates in conformity with the Charter. It is incumbent on the organization to take action to redress Israel’s exclusion from the Group System.

 

  1. ADMISSION TO WEOG IS THE BEST REMEDY

 

Israel’s ultimate aim is to join the Asian group, the group to which it belongs geographically. However, as a practical matter Israel cannot be admitted to this group in the near future. A state can only join a group if all members agree by consensus, and several members of the Asian group — such as Iran and Iraq — strongly oppose admitting Israel. This is the only group where individual members have actively opposed the admission of a state despite that state’s geographical suitability — perpetrating a case of rank discrimination against a UN member.

Until the Asian group accepts Israel, the easiest and best way to redress Israel’s exclusion from the Group System is for WEOG to admit Israel to its own ranks. As an interim solution, this is the regional group to which Israel is best suited for a number of reasons.

First, WEOG has admitted states, such as Australia and New Zealand which — like Israel — are not geographically located in Western Europe. In fact, WEOG is composed of states from three different continents (see Appendices A1-A2). Unlike the other regional groups, WEOG is not a true geographical grouping.

Second, the common denominator which binds WEOG members is the sharing of political, economic, cultural and ideological characteristics. Israel would find a natural home in WEOG because it shares those same objectives and characteristics.[39] For instance, as with the economies of the WEOG members, Israel’s economy is highly diversified and developed[40] (see Appendix A12).

Most GA votes pass either unanimously or with overwhelming majorities. Therefore, the extent to which Israel and WEOG share common objectives can be measured by examining those votes where the majority of WEOG’s member states voted in opposition to the majority of the GA.[41] This method demonstrates the extent to which both Israel and WEOG share a common agenda distinct from that of the GA’s majority.

Analyzing all votes between 1989 and 1994 where a majority of WEOG’s member states voted in opposition to the GA majority reveals that out of a total of 37 such votes, Israel voted with the WEOG majority on 31 occasions. Israel, therefore, voted with WEOG and against the GA majority in 84 percent of those votes (see Appendix A11).

Israel consistently voted with WEOG on those issues most clearly delineating WEOG as a distinct group. These included opposition to the approach taken by a GA majority in crafting the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear Weapons;[42] opposition to the GA majority’s attempts to undermine the UN’s ability to promote human rights forcefully;[43] and support for WEOG’s distinct economic policies.[44]

Israel’s voting solidarity with WEOG compares favorably with that of other WEOG states. Of 20 states analyzed (19 WEOG members and Israel), Israel was tenth most likely to vote with the WEOG majority (see Appendix A11). Furthermore, on those occasions when Israel did not vote with the WEOG majority, it chose to abstain.

Israel’s voting record reflects the important economic, scientific and cultural ties it shares with the Western European members of WEOG.[45] The 1970 and 1975 commercial agreements between Israel and the European Common Market effectively abolished almost all trade barriers on manufactured goods between them and significantly reduced tariffs on agricultural products.[46] Western Europe is now by far Israel’s largest trading partner.[47] In 1994 Israel’s exports of goods to Western Europe totalled $5.3 billion (31.3 percent of Israel’s total exports), while Israel’s imports from Western Europe totalled $14.3 billion (60.1 percent of Israel’s total imports).[48]

Israel has worked closely with Western European states and organizations on scientific research and development.[49] Among these cooperative ventures has been Israel’s participation in the European Union’s Directorate for Research, Science and Education.[50] Israel has also played an active role in scientific committees of the European division of UNESCO and in CERN.

In the last two years, the Western European states and Israel have continued to strengthen their economic, scientific and political ties. In December 1994 the EU’s leaders declared their intention to accord special status to Israel in its relations with the EU and, in October 1995, the EU and Israel initialled the draft of a groundbreaking free trade agreement.[51]

While Israel has long been suitable for membership in WEOG, recent progress toward resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict now offers WEOG the opportunity to admit Israel into its ranks, thereby making a positive contribution to the Middle East Peace Process.

 

5. CONCLUSION

 

As a result of exclusion from the Group System, Israel’s rights have been seriously prejudiced. Its representation at the UN has been severely compromised and its ability to participate in all manner of UN activities severely curtailed.

This exclusion puts the Group System at odds with the principle of universality which supposedly lies at the heart of the UN’s structure and work, as well as violating three fundamental Charter principles: the right of states to be treated in accordance with the principle of sovereign equality, the right to vote and participate equally in decisionmaking at the GA, and the right to participate equally in GA discussions.

Although the UN did not create the Group System, it has become institutionally reliant on it. Thus the UN bears responsibility to redress the current Charter violations.

Ideally, Israel should be admitted to the Asian group; however, this group excludes Israel from its ranks. The optimal solution for the present is Israel’s admission to WEOG. Israel would find a natural home amongst its members. By so admitting Israel, WEOG would redress blatant Charter violations, as well as making a timely and meaningful contribution to the Middle East Peace Process.

At the end of the day the equation is simple: either Israel is admitted to a regional group or the Group System will continue to operate in violation of the Charter. The latter scenario is unacceptable. Not only does it put the UN at odds with its own constitution but it casts a rent in the moral fabric upon which the UN was founded.

 

APPENDIX

 

THE REGIONAL GROUPS

 

AFRICAN REGIONAL GROUP

 

Algeria                                                  Gabon                                       Niger

Angola                                                  Gambia                                     Nigeria

Benin                                                    Ghana                                       Rwanda

Botswana                                             Guinea                                      Sao Tome and Principe

Burkina Faso                                        Guinea-Bissau                          Senegal

Burundi                                                 Kenya                                       Seychelles

Cameroon                                             Lesotho                                    Sierra Leone

Cape Verde                                           Liberia                                      Somalia

Central African Republic                       Libyan Arab Jamahiriya           South Africa

Chad                                                     Madagascar                             Sudan

Comoros                                               Malawi                                     Swaziland

Congo                                                   Mali                                          Togo

Côte d’Ivoire                                         Mauritania                                Tunisia

Djibouti                                                 Mauritius                                  Uganda

Equatorial Guinea                                 Mozambique                 United Republic of Tanzania

Eritrea                                                   Namibia                                     Zambia

Ethiopia                                                                                                 Zimbabwe

 

 

ASIAN REGIONAL GROUP

 

Afghanistan                                            Kazakhstan                                 Philippines

Bahrain                                                   Kuwait                                      Qatar

Bangladesh                                            Kyrgyzstan                               Republic of Korea

Bhutan                                                   Laos P.D.R.                               Samoa

Brunei Darussalam                                Lebanon                                   Saudi Arabia

Cambodia                                              Malaysia                                   Singapore

China                                                     Maldives                                   Solomon Islands

Cyprus                                                   Marshall Islands                       Sri Lanka

D.P.R. Korea                                          Micronesia                                Syrian Arab Republic

Fiji                                                          Mongolia                                  Tajikistan

India                                                       Myanmar                                  Thailand

Indonesia                                               Nepal                                        Turkmenistan

Iraq                                                         Oman                                       United Arab Emirates

Islamic Republic of Iran                         Pakistan                                    Vanuatu

Japan                                                     Palau                                         Viet Nam

Jordan                                                   Papua New Guinea                   Yemen

 

 

EASTERN EUROPEAN REGIONAL GROUP

 

Albania                                                  Czech Republic                          Romania

Armenia                                                 Georgia                                      Russian Federation

Azerbaijan                                              Hungary                                     Slovakia

Belarus                                                   Latvia                               The Former Yugoslav

Bosnia and Herzegovina                        Lithuania                         Republic of Macedonia

Croatia                                               Republic of Moldova                       Ukraine

 

 

LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN REGIONAL GROUP

 

Antigua and Barbuda                            Dominican Republic                  Paraguay

Argentina                                               Ecuador                                     Peru

Bahamas                                               El Salvador                                Saint Kitts and Nevis

Barbados                                              Grenada                                     Saint Lucia

Belize                                                    Guatemala                                 St. Vincent/Grenadines

Bolivia                                                   Guyana                                      Surinam

Brazil                                                      Haiti                                          Trinidad and Tobago

Chile                                                      Honduras                                  Uruguay

Colombia                                               Jamaica                                     Venezuela

Costa Rica                                             Mexico

Cuba                                                      Nicaragua

Dominica                                                Panama

 

 

WESTERN EUROPEAN AND OTHERS GROUP

 

Andorra                                               Greece                                       New Zealand

Australia                                               Iceland                                      Norway

Austria                                                  Ireland                                       Portugal

Belgium                                                Italy                                           San Marino

Canada                                                Liechtenstein                             Spain

Denmark                                              Luxembourg                              Sweden

Finland                                                 Malta                                          Turkey

France                                                  Monaco                                      United Kingdom

Germany                                              Netherlands                               *United States

 

*The United States is an ad hoc member of WEOG. It attends WEOG meetings as an observer and is considered to be a member of that group for electoral purposes.

 


EXTRACTS OF RELEVANT ARTICLES FROM UN CHARTER

 

Article 2

 

  1. The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.

 

Article 10

 

The General Assembly may discuss any questions or any matters within the scope of the present Charter or relating to the powers and functions of any organs provided for in the present Charter, and except as provided in Article 12, may make recommendations to the Members of the United Nations or to the Security Council or to both on any such questions or matters.

 

 

Article 18

 

  1. Each member of the General Assembly shall have one vote.

 

  1. Decisions of the General Assembly on important questions shall be made by a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting. These questions shall include: recommendations with respect to the maintenance of international peace and security, the election of the members of the Economic and Social Council, the election of members of the Trusteeship Council in accordance with paragraph 1(c) of Article 86, the admission of new Members to the United Nations, the suspension of the rights and privileges of membership, the expulsion of Members, questions relating to the operation of the trusteeship system, and budgetary questions.

 

  1. Decisions on other questions, including the determination of additional categories of questions to be decided by a two-thirds majority, shall be made by a majority of the members present and voting.

 

Article 23

 

  1. The Security Council shall consist of fifteen Members of the United Nations. The Republic of China, France, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America shall be permanent members of the Security Council. The General Assembly shall elect ten other Members of the United Nations to be non-permanent members of the Security Council, due regard being specially paid, in the first instance to the contribution of Members of the United Nations to the maintenance of international peace and security and to the other purposes of the Organization, and also to equitable geographical distribution.

 

  1. The non-permanent members of the Security Council shall be elected for a term of two years. In the first election of the non-permanent members after the increase of the membership of the Security Council from eleven to fifteen, two of the four additional members shall be chosen for a term of one year. A retiring member shall not be eligible for immediate re-election.

 

 Article 52

 

  1. Nothing in the present Charter precludes the existence of regional arrangements or agencies for dealing with such matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security as are appropriate for regional action, provided that such arrangements or agencies and their activities are consistent with the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations.

 

 

RELEVANT GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLUTIONS

 

RESOLUTION 18/1991 A, as recommended by Special Political Committee, A/5675, adopted by the GA on 17 December 1963, meeting 1285, by roll-call vote of 97 to 11, with 4 abstentions:

 

The General Assembly,

Considering that the present composition of the Security Council is inequitable and unbalanced,

Recognizing that the increase in the membership of the United Nations makes it necessary to enlarge the membership of the Security Council, thus providing for a more adequate geographical representation of non-permanent members and making it a more effective organ for carrying out its functions under the Charter of the United Nations,

Bearing in mind the conclusions and recommendations of the Committee on arrangements for a conference for the purpose of reviewing the Charter,

  1. Decides to adopt, in accordance with Article 108 of the Charter of the United Nations, the following amendments to the Charter and to submit them for ratification by the States Members of the United Nations:

(a) In Article 23, paragraph 1, the word “eleven” in the first sentence shall be replaced by the word “fifteen”, and the word “six” in the third sentence by the word “ten”;

(b)        In Article 23, paragraph 2, the second sentence, shall then be reworded as follows:

“In the first election of the non-permanent members after the increase of the membership of the Security Council from eleven to fifteen, two of the four additional members shall be chosen for a term of one year;”

(c)         In Article 27, paragraph 2, the word “seven” shall be replaced by the word “nine”;

(d)        In Article 27, paragraph 3, the word “seven” shall be replaced by the word “nine”;

  1. Calls upon all Member States to ratify the above amendments in accordance with their respective constitutional processes, by 1 September 1965;
  2. Further decides that the ten non-permanent members of the Security Council shall be elected according to the following pattern:

(a)         Five from the African and Asian States;

(b)        One from the Eastern European States;

(c)         Two from Latin American States;

(d)        Two from Western European and other States.

 

 

RESOLUTION 18/1991 B, as recommended by Special Political Committee, A/5675, adopted by Assembly on 17 December 1963, meeting 1285, by roll-call vote of 96 to 11, with 5 abstentions:

 

 The General Assembly,

Recognizing that the increase in the membership of the United Nations makes it necessary to enlarge the membership of the Economic and Social Council with a view to providing for a more adequate geographical representation therein and making it a more effective organ for carrying out its functions under Chapters IX and X of the Charter of the United Nations;

Recalling Economic and Social Council resolutions 974 B and C (XXXVI) of 22 July 1963;

Bearing in mind the conclusions and recommendations of the Committee on arrangements for a conference for the purpose of reviewing the Charter,

  1. Decides to adopt, in accordance with Article 108 of the Charter of the United Nations, the following amendment to the Charter and to submit it for ratification by the States Members of the United Nations:

 

Article 61

 

  1. The Economic and Social Council shall consist of twenty-seven Members of the United Nations elected by the General Assembly.
  2. Subject to the Provisions of paragraph 3, nine members of the Economic and Social Council shall be elected each year for a term of three years. A retiring member shall be eligible for immediate re-election.
  3. At the first election after the increase in the membership of the Economic and Social Council from eighteen to twenty-seven members, in addition to the members elected in place of the six members whose term of office expires at the end of that year, nine additional members shall be elected. Of these nine additional members, the term of office of three members so elected shall expire at the end of one year, and of three other members at the end of two years, in accordance with arrangements made by the General Assembly.
  4. Each member of the Economic and Social Council shall have one representative,

 

  1. Calls upon all Member States to ratify the above amendment, in accordance with their respective constitutional processes, by 1 September 1965;
  2. Further decides that, without prejudice to the present distribution of seats in the Economic and Social Council, the nine additional members shall be elected according to the following pattern:

(a)         Seven from African and Asian States;

(b)        One from Latin American States;

(c)         One from Western European and other States.

 

RESOLUTION 18/1992, as proposed by Second Committee, adopted by Assembly on 17 December 1963, meeting 1285, by roll-call vote of 96 to 0, with 11 abstentions:

 

 The General Assembly,

Bearing in mind the overwhelming will of the Member States that the Economic and Social Council be enlarged and its membership redistributed to reflect correctly the membership of the United Nations;

Noting with satisfaction Economic and Social Council resolution 36/974 C of 22 July 1963 on the enlargement of the Economic and Social Council, adopted by the Council at the initiative of the Economic Commission for Africa;

Noting that many subsidiary bodies of the Economic and Social Council are already larger than the Council itself and that it is within the council’s competence, in accordance with Article 68 of the Charter of the United Nations, to determine the membership of all its subsidiary bodies;

Desiring, as an interim measure and pending the enlargement of the Economic and Social Council itself to improve forthwith the representative character of the subsidiary bodies of the Council,

Invites the Economic and Social Council at its resumed thirty-sixth session to enlarge the membership of the Economic Committee, the Social Committee and the Co-ordination Committee and to carry out forthwith necessary elections so as to permit these committees to become, without delay, representative of the membership of the United Nations.

 

RESOLUTION 26/2847, as recommended by Special Political Committee, was adopted by Assembly on 20 December 1971 by a recorded vote.

 

 The General Assembly,

 Recognizing that an enlargement of the Economic and Social Council will provide broad representation of the United Nations membership as a whole and make the Council a more effective organ for carrying out its functions under Chapters IX and X of the Charter of the United Nations;

Having considered the report of the Economic and Social Council,

  1. Takes note of Economic and Social Council resolution 1621 (LI) of 30 July 1971;
  2. Decides to adopt, in accordance with Article 108 of the Charter of the United Nations, the following amendment to the Charter and to submit it for ratification by the States Members of the United Nations.

 

Article 61

 

  1. The Economic and Social Council shall consist of fifty-four Members of the United Nations elected by the General Assembly.
  2. Subject to the provisions of paragraph 3, eighteen members of the Economic and Social Council shall be elected each year for a term of three years. A retiring member shall be eligible for immediate re-election.
  3. At the first election after the increase in the membership of the Economic and Social Council from twenty-seven to fifty-four members, in addition to the members elected in place of the nine members whose term of office expires at the end of that year, twenty-seven additional members shall be elected. Of these twenty-seven additional members, the term of office of nine members so elected shall expire at the end of one year, and of nine other members at the end of two years, in accordance with arrangements made by the General Assembly.
  4. Each member of the Economic and Social Council shall have one representative.

 

  1. Urges all Member States to ratify the above amendment in accordance with their respective constitutional processes as soon as possible and to deposit their instruments of ratification with the Secretary-General;
  2. Further decides that the members of the Economic and Social Council shall be elected according to the following pattern:

(a)         Fourteen members from African States;

(b)        Eleven members from Asian States;

(c)        Ten members from Latin American States;

(d)        Thirteen members from Western European and other States;

(e)         Six members from the socialist States of Eastern Europe.

  1. Welcomes the decision of the Economic and Social Council, pending the receipt of the necessary ratifications, to enlarge its sessional committees to fifty-four members.
  2. Invites the Economic and Social Council, as soon as possible and not later than the organizational meetings of its fifty-second session, to elect the twenty-seven additional members from States Members of the United Nations to serve on the enlarged sessional committees; such elections should be in accordance with paragraph 4 above and should be held each year pending the coming into force of the enlargement of the Council;
  3. Decides that as of the date of the entry into force of the above amendments, rule 147 of the rules of procedure of the General Assembly shall be amended to read:

 

Rule 147

 The General Assembly shall each year, in the course of its regular session elect eighteen members of the Economic and Social Council for a term of three years.

 

RESOLUTION 33/138, as recommended by Special Political Committee, adopted by Assembly on 19 December by recorded vote of 105 to 29, with 3 abstentions:

 

 The General Assembly,

Recognizing that the composition of the various organs of the United Nations should be so constituted as to ensure their representative character;

Taking into account the considerable increase in the membership of the United Nations;

Recalling its resolution 18/1990 of 17 December 1963;

Taking also into account that the General Committee of the General Assembly should be enlarged with a view to providing for a more adequate geographical representation;

Believing that it is desirable to distribute the vice-presidencies of the General Assembly and the chairmanships of the Main Committees separately between the African and Asian States;

Noting that the General Committee is composed of the President of the General Assembly, the Vice-Presidents of the Assembly and the Chairmen of the Main Committees,

  1. Decides to amend rules 31 and 38 of its rule of procedure as follows:

 

Rule 31

 The General Assembly shall elect a President and twenty-one Vice-Presidents, who shall hold office until the close of the session at which they are elected. The Vice-Presidents shall be elected, after the election of the Chairmen of the seven Main Committees referred to in rule 98, in such a way as to ensure the representative character of the General Committee.

 

Rule 38

 The General Committee shall comprise the President of the General Assembly, who shall preside, the twenty-one Vice Presidents and the Chairmen of the seven Main Committees. No two members of the General Committee shall be members of the same delegation, and it shall be so constituted as to ensure its representative character. Chairmen of other committees upon which all Members have the right to be represented and which are established by the General Assembly to meet during the session shall be entitled to attend meetings of the General Committee and may participate without vote in the discussions.

  1. Decides to replace the annex to General Assembly resolution 18/1990 by the annex to the present resolution concerning the election of the President of the General Assembly, the twenty-one Vice-Presidents of the Assembly and the seven Chairmen of the Main Committees;

Decides to include in the agenda of its thirty-fourth session the item entitled Question of the composition of the relevant organs of the United Nations.

 

ANNEX

 

  1. In the election of the President of the General Assembly, regard shall be had for equitable geographical rotation of this office among the regions mentioned in paragraph 4 below.
  2. The twenty-one Vice-Presidents of the General Assembly shall be elected according to the following pattern, subject to paragraph 3 below:

(a)         Six representatives from African States;

(b)        Five representatives from Asian States;

(c)         One representative from an Eastern European State;

(d)        Three representatives from Latin American States;

(e)         Two representatives from Western European or other States;

(f)         Five representatives from the permanent members of the Security Council.

  1. The election of the President of the General Assembly will, however, have the effect of reducing by one the number of vice-presidencies allocated to the region from which the President is elected.
  2. The seven Chairmen of the Main Committees shall be elected according to the following pattern:

(a)         Two representatives from African States;

(b)        One representative from an Asian State;

(c)         One representative from an Eastern European State;

(d)        One representative from a Latin American State;

(e)         One representative from a Western European or other State;

(f)         The seventh chairmanship shall rotate every alternate year among representatives of States mentioned in sub-paragraphs (b) and (d) above.

MEASUREMENT OF THE EXTENT TO WHICH

WEOG’S MEMBER STATES AND ISRAEL

SHARE WEOG ‘S OBJECTIVES

 

The chart below lists the number of times members of WEOG and Israel voted with the WEOG majority in all instances between 1989-1994 (44th GA Session – 48th GA Session) where the WEOG majority voted in opposition to the GA majority.

 

 

44th         45th         46th         47th        48th

Session     Session     Session     Session   Session

 

AUSTRIA                  3               2               5             4             5            total N=     19

SPAIN                       6               3               3             4             4            total N=     20

IRELAND                   3               5               6             4             5            total N=     23

GERMANY                8               7               9             0             1            total N=     25

NEW ZEALAND         7               6               7             5             3            total N=     28

AUSTRALIA              7               6               8             6             4            total N=     31

FINLAND                   5               5               9             6             6            total N=     31

PORTUGAL               7               6               7             6             5            total N=     31

SWEDEN                   5               5               9             6             6            total N=     31

 ISRAEL*                   4               6               9             6             6            total N=     31

DENMARK                7               7               9             7             5            total N=     35

FRANCE                    8               7               8             7             5            total N=     35

ICELAND                   6               7               9             7             6            total N=     35

BELGIUM                  7               7               9             7             6            total N=     36

ITALY                       8               7               8             7             6            total N=     36

LUXEMBOURG          8               7               8             7             6            total N=     36

NORWAY                  8               7               9             6             6            total N=     36

CANADA                   8               7               9             7             6            total N=     37

NETHERLANDS         8               7               9             7             6            total N=     37

U.K.                          8               7               9             7             6            total N=     37

 

 

 

[1] UN Watch would like to thank Avner M. Shapiro, Esq. for his substantial contribution to the preparation of this brief. UN Watch has consultative status with the UN through its affiliation with the World Jewish Congress.

[2] M. Petterson, The General Assembly in World Politics (1986) 102, 105.

[3] GA Resolutions 18/1990 (1963), 18/1991(1963), 33/138 (1978), 26/2847(1971), 28/3108 (1973), 43/222 (1988), 36/39 (1981), 35/16 (1980), 31/192 (1976); ECOSOC Resolutions 1981/50 (1981), 1147/XLI (1966), 1535/XLIX (1970), 1993/207 (1993), 1990/48 (1990), 1989/45 (1989).

[4] Id.

[5]A/SPC/33/SR.48 para. 5, 6; Wolfrum and Philipp at 75; H. G. Nicholas The United Nations as a Political Institution (1975) 130.

[6] Petterson at 102-104.

[7] Petterson at 103.

[8] Sydney Bailey, United Nations: A Concise Political Guide (1994) at 39, 43.

[9] Petterson at 92.

[10] A/SPC/33/SR.48 para. 78; Petterson at 27-40.

[11] Petterson at 31-39.

[12] See United Nations Handbook, New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (1965-1995).

[13] Id.

[14] Wolfrum at 71.

[15] Petterson at 102; Wolfrum at 75.

[16] Petterson at 45.

[17] Avi Beker, The United Nations and Israel: From Recognition to Reprehension (1988) at 610; Petterson at 27.

[18] Djura Nincic, The Problem of Sovereignty in the Charter and in the Practice of the United Nations (1970) 36; Leland Goodrich, Edward Hambro, and Anne Patricia Simons, Charter of the United Nations: Commentary and Documents (1969) 156.

[19] Bruno Sima, The Charter of the United Nations: A Commentary (1994) 78, 88.

[20] Certain Expenses U.N., ICJ Reports (1962) 197. See also Georg Schwartzenberger, International Law, International Courts and Tribunals (1976) 206; Bernard Gilson, The Conceptual System of Sovereign Equality (1984) 548.

[21] Schwartzenberger at 206.

[22] Aerial Incident, ICJ Reports (1959) 177.

[23] Nincic at 123.

[24] Article 18, UN Charter (see Appendix A3); Nincic at 123; Norman Bentwich and Andrew Martin, Commentary on the United Nations Charter (1969) 51.

[25] Robert A. Klein, Sovereign Equality Among States: The History of an Idea (1974) 127, 166.

[26] Petterson at 105; Bailey at 38.

[27] Bentwich at 35; see also Nicholas at 132.

[28] Aerial Incident, ICJ Reports (1959) 177.

[29] Article 9, UN Charter; Article 18, UN Charter (see Appendix A3).

[30] See Rules 31 and 38, GA’s Rules of Procedure.

[31] A/SPC/18/SR. 421 para 15, 25; A/SPC/18/SR. 425 para. 6, 23; A/SPC/18/SR. 428 para 27, 60; A/SPC/33/SR. 48 para 90; A/SPC/33/SR. 26 para 16.

[32] A/SPC/18/SR.425 para. 26.

[33]See Appendix A3.

[34] Nincic at 118; Herbert Weinshel, “The Doctrine of the Equality of States and its Recent Modifications,” AJIL, Vol. 45, no. 3. (July 1951) 438.

[35] Wolfrum at 75.

[36] Mosul Case, Advisory Opinion of PCIJ 1925. The Court held that activities affecting the voting procedures of the League of Nations constituted a legal problem that could not be treated as merely a political problem.

[37] See Appendix A3.

[38] Petterson at 27, 40.

[39] See B. Russet, Discovering Voting Groups in the United Nations,” American Political Science Review (Vol 60) (1966) 327-339.

[40] Greilsammer at 54; OECD Report (1995).

[41] See Thomas Hovet, Jr., Bloc Politics in the United Nations; Marin-Bosch, “How Nations Vote in the General Assembly,” International Organization (Vol. 47) (1987) 705-724.

[42] GA Resolution 44/117(C)(1990), GA Resolution 44/119(B) (1990).

[43] GA Resolution 48/124 (1994), GA Resolution 48/123 (1994).

[44] GA Resolution 46/52 (1992), GA Resolution 46/210 (1992).

[45] Ed. H. Giersch, The Economic Integration of Israel in the EEC (1980) 13.

[46] Ilan Greilsammer and Joseph H. Weiler, Europe and Israel: Troubled Neighbors (1988) 56-59.

[47] Central Bureau of Statistics (Israel) Foreign Trade Department.

[48] Id.

[49] Greilsammer at 340-341.

[50] Greilsammer at 339.

[51] See Israeli Cabinet Decision Regarding Free Trade Treaty with European Union – Jerusalem, 7 June 1995.

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