SEP 3 2000
UN wants states to ratify core treaties at summit
Kofi Annan asks leaders to sign those treaties they have not
yet signed, and ratify those treaties that they have signed but
By R. SENTHINATHAN IN GENEVA
WHEN world leaders gather for a high level summit in New York
next week, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan wants from them
more than just lofty words about solving global problems. He
wants them to do some signing as well.
Mr Annan wants the leaders and foreign ministers attending the
three-day Millennium Summit, scheduled to start on Wednesday
at the UN headquarters in New York, to sign the large number of
treaties that the countries have adopted over the years but have
been left in limbo.
In a letter he sent to heads of state, he asked them to ""rededicate
themselves to the international legal framework''.
In other words, sign and ratify the more than 500 treaties that
they themselves adopted to regulate inter-state relations and
every aspect of human life on earth.
In particular, the Secretary-General has chosen 25 core treaties
and conventions that reflect the goal and work of the UN, and
wants them to be ratified at the summit, considered to be the
largest gathering of world leaders ever.
These treaties cover human rights, disarmament, penal issues
and the environment.
They include the 1997 landmine treaty, the 1998 agreement on
establishing the International Criminal Court, the 1989
Convention on Rights of the Child, the 1951 convention on
refugees, and the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
The UN, or rather the Secretary-General as its head, is the
custodian of a whopping number of 517 treaties that were
written and adopted during the course of the past century.
Even though only 64 of the 517 treaties are not yet in force, the
issue is the lack of universal acceptance to a good number of
treaties and conventions that are in force.
Some treaties are accepted worldwide, as proved by the number
of countries that have ratified them. The 1989 Convention of the
Rights of the Child, for instance, has been accepted by 191
countries, but the 1990 Convention for the Protection of Migrant
Workers, on the other hand, has only 12 parties.
Left in limbo is also the CTBT, which was adopted with much
publicity in 1996. It has been signed by 155 states, but ratified by
only 56 countries.
According to Palitha Kohana, head of the Treaty Section at the
UN's Legal Affairs division, 78 countries have responded
positively to Mr Annan's letter.
However, the United States, the most powerful nation in the
world as well as within the UN system itself, is not among the
78, UN officials said.
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