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 not "enacted'

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 (CTBT).

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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