Magazine article UN Chronicle

Charter Committee Drafts Declaration on UN Fact-Finding Activities

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Charter Committee Drafts Declaration on UN Fact-Finding Activities

Article excerpt

Fact-finding missions to troubled areas may soon become another powerful tool in the UN arsenal to maintain international peace and security. A declaration that defines and institutionalizes the use of such missions--not only to gather information but also to signal concern over a potentially explosive situation and thus help defuse it--is expected to be adopted by the General Assembly later in 1991.

The draft declaration was adopted without a vote by the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization at the end of its three-week sessions (4-22 February, New York).

Fact-finding missions have been sent by the UN to a number of trouble-spots over the past 45 years, on a pragmatic, occasional, case-by-case basis. The declaration sets clear, legal and political parameters for fact-finding, stresses its value and opens the door for more comprehensive, ongoing use of this tool, particularly by the Secretary-General.

Fact-finding should be "comprehensive, objective and impartial", the declaration states. It should be used at the earliest possible stage to prevent disputes. Fact-finding missions may be undertaken by the Security Council, the General Assembly and the Secretary-General, with the consent of the "receiving State". Nations, however, are asked to receive and cooperate with these missions. Refusals to do so should be explained.

The Secretary-General should monitor conflicts which may threaten international peace and security, and bring relevant information to the attention of the Council. …

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