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United Nations - Office of Legal Affairs

Strategy for an Era of Application
of International Law - Action Plan

Adopted by the Senior Management Group and Approved by the Secretary-General, June 2000

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B. Suggested Actions

1. Encouraging Participation in Multilateral Treaties

This Action Plan is directed towards promoting compliance by States with the treaties they have ratified. At the same time, it is beyond dispute that measures to promote wider and faster participation in multilateral treaties will both complement and reinforce a programme that is aimed at ensuring greater compliance with those same treaties (1).

Many multilateral treaties of potential global application remain unsigned by a large number of States or, though signed, unratified. The objective of creating a global framework of binding norms in the areas concerned is consequently frustrated, particularly in those cases in which the treaties are prevented from entering into force.

A) The Secretary-General may wish to use his unique position to advocate the signature and ratification of treaties. The following suggestions are made with a view to enhancing the effectiveness of such advocacy:

A list of a dozen or so key multilateral treaties should be compiled by EOSG, in consultation with relevant Secretariat units, Programmes, Funds and Agencies, which treaties should be the subject of a focused and sustained campaign;

The Secretary-General may wish to make it a standard practice to use the opportunities provided by bilateral contacts, such as country visits and meetings with Heads of State or Government, as well as multilateral meetings and statements to the press, to advocate signature and ratification of these key treaties;

Reports of the Secretary-General to political organs might also be used for this purpose;

The Secretary-General may, as and when appropriate, write directly to Heads of State or Government encouraging signature and ratification of the selected treaties;

Target audiences of the Secretary-General's advocacy should also include non-State actors, NGOs and other groups in civil society with a particular interest in specific treaties, with a view to enlisting their support.

B) The following additional steps might also be taken to promote signature and ratification of the selected treaties that are the subject of the campaign:DPI, in collaboration with OLA and other relevant offices, might initiate a campaign to raise consciousness amongst parliamentarians, public policy research centres, legal professional associations and the public at large both of the selected treaties and of their status as to signature and ratification;

The assistance of the secretariats of the regional commissions, treaty secretariats and the secretariats of the specialized agencies should be sought for this campaign, as well as the assistance of Regional Centres, UNICs and UNDP country teams;

The assistance of particular NGOs working in relevant fields might be sought to encourage Governments to sign and ratify the treaties concerned;

Small,high-level missions might be sent to capitals to contact government officials with direct responsibility for the signature and ratification of the selected treaties;

A solemn ceremony might be organized in connection with the Millennium Summit to encourage visiting dignitaries to sign the treaties or, if possible, deposit their instruments of ratification or accession. In this connection:

Assistance in, and support for, this initiative should be sought from Permanent Missions, NGOs, the regional commissions, UN Programmes, Funds and Agencies, Regional Centres, UNICs and the specialized agencies;

The Treaty Section of OLA should take special measures to provide technical assistance to Permanent Missions regarding the completion of the necessary treaty formalities;

A book might be produced for distribution at the Summit, containing a list of conventions deposited with the Secretary-General highlighting the treaties that are the focus of the campaign, with a brief introduction to each treaty written by an internationally recognised personality closely associated with the treaties concerned explaining its importance. (2)

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