By OLIVIA MILNE, THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
As Session VI of the Conference begins and negotiations over draft resolutions enter their final stages, the delegates of the Legal Committee have shared concerns over maintaining national sovereignty. In today’s session, many are worried that a proposed draft resolution addressing the topic of universal jurisdiction will disrupt national autonomy.
The draft resolution mainly attempts to address the issue of seeking justice for international crimes, defining what these crimes are. It aims to describe how these crimes can be prosecuted and brought to justice. The delegation of Saudi Arabia described the draft resolution as being full of loopholes. “It is not taking different cultures into consideration,” said the Saudi delegate. They called for more explicit guidelines about how investigations into international crimes will be carried out, concerned that these investigations will violate national sovereignty.
The delegation of China also expressed concerns over this issue. They praised the resolution as an impressive document, however they also called for better definitions of exactly what constitutes international crimes. The resolution states what these crimes are, however China is concerned that many nations interpret what falls under these crimes differently. China is concerned that cultural differences between the nations present in the committee will make providing clear universal definitions nearly impossible, and that any definitions that can be provided will not maintain the national sovereignty of nations.
France also expressed concerns over the resolution clause dealing with revising bank accounts. Although they recognized that maintaining order in the financial world is an important goal, the French delegation is concerned that the clause regarding bank accounts violates bank secrecy. Without bank secrecy, France’s delegation argued, national sovereignty cannot possibly be upheld under the current version of the draft resolution.
However, several nations also spoke in favor of the resolution, arguing that there are aspects of it that to try to uphold national autonomy. The delegation from Thailand stated that under they resolution, summons and counsel are offered to national and regional lawyers and judges. The purpose of this counsel is to provide all law bodies with a complete and thorough understanding of universal jurisdiction, and how it applies to their proceedings. By providing nations with knowledge of exactly how universal jurisdiction works, Thailand argued that this would provide nations with a form of national sovereignty over their legal affairs.
The delegation of France described the committee’s debate over this issue well, “There are two types of distance. Physical distance, and distance of ideas. Right now, we have a distance of ideas in this committee.” It was clear in today’s Legal Committee session that any draft resolution must thoroughly address the issue of national sovereignty if it has any chance of passing by the end of the sixth committee session.