12-13 December 2012 – The UNITAR New York Office jointly with the Office of Legal Affairs, International Treaty Law and Practice section held its bi-annual workshop in New York, welcoming some 60 delegates.  Ms. Gabriel Goettsche-Wanli, Chief of the Treaty Section, introduced the workshop with an overview of the Treaty section, and emphasized that some of the greatest achievements of treaty practice include the advancement of norms and standards in international law.  Mr. Stephen Mathias, Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, further explained the importance of treaty law making. In fact, Mr. Mathias pointed out that the necessity for enhancing the awareness of multilateral treaty affairs, as treaties are crucial to sustaining the rule of law.

In 2012, the UNITAR/OLA Treaty Law collaboration included a new dimension to the training event – a focus on a contemporary treaty concern. As the commitments of Kyoto Protocol were to conclude, this workshop highlighted the issue of Environmental Treaty Law and the treaty implications of the outcome of the Doha Climate Change Conference held in December 2012.  Ambassador Mr. Antonio Pedro Monteiro Lima of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Cape Verde to the United Nations gave an illuminating presentation based on his participation in Doha, as well as in climate change conferences in inter alia Copenhagen, Cancun and Bali. He beseeched for the international community to enter into a binding treaty to stem the colossal impact of climate change, “after 2017 we may not have any possibility to do more to reverse the effects of climate change,” noting the grave consequences for some Island States. 

Another diplomat attending the Doha Conference was Ms. Rima Cempaka, First Secretary of the Permission of Indonesia, who pointed out Indonesia’s geographic concerns regarding climate change, and agreed with Ambassador Lima that the Conference did not bring about immediate change.  She did point out, however, that there was a pledge to look at a new treaty in 2020.  Other issues of concern for a treaty included: technology transfer, creation of standards.  Professor Elizabeth Burleson, Pace Law School, attended Doha as a NGO representative. She appealed for strengthened treaty law measures for climate change, which could come about only through committed political will and pointed out the financial implications of dealing with it now, versus dealing with it later. Another Doha participant, Ms. Maria Socorro Manguiat, with the UNFCCC in Bonn, joined via Skype.  She discussed the effect of when [Kyoto] treaty commitment period lapses - the commitment is no longer valid. A new configuration is needed and nations should not put aside a treaty for climate change.

Ms. Dina Hamdy, Legal Officer, OLA Treaty Section continued the focus on treaty law making, discussing the importance of depositing multilateral treaties with the Secretary-General. There are some 558 treaties deposited with the Secretary-General, and a State’s failure to deposit the treaty will preclude the treaty having any legal effect. Mr. Carlos Ivan Fuentes, Associate Legal Officer, OLA Treaty Section, explained mandate of Article 102 of the UN Charter, as well as the Article 80 under the Vienna Convention to submit a treaty for registration and publication after their entry into force. He enumerated the registration procedures.

Ms. Arancha Hinojal-Oyarbide, Legal Officer, Treaty Section explained final clauses and their legal effects: regulating the procedural aspects of the treaty. Prior to finalization of a treaty, a Member State must submit the final clauses to the Treaty section for review and comment.  The last segment of the workshop reviewed the UN’s Treaty Collection found at: http://treaties.un.org.  Mr. Andrei Kolomoets, Information Management Officer, OLA Treaty Section and Mr. Rustam Nazirboboev, Associate Information Systems Officer, OLA Treaty Section explained to delegates how to locate and to navigate treaty-related information online.

The participants greatly appreciated this learning event, evidence by the concluding applause and evaluations. Government representatives, including those traveling from Chile and Mexico, were pleased to learn more about treaty law making – critical for advancing the rule of law and understanding among nations.