Disputes and letters
A further general category of correspondence worthy of comment is the many types of letters which states address to the secretary-general and other UN office-holders in the course of a dispute. These may serve one of a number of purposes, such as putting a complaint, establishing a case, indicating that UN recommendations have been complied with, or, as in the following example, internationalising a dispute by seeking to put it before the Security Council.39
Letter dated 16 September 1981 from the representative of the Sudan to the president of the Security Council
[Original in English.] Upon instructions from my Government, I have the honour to inform you that in another wanton act of aggression aimed at destabilising the security and tranquillity of the Sudanese people, the occupying Libyan armed forces in Chad have once again committed a series of hostile acts of aggression against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic of the Sudan.
- 1 On 10 September 1981, a Libyan military plane violated Sudanese airspace and bombed a number of Sudanese villages in the vicinity of Eltina area in western Sudan. No casualties were reported.
- 2 On 15 September, at 0600 hours and 0930 hours, a number of Libyan planes based in Chad have twice bombarded Kulbus area in western
Sudan. Four persons, including two children, were seriously injured in the souk (market place).
3 On the same day, 15 September, at 1100 hours, two Libyan aircraft overflew the Sudanese city of El Geneina in another provocative act.
The Democratic Republic of the Sudan strongly condemns these repeated acts of aggression by Libya against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Sudan in flagrant violation of the principles and objectives enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.
The Democratic Republic of the Sudan would like to draw the attention of the Security Council to the dangerous situation arising from the repeated Libyan acts of aggression against the Democratic Republic of the Sudan which would undoubtedly lead to the destabilisation of the region and threaten international peace and security. The Democratic Republic of the Sudan trusts that the Council will closely follow the situation and take all necessary and appropriate measures to ensure that such Libyan acts of aggression would immediately stop and not be repeated.
My Government reserves the right to seize the Security Council of the above-mentioned situation and requests that this letter be circulated as a document of the Council.
(Signed) Abdel-Rahman Abdalla Permanent Representative of the Sudan to the United Nations
In disputes, letters to the president of the Security Council are used to defend policy. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) informed the Security Council of its decision to withdraw from the NPT as follows.40
Letter dated 12 March 1993 from the minister for foreign affairs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea addressed to the president of the Security Council
I would like, upon authorisation, to inform the Security Council that the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea decided on 12 March 1993 to withdraw from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, in accordance with paragraph 1 of article X of the Treaty, in connection with the extraordinary situation prevailing in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which jeopardises its supreme interests.
The United States together with South Korea has resumed the ‘Team Spirit’ joint military exercises, a nuclear war rehearsal, threatening the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and instigated some officials of the secretariat of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and certain Member States to adopt an unjust ‘resolution’ at the meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors on 25 February 1993 demanding that we open our military sites that have no relevance at all to the nuclear activities, in violation of the IAEA statute, the safeguards agreement and the agreement the IAEA had reached with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
This is an undisguised strong-arm act designed to disarm the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and strangle our socialist system, which jeopardises its supreme interests.
If such an act were tolerated, it would only set a precedent for helping to legitimise the nuclear threats against the non-nuclear-weapon State parties and interference in their internal affairs, to say nothing of our country falling victim to a superpower.
I hope that the Security Council will take note of the decision of the government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to withdraw from the Treaty until the United States nuclear threats and the unjust conduct of the IAEA against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea are recognised to have been removed.
(Signed) Kim Young Nam Minister for Foreign Affairs Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Cuba, for example, used its return to the report of the International Law Commission as a means of conducting its dispute with the United States, as follows:41
Annex to the letter dated July 2004 from the chargé d’affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of Cuba to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General (extract)
For the purposes of complying with paragraph 3 of General Assembly resolution 58/77, of 9 December 2003, inviting governments to provide information to the International Law Commission regarding State practice on the topic ‘Unilateral acts of States’, the Government of the Republic of Cuba wishes to transmit the following observations:
The Republic of Cuba has reaffirmed on a number of occasions the fundamental importance it attaches to the topic ‘Unilateral acts of States’, which is under consideration by the International Law Commission, and the need to move forward in its codification and progressive development.
The Republic of Cuba wishes to draw the attention of the International Law Commission to unilateral acts which violate international law and the Charter of the United Nations, such as the use of unilateral extraterritorial coercive economic measures as a means of political and economic compulsion, the aim of which is to undermine the sovereign rights of other states.
A clear example of unilateral acts of this type is the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba, which has been broadly rejected by the international community on numerous occasions, as shown by the 13 resolutions adopted by the General Assembly on this topic, and other instruments.
Collective letters: threats and warnings
In the Yugoslav conflict, the EC warned the Serb authorities of the consequences of refusal to accept the Vance-Owen peace plan in a collective letter to the president of the Security Council.42
Letter dated 26 March 1993 from the representatives of France, Spain and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the president of the Security Council
[Original in Spanish.] We have the honour to bring to your attention the text of the statement on Bosnia and Herzegovina adopted by the European Community and its member States at Brussels on 26 March 1993.
We should be most grateful if you would have the text of this letter and the statement circulated as a document of the Security Council.
Chargé d 'affaires a. i. Permanent Mission of
Spain to the United Nations
Jean-Bernard MErimEe Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Sir David Hannav, KCMG Permanent Representative of the Un ited Kingdo m to the United Nations
Text of the statement
[Original in English and French.]
The European Community and its member States warmly commend the decision of the Bosnian Government to sign the Vance-Owen peace plan. They reiterate their unequivocal support for the plan and pay tribute to the valuable efforts of the two co-Chairmen.
They also welcome the agreement between the Muslim and Croat parties on the interim arrangements which form an important part of the peace package. They hope the Security Council of the United Nations will endorse the Vance-Owen peace plan, and they express their readiness to contribute substantially to its implementation.
The Community and its member States demand that the Serb side now accept the plan in its entirety and cooperate fully in all aspects of its implementation. The Serbs must stop all aggressions at once, preparing the way for the cessation of hostilities by all sides.
If the Bosnian Serbs refuse to accept the plan now, full international pressure will be brought to bear on them. The community and its member States will continue strengthening sanctions and will consider further measures leading to the total isolation of Serbia-Montenegro.
Setting out positions
Letters to the Secretary-General or president of the Security Council are most frequently used by states to set out their view on an issue before the Council or Assembly. Small states in particular have relied heavily upon transmitting rapidly to the Secretary-General information on military attacks by more powerful neighbours and seeking support through personal diplomacy by their resident representative to the UN. Laos, for example, has extensively used the technique reasonably successfully to put a ‘brake’ on Thailand, during the course of the ongoing Laos-Thai frontier disputes.43
Letter dated 28 December 1987 from the representative of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic to the Secretary-General
Upon instructions from my Government, and further to my earlier correspondence, in particular my letter dated 17 December, as well as the letter of the Permanent Representative of Thailand of 22 December [S/19378], I have the honour to transmit to you herewith the text of a statement issued on 27 December by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic on the Thai military attack against Lao territory.
I should be grateful if you would arrange to have the text circulated as an official document of the General Assembly and of the Security Council.
(Signed) Kithong Vongsay Permanent Representative of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic to the United Nations
Statement issued at Vientiane on 27 December 1987 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic
The government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, since its foundation on 2 December 1975, has consistently pursued a policy of peace, friendship and good-neighbourliness with the Kingdom of Thailand, for the two peoples share similarities as to race, language, traditions and customs, enabling them to create better relations on a political basis, as stipulated in the Lao-Thai and Thai-Lao joint communiqués signed by the two Governments in 1979.
But it is regrettable that this policy of the Lao side has always been obstructed by the very serious frontier incidents between the two countries, particularly those of the three Lao hamlets in 1984, which are still far from being solved. This year, the Thai side once again has created a new grave incident: the Thai third army region forces have dispatched their paramilitary units to assure the protection of Thai private merchants engaged in the illegal felling of fine wood in Lao territory on the west side of Na Bo Noi canton, Botene district, Sayaboury province. And between 14 and 18 August 1987, the Thai side sent several infantry battalions to occupy this area, repeatedly attacked the Lao local force strongholds which are defending that area and then proclaimed deliberately this area to be part of Thai territory by unilaterally claiming that Nam Huang Nga river constitutes a frontier between the two countries. This arrogant claim runs counter to the 1907 Franco-Siamese treaty, which stipulates the following on the side of Luang-Prabang: ‘The frontier leaves the Mekong river, in the South, at the mouth of Nam Huang river and follows the thalweg of this river up to its source located at Phou Khoa Mieng mountain. From there the border follows the watershed between the Mekong river and the Menam river until it reaches the Mekong river at the point called Keng Pha Day’.