Remarks at a Meeting of the Sixth Committee on Agenda Item 79: UN Program of Assistance in International Law

Elizabeth Grosso
Attorney Adviser
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 6, 2020


Thank you, Chair.

The United States thanks the Secretary-General for his report on the United Nations Program of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination, and Wider Appreciation of International Law.

The Program of Assistance has made, and continues to make, indispensable contributions to the education of students and practitioners in international law since it was established in 1965. Knowledge of international law is a key component to furthering the rule of law at all levels. Through a firm understanding of international law, new generations of lawyers, judges and diplomats gain a deeper appreciation of the complex instruments that govern so many aspects of this interconnected world. The United States is pleased to participate on the Advisory Committee of the Program of Assistance, and it merits the continuing, strong support of all Member States. We also wish to thank Ambassador Pobee for her five years of leadership of the Advisory Committee, during which time the program has expanded and flourished.

The United States recognizes the significant role of the Office of Legal Affairs, in particular the Codification Division, in implementing the Program of Assistance. We appreciated its nimble adaptation to the working conditions of Covid-19 this year. While it is disappointing that some of the Program’s courses and fellowship events could not be held in person, we are thankful that the Codification Division was able to quickly create online versions of these essential trainings. We hope these resources can be built upon in the future to reach an even broader audience.

The Program continues to make progress in improving the accessibility and dissemination of the Audiovisual Library of International Law around the world, which provides quality training to a limitless number of people, at a relatively low cost for UN member states, but at no cost to those who access it. We are pleased that the Program was able to keep up its pace of development of this resource, even with the challenges of Covid-19, and we recognize that the Library is a more invaluable resource than ever for users around the world as scholars have turned to remote learning options this year.

With respect to efficiency, we thank the UN Program of Assistance for doing all it can to provide as many scholarships as possible within existing resources to accommodate the greatest number of students for these courses. We also thank those countries and organizations that have made in-kind and financial contributions to make these courses a reality. We very much appreciate the ways the Codification Division has been able to keep important programs going in the face of limited resources, and we encourage it to continue its commendable efforts to secure voluntary contributions to fund that work. There is no question that the Program of Assistance activities are valuable and well-run and worthy of support. We believe it is important that this excellent Program thrives for years to come.

Thank you.