Remarks at a Meeting of the Sixth Committee on Agenda Item 90: Strengthening and Promoting the International Treaty Framework

Julian Simcock
Deputy Legal Adviser
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
October 15, 2020


Thank you, Chair.

The Committee’s discussion of this topic follows on the significant and extended work the Committee did in 2018 resulting in a consensus set of revisions to the Secretariat’s treaty registration and publication regulations. We welcome the chance to continue this discussion and thank the Secretariat for its useful discussion paper.

In general, we think the UN’s treaty registration and publication program should strive for transparency and accessibility of treaty information, and ease of use. We commend the Secretariat for the efforts it has made in pursuit of these goals.

We agree with a number of states who have observed that expanded use of electronic means both for registration and publication has great potential to advance these objectives. In this regard, we would support further exploration of some of the ideas mentioned in the Secretariat’s report, including the possible development of an online registration tool for treaties, further enhancement of the electronic treaty database, and adapting the Treaty Series to a new digital format of publication.

On other issues discussed in the Secretariat’s report, we continue to believe that the practical value of publishing treaty texts in the Treaty Series would be significantly undermined were the Secretariat to cease their translation into English and French. We also agree with those states who have expressed the view that it would be inappropriate for the UN’s treaty regulations to purport to determine or modify the responsibilities of depositaries other than the United Nations.

In light of the substantial revisions made to the registration and publication regulations in 2018, we think the scope for any further changes to the regulations in the near term should be limited. In general, frequent changes to the regulations complicate the ability of states to use and rely on them. We welcome the discussion at this session of possible limited additional changes to the regulations beyond those made in 2018. However, in the interests of stability and predictability in the registration and publication regime, we do not believe the Committee should take up revision of the regulations as a routine matter at each session, and would encourage the Committee to conclude its current consideration of such proposals during this session.