31 OCTOBER 2003
STATEMENT BY MR. LUÍS SERRADAS TAVARES, DIRECTOR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF LEGAL AFFAIRS OF THE PORTUGUESE MINISTRY FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, TO THE SIXTH COMMITTEE OF THE UN’S GENERAL ASSEMBLY AT ITS 58th SESSION (Item 152: Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its Fifty-Fifth Session - Chapter VII: Unilateral Acts of States; Chapter VIII: Reservations to Treaties; Chapter IX: Shared Natural Resources)
Unilateral Acts of States (Chapter VII of the Report)
My delegation asked for the floor on the topic of unilateral acts just to reiterate that we recognise the important role played these acts in international relations.
continues therefore, for the moment, to support the study of this topic by the ILC. Portugal
The role played by the unilateral acts of States is very rich and full of varied effects, fulfilling the actual needs of States and the structure of international community. Emphasis should thus be put, at this stage, in the need to gather information on State practice. We also would prefer that the Commission focus for the moment rather on the general and specific rules applicable to the various types of the so-called stricto sensu unilateral acts.
On other hand, we must keep in mind that unilateral acts of States, as a source of international law, have the characteristic of autonomy, which may raise the question if their regime becomes conventional, this characteristic might become at stake and, with that, the nature of an autonomous source of international law. This is an issue that should be borne in mind when considering the form of the work on this topic.
Reservations to Treaties (Chapter VIII of the Report)
Let me turn now to the issue of Reservations to Treaties.
notes with satisfaction the steady progress on the issue of Reservations to Treaties, namely the current session’s adoption of 11 draft guidelines on the withdrawal and modification of reservations. Portugal
My delegation would like address two of the issues raised in Chapter III of the Report, in both cases having in mind the consensual regime of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and the general principle of law of «legal certainty». We are referring to the issues of the enlargement of the scope of reservations and to the definition of objections to reservations.
a) My delegation has serious doubts about the permissibility of an enlargement of the scope of the reservations subsequently to its formulation either in the field of the timing allowed to formulate them (the problem of the “late reservations”) or in the matter of the so-called “interpretive declarations”. Our delegation thinks that the reservations regime as it is in the Vienna Convention on the Law of the Treaties serves well the purposes for which it was created, and expanding it in the manner proposed would be incompatible with such purposes.
We are almost tempted to say that such a guideline would be itself incompatible with the object and purpose of the Vienna Convention. Reservations are an exception to the treaty and therefore should be kept like that.
b) With regard to the definition of objections to reservations, we are of the view that the Commission should continue to work on the practice of States, rather than to try to codify a definition of «objection of reservation».
would also submit that the Vienna Convention is sufficient in this regard, namely articles 20, paragraph 4 (b), 20, paragraph 5 and 21. Portugal
Shared Natural Resources (Chapter IX of the Report)
Allow me to address very briefly the topic of Shared Natural Resources just to indicate that we shall do our best in order to provide the Commission with the required information concerning groundwaters.Thank you Mr. Chairman.