11 November 2010
Statement by H.E. Mr. Eshagh Al Habib
Deputy Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran
to the United Nations before Sixth Committee on Agenda item 161:
“Report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country”
(New York-11 November October 2010)
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
My delegation thanks the Chair of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country for presenting the report of the Committee contained in document A/65/26. The report reflects the concerns my delegation raised in the 246th meeting of the Committee on 20 may 2010 with regard to denial of U.S. entry visa to a representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to attend a meeting of the United Nations.
I had the honour to attend the last meeting of the Committee on 28 October 2010 to express our deepest concern on the same issue since the host country authorities denied entry visas to Iranian representatives for the third time in less than 6 months, although this is not reflected in the present report due to procedural constraints.
My delegation while has always appreciated the efforts of the host country authorities to discharge their responsibilities under the Headquarters Agreement, wishes to take this opportunity to record its serious concern and strong protest to the host country for denying entry visas to the representatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran to attend the United Nations meetings. I should refer to the letter dated 27 October 2010 and its annex from the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations addressed to the Chairman of the Committee on Relations with the Host committee, circulated as document A/AC.154/401 of the Host Committee.
It is regrettable that the host country authorities disregard their international obligations by denying U.S. entry visas to Iranian representatives to attend the meetings of the United Nations. These decisions clearly contravene the international obligations of the United States Government as the Host of the United Nations Headquarters, particularly those articulated in the Headquarters Agreement, as well as the 1946 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations.
The Headquarters Agreement obligates the host country, in clear terms, that “The federal, state or local authorities of the United States shall not impose any impediments to transit to or from the headquarters district of […] representatives of Members […] of the United Nations”, and that “When visas are required for persons referred to in that section, they shall be granted without charge and as promptly as possible” (section 13 (a)); and that “Laws and regulations in force in the United States regarding the residence of aliens shall not be applied in such manner as to interfere with the privileges referred to in section 11” (section 13 (b)).
The Headquarters Agreement also makes it clear that “The provisions of section 11 shall be applicable irrespective of the relations existing between the Governments of the persons referred to in that section and the Government of the United States” (Section 12). Depriving the representatives of the Member States, especially the high-ranking officials in charge of the United Nations issues in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, from attending the United Nations’ meetings would adversely affect the functioning of the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations.
Furthermore, it undermines the work of the United Nations system and impairs the very foundations of multilateral diplomacy.
The Islamic Republic of Iran reiterates its calls to the United States authorities to honour their legal obligations under the Headquarters Agreement to facilitate the entry of the Member States’ representatives to attend the United Nations’ meetings, and to take urgent measures to rectify past failures and avoid such in the future.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations, as the custodian of the United Nations Headquarters and the Headquarters Agreement has a responsibility, too, to make sure that the provisions of the Headquarters Agreement are strictly observed by the Host country. In this regard, my delegation recalls paragraph 6.11 of Subprogramme 1 of Programme 6 (Legal Affairs) of the Report of the Committee on Programme and Coordination (CPC) at its 50th session, as endorsed by the Fifth Committee, (contained in document A/65/544) which requests that “The Secretary-General, as the custodian of the Headquarters Agreement, shall reinforce the implementation of the Agreement, in particular its article IV, section 11 and section 13 (a), governing the host country’s legal obligation to grant entry visas to the officials of all Member States attending United Nations meetings.”
The Islamic Republic of Iran attaches high importance to the Committee on Relations with the Host Country and regards it as a unique platform for Member States not only to voice their concerns with regard to problems they may face in normal functioning of the Missions accredited to the United Nations but also to seek practical solutions to those concerns by urging the host country to fulfill its obligations under international law.
As preambular paragraph 8 of resolution 2819 (XXVI) of 15 December 1971, which established the Host Committee, rightly stipulates, “the problems related to the privileges and immunities of the United Nations and to the status of the diplomatic missions accredited to it are of mutual concern to the Member States, including the host country, as well as to the Secretary-General”. The Committee has a clear mandate to consider, and advise the host country on, issues arising in connection with the implementation of the Headquarters Agreement, as paragraph 7 of General Assembly resolution 2819 of 15 December 1971 provides. In that sense the Committee has a special responsibility in upholding the privileges and immunities granted to the diplomatic missions accredited to the United Nations under international law, particularly under the Headquarters Agreement. Therefore, it is expected that the concerns and complaints raised by Member States in the Committee be adequately and effectively addressed.