The following letter was sent by the H.E. Amb. Dumisani S. Kumalo, Chairman of the Coordinating Bureau of the Movement of the Non-Aligned Countries (NAM) to the Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations, H.E. Amb. Jeno C.A. Staehelin. 

19 May 1999

Your Excellency,

In my capacity as Chairman of the Coordinating Bureau of the Movement of the Non-Aligned Countries, I would like to refer to the position of the Movement, as conveyed in its 6 April 1999 letter responding to the Swiss note of 9 March 1999 seeking "clarifications with regard to the modalities of a conference as recommended by Resolution ES-10/6 adopted by the General Assembly on 9 February 1999." In this regard, the Movement wishes to continue its contributions to the efforts undertaken to ensure complete and successful preparations for the 15th July Conference of the High Contracting Parties on Measures to Enforce the 4th Geneva Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem. In light of the recent developments related to the preparation for the conference, I have the honor to convey to you, as follows, the collective, more detailed position of the Non-Aligned Movement, as adopted by its Member States:

1. Operative Paragraph 7 of UN General Assembly Resolution ES-10/6

  • We highly appreciate the initiation by the Government of Switzerland, in its capacity as the Depositary of the Conventions, of consultations on whatever preparations are necessary prior to the conference, as requested in paragraph 7 of resolution ES-10/6.
  • We note that the consultations have once again reaffirmed the already established position of the overwhelming majority of the High Contracting Parties in support of convening the conference, as called for, on 15 July 1999.
  • We hope that the Government of Switzerland will soon be in a position to further undertake additional specific steps in the course of these preparations, such as the distribution of draft documents on modalities to the High Contracting Parties.

2. Participation

  • We believe that all High Contracting Parties should participate in the conference and hope that this will effectively be the case.
  • Paragraph 9 of resolution ES-10/6 expresses confidence that Palestine, as a party directly concerned, will participate in the above-mentioned conference.

3. Invitation to the Conference

  • The conference has been called for under the mandate of the four resolutions of the 10th Emergency Special Session of the U.N. General Assembly. Resolution ES-10/6 recommended that the High Contracting Parties convene the said conference on 15 July at the United Nations Offices in Geneva.
  • We expect that the Government of Switzerland would inform the High Contracting Parties of the conclusion of whatever preparatory work is undertaken and that the Government of Switzerland draw their attention to resolution ES-10/6 and inform them of the practical aspects related to the conference.

4. Rules of Procedure of the Conference

  • We reaffirm the need for rules of procedure for the conference. In this respect, the Government of Switzerland can prepare the necessary draft by drawing upon its ample accumulative experience from the conferences related to international humanitarian law, such as the Preparatory Meetings of the Two Additional Protocols, or those of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The Government of Switzerland can also look to the consultations conducted in this regard.
  • The draft of the rules of procedure should be ready and distributed to the High Contracting Parties in advance of the conference, preferably soon, but not later than the end of June 1999.
  • The final adoption of the rules of procedure should be taken by the conference itself. If the Depositary feels the need for further discussion on this matter, a short meeting to exchange views on the draft can be convened one day prior to the conference.

5. Chairmanship of the Conference

  • We believe that the Government of Switzerland, in its capacity as the Depositary, is best suited to chair the conference. We also suggest that the Chair be assisted by a bureau composed of two vice-chairs and a rapporteur.
  • The above-mentioned points should be decided upon by the conference itself.

6. Costs of the Conference

  • We would like to call attention to paragraph 8 of resolution ES-10/6, which requests the Secretary-General of the United Nations to make the necessary facilities available to enable the High Contracting Parties to convene the conference. The Secretariat of the U.N., prior to the adoption of the said resolution, indicated its readiness to do so. This should absorb the bulk of the expenses of the conference, which includes meeting facilities, conference services, interpretation and translation.
  • The Government of Switzerland might be willing to consider absorbing whatever remaining costs; otherwise, it may inform the High Contracting Parties at an early stage.

7. Consultations on Modalities and the Government of Swtzeralnd’s Initiative to form a Group of Friends

  • We take note of the decision by the Government of Switzerland to move its consultations from New York to Geneva and its decision to create a Group of Friends to consult and provide advice to the Government of Switzerland.
  • We support consultations on the preparations for the conference.
  • We believe it is also important to inform all High Contracting Parties of any developments and progress related to the preparations.
  • The Chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement will, upon receiving information from the Government of Switzerland, inform the members through the Coordinating Bureau in New York.
  • We further believe that consultations among the Group of Friends should deal with procedural preparations for the conference in accordance with paragraph 7 of resolution ES-10/6.

8. Outcome of the Conference

  • The specific outcome of the conference should be decided by all participants in the conference.
  • The work accomplished by the Experts Meeting, held in Geneva in October 1998, can also be of assistance to the conference.
  • Decisions by the conference should be taken by a majority, which should be indicated in the rules of procedure.
  • We intend to work diligently towards the achievement of consensus results in the form of one or more resolutions and, in the absence of that, towards a broad majority. We trust that all other High Contracting Parties will do the same.
  • Informal discussions and consultations by all interested parties, especially those directly concerned, with regard to the possible outcome and results of the conference are useful.
  • We strongly believe that the conference will have a concrete, positive and useful impact on the implementation of the 4th Geneva Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem. We also believe that it will contribute to ensuring respect of international humanitarian law in all circumstances.

Please accept, your Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.