• Faithful to my Homeland, the Republic of Poland


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  • 23 October 2018

    Preventing atrocity crimes and the responsibility of states for internationally wrongful acts were the main topics on the agenda of the 29th informal meeting of Legal Advisers of Ministries of Foreign Affairs of UN Member States, which was chaired by Poland at the UN Headquarters in New York.

    The meetings of legal advisers were inaugurated by Poland, Sweden, Canada, Mexico and India in 1989. It is the most important annual event of this kind which brings together a large group of international law experts and provides a platform for debating significant matters relating to international law.



    In line with the rotating chairmanship rule, this year’s meeting was chaired by Director of the MFA’s Legal and Treaty Department, Dr Piotr Rychlik. Moderators of the debates and speakers included a number of world-class lawyers, like Professor Cezary Mik (Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University) and Dr Michał Kowalski (Jagiellonian University) from Poland. The UN was represented at the meeting by Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Miguel de Serpa Soares and Special Adviser to the Secretary General on the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng.


    The event consisted of three discussion panels dedicated to prevention and punishment of atrocity crimes in the light of international law, the responsibility of states for internationally wrongful acts in a practical context, and Memoranda of Understanding in the light of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.


    The reference point for the debate about prevention of atrocity crimes under international law was the work done by Rafał Lemkin, who – as a tireless advocate of the adoption of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide – contributed to the creation of the foundations of the international criminal justice system. At the initiative of the UN Secretary-General, on the 70 anniversary of the adoption of the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, a campaign was launched for its universal ratification. Poland used the meeting as an opportunity to declare its support for this initiative. The debate participants discussed developments in international law on responses to atrocity crimes and presented initiatives that could be used to enhance mechanisms in this regard.


    The debate on the responsibility of states for internationally wrongful acts focused on the practice of states in the area of independent enforcement of responsibility. The meeting participants drew attention specifically to the imprecise status of the Articles of the International Law Commission regarding responsibility of states.


    The panel discussion on Memoranda of Understanding focused on issues connected with relations between treaties and legally non-binding arrangements.


    The chairmanship of this year’s meeting of legal advisers coincided with Poland’s non-permanent UN Security Council membership in the 2018–2019 term. This initiative is one of Poland’s UN SC membership priorities – to support international order based on respect for international law. It also provided an opportunity to promote Poland’s and Poles’ contribution to the development of international law.


    MFA Press Office



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