Back to top

Sixty-third session

Nationality of natural persons in relation to the succession of States (agenda item 72)

Summary of work

Background (source: A/63/100)

At its fifty-fourth session, in 1999, the General Assembly, under the item entitled
“Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its fifty-first session”,
considered chapter IV of the report of the Commission (A/54/10 and Corr.1 and 2),
which contained the final draft articles on nationality of natural persons in relation to the succession of States. The Assembly decided to include in the provisional agenda of its fifty-fifth session an item entitled “Nationality of natural persons in relation to succession of States”, with a view to the consideration of the draft articles and their adoption as a declaration at that session; and invited Governments to submit comments and observations on the question of a convention on the topic, with a view to the General Assembly considering the elaboration of such a convention at a future session (resolution 54/112).

The General Assembly considered the item at its fifty-fifth session (resolution
55/153).

At its fifty-ninth session, the General Assembly reiterated its invitation to
Governments to take into account the provisions of the articles contained in the
annex to resolution 55/153, in dealing with issues of nationality of natural persons
in relation to the succession of States; encouraged States to consider at the regional
or subregional levels, the elaboration of legal instruments regulating questions of
nationality of natural persons in relation to the succession of States, with a view to
preventing the occurrence of statelessness as a result of a succession of States; and
invited Governments to submit comments concerning the advisability of elaborating
a legal instrument on the question of nationality of natural persons in relation to the
succession of States, including the avoidance of statelessness as a result of a
succession of States (resolution 59/34).

Consideration at the sixty-third session

The Sixth Committee considered the item at its 11th, 25th and 26th meetings, on 21 October, and on 5 and 14 November 2008.

Statements were made by the representatives of India, Kenya (on behalf of the African Group), Nigeria, Lesotho, Qatar, South Africa, Slovenia, Algeria, the Russian Federation, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Iran (Islamic Republic of) and Austria.

Delegations expressed their support for the draft articles on “Nationality of natural persons in relation to the succession of States”, adopted by the International Law Commission in 1999. They stressed the importance of the right to a nationality, as recognised in several international legal instruments, as well as the need to avoid statelessness following the succession of States. Some delegations also underlined the principle of non-discrimination in dealing with nationality issues in the context of State succession.

With regard to the outcome of the draft articles, some delegations favoured their adoption by the General Assembly in the form of a declaration, arguing that a non-binding instrument would provide guidance to States in establishing domestic legislation on nationality, while respecting their sovereignty in determining the conditions of attribution of nationality. Other delegations expressed their preference for a convention. It was also proposed that the possibility of elaborating a convention be considered at a later session of the General Assembly. In addition, the view was expressed that further analysis of State practice was needed in order to ensure that the draft articles better reflect contemporary international standards.

Action taken by the Sixth Committee

At the 25th meeting, on 5 November 2008, the representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on behalf of the Bureau, introduced a draft resolution entitled “Nationality of natural persons in relation to the succession of States” (A/C.6/63/L.14), as orally revised. At the 26th meeting, on 14 November, the Committee adopted draft resolution A/C.6/63/L.14, as orally revised, without a vote. Under this draft resolution, the General Assembly would invite Governments to submit comments concerning the advisability of elaborating a legal instrument on the question of nationality of natural persons in relation to the succession of States, including the avoidance of statelessness as a result of a succession of States; and decide to include the item in the provisional agenda of its sixty-sixth session, with the aim of examining the subject, including the question of the form that might be given to the draft articles.

This agenda item was subsequently considered at the sixty-sixth session (2011)