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Sixty-sixth session

Nationality of natural persons in relation to the succession of States (Agenda item 77)

Summary of work

Background (source: A/66/100)

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 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 and fifty-ninth sessions (resolutions 55/153 and 59/34).
At its sixty-third session, the General Assembly reiterated its invitation to Governments to take into account, as appropriate, 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, as appropriate, 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, in particular, 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; and decided 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 (resolution 63/118).

Consideration at the sixty-sixth session

The Sixth Committee considered the item at its 15th and 29th meetings, on 17 October and on 9 November 2011 (see A/C.6/66/SR.15 and 29).

Statements were made in plenary by the representatives of Japan, El Salvador, Slovenia, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, the Russian Federation, Malaysia, the United States of America, Iran (Islamic Republic of) and Trinidad and Tobago.

Delegations expressed their appreciation 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 emphasized the important achievement of the draft articles in setting out a legal regime aimed at preventing statelessness as a result of a succession of States. Some delegations noted the particular significance of the “right to nationality” as a fundamental human right. Some delegations also emphasized the principle of non-discrimination with regard to nationality issues in the context of State succession. Some other delegations expressed concern with respect to the provisions on dual and multiple nationality, and underlined that the practice of “forum shopping” for citizenship should not be encouraged.

With regard to the final form of the draft articles, some delegations favoured the adoption of a declaration by the General Assembly, enunciating the principles and rules embodied in the draft articles. Other delegations favoured leaving the draft articles as an annex to General Assembly resolution 55/153. Yet some other delegations expressed their preference for the adoption of a binding instrument on the basis of the draft articles. A two-step approach was also proposed, whereby a non-binding instrument providing guidance to States could be formulated at present, while the elaboration of a legally binding instrument could be undertaken at a later stage.

Action taken by the Sixth Committee

At the 29th meeting, on 9 November 2011, the representative of the Czech Republic, on behalf of the Bureau, introduced a draft resolution entitled “Nationality of natural persons in relation to the succession of States” (A/C.6/66/L.18). At the same meeting, the Committee adopted draft resolution A/C.6/66/L.18 without a vote. Also at the same meeting, the representatives of France and the Russian Federation spoke in explanation of position after the adoption of the draft resolution (see A/C.6/66/SR.29).

Under this draft resolution, the General Assembly would reiterate its invitation to Governments to take into account, as appropriate, the provisions of the articles contained in the annex to General Assembly resolution 55/153, in dealing with issues of nationality of natural persons in relation to the succession of States; once again encourage States to consider, as appropriate, 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, in particular, to preventing the occurrence of statelessness as a result of a succession of States; emphasize the value of the articles in providing guidance to the States dealing with issues of nationality of natural persons in relation to the succession of States, in particular concerning the avoidance of statelessness; and decide that, upon the request of any State, it would revert to the question of nationality of natural persons in relation to the succession of States at an appropriate time, in the light of the development of State practice in these matters.

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