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Sixty-eighth session

Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its
sixty-third and sixty-fifth sessions (Agenda item 81)

Summary of work

Background (source: A/68/100)

The International Law Commission was established by the General Assembly at its second session, in 1947, with a view to giving effect to Article 13, paragraph 1 (a), of the Charter and with the objective of promoting the progressive development of international law and its codification (resolution 174 (II)).

The statute of the Commission, annexed to resolution 174 (II), was subsequently amended (resolutions 485 (V), 984 (X), 985 (X) and 36/39). The Commission consists of 34 members elected for a term of five years. The last election was held at the sixty-sixth session of the General Assembly (decision 66/506).

At its sixty-seventh session, the General Assembly expressed its appreciation to the Commission for the work accomplished at its sixty-fourth session, in particular for the completion of the first reading of the draft articles on the expulsion of aliens, and drew the attention of Governments to the importance of having their comments and observations on those draft articles and commentaries thereto by 1 January 2014; recommended that the Commission continue its work on the topics in its current programme; decided that the consideration of chapter IV of the report of the Commission on the work of its sixty-third session, dealing with the topic“Reservations to treaties”, should be continued at the sixty-eighth session of the Assembly, during the consideration of the report of the Commission on the work of its sixty-fifth session; drew the attention of Governments to the importance for the Commission of having their views on the various aspects of the topics on the agenda of the Commission, in particular on all the specific issues identified in chapter III of its report, regarding the topics “Immunity of State officials from foreign criminal jurisdiction” and “Formation and evidence of customary international law”; noted with appreciation the inclusion of the topics “Provisional application of treaties” and “Formation and evidence of customary international law” in the programme of work of the Commission and encouraged it to continue the examination of the topics that are in its long-term programme of work; and invited the Commission to continue to give priority to the topics “Immunity of State officials from foreign criminal jurisdiction” and “The obligation to extradite or prosecute (aut dedere aut judicare)”(resolution 67/92).

Consideration at the sixty-eighth session

The Sixth Committee considered the item at its 17th to 26th and 29th meetings, on 28, 29, 30, 31 October, and 1, 4, 5 and 15 November 2013 (see A/C.6/68/SR.17- 26 and 29).

The Chairman of the International Law Commission at its sixty-fifth session introduced the report of the Commission on the work of that session: chapters I to V and XII at the 17th meeting, on 28 October, and chapters VI to XI at the 23rd meeting, on 4 November. In addition, at the 19th meeting on 30 October, the Chairman of the International Law Commission at its sixty-fifth session also introduced chapter IV of the report of the Commission on the work of its sixty-third session, dealing with “Reservations to treaties”.

Statements were made by the representatives of: Cuba (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)), Norway (on behalf of the Nordic Countries), the United States of America, Switzerland, Austria, Singapore, Japan, Portugal, France, Mexico, Spain, Belarus, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Canada, Peru, the Netherlands, South Africa, Hungary, Germany, Slovakia, Chile, Greece, the Czech Republic, the Republic of Korea, Romania, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Thailand, Cuba, Malaysia, Israel, the Russian Federation, China, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Mongolia, Australia, Sweden (on behalf of the Nordic countries), New Zealand, Portugal, Belarus, Slovenia, China, Germany, India, the European Union, Finland (on behalf of the Nordic countries), Pakistan, Israel, Tonga and Belgium. Statements were also made by the observer of the Council of Europe and the observer of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Mr. Georg Nolte, Special Rapporteur for the topic “Subsequent agreements and subsequent practice in relation to the interpretation of treaties”, Ms. Concepción Escobar Hernández, Special Rapporteur for the topic “Immunity of State officials from foreign criminal jurisdiction”, and Mr. Alain Pellet, former Special Rapporteur for the topic “Reservations to treaties", made statements.

A summary of the discussions on this agenda item may be found in the Topical summary of the discussion held in the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly, during its sixty-eighth session, prepared by the Secretariat (forthcoming).

Action taken by the Sixth Committee

At the 29th meeting, on 15 November, the representative of Brazil, on behalf of the Bureau, introduced two draft resolutions respectively entitled “Reservations to treaties” (A/C.6/68/L.23) and “Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its sixty-third and sixty-fifth sessions” (A/C.6/68/L.24).

At the same meeting on 15 November, the Committee adopted draft resolutions A/C.6/68/L.23 and A/C.6/68/L.24 without a vote.

By the terms of draft resolution A/C.6/68/L.23, the General Assembly would welcome the successful completion of the work of the International Law Commission on the subject of reservations to treaties and its adoption of the Guide to Practice on Reservations to Treaties, including the guidelines and a detailed commentary thereto; express its appreciation to the Commission for its continuing contribution to the codification and progressive development of international law; take note of the Guide to Practice, presented by the Commission, including the guidelines, the text of which would be annexed to the resolution, and encourage its widest possible dissemination.

By the terms of draft resolution A/C.6/68/L.24, the General Assembly would, among other things, express its appreciation to the Commission for the work accomplished at its sixty-fifth session. Furthermore, the Assembly would, inter alia, take note of the inclusion by the Commission of two new topics in its programme of work, namely the topics “Protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts” and “Protection of the atmosphere”, and encourage the Commission to continue the examination of the topics that are in its long-term programme of work. The Assembly would also invite the Commission to continue to give priority to the topics “Immunity of State officials from foreign criminal jurisdiction” and “The obligation to extradite or prosecute (aut dedere aut judicare)”; and take note of the inclusion of the topic “Crimes against humanity” in the long-term programme of work of the Commission.

This agenda item was subsequently considered at the sixty-ninth session (2014).