Sixth Committee (Legal) — 63rd session

Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its sixtieth session (agenda item 75)


Summary of work

Background (source: A/63/100)

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-first session of the General Assembly (decision 61/411), and the next election will be held during the sixty-sixth session.

At its sixty-second session, the General Assembly recommended that the Commission continue its work on the topics in its current programme; drew the attention of Governments to the importance for the Commission of having their views on the various aspects involved in the topics on its agenda, in particular on all the specific issues identified in chapter III of its report; invited Governments to provide information to the Commission regarding practice with regard to the topics “Expulsion of aliens” and “The obligation to extradite or prosecute (aut dedere aut judicare)”, and regarding State practice, in particular more contemporary practice on the topic “Effects of armed conflicts on treaties”; drew the attention of Governments to the importance for the Commission of having their comments and observations on the draft articles and commentaries on the law of transboundary aquifers by 1 January 2008; took note of the decision of the Commission to include the topics “Protection of persons in the event of disasters” and “Immunity of State officials from foreign criminal jurisdiction” in its programme of work; and recommended that the debate on the report of the International Law Commission at the sixty-third session of the Assembly commence on 27 October 2008 (resolution 62/66).

Consideration at the sixty-third session

The Sixth Committee considered agenda item 75 at its 16th to 26th meetings, from 27 to 31 October, and from 3 to 5 and on 14 November 2008.

The Chair of the International Law Commission at its sixtieth session introduced the report of the Commission: chapters I to V and XII at the 16th meeting, on 27 October, chapters VI, VII and VIII at the 18th meeting, on 29 October, and chapters IX, X and XI at the 22nd meeting, on 31 October (see A/C.6/63/SR.16, 18 and 22).

Statements were made by the representatives of Norway (on behalf of the Nordic countries), Finland (on behalf of the Nordic countries), Austria, Belarus, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Saudi Arabia, the Czech Republic, Ghana, Nigeria, Uruguay, the Russian Federation, New Zealand, the United States of America, Slovenia, Israel, Lebanon, Japan, Greece, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Rep. of), Cyprus, France, Portugal, the Netherlands, Sweden (on behalf of the Nordic countries),  China, Argentina,  Estonia,  Denmark (on behalf of the Nordic countries), Mexico, Hungary, Canada, Malaysia, Viet Nam, Bulgaria, Poland,   Belgium, Romania, Spain, Chile, India,  El Salvador,  Thailand,  Australia, Cuba, Qatar, Jamaica, the United Republic of Tanzania and the Sudan. The representatives of the observer delegations of the European Commission and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies also 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-third session, prepared by the Secretariat (A/CN.4/606).

Action taken by the Sixth Committee

At the 26th meeting, on 14 November 2008, the representative of New Zealand, on behalf of the Bureau, introduced a draft resolution entitled “Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its sixtieth session” (A/C.6/63/L.20) and orally revised it by adding, after operative paragraph 8 the following paragraph:

“Requests the Secretary-General to submit to the General Assembly, in accordance with the established procedures, and bearing in mind its resolution 56/272, a report on the assistance currently provided to special rapporteurs and options regarding additional support of the work of special rapporteurs;”

At the same meeting the Committee adopted draft resolution A/C.6/63/L.20, as orally revised, without a vote. By the terms of the draft resolution, the General Assembly would express its appreciation for the work accomplished at the sixtieth session, in particular the completion, on second reading, of the draft articles on the law of transboundary aquifers, and, on first reading, the draft articles on Effects of armed conflicts on treaties.

At the same meeting, the representative of New Zealand, on behalf of the Bureau, introduced a draft resolution entitled “The Law of transboundary aquifers” (A/C.6/63/L.21) and the Committee adopted the draft resolution without a vote. By the terms of the resolution the General Assembly would take note of the draft articles and commend them to the attention of Governments without prejudice to the question of their future adoption or other appropriate action. The Assembly would also decide to in the provisional agenda of its sixty-sixth session an item entitled “The law of transboundary aquifers” with a view to examining, inter alia, the question of the form that might be given to the draft articles.

Subsequent action taken by the General Assembly

This agenda item was subsequently considered at the sixty-fourth session (2009)

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