Sixth Committee (Legal) — 71st session

Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its sixty-eighth session (Agenda item 78)

Documentation

Summary of work

Background (source: A/71/100)

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 of the United Nations 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 seventy-first session of the General Assembly (decision 71/404).

At its seventieth session, the General Assembly took note of the final report on the topic “The Most-Favoured-Nation clause”, and recommended that the Commission continue its work on the topics in its current programme. The Assembly drew the attention of Governments to the importance for the Commission of having their views by 31 January 2016 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 contained in paragraph 5 (a) to (h) of the resolution, and their comments and observations by 1 January 2016 on the draft articles on the topic “Protection of persons in the event of disasters”, adopted on first reading by the Commission at its sixty-sixth session. The Assembly noted the inclusion of the topic “Jus cogens” in the programme of work of the Commission and encouraged it to continue the examination of the topics that were in its long-term programme of work. The Assembly recalled that the seat of the Commission is at the United Nations Office at Geneva and noted that the Commission, in view of General Assembly resolution 69/118, considered the feasibility of holding part of its sixty-eighth session in New York on the basis of information provided by the Secretariat regarding estimated costs and relevant administrative, organizational and other factors, including its anticipated workload in the final year of the present quinquennium and, having regard to all the factors at its disposal, concluded that it would not be feasible for it to hold part of its sixty-eighth session in New York without causing undue disruptions. The Assembly also noted that the International Law Commission nevertheless affirmed its wish that consideration be given to the possibility of holding one half session in the next quinquennium in New York and indicated that, taking into account the estimated costs and relevant administrative, organizational and other factors, such a possibility could be anticipated during the first segment of a session in either the first year (2017) or the second year (2018) of the next quinquennium. The Assembly took note of the recommendation made by the Commission in paragraph 298 of its report that preparatory work and estimates proceed on the assumption that the first segment of its seventieth session (2018) would be convened at United Nations Headquarters in New York, and took note also of the request of the Commission that the Secretariat proceed to make the necessary arrangements for that purpose so as to facilitate the taking of the appropriate decision by the Commission at its sixty-eighth session, in 2016. The Assembly decided, without prejudice to the output of those deliberations, to revert to the consideration of any recommendation by the International Law Commission in this regard during the seventy-first session of the Assembly (resolution 70/236).

Consideration at the seventy-first session

The Sixth Committee considered the item at its 20th to 30th and 33rd meetings, on 24 to 28 October, 1 to 3 and 11 November 2016 (A/C.6/71/SR.20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, and 33). The Chair of the International Law Commission at the sixty-eighth session introduced the report of the Commission on the work of that session: chapters I to VI and XIII at the 20th meeting, on 24 October, chapters VII to IX at the 24th meeting, on 27 October, and chapters X to XII at the 27th meeting, on 1 November.

Statements were made by the representatives of: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czechia, the Dominican Republic (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)), Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, the European Union, Finland (on behalf of the Nordic countries), France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland (on behalf of the Nordic countries), India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), Mongolia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway (on behalf of the Nordic countries), Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, Romania, the Russian Federation, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Tonga, Turkey, Tuvalu, Ukraine, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United States of America, and Viet Nam. Statements were also made by the representatives of the observers of the Council of Europe, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent. (see PaperSmart portal for the seventy-first session)

The Special Rapporteurs on the topics “Protection of persons in the event of disaster”, “Identification of customary international law”, “Subsequent agreements and subsequent practice in relation to the interpretation of treaties”, “Protection of the atmosphere”, “Jus cogens”, “Protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts” and “Immunity of State officials from foreign criminal jurisdiction” made some remarks.

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 seventy-first session, prepared by the Secretariat.

Archived videos of plenary meetings

Video   20th meeting (24 October 2016, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Video   21st meeting (25 October 2016, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Video   22nd meeting (26 October 2016, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Video   23rd meeting (26 October 2016, 3:00pm – 4:30pm)

Video   24th meeting (27 October 2016, 3:00pm – 6:00pm)

Video   25th meeting (28 October 2016, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Video   26th meeting (28 October 2016, 3:00pm – 6:00pm)

Video   27th meeting (1 November 2016, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Video   28th meeting (1 November 2016, 3:00pm – 4:30pm)

Video   29th meeting (2 November 2016, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Video   30th meeting (3 November 2016, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Video   33rd meeting (11 November 2016, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Action taken by the Sixth Committee

At the 33rd meeting, on 11 November, the representative of Peru, on behalf of the Bureau, introduced a draft resolution entitled “Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its sixty-eighth session” (A/C.6/71/L.26). At the same meeting, the representative of Slovakia, on behalf of the Bureau, introduced a draft resolution entitled “Protection of persons in the event of disasters” (A/C.6/71/L.31).

At the same meeting, the Committee adopted draft resolutions A/C.6/71/L.26 and A/C.6/71/L.31 without a vote.

Under draft resolution A/C.6/71/L.26, the General Assembly would, among other things, express its appreciation to the Commission for the work accomplished at its sixty-eighth session and recommend that it continue its work on the topics in its current programme. Furthermore, the General Assembly would decide that the next session of the Commission shall be held at the United Nations Office at Geneva from 1 May to 2 June and from 3 July to 4 August 2017. Under draft resolution A/C.6/71/L.31, the General Assembly would, inter alia, take note of the draft articles on protection of persons in the event of disasters, invite Governments to submit comments concerning the recommendation by the Commission to elaborate a convention on the basis of these articles, and decide to include in the provisional agenda of its seventy-third session an item entitled “Protection of persons in the event of disasters”.

This agenda item will be considered at the seventy-second session (2017).

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