Sixth Committee (Legal) — 72nd session

Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its sixty-ninth session (Agenda item 81)

Documentation

Summary of work

Background (source: A/72/100)

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 most recent election was held at the seventy-first session of the General Assembly (decision 71/404), and the next election will be held at the seventy-sixth session.

At its seventy-first session, the General Assembly took note of the completion of the second reading of the draft articles on the protection of persons in the event of disasters with the adoption of an entire set of draft articles on the topic, the first reading of the draft conclusions on identification of customary international law with the adoption of an entire set of draft conclusions on the topic and the first reading of the draft conclusions on subsequent agreements and subsequent practice in relation to the interpretation of treaties with the adoption of an entire set of draft conclusions on the topic, 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 comments and observations by 1 January 2018 on the draft conclusions on the topics “Identification of customary international law” and “Subsequent agreements and subsequent practice in relation to the interpretation of treaties”, both of which were adopted on first reading by the Commission at its sixty-eighth session. The Assembly noted the inclusion of the topics “The settlement of international disputes to which international organizations are parties” and “Succession of States in respect of State responsibility” in the long-term programme of work of the Commission, as well as the recommendation of the Commission that the potential topics identified in the memorandum by the Secretariat concerning “Possible topics for consideration taking into account the review of the list of topics established in 1996 in the light of subsequent developments” be further considered by the Working Group on the Long-term Programme of Work at the sixty-ninth session of the Commission. The Assembly recalled that the seat of the Commission is at the United Nations Office at Geneva and took note of the comments of the International Law Commission on the possibility of holding one half session in the next quinquennium in New York, as presented in paragraphs 323 to 326 of its report. It endorsed the recommendation that the first part of the seventieth session of the Commission be held in New York, which will coincide with the commemoration of the seventieth anniversary of the Commission. The Assembly welcomed the efforts of the Secretariat in seeking to ensure timely and efficient processing of the documents of the International Law Commission, and encouraged the Secretariat to institutionalize the experimental measures taken during the sixty-eighth session of the Commission to streamline the editing of those documents. The Assembly took note of paragraphs 338 to 340 of the report of the International Law Commission, recalled the paramount importance of multilingualism as set forth in resolution 69/324 on multilingualism, and underlined the importance of having the documents of the Commission published in due time in the six official languages of the United Nations, and to this end encouraged special rapporteurs to submit their reports within the time limits specified by the Secretariat (resolution 71/140).

At the same session, the Assembly took note of the draft articles on the protection of persons in the event of disasters, presented by the Commission, and invited Governments to submit comments concerning the recommendation by the Commission to elaborate a convention on the basis of these articles (resolution 71/141).

Consideration at the seventy-second session

The Sixth Committee considered the item considered the item at its 18th to 26th and 30th meetings, from 23 to 27 and on 31 October and 1 and 10 November 2017 (see A/C.6/72/SR.18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 and 30).

The Chair of the International Law Commission at its sixty-ninth session introduced the report of the Commission on the work of that session: chapters I to V and XI at the 18th meeting, on 23 October, chapters VI and VII at the 22nd meeting, on 26 October, and chapters VIII to X at the 25th meeting, on 31 October.

Statements were made by the representatives of: Algeria, Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belarus, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Croatia, Cuba, Denmark (on behalf of the Nordic countries), El Salvador (on behalf of CELAC), the Czech Republic, European Union, Estonia, Germany, France, Greece, India, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Malawi, Marshall Islands (on behalf of Pacific Small Island Developing States), Mexico,  Federated States of Micronesia, Mozambique, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway (on behalf of the Nordic countries),Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden (on behalf of the Nordic countries), Switzerland, Thailand, Timor Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago (on behalf of CARICOM), Turkey, Republic of Korea, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America and Viet Nam (see Papersmart portal).

Statements were also made by the representatives of the observers of the Council of Europe, the International Chamber of Commerce and of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

The Special Rapporteurs on the topics, “Crimes against humanity” and “Immunity of State officials from 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-second session, prepared by the Secretariat.

Archived videos of plenary meetings

Video   18th meeting (23 October 2017, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Video   19th meeting (24 October 2017, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Video   20th meeting (25 October 2017, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Video   21st meeting (25 October 2017, 3:00pm – 6:00pm)

Video   22nd meeting (26 October 2017, 3:00pm – 6:00pm)

Video   23rd meeting (27 October 2017, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Video   24th meeting (27 October 2017, 3:00pm – 6:00pm)

Video   25th meeting (31 October 2017, 3:00pm – 6:00pm)

Video   26th meeting (1 November 2017, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Video   30th meeting (10 November 2017, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Consideration at the seventy-second session

At the 30th meeting, on 10 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-ninth session” (A/C.6/72/L.21) and orally revised operative paragraph 38 to include the date for the commencement of the debate on the report of the Commission. The Committee decided under item 121 (“Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly”) that the date would be 22 October 2018 (see A/72/482).

At the same meeting, the Committee adopted draft resolution A/C.6/72/L.21, as orally revised, without a vote.

Under draft resolution (A/C.6/72/L.21), the General Assembly would, among other things, express its appreciation to the International Law Commission for the work accomplished at its sixty-ninth session and recommend that it continue its work on the topics in its current programme, taking into account the comments and observations of Governments, whether submitted in writing or expressed orally in debates in the Sixth Committee. The Assembly would also take note with appreciation of the recommendation of the Commission, in its report, regarding the commemoration of its seventieth anniversary in 2018, with events planned in New York and Geneva, and would encourage States to make voluntary contributions to the trust fund for the Office of Legal Affairs to support the promotion of international law in order to facilitate the commemoration. Furthermore, the General Assembly would decide that the next session of the Commission shall be held at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 30 April to 1 June 2018 and at the United Nations Office at Geneva from 2 July to 10 August 2018.  

This agenda item will be considered at the seventy-third session (2018).

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