Sixth Committee (Legal) — 72nd session

Responsibility of international organizations (Agenda item 87)

Documentation

Summary of work

Background (source: A/72/100)

At its sixty-sixth session, in 2011, the General Assembly, under the item entitled “Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its sixty-third session”, considered chapter V of the report of the Commission, which contained the draft articles on responsibility of international organizations together with a recommendation that the Assembly take note of the draft articles and that it consider, at a later stage, the elaboration of a convention on the basis of the draft articles. The Assembly took note of the articles, the text of which was annexed to resolution 66/100, and commended them to the attention of Governments and international organizations without prejudice to the question of their future adoption or other appropriate action (resolution 66/100).

At its sixty-ninth session, the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to invite Governments and international organizations to submit their written comments on any future action regarding the articles. It also requested the Secretary-General to prepare an initial compilation of decisions of international courts, tribunals and other bodies referring to the articles and to invite Governments and international organizations to submit information on their practice in that regard. It further requested him to submit that material to the Assembly at its seventy-second session (resolution 69/126).

Consideration at the seventy-second session

The Sixth Committee considered the item at its 15th and 30th meetings, on 13 October and 10 November 2017, respectively (see A/C.6/72/SR.15 and 30).

Statements were made by the representatives of Denmark (on behalf of the Nordic countries), the United States of America, Mexico, the Sudan, Singapore, Guatemala, the Russian Federation, El Salvador, Cuba, Israel, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Malaysia, Australia, Greece, Uruguay and Portugal.

Stressing the increasing importance of international organizations in international relations, delegations welcomed the articles on the responsibility of international organizations, as adopted by the International Law Commission in 2011, as a useful tool in addressing internationally wrongful acts by international organizations. While some delegations favored the elaboration of a convention on the basis of the articles, many delegations noted that the drafting of a convention would be premature. Some delegations suggested that the articles should be taken note of and annexed to a General Assembly resolution. Those delegations expressing their reservations with regard to the elaboration of a convention noted the continuing lack of practice with regard to the articles, and several open questions in relation to particular provisions in the articles, notably those on countermeasures, self-defense and necessity. While several delegations welcomed the approach taken by the International Law Commission in drafting the articles on the responsibility of international organizations by closely following the 2001 articles on the responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts, others observed that international organizations were quite different from States and that the use of analogies required thorough analysis. A number of delegations also pointed out the differences among various international organizations, which based their practice on their constituent instruments and other relevant rules.

Several delegations emphasized the need for further study and understanding of the articles before further action on the basis of the articles could be taken. For this purpose, the compilation of international courts and tribunals referring to the articles on responsibility of international organizations should be continuously updated. Delegations favored that the item “Responsibility of international organizations” be kept on the agenda of the General Assembly. Some delegations expressed the view that the consideration of the item should be aligned with that of the State responsibility articles and the articles on diplomatic protection, as all three sets of articles were interrelated. Others stated that the articles on the responsibility of international organizations should only be considered after the articles on State responsibility.

Archived videos of plenary meetings

Video   15th meeting (13 October 2017, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

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

Action taken by the Sixth Committee

At the 30th meeting, on 10 November 2017, the representative of Brazil, on behalf of the Bureau, introduced a draft resolution entitled “Responsibility of international organizations” (A/C.6/72/L.22). At the same meeting, the Committee adopted draft resolution A/C.6/72/L.22 without a vote.

By the terms of the draft resolution, the General Assembly would take note once again of the articles on the responsibility of international organizations, and commend them to the attention of Governments and international organizations without prejudice to the question of their future adoption or other appropriate action. The Assembly request the Secretary-General to update the compilation of decisions of international courts, tribunals and other bodies referring to the articles and to invite Governments and international organizations to submit information on their practice in this regard, as well as written comments on any future action regarding the articles, and also request the Secretary-General to submit this material well in advance of its seventy-fifth session. Finally, the Assembly would decide to include in the provisional agenda of its seventy-fifth session the item entitled “Responsibility of international organizations”, with a view to examining, inter alia, the question of the form that might be given to the articles.

Subsequent action taken by the General Assembly

This agenda item will be considered at the seventy-fifth session (2020).

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