Sixth Committee (Legal) — 73rd session

Protection of persons in the event of disasters (Agenda item 90)


Summary of work

Background (source: A/73/100)

At its seventy-first session, the Assembly, under the item entitled “Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its sixty-eighth session”, decided to include in the provisional agenda of its seventy-third session an item entitled “Protection of persons in the event of disasters”. The Assembly invited Governments to submit comments concerning the recommendation by the Commission to elaborate a convention on the basis of the draft articles on the protection of persons in the event of disasters presented by the Commission (resolution 71/141).

Consideration at the seventy-third session

The Sixth Committee considered the item at its 31st and 35th meetings, on 1 November and 13 November 2018 (A/C.6/73/SR.31 and A/C.6/73/SR.35).

For its consideration of the item, the Committee had before it the report of the Secretary-General submitted to the General Assembly at its seventy-third session (A/73/229).

During the debate on this item, statements were made by the representatives of El Salvador (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)), Iceland (also on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway (Nordic Countries)), Honduras, Italy, the Sudan, Switzerland, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, the Russian Federation, Portugal, Singapore, Argentina, Togo, Colombia, the United States, Malaysia, Japan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Peru, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Philippines and Israel.

The representative of the Permanent Observer of the Sovereign Order of Malta also made a statement.

A number of delegations welcomed the inclusion of the item on the agenda of the Sixth Committee and expressed appreciation for the work of the International Law Commission and the Special Rapporteur on the topic.

Delegations noted the proliferation of disasters and several delegations spoke about recent experiences either as an affected State or as a responding State.  The imperative to develop means to prevent or mitigate the effects of disasters was emphasized. 

Several delegations expressed the view that the draft articles provided the basis for the elaboration of an international convention while some delegations raised concerns about specific aspects of certain of the draft articles. Other delegations expressed the view that protection of persons in the event of disasters was best addressed through guidance and practical cooperation.

Archived videos of plenary meetings

Video   31st meeting (1 November 2018, 10:00am – 11:30am)

Video   35th meeting (13 November 2018, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Action taken by the Sixth Committee

At the 35th meeting, on 13 November 2018, the representative of Thailand, on behalf of the Bureau, introduced a draft resolution entitled “Protection of persons in the event of disasters” (A/C.6/73/L.26), which was adopted without a vote by the Committee at the same meeting.

Under the draft resolution, the General Assembly would recall its resolution 71/141 of 13 December 2016, in which it took note of the International Law Commission’s draft articles on the protection of persons in the event of disasters.
The Assembly would also recall that the Commission decided to recommend to the General Assembly the elaboration of a convention on the basis of the draft articles and would note with concern the increasing number of disasters in the world as well as their intensity and impact on affected populations.

The Assembly would take note of the views and comments expressed in the debates of the Sixth Committee at the seventy-third session of the General Assembly on this topic, as well as the comments and observations received from Governments on the draft articles and on any future action thereon.

The Assembly would once again take note of the draft articles, would bring to the attention of States the recommendation of the International Law Commission that a Convention be elaborated on the basis of the draft articles and request the Secretary-General to invite Governments that have not yet done so to submit comments thereon.

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

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