Sixth Committee (Legal) — 73rd session

Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its seventieth session (Agenda item 82)

Documentation

Summary of work

Background (source: A/73/100)

At its second session, the General Assembly, under the agenda item entitled “Establishment of an International Law Commission”, resolved to establish the International Law Commission, 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) (subsequently amended in resolutions 485 (V)984 (X)985 (X) and 36/39), provides that the Commission should submit reports to the Assembly.

At its fourth session, the Assembly adopted the resolution entitled “Approval of part I of the report of the International Law Commission covering its first session” (resolution 373 (IV)). The Assembly had the item entitled “Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its … session” on its agenda at its sixth, seventh and twelfth to eighteenth sessions and has had the item on its agenda annually since its twentieth session (resolutions 601 (VI), 683 (VII), 1185 (XII), 1290 (XIII), 1399 (XIV), 1504 (XV), 1686 (XVI), 1765 (XVII), 1902 (XVIII), 2045 (XX), 2167 (XXI), 2272 (XXII), 2400 (XXIII), 2501 (XXIV), 2634 (XXV), 2780 (XXVI), 2926 (XXVII), 3071 (XXVIII), 3315 (XXIX), 3495 (XXX), 31/97, 32/151, 33/139, 34/141, 35/163, 36/113, 36/114, 37/111, 37/112, 38/138, 39/85, 40/75, 41/81, 42/156, 43/169, 44/35, 44/36, 45/41, 46/54, 46/55, 47/33, 48/31, 49/51 to 49/53, 50/45, 51/160, 52/156, 53/102, 54/111, 54/112, 55/152, 56/82, 56/83, 57/21, 58/77, 59/41, 60/22, 61/34 to 61/36, 62/66, 63/123, 63/124, 64/114, 65/26, 66/98 to 66/100, 67/92, 68/111, 68/112, 69/118, 69/119, 70/236, 71/140, 71/141 and 72/116).

At its seventy-second session, the Assembly allocated the item entitled “Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its sixty-ninth session” to the Sixth Committee, where statements in the debate were made by 65 delegations (see A/C.6/72/SR.1826). The Assembly decided that the next session of the International Law Commission would 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. The Assembly recommended that the debate on the report of the International Law Commission at its seventy-third session commence on 22 October 2018 (resolution 72/116).

Consideration at the seventy-third session

The Sixth Committee considered the item at its 20th to 30th and 35th meetings, from 22 to 26 October, on 30 and 31 October and on 13 November 2018 (See A/C.6/73/SR.20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and 35).

The Chair of the International Law Commission at its seventieth session introduced the report of the Commission on the work of that session: chapters I to V, XII and XIII at the 20th meeting, on 22 October, chapters VI to VIII at the 24th meeting, on 25 October, and chapters IX to XI at the 28th meeting, on 30 October.

Statements were made by the representatives of: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, the Bahamas (on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)), Belarus, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark (also on behalf of Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden (Nordic countries)), Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)), El Salvador, Estonia, the European Union (also on behalf of its member States and of the candidate countries, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania, the country of the Stabilization and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova), the European Union (also on behalf of its Member States), the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Finland (also on behalf of Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden (Nordic countries)), France, the Gambia (on behalf of the African Group), Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Malawi, Malaysia, the Marshall Islands (on behalf of the Pacific Island Forum), Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Poland, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, Romania, the Russian Federation, Samoa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, the Sudan, Sweden (also on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Norway (Nordic countries)), Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Tonga, Turkey, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United States of America, Ukraine, Uruguay, and Viet Nam.

The representative of the Philippines made a statement in the exercise of the right of reply.

Statements were also made by the representatives of the observers of the Holy See, the Council of Europe, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

The Special Rapporteur on the topic “Subsequent agreements and subsequent practice in relation to the interpretation of treaties”, Mr. Georg Nolte, and the Special Rapporteur on the topic “Identification of customary international law”, Sir Michael Wood, 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-third session, prepared by the Secretariat.

Archived videos of plenary meetings

Video   20th meeting (22 October 2018, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Video   21st meeting (23 October 2018, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Video   22nd meeting (24 October 2018, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Video   23rd meeting (24 October 2018, 3:00pm – 4:30pm)

Video   24th meeting (25 October 2018, 3:00pm – 6:00pm)

Video   25th meeting (26 October 2018, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Video   26th meeting (26 October 2018, 3:00pm – 6:00pm)

Video   27th meeting (30 October 2018, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Video   28th meeting (30 October 2018, 3:00pm – 6:00pm)

Video   29th meeting (31 October 2018, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Video   30th meeting (31 October 2018, 3:00pm – 6:00pm)

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 Peru, on behalf of the Bureau, introduced a draft resolution entitled “Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its seventieth session” (A/C.6/73/L.22). The Committee also had before it a statement submitted by the Secretary-General in accordance with rule 153 of the rules of procedure of the General Assembly concerning the programme budget implications of draft resolution A/C.6/73/L.22 (A/C.6/73/L.29). At the same meeting, the Committee adopted draft resolution A/C.6/73/L.22 without a vote.

Also at the 35th meeting, the representative of Belarus, on behalf of the Bureau, introduced a draft resolution entitled “Subsequent agreements and subsequent practice in relation to the interpretation of treaties” (A/C.6/73/L.23). At the same meeting, the Committee adopted draft resolution A/C.6/73/L.23 without a vote.

Also at the 35th meeting, the representative of Georgia, on behalf of the Bureau, introduced a draft resolution entitled “Identification of customary international law” (A/C.6/73/L.24). At the same meeting, the Committee adopted draft resolution A/C.6/73/L.24 without a vote.

Under the draft resolution entitled “Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its seventieth session”, the General Assembly would, inter alia, express its appreciation to the Commission for the work accomplished at its seventieth session, and recommend that it continue its work on the topics in its current programme, taking into account the comments and observations of Governments. Furthermore, the General Assembly would decide that the next session of the Commission be held at United Nations Office at Geneva from 29 April to 7 June and from 8 July to 9 August 2019.

Under the draft resolution entitled “Subsequent agreements and subsequent practice in relation to the interpretation of treaties”, the General Assembly would, inter alia, welcome the conclusion of the work of the International Law Commission on subsequent agreements and subsequent practice in relation to the interpretation of treaties, and its adoption of the draft conclusions and commentaries thereto, and also take note of the conclusions on subsequent agreements and subsequent practice in relation to the interpretation of treaties, the text of which would be annexed to the resolution, with the commentaries thereto, bring them to the attention of States and all who may be called upon to interpret treaties, and encourage their widest possible dissemination.

Under the draft resolution entitled “Identification of customary international law”, the General Assembly would, inter alia, welcome the conclusion of the work of the International Law Commission on identification of customary international law and its adoption of the draft conclusions and commentaries thereto, and also take note of the conclusions on identification of customary international law, the text of which would be annexed to the resolution, with the commentaries thereto, bring them to the attention of States and all who may be called upon to identify rules of customary international law, and encourage their widest possible dissemination.

This agenda item will be considered at the seventy-fourth session (2019).

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