Sixth Committee (Legal) — 74th session

Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its seventy-first session (Agenda item 79)

Documentation

Summary of work

Background (source: A/74/100)

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, 72/116, 73/202, 73/203 and 73/265).

At its seventy-third session, the Assembly allocated the item entitled “Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its seventieth session” to the Sixth Committee, where statements in the debate were made by 79 delegations (see A/C.6/73/SR.2030). The Assembly decided that the next session of the International Law Commission would be held at the United Nations Office at Geneva from 29 April to 7 June and from 8 July to 9 August 2019. The Assembly recommended that the debate on the report of the International Law Commission at its seventy-fourth session commence on 28 October 2019 (resolution 73/265).

Consideration at the seventy-fourth session

The Sixth Committee considered the item at its 23rd to 33rd and 35th meetings, from 28 October to 1 November and on 5, 6 and 20 November 2019. The views of the representatives who spoke during the Committee’s consideration of the item are reflected in the relevant summary records (See A/C.6/74/SR.23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 and 35).

The Chair of the International Law Commission at its seventy-first session introduced the report of the Commission on the work of that session at the 23rd meeting, on 28 October, and the Committee considered the report in three clusters, namely: cluster I (chapters I to V and XI) (Other decisions and conclusions of the Commission, Crimes against humanity, and Peremptory norms of general international law (jus cogens)) at its 23rd to 28th meetings, from 28 October to 1 November, cluster II (chapters VI, VIII and X) (Protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts, Immunity of state officials from foreign criminal jurisdiction and Sea-level rise in relation to international law) at its 28th to 31st meetings, on 1 and 5 November, and cluster III (chapters VII and IX) (Succession of States in respect of State responsibility and General principles of law)  at its 31st, 32nd and 33rd meetings, on 5 and 6 November.

Statements were made by the representatives of Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt,  El Salvador, Estonia, the European Union (on behalf of its Member States (the candidate countries the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania, the country of the Stabilization and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the Republic of Moldova and Georgia aligned themselves with the statement)), Fiji (also on behalf of Tuvalu, the Federated States of Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu (the Pacific Small Islands Developing States (PSIDS)), France, Germany, Greece, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jamaica, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), Morocco, Norway (also on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden (Nordic countries)), the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua,  Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland,  Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, the Russian Federation, Senegal, Sierra Leone (on behalf of the African Group), Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, South Africa, the Sudan, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Turkey, Tuvalu (also on behalf of Australia, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu (Pacific Islands Forum)), Ukraine, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United States of America, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam.

Statements were also made by the observers for the Holy See, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) and the Council of Europe.
The Special Rapporteur on the topic “Crimes against humanity”, Mr. Sean Murphy; the Special Rapporteur on the topic “Immunity of state officials from foreign criminal jurisdiction”, Ms. Concepción Escobar Hernández; the Co-chair of the open-ended Study Group on the topic of sea-level rise in relation to international law, Ms. Patricia Galvão Tele; and the Special Rapporteur on the topic “Protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts”, Ms. Marja Lehto, made some remarks.

The Chair of the International Law Commission at the seventy-first session made some concluding 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-fourth session, prepared by the Secretariat.

Archived videos of plenary meetings

Video   23rd meeting (28 October 2019, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Video   24th meeting (29 October 2019, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Video   25th meeting (30 October 2019, 3:00pm – 4:30pm)

Video   26th meeting (31 October 2019, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Video   27th meeting (31 October 2019, 3:00pm – 6:00pm)

Video   28th meeting (1 November 2019, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Video   29th meeting (1 November 2019, 3:00pm – 6:00pm)

Video   30th meeting (5 November 2019, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Video   31st meeting (5 November 2019, 3:00pm – 6:00pm)

Video   32nd meeting (6 November 2019, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Video   33rd meeting (6 November 2019, 3:00pm – 6:00pm)

Video   35th meeting (20 November 2019, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Action taken by the Sixth Committee

At the 35th meeting, on 20 November, the representative of Colombia, on behalf of the Bureau, introduced a draft resolution entitled “Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its seventy-first session” (A/C.6/74/L.20). At the same meeting, the Committee adopted draft resolution A/C.6/74/L.20 without a vote.

Also at the 35th meeting, the representative of Singapore, on behalf of the Bureau, introduced a draft resolution entitled “Crimes against humanity” (A/C.6/74/L.21). At the same meeting, the Committee adopted draft resolution A/C.6/74/L.21 without a vote. After the adoption of the draft resolution, the representative of Austria, on behalf of Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, the Gambia, Germany, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Uruguay, made a statement in explanation of position.

Under the draft resolution entitled “Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its seventy-first session”, the General Assembly would, inter alia, express its appreciation to the Commission for the work accomplished at its seventy-first 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 27 April to 5 June and from 6 July to 7 August 2020.

Under the draft resolution entitled “Crimes against humanity”, the General Assembly would, inter alia, express its appreciation to the International Law Commission for its continuing contribution to the codification and progressive development of international law; take note of the draft articles on prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity, presented by the Commission; and decide to include in the provisional agenda of its seventy-fifth session an item entitled “Crimes against humanity” and to continue to examine the recommendation of the Commission contained in paragraph 42 of its report on the work of its seventy-first session.

These two agenda items will be considered at the seventy-fifth session (2020).

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