On the occasion of its seventieth anniversary session, the International Law Commission, under the overall theme “70 Years of the International Law Commission: Drawing a Balance for the Future”, will hold a special commemorative event at United Nations Headquarters on 21 May. Further commemorative events are scheduled to take place at the Palais des Nations, in Geneva, on 5 and 6 July. The complete programme of events can be found at legal.un.org/ilc/sessions/70/70thanniversary/.
The commemorative events offer an occasion for reflection on the achievements of the Commission in the progressive development of international law and its codification in the past 70 years, as well as an opportunity to look ahead to the Commission’s future. Issues to be addressed include the relationship between the Commission and the Sixth Committee (Legal) of the United Nations General Assembly; the impact and the authority of the Commission; and its membership and composition, including geographical, generational and gender diversity.
The New York segment, on 21 May, will consist of a solemn half-day meeting, followed by a half-day informal interactive conversation with delegates to the Sixth Committee. The solemn meeting will commence at 11 a.m. in the Trusteeship Council Chamber, with statements by Eduardo Valencia-Ospina, Chair of the International Law Commission; Miguel de Serpa Soares, the United Nations Legal Counsel; Miroslav Lajčák, President of the General Assembly of the United Nations; Burhan Gafoor, Chair of the Sixth Committee; Jürg Lauber, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations; and Jennifer G. Newstead, Legal Adviser of the Department of State of the United States. The statements will be followed by a keynote address by Professor Nico Schrijver, President of the Institut de Droit International.
The informal interactive conversation with delegations to the Sixth Committee will take place in the afternoon of 21 May, from 3 p.m. It will comprise two panel discussions with legal advisers of Member States and members of the International Law Commission. The first panel, entitled, “The Commission and the Sixth Committee: Structural challenges”, will be chaired by Eduardo Valencia-Ospina, Chair of the International Law Commission. The second panel, entitled “The Commission and the Sixth Committee: Reflections on the interaction in the past and the future”, will be chaired by Burhan Gafoor, Chair of the Sixth Committee.
The events in Geneva, to be held on 5 and 6 July, will also feature a solemn part, followed by a meeting with legal advisers from Member States and other international law experts, focusing on general and practical matters concerning the Commission and its cooperation with Member States in the progressive development of international law and its codification.
During the solemn part, starting at 11 a.m. in the Council Chamber (Old Building), statements are expected to be delivered by Eduardo Valencia-Ospina, Chair of the International Law Commission; Michael Møller, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva; Miguel de Serpa Soares, the United Nations Legal Counsel; the Director-General of International Law, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs; and Kate Gilmore, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights. The keynote address will be delivered by Abdulqawi Yusuf, President of the International Court of Justice.
Following the solemn meeting, a series of panel discussions will take place over two days, involving legal advisers from Member States, members of the International Law Commission and representatives from academia. The panels will address “The Commission and its impact”, “The working methods of the Commission”, “The function of the Commission: how much identifying, how much proposing new law?”, “The changing landscape of international law”, and “The authority and the membership of the Commission in the future”.
The events in New York and Geneva are accompanied by a photo exhibit, examining the achievements of the International Law Commission and placing its work in the historical context of the wider codification movement. The exhibit will be on display at the Visitors’ Lobby of the General Assembly Building in New York, from 30 April to 3 June, and at the Palais des Nations in Geneva in July.
The commemorative events are made possible thanks to the generous contributions by Member States of the United Nations and other institutions, a full list of which is available on the website of the Commission.
Consisting of 34 persons of recognized competence in international law, the International Law Commission was established by the General Assembly pursuant to its resolution 174 (II) of 24 November 1947 with the object of promoting the progressive development and codification of international law, in accordance with Article 13(1)(a) of the Charter of the United Nations. It meets annually for about two months, typically at its seat in Geneva. Its first session in 1949 was held at Lake Success in New York. The Commission’s efforts over the decades have notably led to the adoption of the Geneva Conventions on the law of the sea; the Vienna Conventions on diplomatic and consular relations; the Vienna Conventions on the Law of Treaties; the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents; the Vienna Conventions on the law of State succession; the Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses; and the Convention on Jurisdictional Immunities of States and their Property. The Commission was also instrumental in the establishment of the International Criminal Court.
For further information about the events, the Secretary of the Commission may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1 917 963 5331.