According to Article 13, paragraph (1)(a), of the Charter of the United Nations, the General Assembly is mandated to encourage the progressive development of international law and its codification. The progressive development of international law encompasses the drafting of legal rules in fields that have not yet been regulated by international law or sufficiently addressed in State practice. In contrast, the codification of international law refers to the more precise formulation and systematization of rules of international law on subjects that have already been extensively covered by State practice, precedent and doctrine.
The Codification Division of the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs assists the General Assembly in carrying out the above-mentioned mandate, in particular by providing substantive secretariat services to relevant bodies established by the Assembly, such as the International Law Commission, as well as the Assembly’s Sixth (Legal) Committee, and to diplomatic conferences of plenipotentiaries convened to negotiate multilateral treaties. The Codification Division also assists in the precise formulation and systematization of rules of international law by preparing analytical research studies in various fields of international law. It promotes the universal respect for international law, especially by providing the legislative (legal bodies) of the General Assembly with assistance in enhancing compliance of States with their obligations under the Charter or other legal instruments, or under general international law. The Codification Division also encourages and facilitates the teaching, study, dissemination and wider appreciation of international law, by planning and implementing the Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law.
This website provides access to information on the work of the various bodies established to carry-out the General Assembly’s mandate to encourage the progressive development and codification of international law such as the Sixth (Legal) Committee and the International Law Commission. It also provides access to information on the different activities of the Programme of Assistance, including the training courses in international law offered by the United Nations, the Audiovisual Library of International Law, and the publications prepared by the Codification Division.