International Law Commission International Law Commission

Last update: September 22, 2017

Analytical Guide to the Work of the International Law Commission

Protection of persons in the event of disasters

See also: Summary | Texts and Instruments

Mandate

Studies undertaken by the Secretariat and Reports of the Secretary-General

  • 60th session of the International Law Commission (2008)
    • Memorandum by the Secretariat

Reports of the Working Group or Sub-Committee

None

Reports of the Special Rapporteur

  • Discussion of the background to the inclusion of the report in the work programme of the Commission, the applicable sources, the scope of the topic and the possible eventual form of the outcome of the Commission's work
    • Preliminary report of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Eduardo Valencia-Ospina (60th session of the ILC (2008))
  • Defining the scope of the topic (ratione materiae, ratione personae, ratione temporis), definition of "disaster", the principle of solidarity and cooperation, as well as a discussion on future work.
    • Second report of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Eduardo Valencia-Ospina (61st session of the ILC (2009))
  • Consideration of the humanitarian principles (humanity, neutrality and impartiality), as well as of human dignity, and the first part of the treatment of the responsibility of the affected State.
    • Third report of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Eduardo Valencia-Ospina (62nd session of the ILC (2010))
  • Consideration of the responsibility of the affected State to seek assistance where its national response capacity is exceeded, the duty of the affected State not to arbitrarily withhold its consent to external assistance and the right to offer assistance in the international community.
    • Fourth report of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Eduardo Valencia-Ospina (63rd session of the ILC (2011))
  • Elaboration on the duty to cooperate; consideration of the conditions for the provision of assistance (compliance with national laws, identifying needs and quality control, and limitations on conditions under international law); and consideration of the termination of assistance.
    • Fifth report of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Eduardo Valencia-Ospina (64th session of the ILC (2012))
  • Consideration of prevention, mitigation and preparedness in respect of disasters, including the historical development of the concept of disaster risk reduction, prevention as a principle of international law, international cooperation on prevention, and national policy and legislation.
    • Sixth report of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Eduardo Valencia-Ospina (65th session of the ILC (2013))
  • Consideration of the protection of relief personnel and their equipment and goods, as well as proposals for general provisions and for the use of terms.
    • Seventh report of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Eduardo Valencia-Ospina (66th session of the ILC (2014))
  • Review of comments and observations made by Governments, international organizations and other entities on the draft articles on the protection of persons in the event of disasters as adopted on first reading, in 2014, together with the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur. Proposal of the Special Rapporteur for a preamble. Recommendation of the Special Rapporteur for the final form of the draft articles.
    • Eighth report of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Eduardo Valencia-Ospina (68th session of the ILC (2016))

Reports of the Drafting Committee

  • 61st session of the International Law Commission (2009)
    • Text and titles of draft articles 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 as provisionally adopted by the Drafting Committee
    • Statement of the Chairman of the Drafting Committee
  • 62nd session of the International Law Commission (2010)
    • Text and titles of draft articles 6, 7, 8 and 9 provisionally adopted by the Drafting Committee on 6, 7 and 8 July 2010
    • Statement of the Chairman of the Drafting Committee
  • 63rd session of the International Law Commission (2011)
    • Text and titles of draft articles 10 and 11 provisionally adopted by the Drafting Committee on 19 July 2011
    • Statement of the Chairman of the Drafting Committee
  • 64th session of the International Law Commission (2012)
    • Texts and titles of draft articles 5 bis, 12, 13, 14 and 15, provisionally adopted by the Drafting Committee from 5 to 11 July 2012
    • Statement of the Chairman of the Drafting Committee
  • 65th session of the International Law Commission (2013)
    • Texts and titles of draft articles 5 ter and 16, provisionally adopted by the Drafting Committee on 17 July 2013
    • Statement of the Chairman of the Drafting Committee
  • 66th session of the International Law Commission (2014)
    • Texts and titles of the draft articles adopted by the Drafting Committee on first reading
    • Statement of the Chairman of the Drafting Committee
  • 68th session of the International Law Commission (2016)
    • Titles and texts of the preamble and draft articles 1 to 18 of the draft articles on the Protection of persons in the event of disasters adopted, on second reading, by the Drafting Committee
    • Statement of the Chairman of the Drafting Committee

Comments by Governments

 
 
 

Other

None

Reports of the International Law Commission

  • Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its fifty-ninth session, 7 May to 5 June and 9 July to 10 August 2007
    • Decided to include the topic in its current programme of work and appointed Eduardo Valencia-Ospina as Special Rapporteur.
    • Discussion in Plenary: 2929th meeting (1 June 2007)
  • ILC Report, A/62/10, 2007, chap. X.A.4, para.375
  • See the website of the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly and the topical summary of debate in the Sixth Committee (A/CN.4/588)
  • Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its sixtieth session, 5 May to 6 June and 7 July to 8 August 2008
    • The Commission had before it the preliminary report of the Special Rapporteur (A/CN.4/598), tracing the evolution of the protection of persons in the event of disasters, identifying the sources of the law on the topic, as well as previous efforts towards codification and development of the law in the area, presenting in broad outline the various aspects of the general scope with a view to identifying the main legal questions to be covered and advancing tentative conclusions without prejudice to the outcome of the discussion that the report aimed to trigger in the Commission. The Commission also had before it a memorandum by the Secretariat, focusing primarily on natural disasters (A/CN.4/590 and Add.1 to 3) and providing an overview of existing legal instruments and texts applicable to a variety of aspects of disaster prevention and relief assistance, as well as of the protection of persons in the event of disasters.
    • Discussion in Plenary: 2978th, 2979th, 2980th, 2981st and 2982nd meetings, on 15 to 18 and 22 July 2008, respectively.
  • ILC Report, A/63/10, 2008, chap. IX, paras. 214–264
  • See the website of the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly and the topical summary of debate in the Sixth Committee (A/CN.4/606 and Add.1)
  • Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its sixty-first session, 4 May to 5 June and 6 July to 7 August 2009
    • The Commission had before it the second report of the Special Rapporteur (A/CN.4/615 and Corr.1) analysing the scope of the topic ratione materiae, ratione personae and ratione temporis, and issues relating to the definition of “disaster” for purposes of the topic, as well as undertaking a consideration of the basic duty to cooperate. The report further contained proposals for draft articles 1 (Scope), 2 (Definition of disaster). and 3 (Duty to cooperate). The Commission also had before it the Memorandum by the Secretariat (A/CN.4/590 and Add.1–3), as well as written replies submitted by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to the questions addressed to them by the Commission in 2008.
    • At its 3019th meeting, on 10 July 2009, the Commission referred draft articles 1 to 3 to the Drafting Committee, on the understanding that if no agreement was possible on draft article 3, it could be referred back to the Plenary with a view to establishing a Working Group to discuss the draft article.
    • At its 3029th meeting, on 31 July 2009, the Commission received the report of the Drafting Committee and took note of draft articles 1 to 5, as provisionally adopted by the Drafting Committee (A/CN.4/L.758).
    • Discussion in Plenary: 3015th, 3016th, 3017th, 3018th, 3019th meetings, from 6 to 10 July 2009, as well as 3029th meeting, on 31 July 2009.
  • ILC Report, A/64/10, 2009, chap. VII, paras. 147–183
  • See the website of the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly and the topical summary of debate in the Sixth Committee (A/CN.4/620 and Add.1)
  • Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its sixty-second session, 3 May to 4 June and 5 July to 6 August 2010
    • The Commission had before it the third report of the Special Rapporteur (A/CN.4/629) providing an overview of the views of States on the work undertaken by the Commission thus far, a consideration of the principles that inspire the protection of persons in the event of disasters, in its aspect related to persons in need of protection, and a consideration of the question of the responsibility of the affected State. Proposals for the following three further draft articles were made in the report: draft articles 6 (Humanitarian principles in disaster response), 7 (Human dignity) and 8 (Primary responsibility of the affected State).
    • At its 3057th meeting, on 4 June 2010, the Commission referred draft articles 6 to 8 to the Drafting Committee.
    • At its 3067th meeting, on 20 July 2010, the Commission received the report of the Drafting Committee and took note of draft articles 6 to 9, as provisionally adopted by the Drafting Committee (A/CN.4/L.776).
    • The Commission adopted the report of the Drafting Committee on draft articles 1 to 5, which had been considered at the Commission’s previous session, at the 3057th meeting, held on 4 June 2010.
    • At its 3072nd meeting, on 2 August 2010, the Commission adopted commentaries to draft articles 1 to 5.
    • Discussion in Plenary: 3054th, 3055th, 3056th, 3057th meetings (1to 4 June 2010) and 3067th (20 July 2010) and 3072nd (2 August 2010) meetings.
  • ILC Report, A/65/10, 2010, chap. VII, paras. 290–331
  • See the website of the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly and the topical summary of debate in the Sixth Committee (A/CN.4/638)
  • Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its sixty-third session, 26 April to 3 June and 4 July to 12 August 2011
    • The Commission had before it the fourth report of the Special Rapporteur (A/CN.4/643 and Corr.1) providing an overview of the views of States on the work undertaken by the Commission thus far, a consideration of the responsibility of the affected State to seek assistance where its national response capacity is exceeded, the duty of the affected State not to arbitrarily withhold its consent to external assistance as well as the right to offer assistance in the international community. Proposals for the following three further draft articles were made in the report: draft articles 10 (Duty of the affected State to seek assistance), 11 (Duty of the affected State not to arbitrarily withhold its consent) and 12 (Right to offer assistance).
    • The Commission considered the fourth report at its 3102nd to 3105th and 3107th meetings, from 11 to 14 and 18 July 2011.
    • At its 3107th meeting, on 18 July 2011, the Commission referred draft articles 10 to 12 to the Drafting Committee.
    • The Commission adopted the report of the Drafting Committee on draft articles 6 to 9, which had been considered at the Commission’s previous session, at the 3102nd meeting, held on 11 July 2011. The Commission further adopted the report of the Drafting Committee on draft articles 10 and 11 at the 3116th meeting, held on 2 August 2011.
    • At its 3122nd meeting, on 9 August 2011, the Commission adopted commentaries to draft articles 6 to 11.
    • Discussion in Plenary: 3102nd, 3103rd, 3104th, 3105th and 3107th meetings (11 to 14 and 18 July 2011), and 3116th and 3122nd meetings (2 and 9 August 2011).
  • ILC Report, A/66/10, 2011, chap. XI, paras. 264–289
  • See the website of the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly and the topical summary of debate in the Sixth Committee (A/CN.4/650 and Add.1)
  • Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its sixty-fourth session, 7 May to 1 June and 2 July to 3 August 2012
    • At the present session, the Commission had before it the fifth report of the Special Rapporteur (A/CN.4/652) providing an overview of the views of States on the work undertaken by the Commission thus far, a brief discussion of the Special Rapporteur’s position on the Commission’s question in Chapter III.C of its 2011 annual report, as well as a further elaboration of the duty to cooperate. The report also contained a discussion of the conditions for the provision of assistance and the question of the termination of assistance. Proposals for the following three further draft articles were made in the report: draft articles A (Elaboration of the duty to cooperate), 13 (Conditions on the provisions of assistance) and 14 (Termination of assistance).
    • The Commission considered the fifth report at its 3138th to 3142nd meetings, from 2 to 6 July 2012.
    • At its 3142nd meeting, on 6 July 2012, the Commission referred draft articles A, 13 and 14 to the Drafting Committee.
    • At its 3152nd meeting, on 30 July 2012, the Commission received the report of the Drafting Committee and took note of draft articles 5 bis and 12 to 15, as provisionally adopted by the Draft Committee (A/CN.4/L.812).
    • Discussion in Plenary: 3138th, 3139th, 3140th, 3141st, 3142nd meetings (2 to 6 July 2012), and 3152nd (30 July 2012)
  • ILC Report, A/67/10, 2012, chap. V, paras. 47–81
  • See the website of the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly and the topical summary of debate in the Sixth Committee (A/CN.4/657)
  • Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its sixty-fifth session, 6 May to 7 June and 8 July to 9 August 2013
    • The Commission had before it the sixth report of the Special Rapporteur (A/CN.4/662) dealing with aspects of prevention in the context of the protection of persons in the event of disasters, including disaster risk reduction, prevention as a principle of international law, and international cooperation on prevention. The report further provided an overview of national policy and legislation. Proposals for the following two draft articles were made in the report: draft articles 5 ter (Cooperation for disaster risk reduction) and 16 (Duty to prevent).
    • At its 3180th meeting, on 16 July 2013, the Commission referred draft articles 5 ter and 16 to the Drafting Committee.
    • The Commission adopted the report of the Drafting Committee on draft articles 5 bis and 12 to 15, which had been considered at the previous session, at the 3162nd meeting, held on 10 May 2013. The Commission further adopted the report of the Drafting Committee on draft articles 5 ter and 16, at the 3187th meeting, held on 26 July 2013.
    • At its 3190th and 3191st meeting, on 2 and 5 August 2013, the Commission adopted commentaries to draft articles 5 bis, 5 ter and 12 to 16.
    • Discussion in Plenary: 3175th, 3176th, 3177th, 3178th, 3179th and 3180th meetings, from 8 to 16 July 2013.
  • ILC Report, A/68/10, 2013, chap. VI, paras. 50–62
  • See the website of the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly and the topical summary of debate in the Sixth Committee (A/CN.4/666)
  • Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its sixty-sixth session, 5 May–6 June and 7 July–8 August 2014
    • The Commission had before it the seventh report of the Special Rapporteur (A/CN.4/668 and Corr.1 and Add.1) dealing with the protection of relief personnel and their equipment and goods, and included a proposal for draft article 14 bis (protection of relief personnel, equipment and goods). The report further considered the relationship of the draft articles being developed and other rules, and included proposals for draft articles 17 (Relationship with special rules of international law), 18 (Matters related to disaster situations not regulated by the present draft articles) and 19 (Relationship to the Charter of the United Nations). The report also contained a proposal for draft article 3 bis (Use of terms).
    • The Commission considered the seventh report at its 3198th to 3201st meetings, from 5 to 8 May 2014. At its 3201st meeting, on 8 May 2014, the Commission referred draft articles 3 bis, 14 bis, 17, 18 and 19 to the Drafting Committee. The Commission considered and adopted the report of the Drafting Committee on draft articles 1 [1] to 21 [4], at the 3213th meeting, held on 30 May 2014. It, accordingly, adopted a set of 21 articles on the protection of persons in the event of disasters on first reading. At its 3238th and 3239th meetings, on 5 and 6 August 2014, the Commission adopted the commentaries to the draft articles on the protection of persons in the event of disasters on first reading.
    • At its 3239th meeting, on 6 August 2014, the Commission decided, in accordance with articles 16 to 21 of its Statute, to transmit the draft articles, through the Secretary-General, to Governments, competent international organizations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies for comments and observations, with the request that such comments and observations be submitted to the Secretary-General by 1 January 2016. The Commission also indicated that it would welcome comments and observations on the draft articles from the United Nations, including the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, by the same date.
    • Discussion in Plenary: 3198th, 3199th, 3200th, 3201st, 3202nd meetings (5 to 8 May 2014), 3213th meeting (30 May 2014), and 3238th and 3239th meetings (5 and 6 August 2014).
  • ILC Report, A/69/10, 2014, chap. V, paras 46–56
  • Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its sixty-eighth session, 2 May–10 June and 4 July–12 August 2016
    • The Commission had before it the the eighth report of the Special Rapporteur (A/CN.4/697), as well as comments and observations received from Governments, international organizations and other entities (A/CN.4/696 and Add.1).
    • The Commission considered the eighth report of the Special Rapporteur at its 3291st to 3296th meetings from 2 to 11 May 2016. At its 3296th meeting, held on 11 May 2016, the Commission referred the draft preamble, proposed by the Special Rapporteur in his eighth report, and draft articles 1 to 21 to the Drafting Committee, with the instruction that the Drafting Committee commence the second reading of the draft articles taking into account the comments of Governments, international organizations and other entities, the proposals of the Special Rapporteur and the debate in the plenary on the Special Rapporteur’s eighth report.
    • The Commission considered the report of the Drafting Committee (A/CN.4/L.871) at its 3310th meeting, held on 3 June 2016, and adopted the entire set of draft articles on the protection of persons in the event of disasters, on second reading, at the same meeting.
    • At its 3332nd to 3335th meetings, from 2 to 4 August 2016, the Commission adopted the commentaries to the aforementioned draft articles.
    • At its 3335th meeting, held on 4 August 2016, the Commission decided, in accordance with article 23 of its statute, to recommend to the General Assembly the elaboration of a convention on the basis of the draft articles on the protection of persons in the event of disasters.
    • Discussion in Plenary: 3291st, 3292nd, 3293rd, 3294th, 3295th, 3296th (from 2 to 11 May 2016), 3310th (3 June 2016), 3332nd, 3333rd, 3334th, and 3335th (2 to 4 August 2016) meetings.
  • ILC Report, A/71/10, 2016, chap. IV, paras 38–49

General Assembly Action

  • Resolution 62/66 of 6 December 2007
    • Took note of the decision of the International Law Commission to include the topic in its programme of work.
  • See the website of the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly and the topical summary of debate in the Sixth Committee (A/CN.4/588)
  • Resolution 63/123 of 11 December 2008
    • Drew the attention of Governments to the importance for the International Law Commission of having their viewsregarding practice with regard to the topic.
    • Invited Governments to provide information to the International Law Commission regarding practice on the topic.
    • Encouraged the International Law Commission to undertake consultations, if it finds it appropriate, with key humanitarian actors, including the United Nations and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, in connection with work on the topic.
  • See the website of the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly and the topical summary of debate in the Sixth Committee (A/CN.4/606 and Add.1)

Final Outcome

International Law Commission (68th session, 2016)