International Law Commission International Law Commission

Last update: September 22, 2017

Analytical Guide to the Work of the International Law Commission

Protection of the atmosphere

See also: Summary | Texts and Instruments

Mandate

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

None

Reports of the Working Group or Sub-Committee

None

Reports of the Special Rapporteur

  • Description of the rationale for the topic and the basic approach taken. Discussion of the historical evolution of the protection of the atmosphere in international law. Reference made to the sources relevant to the progressive development and codification of the law on the topic, together with information on the physical characteristics of the atmosphere, to serve as a basis for defining the atmosphere in legal terms. A broad outline of the various elements comprising the general scope of the projects is provided, with a view to identifying the main legal questions to be covered. Discussion of the legal status of the atmosphere.
    • First report of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Shinya Murase (66th session of the ILC (2014))
  • New set of draft guidelines, incorporating changes made to the original proposals presented in the first report, concerning: definitions, scope, basic principles concerning the protection of the atmosphere, degradation of atmospheric conditions as a common concern of humankind, general obligation of States to protect the atmosphere, and international cooperation.
    • Second report of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Shinya Murase (67th session of the ILC (2015))
  • Further consideration of the obligation of States to protect the atmosphere, as initially proposed as draft guideline 4 in the second report, addressing such issues as the duty to prevent transboundary atmospheric pollution, the duty to mitigate the risk of global atmospheric degradation and the duty to assess environmental impacts. Discussion of obligations of sustainable and equitable utilization of the atmosphere, including legal limits on intentional modification of the atmosphere. The report also contains proposals for a preambular paragraph and five new draft guidelines.
    • Third report of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Shinya Murase (68th session of the ILC (2016))
  • Consideration of the interrelationship between international law on the protection of the atmosphere and other fields of international law, namely, international trade and investment law (section II), the law of the sea (section III) and international human rights law (section IV). Proposals for draft guidelines 9 to 12.
    • Fourth report of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Shinya Murase (69th session of the ILC (2017))

Reports of the Drafting Committee

  • 67th session of the International Law Commission (2015)
    • Text of draft conclusions 1, 2 and 5, and preambular paragraphs, provisionally adopted by the Drafting Committee at the sixty-seventh session
    • Statement of the Chairman of the Drafting Committee
  • 68th session of the International Law Commission (2016)
    • Titles and texts of draft guidelines 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7, together with a preambular paragraph, provisionally adopted by the Drafting Committee on 7, 8 and 9 June 2016
    • Statement of the Chairman of the Drafting Committee
  • 69th session of the International Law Commission (2017)
    • Text of draft guideline 9 and preambular paragraphs as provisionally adopted by the Drafting Committee during the sixty-ninth session
    • Statement of the Chairman of the Drafting Committee

Comments by Governments

 
 
  • 69th session of the International Law Commission (2017)
    • Information submitted by: Mexico.
 

Other

None

Reports of the International Law Commission

  • 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
    • At its 3197th meeting, on 9 August 2013, the Commission decided to include the topic “Protection of the atmosphere” in its programme of work (on the understanding indicated above) and to appoint Mr. Shinya Murase as the Special Rapporteur for the topic.
    • Discussion in Plenary: 3197th meeting, held on 9 August 2013.
  • ILC Report, A/68/10, 2013, chap. XII, para. 168
  • 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 first report of the Special Rapporteur (A/CN.4/667). The Commission considered the report at its 3209th to 3214th meetings, on 22, 23, 27, 28 and 30 May and on 3 June 2014
    • Discussion in Plenary: 3209th, 3210th, 3211th, 3212th, 3213th and 3214th meetings (22, 23, 27, 28 and 30 May and on 3 June 2014) and 3242nd meeting (6 August 2014).
  • ILC Report, A/69/10, 2014, chap. VIII, paras. 77–122
  • Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its sixty-seventh session, 4 May–5 June and 7 July–7 August 2015
    • The Commission had before it the second report of the Special Rapporteur (A/CN.4/681 and Corr.1 (Chinese only)). The Commission considered the report at its 3244th to 3249th meetings, on 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 12 May 2015.
    • In addition to the debate of the Commission, there was a dialogue with scientists organized by the Special Rapporteur on 7 May 2015.
    • The Commission, at its 3249th meeting, on 12 May 2015, decided to refer draft guidelines 1, 2, 3 and 5 to the Drafting Committee, with the understanding that draft guideline 3 be considered in the context of a possible preamble. Moreover, the Special Rapporteur proposed to defer the referral by the Commission of draft guideline 4 on the general obligation of States to protect the atmosphere to the Drafting Committee, pending further analysis in 2016.
    • At its 3260th meeting, on 2 June 2015, the Commission received the report of the Drafting Committee and provisionally adopted draft guidelines 1, 2 and 5 and four preambular paragraphs.
    • At its 3287th to 3288th meetings, on 5 and 6 August 2015, the Commission adopted the commentaries to the draft guidelines provisionally adopted at the session.
    • Discussion in Plenary: 3244th, 3245th, 3246th, 3247th and 3249th meetings (4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 12 May 2015), 3260th meeting (2 June 2015), and 3287th and 3288th meetings (5 and 6 August 2015).
  • ILC Report, A/70/10, 2015, chap. V, paras. 45–54
  • 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 third report of the Special Rapporteur (A/CN.4/692). The Commission considered the third report of the Special Rapporteur at its 3306th, 3307th, 3308th, and 3311th meetings, on 27 and 31 May, and 1 and 7 June 2016.
    • The debate in the Commission was preceded by a dialogue with scientists organized by the Special Rapporteur on 4 May 2016.
    • Following its debate on the report, the Commission, at its 3311th meeting, on 7 June 2016, decided to refer draft guidelines 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7, together with the fourth preambular paragraph, as contained in the Special Rapporteur’s third report, to the Drafting Committee.
    • At its 3314th meeting, on 4 July 2016, the Commission received the report of the Drafting Committee. At its 3315th meeting, on 5 July 2016, the Commission considered and provisionally adopted five draft guidelines and a preambular paragraph.
    • At its 3341st to 3343rd meetings, on 9 and 10 August 2016, the Commission adopted the commentaries to the draft guidelines provisionally adopted at the session.
    • Discussion in Plenary: 3306th, 3307th, 3308th, 3311th (27 and 31 May, and 1 and 7 June), 3314th, 3315th (4 and 5 July), and 3341st, 3342nd and 3343rd (9 and 10 August 2016) meetings.
  • ILC Report, A/71/10, 2016, chap. VIII, paras. 86–96

General Assembly Action

  • Resolution 68/112 of 16 December 2013
    • 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.4/666)

Final Outcome

Work in progress