International Law Commission International Law Commission

Last update: July 15, 2015

Annual Reports

At the end of each session, the Commission adopts a report to the General Assembly, covering the work of the session, on the basis of a draft prepared by the General Rapporteur with the assistance of the Special Rapporteurs concerned and the Secretariat.1

The report includes information concerning the organization of the session, the progress of work and the future work of the Commission on the topics given substantive consideration during the session, the texts of draft articles and commentaries adopted by the Commission during the session, any procedural recommendations of the Commission calling for a decision on the part of the General Assembly as well as other decisions and conclusions of the Commission.2

The structure of the report has changed from time to time.The Commission has made changes with respect to the preparation and content of its report to facilitate a more structured and focused debate in the Sixth Committee. In 1992, the Commission adopted guidelines on the preparation and content of its report which provide, inter alia, as follows: (a) efforts should continue to avoid excessively long reports; (b) the report should include a chapter providing, in a summary form, a general view of the work of the session to which the report refers, including a list of questions on which the Commission would find the views of the Sixth Committee particularly helpful; (c) parts of the report indicating previous work on each topic should continue to be as brief as possible; (d) the summary of debates should be more compact, giving emphasis to trends of opinions rather than to individual views unless such an individual view was a reservation to a decision taken by the Commission; and (e) the presentation of fragmentary results that can not be properly assessed by the Sixth Committee without additional elements should be a summary, with the indication that the matter will be more fully presented in a future report. The Commission has requested the Secretariat to circulate the chapters of the report containing a summary of the Commission's work and the specific issues on which views from Governments would be particularly useful (Chapters II and III) as well as the text of draft articles adopted at each session shortly after the end of the session before the report is issued.3

At present, it is divided into the following main chapters: the first chapter deals with organizational issues; the second chapter summarizes the work of the session; the third chapter identifies specific issues on which comments of Governments would be of particular interest to the Commission; subsequent chapters are devoted to each of the different topics considered at the session; and the last chapter contains other decisions and conclusions of the Commission. The Commission may also decide to include other relevant documents, such as reports of working groups, in an annex to its report.4

The Commission’s annual report is the means by which it keeps the General Assembly informed on a regular basis of the progress of its work on the various topics on its current programme as well as of its achievements in the preparation of draft articles on these topics. The report is also the means by which the Commission’s drafts are given the necessary publicity provided for in articles 16 and 21 of its Statute.5

1 See Yearbook of the International Law Commission, 1979, vol. II (Part One), document A/CN.4/325, para. 65.

2 See Yearbook of the International Law Commission, 1979, vol. II (Part One), document A/CN.4/325, para. 66.

3 See Yearbook of the International Law Commission, 1977, vol. II (Part Two), para. 130 and Official Records of the General Assembly, Fifty-eighth Session, Supplement No. 10 (A/58/10), para. 445. In 1996, the Commission recommended that the issues on which comment is specifically sought from the Sixth Committee should be identified, if possible, before the adoption of draft articles on the point and these issues should be of a more general, "strategic" character rather than issues of drafting technique. See Yearbook of the International Law Commission, 1996, vol. II (Part Two), paras. 148 (c) and 181. In 2003, the Commission further noted that Special Rapporteurs may wish to provide sufficient background and substantive elaboration to better assist Governments in developing their responses. See Official Records of the General Assembly, Fifty-eighth Session, Supplement No. 10 (A/58/10), para. 446.

4 The Commission’s report on its first session and as of its twenty-first session is published as Supplement No. 10 of the Official Records of the General Assembly. The Commission’s report on its second session was published as Supplement No. 12 and on its third to twentieth sessions as Supplement No. 9 of the Official Records of the General Assembly. The report is subsequently published in the Yearbook of the International Law Commission (volume II, except for the 1949 Yearbook which consists of only one volume) together with a check-list of the documents issued during the session.

5 See Yearbook of the International Law Commission, 1979, vol. II (Part One), document A/CN.4/325, para. 64.