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Last update: October 26, 2015

Fifty-first Session (1999)

The International Law Commission held its fifty-first session at Geneva, Switzerland, from 3 May to 23 July 1999 in accordance with General Assembly resolution 53/102 of 8 December 1998.

Topics considered in 1999 (chap. II of the Report)

Nationality in relation to the succession of States (Summary | Analytical Guide)

The Commission had before it a Memorandum by the Secretariat (A/CN.4/497). It decided to establish a Working Group to review the text adopted on first reading taking into account comments by Governments. On the basis of the report of the Chairman of the Working Group, the Commission decided to refer the draft preamble and a set of 26 draft articles on nationality of natural persons in relation to the succession of States to the Drafting Committee. Having considered the report of the Drafting Committee, the Commission adopted the draft preamble and the set of draft articles on second reading (A/CN.4/L.573) and decided to recommend to the General Assembly their adoption in the form of a declaration. It also decided to recommend to the General Assembly that the work on the Commission on the topic "Nationality in relation to the succession of States" be considered concluded. (see chap. IV)

State responsibility (Summary | Analytical Guide)

The Commission considered the second report (A/CN.4/498, Add.1, Add.2, Add.3 and Add.4) of the Special Rapporteur which dealt with Chapters III, IV and V of Part One of the draft articles. The Commission decided to refer the articles in Chapters III (Breach of an international obligation), IV (Implication of a State in the internationally wrongful act of another State) and V (Circumstances precluding wrongfulness) to the Drafting Committee, and subsequently took note of the report of the Drafting Committee (A/CN.4/L.574, Corr.3 and Corr.4) on those chapters. The Commission also undertook a preliminary consideration of the question of countermeasures in Chapter III of Part Two of the draft articles. (see chap. V)

Reservations to treaties (Summary | Analytical Guide)

The Commission continued its consideration of the third report of the Special Rapporteur (A/CN.4/491, Add.1, Add.2, Add.2/Corr.1, Add.3, Add.3/Corr.1, Add.4, Add.4/Corr.1, Add.5, Add.6 and Add.6/Corr.1) concerning the definition of reservations and interpretative declarations which it had not completed at the previous session due to lack of time. The Commission adopted twenty draft guidelines pertaining to the first chapter of the Guide to practice (with commentaries — forthcoming). The Commission decided to restructure this first chapter which is divided into six sections concerning: a) Definition of reservations (Section 1); b) Definition of interpretative declarations (Section 2); c) Distinction between reservations and interpretative declarations (Section 3); d) Unilateral statements other than reservations and interpretative declarations (Section 4); e) Unilateral statements in respect of bilateral treaties (Section 5), and f) Scope of definitions (Section 6). The Commission also had before it the first part of the fourth report of the Special Rapporteur (A/CN.4/499). (see chap. VI)

Jurisdictional immunities of States and their property (Summary | Analytical Guide)

The General Assembly in resolution 53/98 of 8 December 1998 invited the International Law Commission to present any preliminary comments it may have regarding outstanding substantive issues related to the draft articles by 31 August 1999, in the light of the results of the informal consultations held pursuant to General Assembly decision 48/413 of 9 December 1993 and taking into account the recent developments of State practice and other factors related to this issue since the adoption of the draft articles. (see chap. VII)

At its fifty-first session, the Commission established a Working Group on the topic and entrusted it with the task of preparing preliminary comments as requested by General Assembly resolution 53/98. The Commission took note of the report of the Working Group and decided to annex it to the report of the Commission. It also adopted the suggestions of the Working Group contained in its report and dealing with the following five areas: 1) Concept of State for purpose of immunity; 2) Criteria for determining the commercial character of a contract or transaction; 3) Concept of a State enterprise or other entity in relation to commercial transactions; 4) Contracts of employment and 5) Measures of constraint against State property.

Unilateral acts of States (Summary | Analytical Guide)

The Commission examined the second report of the Special Rapporteur (A/CN.4/500 and Add.1). The discussion centered mostly on the 7 articles submitted by the Special Rapporteur dealing with the scope of the draft articles (article 1), definition of unilateral acts (article 2), capacity of the State for formulating unilateral acts (article 3), representatives of a State for formulating unilateral acts (article 4), subsequent confirmation of a unilateral act formulated without authorization (article 5), expression of consent (article 6) and invalidity of unilateral acts (article 7). The Commission agreed to take as the basic focus for its study on the topic and, as a starting point for the gathering of State practice thereon, the following concept: "A unilateral statement by a State by which such State intends to produce legal effects in its relations to one or more States or international organizations and which is notified or otherwise made known to the State of organization concerned". The Secretariat was requested to send questionnaire to Governments inquiring about their practice and position concerning certain aspects of unilateral acts. (see chap. VIII)

International liability for injurious on sequences arising out of acts not prohibited by international law (prevention of transboundary damage from hazardous activities) (Summary | Analytical Guide)

The Commission considered the second report of the Special Rapporteur (A/CN.4/501) with respect to its future work on the topic. The Commission decided to defer consideration of the question of international liability, pending completion of the second reading of the draft articles on the prevention of transboundary damage from hazardous activities. (see chap. IX)

Cooperation with other bodies

  • Representing the Inter-American Juridical Committee, Ambassador Luis Marchand Stens informed the Commission of the activities and recent developments on the work of the Committee, at the Commission's 2573rd meeting, held on 18 May 1999.
  • The Secretary-General of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee, Mr. Tang Chengyuan, informed the Commission, at its 2576th meeting, held on 25 May 1999, of the activities and recent developments on the work of the Committee.
  • His Excellency Judge Stephen Schwebel, President of the International Court of Justice, addressed the Commission at its 2585th meeting, held on 10 June 1999. He gave a detailed exposé of the work of the International Court of Justice, which was followed by a series of questions and answers.
  • The representative of the Council of Europe's Ad Hoc Committee of Legal Advisors on Public International Law (CAHDI) addressed the Commission at the Commission's 2604th meeting, on 16 July 1999.

Other business

Other decisions and conclusions of the Commission
Diplomatic protection (Summary | Analytical Guide)

The Commission appointed Mr. Christopher J. R. Dugard Special Rapporteur for the topic. (see chap. X)

Other

Date and place of the fifty-second session

The Commission agreed that its next session be split in accordance with its decision taken at the fiftieth session. The split session would be held at the United Nations Office at Geneva from 1 May to 9 June and from 10 July to 18 August 2000.