International Law Commission International Law Commission

Last update: July 15, 2015

Fifty-fifth Session (2003)

The International Law Commission held its fifty-fifth session at Geneva, Switzerland, from 5 May to 6 June and 7 July to 8 August 2003 in accordance with General Assembly resolution 57/21 of 19 November 2002.

Topics considered in 2003 (chap. II of the Report)

Responsibility of international organizations (Summary | Analytical Guide)

With regard to the topic of “Responsibility of international organizations”, the Commission considered the Special Rapporteur's first report (A/CN.4/532) dealing with the scope of the work and general principles concerning responsibility of international organizations. The report proposed three draft articles which were considered by the Commission and were referred to the Drafting Committee. (see chap. IV)

At its 2756th meeting, held on 13 May 2003, the Commission established an open-ended Working Group on the topic Responsibility of international organizations, under the chairmanship of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Giorgio Gaja, to consider draft article 2.

At its 2764th meeting on 28 May 2003, the Commission established a Drafting Committee, under the Chairmanship of Mr. James L. Kateka, on the topic Responsibility of international organizations.

At its 2776th meeting, held on 16 July 2003, the Commission considered the report of the Drafting Committee on Responsibility of international organizations (A/CN.4/L.632); Statement of the Chairman of the Drafting Committee) and adopted on first reading the following draft articles: article 1 (Scope of the present draft articles/Champ d'application du present projet d'articles), article 2 (Use of terms/Définition) and article 3 (General principles/Principes généraux).

Diplomatic protection (Summary | Analytical Guide)

As regards the topic “Diplomatic Protection”, the Commission considered the Special Rapporteur's fourth report (A/CN.4/530, Corr.1 and Add.1), covering draft articles 17 to 22 on the diplomatic protection of corporations and shareholders and of other legal persons. The Commission considered and referred draft articles 17 to 22 to the Drafting Committee. (see chap. V)

At its 2762nd meeting, held on 23 May 2003, the Commission establised an open-ended Working Group on the topic Diplomatic Protection, under the chairmanship of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. John Dugard, to consider draft article 17, paragraph 2.

At its 2753rd meeting on 7 May 2003, the Commission established a Drafting Committee, under the Chairmanship of Mr. James L. Kateka, on the topic Diplomatic protection.

At its 2768th meeting, held on 5 June 2003, the Commission considered the report of the Drafting Committee on Diplomatic Protection (A/CN.4/L.631); Statement of the Chairman of the Drafting Committee) and adopted on first reading the following draft articles: article 8 [10] (Exhaustion of local remedies/Épuisement des recours internes), article 9 [11] (Classification of claims/Classement des réclamations) and article 10 [14] (Exceptions to the local remedies rule/Exceptions à la règle de l'épuisement des recours internes).

International liability for injurious consequences arising out of acts not prohibited by international law (International liability in case of loss from transboundary harm arising out of hazardous activities) (Summary | Analytical Guide)

Concerning the topic “International liability for injurious consequences arising out of acts not prohibited by international law (International liability in case of loss from transboundary harm arising out of hazardous activities)”, the Commission considered the Special Rapporteur's first report (A/CN.4/531), concerning the legal regime for the allocation of loss. The report reviewed the work of the Commission in the previous years, analysed the existing liability of various regimes and offered conclusions for the consideration of the Commission. (see chap. VI)

At its 2769th meeting, held on 6 June 2003, the Commission established an open-ended Working Group on the topic International Liability for injurious Consequences arising out of acts not prohibited by international law (international liability in case of loss from transboundary harm arising out of hazardous activities), under the chairmanship of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. P.S. Rao, to assist the Special Rapporteur in considering the future orientation of the topic in the light of his report and the debate in the Commission.

Unilateral acts of States (Summary | Analytical Guide)

As regards the topic “Unilateral acts of States”, the Commission considered the sixth report of the Special Rapporteur (A/CN.4/534), which focused on the unilateral act of recognition. The Commission also adopted the recommendations of the Working Group dealing with the definition of the scope of the topic and the method of work. (see chap. VII)

At its 2768th meeting on 5 June 2003, the Commission established a Drafting Committee, under the Chairmanship of Mr. James L. Kateka, on the topic Unilateral acts of States.

Reservations to treaties (Summary | Analytical Guide)

At its 2751st meeting on 5 May 2003, the Commission established a Drafting Committee, under the Chairmanship of Mr. James L. Kateka, on the topic Reservations to treaties. (see chap. VIII)

At its 2760th meeting on 21 May 2003, the Commission considered the report of the Drafting Committee on Reservations to treaties (A/CN.4/L.630); Statement of the Chairman of the Drafting Committee) and adopted on first reading draft guidelines with modifications as follows: 2.5.1 Withdrawal of reservations (Retrait des réserves); 2.5.2 Form of withdrawal (Forme du retrait); 2.5.3 Periodic review of the usefulness of reservations (Réexamen périodique de l'utilité des réserves); 2.5.4 [2.5.5] Formulation of the withdrawal of a reservation at the international level (Formulation du retrait d'une réserve au plan international); 2.5.5 [2.5.5 bis, 2.5.5 ter] Absence of consequences at the international level of the violation of international rules regarding the withdrawal of reservations (Absence de conséquence au plan international de la violation des règles internes relatives au retrait des réserves); 2.5.6 Communication of withdrawal of a reservation (Communication du retrait d'une réserve); 2.5.7 [2.5.7, 2.5.8] Effect of withdrawal of a reservation (Effet du retrait d'une réserve); 2.5.8 [2.5.9] Effective date of withdrawal of a reservation (Date d'effet du retrait d'une réserve); 2.5.9 [2.5.10] Cases in which a reserving State or international organization may unilaterally set the effective date of withdrawal of a reservation (Cas dans lesquels l'Etat ou l'organisation internationale réservataire peut fixer unilatéralement la date d'effet du retrait d'une réserve)2.5.10 [2.5.11] Partial withdrawal of a reservation (Retrait partiel d'une réserve); and 2.5.11 [2.5.12] Effect of a partial withdrawal of a reservation (Effet du retrait partiel d'une réserve).

The Commission also considered the Special Rapporteur's eighth report (A/CN.4/535 and Add.1)and referred five draft guidelines dealing with withdrawal and modification of reservations and interpretative declarations to the Drafting Committee.

Shared natural resources (Summary | Analytical Guide)

With regard to the topic “Shared natural resources”, the Commission considered the first report of the Special Rapporteur (A/CN.4/533 and Add.1). The report, which was of a preliminary nature, set out the background to the subject and proposed to limit the scope of the topic to the study of confined transboundary groundwaters, oil and gas, with work to proceed initially on the first subtopic. (see chap. IX)

Fragmentation of international law: difficulties arising from the diversification and expansion of international law (Summary | Analytical Guide)

In relation to the topic “Fragmentation of international law: difficulties arising from the diversification and expansion of international law”, the Commission established the Study Group on Fragmentation of International Law: Difficulties arising from the Diversification and Expansion of International Law, under the Chairmanship of Mr. Martti Koskenniemi, at its 2758th meeting, held on 16 May 2003. (see chap. X)

The discussions in the Study Group proceeded on the basis of an outline prepared by the Chairman of the Study Group, Mr. Martti Koskenniemi. The Study Group of the Commission established a schedule of work for the remaining part of the present quinquennium (2003–2006); agreed upon the distribution among its members of the preparation of the studies endorsed by the Commission in 2002; decided upon the methodology to be adopted for the studies; and held a preliminary discussion of an outline by the Chairman of the question of “The function and scope of the lex specialis rule and the question of self-contained regimes”.

The Commission took note of the report of the Study Group (A/CN.4/L.644) at its 2779th meeting on 23 July 2003.

Cooperation with other bodies

  • Meeting with the members of the Société française pour le droit international/Réunion avec les membres de la Société française pour le droit international (15 May 2003/15 mai 2003).
  • The representative of the Inter-American Juridical Committee, Dr. Grandino Rodas, made a statement, which was followed by a general exchange of views, at the 2764th meeting of the Commission, held on 28 May 2003.
  • The Commission held an informal exchange of views with members of the Committee against Torture and of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, on 13 May 2003.
  • The President of the International Court of Justice, Mr. Jiuyong Shi, addressed the Commission at its 2775th meeting, held on 15 July 2003. His statement was followed by an exchange of views.
  • The Director General of Legal Affairs of the Council of Europe, Mr. Guy de Vel, and the Deputy Head of the Public Law Department of the Directorate General of Legal Affairs, Mr. Rafael Benitez, addressed the Commission at its 2777th meeting, held on 18 July 2003.
  • The Commission heard a statement by the Secretary General of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization, Ambassador Dr. Wafik Z. Kamil, at its 2778th meeting, held on 22 July 2003.

Other business

Other decisions and conclusions of the Commission
  • At its 2758th meeting, held on 16 May 2003, the Commission appointed Mr. Martti Koskenniemi as Chairman of the Study Group on Fragmentation of international law: difficulties arising from the diversification and expansion of international law. (see chap. XI)
  • The Planning Group was established, under the chairmanship of the First-Vice Chairman, Mr. Teodor Melescanu, at the Commission's 2758th meeting, held on 16 May 2003.
  • The Working Group on the Long-term programme of work (of the Planning Group), under the chairmanship of Mr. Alain Pellet, was established at the 2753rd meeting, held on 7 May 2003;
Other
  • The Chairman of the Commission made a statement, at the 2769th meeting, held on 6 June 2003, on the occasion of the retirement of Mr. Robert Rosenstock from the Commission (effective 7 June 2003). Several members also made statements.
  • International Law Seminar

Date and place of the fifty-sixth session

The Commission decided to hold a 10-week split session which will take place at the United Nations Office in Geneva from 3 May to 4 June and 5 July to 6 August 2004.