International Law Commission International Law Commission

Last update: September 23, 2016

Sixty-sixth Session (2014)

In accordance with General Assembly resolution 68/112 of 16 December 2013, the International Law Commission held its sixty-sixth session at the United Nations Office at Geneva from 5 May to 6 June and 7 July to 8 August 2014 (10 weeks).

Topics considered in 2014 (chap. II of the Report)

Expulsion of aliens (Summary | Analytical Guide)

The Commission adopted, on second reading, a set of 31 draft articles (see also A/CN.4/L.832), together with commentaries thereto, on the expulsion of aliens, and, in accordance with article 23 of its statute, the Commission recommended to the General Assembly to take note of the draft articles on the expulsion of aliens in a resolution, to annex the articles to the resolution, and to encourage its widest possible dissemination, and to consider, at a later stage, the elaboration of a convention on the basis of the draft articles. (see chap. IV)

See also: Statement of the Chairman of the Drafting Committee (6 June 2014)

Protection of persons in the event of disasters (Summary | Analytical Guide)

The Commission had before it the seventh report of the Special Rapporteur (A/CN.4/668, Corr.1 and Add.1) which dealt with the protection of relief personnel and their equipment and goods, as well as the relationship of the draft articles with other rules, and included a proposal for the use of terms. (see chap. V)

As a result of its consideration of the topic at the present session, the Commission adopted on first reading a set of 21 draft articles (A/CN.4/L.831), as revised), together with commentaries thereto, on the protection of persons in the event of disasters. 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.

See also: Statement of the Chairman of the Drafting Committee (30 May 2014)

Obligation to extradite or prosecute (aut dedere aut judicare) (Summary | Analytical Guide)

The Commission re-constituted the Working Group on the topic. The Working Group continued to evaluate work on this topic, particularly in the light of comments made in the Sixth Committee at the sixty-eighth session of the General Assembly on the 2013 report of the of the Working Group. On basis of the work of the Working Group, the Commission adopted the final report on the topic, and decided to conclude its consideration of the topic. (see chap. VI)

Subsequent agreements and subsequent practice in relation to the interpretation of treaties (Summary | Analytical Guide)

The Commission had before it the second report of the Special Rapporteur (A/CN.4/671), which contained, inter alia, six draft conclusions relating to the identification of subsequent agreements and subsequent practice, the possible effects of subsequent agreements and subsequent practice in interpretation, the forms and value of subsequent practice under article 31, paragraph 3 (b), of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, agreement of the parties regarding the interpretation of a treaty, decisions adopted within the framework of a Conference of States Parties, and the scope for interpretation by subsequent agreements and subsequent practice. Following the debate in Plenary, the Commission decided to refer the six draft conclusions proposed by the Special Rapporteur to the Drafting Committee. Upon consideration of the report of the Drafting Committee, the Commission provisionally adopted five draft conclusions (A/CN.4/L.833), together with commentaries thereto. (see chap. VII)

See also: Statement of the Chairman of the Drafting Committee (5 June 2014)

Specific issues on which comments would be of particular interest to the Commission (chap. III of the Report)

The Commission requested, by 31 January 2015, States and international organizations:

  • to provide it with any examples where the practice of an international organization has contributed to the interpretation of a treaty; and
  • to provide it with any examples where pronouncements or other action by a treaty body consisting of independent experts had been considered as giving rise to, subsequent agreements or subsequent practice relevant for the interpretation of a treaty.

Protection of the atmosphere (Summary | Analytical Guide)

The Commission considered the first report of the Special Rapporteur (A/CN.4/667). The report addressed the general objective of the project, including providing the rationale for work on the topic, delineating its general scope, identifying the relevant basic concepts and offering perspectives and approaches to be taken with respect to the subject; and presented three draft guidelines concerning (a) the definition of the term “atmosphere; (b) the scope of the draft guidelines; and (c) the legal status of the atmosphere. Following the debate in plenary, the referral of the draft guidelines to the Drafting Committee was deferred, at the request of the Special Rapporteur, until the following session. (see chap. VIII)

Specific issues on which comments would be of particular interest to the Commission (chap. III of the Report)

The Commission requested States to provide relevant information, by 31 January 2015, on domestic legislation and the judicial decisions of the domestic courts.

Immunity of State officials from foreign criminal jurisdiction (Summary | Analytical Guide)

The Commission considered the third report of the Special Rapporteur (A/CN.4/673), in which, inter alia, draft article 2 (e), on the definition of State official, and draft article 5, on the Beneficiaries of immunity ratione materiae, were presented. Following the debate in plenary, the Commission decided to refer the two draft articles to the Drafting Committee. Upon consideration of the report of the Drafting Committee, the Commission provisionally adopted draft article 2 (e), on the definition of State official, and draft article 5, on the Persons enjoying immunity ratione materiae (A/CN.4/L.850), together with commentaries thereto. (see chap. IX)

See also: Statement of the Chairman of the Drafting Committee (25 July 2014) and Comments by Governments

Specific issues on which comments would be of particular interest to the Commission (chap. III of the Report)

The Commission requested States to provide information, by 31 January 2015, on their domestic law and their practice, in particular judicial practice, with reference to the following issues:

  • the meaning given to the phrases “official acts” and “acts performed in an official capacity” in the context of the immunity of State officials from foreign criminal jurisdiction; and
  • any exceptions to immunity of State officials from foreign criminal jurisdiction.

Identification of customary international law (Summary | Analytical Guide)

The Commission had before it the second report of the Special Rapporteur (A/CN.4/672 — to be reissued), which contained, inter alia, eleven draft conclusions, following an analysis of: the scope of and outcome of the topic, the basic approach, and the two constituent elements of rules of customary international law, namely “a general practice” and “accepted as law”. Following the debate in Plenary, the Commission decided to refer the eleven draft conclusions proposed by the Special Rapporteur to the Drafting Committee. The Commission took note of the interim report of the Chairman of the Drafting Committee, including the eight draft conclusions provisionally adopted by the Committee, which was submitted to the Commission for information. (see chap. X)

See also: Comments by Governments

Specific issues on which comments would be of particular interest to the Commission (chap. III of the Report)

The Commission reiterated its request to States to provide information, by 31 January 2015, on their practice relating to the formation of customary international law and the types of evidence for establishing such law in a given situation, as set out in:

  • official statements before legislatures, courts and international organizations; and
  • decisions of national, regional and subregional courts.

In addition, the Commission welcomed information about digests and surveys on State practice in the field of international law.

Protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts (Summary | Analytical Guide)

The Commission had before it the preliminary report of the Special Rapporteur (A/CN.4/674 and Corr.1), which, inter alia, presented an overview of views expressed by delegates in the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly, practice of States and international organizations, scope and methodology, use of terms, environmental principles, and issues relating to human and indigenous rights. The debate in the plenary addressed, among other issues, scope and methodology, use of terms, environmental principles, and human and indigenous rights. (see chap. XI)

Specific issues on which comments would be of particular interest to the Commission (chap. III of the Report)

The Commission requested information from States, by 31 January 2015, on whether, in their practice, international or domestic environmental law had been interpreted as applicable in relation to international or non-international armed conflict. The Commission particularly appreciated receiving examples of:

  • treaties, including relevant regional or bilateral treaties;
  • national legislation relevant to the topic, including legislation implementing regional or bilateral treaties;
  • case law in which international or domestic environmental law was applied to disputes in relation to armed conflict.

The Commission also requested information from States as to whether they had implemented any instruments aimed at protecting the environment in relation to armed conflict. Examples of such instruments included but were not limited to: national legislation and regulations; military manuals, standard operating procedures, Rules of Engagement or Status of Forces Agreements applicable during international operations; and environmental management policies related to all defence defence-related activities.

Provisional application of treaties (Summary | Analytical Guide)

The Commission had before it the second report of the Special Rapporteur (A/CN.4/675) that sought to provide a substantive analysis of the legal effects of the provisional application of treaties. The debate revealed broad agreement that the basic premise underlying the topic was that, subject to the specificities of the treaty in question, the rights and obligations of a State which had decided to provisionally apply the treaty, or parts thereof, were the same as if the treaty were in force for that State). (see chap. XII)

See also: Comments by Governments

Specific issues on which comments would be of particular interest to the Commission (chap. III of the Report)

The Commission reiterated its request to States to provide information, by 31 January 2015, on their practice concerning the provisional application of treaties, including domestic legislation pertaining thereto, with examples, in particular in relation to:

  • the decision to provisionally apply a treaty;
  • the termination of such provisional application; and
  • the legal effects of provisional application.

Most-favoured-nation clause (Summary | Analytical Guide)

The Commission reconstituted the Study Group on the topic. The Study Group began it consideration of the draft final report, prepared by its Chairman, based on the working papers and other informal documents that had been considered by the Study Group in the course of its work since it began deliberations in 2009. The Study Group envisaged a revised draft final report to be presented for consideration at the sixty-seventh session of the Commission in 2015, taking into account comments made and amendments proposed by individual members of the Study Group during the sixty-sixth session. (see chap. XIII)

Cooperation with other bodies

  • The Secretary-General of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization, Mr. Rahmat Mohamad, addressed the Commission at the 3218th meeting, held on 8 July 2014. An exchange of views followed
  • The Vice-President of the Inter-American Juridical Committee, Mr. Fabián Novak, addressed the Commission at the 3223rd meeting, held on 15 July 2014. An exchange of views followed.
  • The Chair of the Committee of Legal Advisers on Public international Law (CAHDI), Ms. Liesbeth Lijnzaad, and the Secretary of the Committee of Legal Advisers on Public international Law (CAHDI), Ms. Marta Requena, addressed the Commission at the 3224th meeting, held on 16 July 2014. An exchange of views followed.
  • The President of the International Court of Justice, Judge Peter Tomka, addressed the Commission at the 3228th meeting, on 22 July 2014, followed by an exchange of views.
  • The representative of the African Union Commission on International Law, Mr. Cheikh Tidiane Thiam addressed the Commission at its 3230th meeting, held on 24 July 2014. An exchange of views followed.

Other business

Crimes against humanity (Summary | Analytical Guide)
Specific issues on which comments would be of particular interest to the Commission (chap. III of the Report)

The Commission requested States to provide information, by 31 January 2015, on:

  • whether the State’s national law expressly criminalized “crimes against humanity” as such and, if so:
  • the text of the relevant criminal statute(s);
  • under what conditions the State was capable of exercising jurisdiction over an alleged offender for the commission of a crime against humanity (e.g. when the offense occured within its territory or when the offense was by its national or resident); and
  • decisions of the State’s national courts that had adjudicated crimes against humanity.
Visit of the United Nations Legal Counsel

The United Nations Legal Counsel, Mr. Miguel de Serpa Soares, made a statement at the 3204th meeting, held on 14 May 2014, informing the Commission of the activities of the Office of Legal Affairs and recent developments of international law in the context of the United Nations. An exchange of views followed.

Other decisions and conclusions of the Commission

The Commission established a Planning Group to consider its programme, procedures and working methods (chap. XIV, sect. A). The Commission decided to include the topic “Crimes against humanity” in its programme of work, and to appoint Mr. Sean D. Murphy as Special Rapporteur for the topic (chap. XIV, sect. A.1). The Commission decided to include the topic “Jus cogens” in its long-term programme of work. The Commission endorsed the review and update of the list of possible topics, using the 1996 illustrative general scheme of topics list as a starting point for that purpose. In this connection, it requested the Secretariat to review the 1996 list in the light of subsequent developments and prepare a list of potential topics (“survey”), accompanied by brief explanatory notes, by the end of the present quinquennium. It was understood that Working Group on the Long term Programme of Work would continue to consider any topics that members may propose (see chap. XIV, sect. A.2)

Date and place of the sixty-seventh session

The Commission decided that its sixty-seventh session be held in Geneva from 4 May to 5 June and 6 July to 7 August 2015.