International Law Commission International Law Commission

Last update: June 27, 2018

Seventieth Session (2018)

In accordance with General Assembly resolution 72/116 of 7 December 2017, the International Law Commission will hold its seventieth session at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 30 April to 1 June 2018 and at the United Nations Office at Geneva from 2 July to 10 August 2018 (11 weeks).

Topics being considered in 2018*

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

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

See also: Comments by Governments

At the present session, the Commission had before it the fifth report of the Special Rapporteur (A/CN.4/715), as well as comments and observations received from Governments (A/CN.4/712) on the draft conclusions adopted on first reading at the forty-eighth session in 2016.

At its 3396th meeting, held on 7 May 2018, the Commission instructed the Drafting Committee to commence the second reading of the entire set of draft conclusions on the basis of the proposals of the Special Rapporteur, taking into account the comments and observations of Governments and the debate in the plenary on the Special Rapporteur’s report.

The Commission considered the report of the Drafting Committee (A/CN.4/L.907) at its 3406th meeting, held on 18 May 2018, and adopted the entire set of draft conclusions on subsequent agreements and subsequent practice in relation to the interpretation of treaties on second reading.

Provisional application of treaties (Summary | Analytical Guide)

At the present session, the Commission had before it the fifth report of the Special Rapporteur (A/CN.4/718), in which he analysized the comments made by States and international organizations on the 11 draft guidelines provisionally adopted by the Commission at its sixty-ninth session, provided additional information on the practice of international organizations, and submitted two new draft guidelines, 5 bis and 8 bis, concerning reservations and termination or suspension, respectively, as well as eight draft  model clauses. The Commission also had before it the third memorandum prepared by the Secretariat (A/CN.4/707), reviewing State practice in respect of treaties (bilateral and multilateral), deposited or registered in the last 20 years with the Secretary-General, that provide for provisional application, including treaty actions related thereto.

At its 3409th meeting, on 22 May 2018, the Commission decided to refer draft guidelines 5 bis, 8 bis and the eight  draft model clauses, to the Drafting Committee, and instructed it to complete the first reading of the entire set of draft guidelines, including those adopted provisionally at the sixty-ninth session (2017), taking into account the comments and observations of Governments and the debate in the plenary on the Special Rapporteur’s report.

The Commission considered the report of the Drafting Committee (A/CN.4/L.909) at its 3415th meeting, held on 31 May 2018, and adopted draft guidelines 6 [7], 7 [5 bis], 9, 10, 11 and 12. The Commission then proceeded to adopt the entire set of draft guidelines on provisional application of treaties, as the “draft Guide to Provisonal Application of Treaties”, on first reading. The Commission further took note of the recommendation of the Drafting Committee that a reference be made in the commentaries to the possibility of including, during the second reading, a set of draft model clauses, based on a revised proposal that the Special Rapporteur would make at an appropriate time, taking into account the comments and suggestions made during both the plenary debate and in the Drafting Committee.

Identification of customary international law (Summary | Analytical Guide)

See also: Comments by Governments

At the present session, the Commission had before it the fifth report of the Special Rapporteur (A/CN.4/717 + Add.1), an addendum to that report (A/CN.4/717/Add.1 - forthcoming) providing an updated bibliography on the topic, as well as comments and observations received from Governments (A/CN.4/716) on the draft conclusions adopted on first reading at the forty-eighth session in 2016. The Commission also had before it a memorandum by the Secretariat on ways and means for making the evidence of customary international law more readily available (A/CN.4/710).

At its 3402nd meeting, held on 14 May 2018, the Commission referred draft conclusions 1 to 16 to the Drafting Committee, with the instruction that the Drafting Committee commence the second reading of the draft conclusions on the basis of the proposals of the Special Rapporteur, taking into account the comments and observations of Governments and the debate in the plenary on the Special Rapporteur’s report .

The Commission considered the report of the Drafting Committee (A/CN.4/L.908) at its 3412th meeting, held on 25 May 2018, and adopted the entire set of draft conclusions on identification of customary international law on second reading.

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

Protection of the atmosphere (Summary | Analytical Guide)

At the present session, the Commission had before it the fifth report of the Special Rapporteur (A/CN.4/711), in which the Special Rapporteur first addressed the question of implementation of the draft guidelines at the domestic level. In that regard, he underlined the various modes of such implementation depending on the nature of the obligations concerned, and considered extraterritorial application of domestic law. He also examined situations where there is a failure to implement the obligations concerned. Turning to the question of compliance at the international level, the Special Rapporteur explained that he favoured cooperative compliance mechanisms, meant to give assistance to a non-compliant party, over punitive or enforcement mechanisms based on the responsibility of States and intended to place penalties on the non-compliant party. The Special Rapporteur further considered the question of dispute settlement. In that connection, he emphasized both the need for the peaceful settlement of disputes and the need to take into account the scientific-heavy and fact-intensive character of environmental disputes, which leads to a requirement to assess scientific evidence and ensure that adequate rules of procedure apply to such disputes.

The Special Rapporteur proposed three additional draft guidelines concerning implementation (draft conclusion 10), compliance (draft conclusion 11) and dispute settlement (draft conclusion 12).

The Commission, at its 3413rd meeting, on 29 May 2018, decided to refer draft guidelines 10 to 12, as contained in the Special Rapporteur’s fifth report, to the Drafting Committee, taking into account the debate in the Commission.

Peremptory norms of general international law (jus cogens) (Summary | Analytical Guide)

At the present session, the Commission had before it the third report of the Special Rapporteur (A/CN.4/714), which considered the consequences and legal effects of peremptory norms of general international (jus cogens). On the basis of his analysis, the Special Rapporteur proposed thirteen draft conclusions. The Commission commenced its deabte on the third report during the first part of the session, and is scheduled to continue and conclude the debate during the second part.

Succession of States in respect of State responsibility (Summary | Analytical Guide)

Commemoration of the seventieth anniversary of the Commission

See: Seventieth Anniversary of the International Law Commission webpage.

Cooperation with other bodies

Other business

Visit of the United Nations Legal Counsel

The United Nations Legal Counsel, Mr. Miguel de Serpa Soares, made a statement at the 3398th meeting, held on 9 May 2018, 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.

Date and place of the seventy-first session

* In accordance with General Assembly resolution 72/116 of 7 December 2017, the topic “Crimes against humanity” is scheduled to be considered next at the seventy-first session in 2019.