International Law Commission International Law Commission

Last update: July 15, 2015

Summaries of the Work of the International Law Commission

Status, privileges and immunities of international organizations, their officials, experts, etc.

See also: Analytical Guide | Texts and Instruments

At its twenty-eighth session, in 1976, the Commission requested the Special Rapporteur for the topic, Abdullah El-Erian, to prepare a preliminary report to enable it to take the necessary decisions and to define its course of action on the second part of the topic of relations between States and international organizations, namely, the status, privileges and immunities of international organizations and their officials, experts and other persons engaged in their activities who are not representatives of States.

At its twenty-ninth session, in 1977, the Commission decided to authorize the Special Rapporteur to continue his study on the lines indicated in his preliminary report1 and to prepare a further report having regard to the views expressed and the questions raised during the debate at the twenty-ninth session. It also decided to authorize the Special Rapporteur to seek additional information and expressed the hope that he would carry out his research in the customary manner, namely by investigating the agreements and practices of international organizations, whether within or outside the United Nations system, as well as the legislation and practice of States.

In its resolution 32/151 of 19 December 1977, the General Assembly endorsed the conclusions reached by the Commission regarding the second part of the topic of relations between States and international organizations.

At the thirtieth session of the Commission, in 1978, the Commission approved the conclusions and recommendations set out in the second report of the Special Rapporteur2 that:

At its thirty-first session, in 1979, the Commission appointed Leonardo Díaz-Gonzalez as Special Rapporteur for this part of the topic.

The Commission considered the topic on the basis of the reports of the new Special Rapporteur,3 as well as documents prepared by the Secretariat,4 at its thirty-fifth, thirty-seventh, thirty-ninth, forty-second and forty-third sessions, in 1983, 1985, 1987, 1990 and 1991, respectively. The Commission proceeded with the first reading of the draft articles on the basis of the fourth, fifth and sixth reports of the Special Rapporteur5 at its forty-second and forty-third sessions, in 1990 and 1991, respectively.

At its forty-fourth session, in 1992, the Commission noted that the Planning Group had established a Working Group to review the progress so far achieved on the topic and to make a recommendation as to whether the Commission should continue with it and, if in the affirmative, in what direction. The Commission observed that the discussion of the first part of the topic, dealing with the status, privileges and immunities of representatives of States to international organizations, had resulted in draft articles which had formed the basis of the 1975 Convention on the Representation of States in Their Relations with International Organizations of a Universal Character. States had been slow to ratify the Convention or adhere to it and doubts had therefore arisen as to the advisability of continuing the work undertaken in 1976 on the second part of the topic, dealing with the status, privileges and immunities of international organizations and their personnel, a matter which seemed to a large extent covered by existing agreements. The Commission also noted that the passage of time had failed to bring any sign of increased acceptance of the Convention and the Commission had not given very active consideration to the topic. Eight reports had been presented by two successive Special Rapporteurs and all of the 22 articles contained therein had been referred to the Drafting Committee, but the Committee had not taken any action on them. Neither in the Commission nor in the Sixth Committee had the view been expressed that the topic should be more actively considered. Under the circumstances, the Commission, accepting the recommendation of the Planning Group that the topic should not be pursued further for the time being, decided not to pursue further during the current term of office of its members the consideration of the topic, unless the General Assembly decided otherwise.

The General Assembly, in resolution 47/33 of 25 November 1992, endorsed the above decision of the Commission.

1 See Yearbook of the International Law Commission, 1977, vol. II (Part One), document A/CN.4/304. (see Analytical Guide)

2 See Yearbook of the International Law Commission, 1978, vol. II (Part One), document A/CN.4/311 and Add.1. (see Analytical Guide)

3 See Yearbook of the International Law Commission, 1983, vol. II (Part One), document A/CN.4/370; ibid., 1985, vol. II (Part One), document A/CN.4/391 and Add.l; ibid., 1986, vol. II (Part One), document A/CN.4/401; ibid., 1989, vol. II (Part One), document A/CN.4/424; and ibid., 1991, vol. II (Part One), documents A/CN.4/438 and A/CN.4/439. (see Analytical Guide)

4 See Yearbook of the International Law Commission, 1985, vol. II (Part One), addendum, document A/CN.4/L.383 and Add.1–3. (see Analytical Guide)

5 See Yearbook of the International Law Commission, 1989, vol. II (Part One), document A/CN.4/424; and ibid., 1991, vol. II (Part One), documents A/CN.4/438 and A/CN.4/439. (see Analytical Guide)