International Law Commission International Law Commission

Last update: August 9, 2017

Summaries of the Work of the International Law Commission

Crimes against humanity

See also: Analytical Guide | Texts and Instruments

At its sixty-sixth session, in 2014, the International Law Commission decided to include the topic “Crimes against humanity” in its programme of work, on the basis of the recommendation of the Working Group on the long-term programme of work. The Commission decided to appoint Mr. Sean D. Murphy as Special Rapporteur for the topic.

At its sixty-seventh session in 2015, the Commission considered the first report of the Special Rapporteur,1 which contained, inter alia, two draft articles relating respectively to the prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity and to the definition of crimes against humanity. The Commission decided to refer the draft articles to the Drafting Committee and subsequently provisionally adopted draft articles 1 to 4, together with commentaries thereto.

At its sixty-eighth session, in 2016, the Commission had before it the second report of the Special Rapporteur on the topic,2 as well as a memorandum by the Secretariat.3 The second report addressed, inter alia, criminalization under national law, establishment of national jurisdiction, general investigation and cooperation for identifying alleged offenders, exercise of national jurisdiction when an alleged offender is present, aut dedere aut judicare and fair treatment of an alleged offender, as well as proposed six draft articles corresponding to such issues (draft articles 5 to 10).4 The Commission referred draft articles 5 to 10 to the Drafting Committee and requested the Drafting Committee to consider the question of the criminal responsibility of legal persons on the basis of a concept paper to be prepared by the Special Rapporteur.5

Following presentation and consideration of two reports of the Drafting Committee,6 the Commission provisionally adopted draft articles 5 to 10, as well as commentaries thereto.7

At its sixty-ninth session, in 2017, the Commission considered the third report of the Special Rapporteur.8 The report addressed, in particular: extradition, non-refoulement, mutual legal assistance, victims, witnesses and other affected persons, relationship to competent international criminal tribunals, federal State obligations, monitoring mechanisms and dispute settlement, remaining issues, the preamble to the draft articles, and final clauses of a convention. Following presentation and consideration of two reports of the Drafting Committee, the Commission adopted on first reading a draft preamble, a set of 15 draft articles and a draft annex, together with commentaries thereto, on crimes against humanity, and decided, in accordance with articles 16 to 21 of its Statute, to transmit the draft conclusions, through the Secretary-General, to Governments, international organizations and others, for comments and observations, with the request that such comments and observations be submitted to the Secretary-General by 1 December 2018.

The work of the Commission on the topic as described above has been proceeding in accordance with the successive resolutions adopted by the General Assembly under the item relating to the report of the International Law Commission.9

1 See document A/CN.4/680 and Corr.1.

2 See document A/CN.4/690.

3 See document A/CN.4/698.

4 Official Records of the General Assembly, Seventy-first Session, Supplement No. 10 (A/71/10), paras. 79 and 80.

5 Ibid., para. 81.

6 See document A/CN.4/L.873 and Add.1.

7 Official Records of the General Assembly, Seventy-first Session, Supplement No. 10 (A/71/10), paras. 82–85.

8 See document A/CN.4/704.

9 General Assembly resolutions 69/118 of 10 December 2014; 70/236 of 23 December 2015; and 71/140 of 13 December 2016.