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Last update: July 15, 2015

Summaries of the Work of the International Law Commission

Prevention of transboundary damage from hazardous activities

See also: Analytical Guide | Texts and Instruments

At its forty-ninth session, in 1997, the Commission appointed Pemmaraju Sreenivasa Rao as Special Rapporteur for this part of the topic.

The Commission proceeded with its work on this part of the topic, on the basis of the reports of the Special Rapporteur1 and information provided by Governments,2 from its fiftieth to fifty-third sessions, from 1998 to 2001, respectively.

At its fiftieth session, in 1998, the Commission established a Working Group to ascertain whether the principles of procedure and content of the duty of prevention were appropriately reflected in the draft articles recommended by the Working Group to the Commission at its forty-eighth session, in 1996. On the basis of the Working Group’s discussions, the Special Rapporteur proposed at the same session a revised text of the draft articles,3 which the Commission referred to the Drafting Committee. The Commission considered the report of the Drafting Committee and adopted on first reading a set of seventeen draft articles on prevention of transboundary damage from hazardous activities. In accordance with articles 16 and 21 of the Statute, they were transmitted to Governments for comments and observations.

The General Assembly, in resolution 53/102 of 8 December 1998, expressed its appreciation to the Commission for the completion of the first reading of the draft articles on the prevention part of the topic and invited Governments to submit comments and observations in writing on the draft articles.

At its fifty-second session, in 2000, the Commission established a Working Group to examine the comments and observations made by States on the draft articles. On the basis of the discussion in the Working Group, the Special Rapporteur presented his third report4 containing a draft preamble and a revised set of draft articles on prevention, along with the recommendation that they be adopted as a framework convention. Furthermore, the third report addressed questions such as the scope of the topic, its relationship with liability, the relationship between an equitable balance of interests among States concerned and the duty of prevention, as well as duality of the regimes of liability and State responsibility. The Commission considered the report and decided to refer the draft preamble and draft articles contained therein to the Drafting Committee.

At its fifty-third session, in 2001, the Commission adopted and submitted to the General Assembly the final text of draft articles on prevention of transboundary harm from hazardous activities, consisting of a preamble and nineteen articles, with commentaries thereto.5 In transmitting the final draft to the General Assembly, the Commission recommended that the General Assembly elaborate a convention on the basis of the draft articles.6

The General Assembly, by resolution 56/82 of 12 December 2001, expressed its appreciation for the valuable work done by the Commission on the issue of prevention on the topic of international liability for injurious consequences arising out of acts not prohibited by international law (prevention of transboundary harm from hazardous activities).

1 Documents A/CN.4/487 and Add.1; A/CN.4/501; and A/CN.4/510. (see the Analytical Guide for individual documents)

2 Documents A/CN.4/509 and A/CN.4/516. (see the Analytical Guide for individual documents)

3 Document A/CN.4/L.556 (see the Analytical Guide) reproduced in Yearbook of the International Law Commission, 1998, vol. II (Part Two), footnote 12.

4 Document A/CN.4/510. (see the Analytical Guide)

5 See Official Records of the General Assembly, Fifty-sixth Session, Supplement No. 10 (A/56/10), paras. 91, 92, 97 and 98.

6 See Official Records of the General Assembly, Fifty-sixth Session, Supplement No. 10 (A/56/10), para. 94