International Law Commission International Law Commission

Last update: December 7, 2022

Analytical Guide to the Work of the International Law Commission

Sea-level rise in relation to international law

See also: Summary | Texts and Instruments

Mandate

Studies undertaken by the Secretariat and Reports of the Secretary-General

None

Reports of the Working Group or Sub-Committee

  • 73rd session of the International Law Commission (2022)
    • Report of the Study Group

Reports of the co-Chairs of the Study Group

  • Discussion of the scope and outcome of the topic, the issues to be considered by the Commission, the final outcome to be reached, as well as the methodology to be used by the Study Group. Consideration of the possible legal effects of sea-level rise on the baselines and outer limits of the maritime spaces measured from the baselines, on maritime delimitations, and on the exercise of sovereign rights and jurisdiction of the coastal State and its nationals, as well as on the rights of third States and their nationals in maritime spaces in which boundaries or baselines have been established (as well as the possible legal effects of sea-level rise on islands insofar as their role in the construction of baselines and in maritime delimitations is concerned). Discussion of the possible legal effects of sea-level rise on the status of islands, including rocks, and on the maritime entitlements of a coastal State with fringing islands (as well as the legal status of artificial islands, reclamation or island fortification activities as a response/adaptive measures to sea-level rise).
    • First issues paper by Bogdan Aurescu and Nilüfer Oral (72nd session of the ILC (2021))
  • Discussion of the scope and outcome of the topic, the issues to be considered by the Commission, the final outcome to be reached, as well as the methodology to be used by the Study Group. Consideration of criteria for the creation of a State; some representative examples of actions taken by States and other subjects of international law; references to concerns expressed relating to the phenomenon of sea-level rise in relation to statehood and some measures that have been taken in that regard; and the formulation of possible alternatives for the future in respect of statehood. Considerations of matters related to the protection of persons affected by sea-level rise. Mapping exercise of the existing legal frameworks potentially applicable to the protection of persons affected by sea-level rise, followed by a preliminary mapping exercise of State practice and the practice of relevant international organizations and bodies regarding the protection of persons affected by sea-level rise. Preliminary observations and guiding questions for the Study Group on the subtopics of statehood and the protection of persons affected by sea-level rise.
    • Second issues paper by Patrícia Galvão Teles and Juan José Ruda Santolaria (73rd session of the ILC (2022))

Reports of the Drafting Committee

None

Comments by Governments

 
 
 

Other

None

Reports of the International Law Commission

  • Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its seventy-first session, 29 April–7 June and 8 July–9 August 2019
    • At its 3467th meeting, on 21 May 2019, the Commission decided to include the topic in its programme of work. The Commission also decided to establish an open-ended Study Group on the topic, tobe co-chaired, on a rotating basis, by Mr.Bogdan Aurescu, Mr. Yacouba Cissé, Ms. Patrícia Galvão Teles, Ms. Nilüfer Oral and Mr. Juan José Ruda Santolaria.
    • At its 3480th meeting, on 15 July 2019, the Commission took note of the joint oral report of the Co-Chairs of the Study Group.
  • Discussion in Plenary: 3467th (21 May 2019) and 3480th (15 July 2019) meetings
  • ILC Report, A/74/10, 2019, chap. X, paras. 263–273
  • See the website of the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly and the topical summary of debate in the Sixth Committee (A/CN.4/734)
  • Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its seventy-second session, 26 April–4 June and 5 July–6 August 2021
    • The Commission reconstituted the Study Group on sea-level rise in relation to international law, chaired by the two Co-Chairs on issues related to the law of the sea, namely Mr. Bogdan Aurescu and Ms. Nilüfer Oral.
    • In accordance with the agreed programme of work and methods of work, the Study Group had before it the first issues paper on the topic (A/CN.4/740 and Corr.1), which was issued together with a preliminary bibliography (A/CN.4/740/Add.1), prepared by Mr. Aurescu and Ms. Oral.
    • Owing to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ensuing postponement of the seventy-second session of the Commission, the Co-Chairs invited the Commission’s members to transmit written comments on the first issues paper directly to them. After the completion of the first issues paper, Antigua and Barbuda and the Russian Federation submitted information, which was posted on the Commission’s website together with the information previously received from Governments in response to the request by the Commission in chapter III of its 2019 annual report. Comments from the Pacific Islands Forum relating to the first issues paper were circulated to all members of the Study Group on 31 May 2021.
    • The Study Group held eight meetings, from 1 to 4 June and on 6, 7, 8 and 19 July 2021.
    • At its 3550th meeting, on 27 July 2021, the Commission took note of the joint oral report of the Co-Chairs of the Study Group.
  • Discussion in Plenary: 3550th (27 July 2021) meeting.
  • ILC Report, A/76/10, 2021, chap. IX, paras.240–296
  • Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its seventy-third session, 18 April to 3 June and from 4 July to 5 August 2022
    • The Commission reconstituted the Study Group on sea-level rise in relation to international law, chaired by the two Co-Chairs on issues related to statehood and to the protection of persons affected by sea-level rise, namely Ms. Galvão Teles and Mr. Ruda Santolaria.
    • In accordance with the agreed programme of work and methods of work, the Study Group had before it the second issues paper on the topic (A/CN.4/752), prepared by Ms. Galvão Teles and Mr. Ruda Santolaria and issued in April 2022, together with a selected bibliography (A/CN.4/752/Add.1), finalized in consultation with members of the Study Group and issued only in its original language in June 2022.
    • The Study Group held nine meetings, from 20 to 31 May and on 6, 7 and 21 July 2022.
    • At its 3612th meeting, on 5 August 2022, the Commission considered and adopted the report of the Study Group on its work for the session.
    • At the same meeting, the Commission decided to request the Secretariat to prepare a memorandum identifying elements in the Commission’s previous work that could be relevant for its future work on the topic, in particular in relation to statehood and the protection of persons affected by sea-level rise, for its consideration at its seventy-fifth session.
  • Discussion in Plenary: 3612th (5 August 2022) meeting.
  • ILC Report, A/77/10, 2022, chap. IX, paras. 150–237

General Assembly Action

  • Resolution 74/186 of 18 December 2019
    • Drew the attention of Governments to the importance for the International Law Commission of having their views by 31 December 2019 on the various aspects of the topics on the agenda of the Commission, in particular on all the specific issues identified in chapter III of its report, including sea-level rise in relation to international law.
    • Took note of the decision of the International Law Commission to include the topic “Sea-level rise in relation to international law” in its programme of work
  • See the website of the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly and the topical summary of debate in the Sixth Committee (A/CN.4/734)
  • Resolution 75/135 of 15 December 2020
    • Drew the attention of Governments to the importance for the International Law Commission of having their views by 31 December 2020 on the various aspects of the topics on the agenda of the Commission, in particular on all the specific issues identified in chapter III of its report, including sea-level rise in relation to international law.
    • Took note of the decision of the International Law Commission to include the topic “Sea-level rise in relation to international law” in its programme of work
  • See the website of the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly and the topical summary of debate in the Sixth Committee (A/CN.4/734/Add.1)
  • Resolution 76/111 of 9 December 2021
    • Drew the attention of Governments to the importance for the International Law Commission of having their views by 31 December 2021 on the various aspects of the topics on the agenda of the Commission, in particular on all the specific issues identified in chapter III of its report, including sea-level rise in relation to international law.
  • See the website of the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly and the topical summary of debate in the Sixth Committee (A/CN.4/746)

Final Outcome

Work in progress