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Last update: December 11, 2019

Summaries of the Work of the International Law Commission

Succession of States in respect of State responsibility

See also: Analytical Guide | Texts and Instruments

At its sixty-ninth session, in 2017, the International Law Commission decided to include the topic "Succession of States in respect of State responsibility" 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. Pavel Šturma as Special Rapporteur for the topic.

At the same session, the Commission had before it the first report of the Special Rapporteur,1 which sought to set out the Special Rapporteur’s approach to the scope and outcome of the topic, and to provide an overview of general provisions relating to the topic. Following the debate in plenary, the Commission decided to refer draft articles 1 to 4, as contained in the report of the Special Rapporteur, to the Drafting Committee. The Commission subsequently took note of the interim report of the Chair of the Drafting Committee on draft articles 1 and 2 provisionally adopted by the Committee, which was submitted to the Commission for information.

At its seventieth session, in 2018, the Commission had before it the second report of the Special Rapporteur.2 In his report, which was composed of four parts, the Special Rapporteur at first addressed certain introductory issues, including the legality of succession (Part One). He then discussed the general rules on succession of States in respect of State responsibility, particularly in relation to attribution and in relation to the difference between continuing and completed breaches (Part Two). Thereafter, the Special Rapporteur considered certain special categories of State succession to the obligations arising from responsibility (Part Three). The future programme of work on the topic was then addressed (Part Four). The Special Rapporteur proposed seven draft articles corresponding to the issues considered in Part One (draft article 5), Part Two (draft article 6), and Part Three (draft articles 7 to 11) of his report.

Following the debate in plenary, the Commission decided to refer draft articles 5 to 11, as contained in the second report of the Special Rapporteur, to the Drafting Committee. The Commission subsequently took note of the interim report of the Chair of the Drafting Committee on draft article 1, paragraph 2, and draft articles 5 and 6, provisionally adopted by the Drafting Committee, which was submitted to the Commission for information only.

At the same session, the Commission decided to request from the Secretariat a memorandum providing information on treaties registered pursuant to Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations which may be of relevance to its future work on the topic.

At its seventy-first session, in 2019, the Commission had before it the third report of the Special Rapporteur,3 which addressed introductory issues, and discussed questions of reparation for injury resulting from internationally wrongful acts committed against the predecessor State, considering, in particular, claims for reparation in different categories of State succession, as well as various approaches to reparation for injury arising from internationally wrongful acts committed against the nationals of the predecessor State. The Special Rapporteur proposed several new draft articles and made a number of technical suggestions. The Commission also had before it a memorandum by the Secretariat providing information on treaties which may be of relevance to its future work on the topic.4

The Commission decided to refer draft articles 2, paragraph (f), X, Y, 12, 13, 14 and 15, and the titles of Part Two and Part Three, as contained in the third report of the Special Rapporteur, to the Drafting Committee, taking into account the views expressed in the plenary debate. The Commission subsequently considered a report of the Drafting Committee on the topicand provisionally adopted draft articles 1, 2 and 5, which had been provisionally adopted by the Drafting Committee at the sixty-ninth and seventieth sessions. The Commission also received an interim oral report on draft articles 7, 8 and 9, provisionally adopted by the Committee at the present session. The report was presented for information only.

The work of the Commission on the topic as described above has been proceeding in accordance with the resolutions adopted by the General Assembly under the item relating to the report of the International Law Commission.5

1 See document A/CN.4/708.

2 See document A/CN.4/719.

3 See document A/CN.4/731.

4 See document A/CN.4/730.

5 General Assembly resolutions 72/116 of 7 December 2017 and 73/265 of 22 December 2018.