International Law Commission International Law Commission

Last update: July 15, 2015

Summaries of the Work of the International Law Commission

Right of asylum

See also: Analytical Guide | Texts and Instruments

The topic "Right of asylum" was included in the provisional list for codification drawn up by the Commission in 1949. At the Commission's first session, in 1949, during the discussion of the draft Declaration on Rights and Duties of States, a proposal was submitted to include in the draft Declaration an article relating to the right of asylum. It was finally decided not to include such an article.1

In resolution 1400 (XIV) of 21 November 1959, the General Assembly requested the Commission, as soon as it considered it advisable, to undertake the codification of the principles and rules of international law relating to the right of asylum.

The Commission, at its twelfth session in 1960, took note of the General Assembly resolution and decided to defer further consideration of this question to a future session.2

At its fourteenth session (1962) the Commission decided to include the topic in its programme, but without setting any date for the start of consideration.3 Meanwhile, work on the right of asylum was proceeding in other organs of the United Nations. The Commission on Human Rights, which had been considering a draft declaration on the right of asylum since 1957, completed the draft in I960,4 and that draft was transmitted to the General Assembly by the Economic and Social Council in its resolution 772 E (XXX) of 25 July 1960.

The General Assembly, in resolution 2312 (XXII) of 14 December 1967, adopted the Declaration on Territorial Asylum, in consideration of the work to be undertaken by the Commission in accordance with resolution 1400 (XIV).

The first session of the United Nations Conference on Territorial Asylum, convened by the Secretary-General in consultation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, was held from 10 January to 4 February 1977, pursuant to General Assembly resolution 3456 (XXX) of 9 December 1975, to consider and adopt a convention on territorial asylum.

Articles were provisionally adopted on the granting of asylum, on definition of categories of persons to whom the convention should apply, on non-refoulement, and on the activities of refugees in the country of asylum. However, the Conference was unable to agree upon a convention in the time allocated.It recommended that the General Assembly, at its thirty-second session, should consider the question of convening at an appropriate time a further session of the Conference.5

As regards the question of diplomatic asylum, the issue was discussed by the Sixth Committee at the thirtieth session at the General Assembly but the debate was inconclusive. By its resolution 3497 (XXX) of 15 December 1975, the General Assembly decided to give further consideration to the question at a future session.

At its twenty-ninth session, in 1977, the Commission concluded that the topic did not appear at that time to require active consideration by the Commission in the near future.6

The Commission further discussed the topic in the context of other items on its programme at various sessions (see Analytical Guide).

1 See Yearbook … 1949, Report to the General Assembly, para. 23.

2 See Yearbook … 1960, vol. II, document A/4425, para. 39 (see Analytical Guide).

3 See Yearbook … 1962, vol. II, document A/5209, p. 190, para. 60 (see Analytical Guide).

4 Official Records of the Economic and Social Council, Thirtieth Session, Supplement No. 8, chap. VI. Also Official Records of the General Assembly, Twentieth Session, Annexes, agenda item 63, documents A/5926 and A/C.6/L.581.

5 See A/CONF.78/12, para. 25.

6 See Yearbook … 1977, vol. II (Part Two), para. 109.