CYIL vol. 12 (2021)

CYIL 12 (2021) PROVISIONAL APPLICATION OF TREATIES, PROTECTION OF THE ATMOSPHERE … Provisional Application of Treaties, Protection of the Atmosphere

and Other Topics at the 72 nd Session of the International Law Commission Pavel Šturma*

1. Introduction After one year of unfortunate interruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the UN International Law Commission was back to Geneva, where it usually meets. As it is known and similarly as other UN bodies, the Commission was not able to meet in 2020 at all and its session was postponed to 2021. The first part of its 72 nd session started on 26 April and lasted until 4 June. It met in Geneva and via Zoom, which means in a hybrid form. The second part took place between 5 July and 6 August 2021. The Commission was the first of the UN expert bodies that has had physical meetings at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. It was not easy, but it happened thanks to the tireless efforts of the Bureau and the Secretariat of the ILC, as well as the cooperation of all members participating in person or on-line. Of course, all the coordination and preparatory meetings during last year and this winter and early spring took place via various virtual platforms, such as MS Teams, WebEx, and Zoom. The Commission and its Bureau proved to be able to work under the current difficult circumstances. At its first meeting on 26 April 2021, the Commission elected the Chairman of the ILC and other officers of the Bureau of the seventy- second session. 1 It is well-known that the task of the Commission is the progressive development of international law and its codification. However, it is less known how the Commission really works. The ILC has currently eight topics on its programme. They include seven topics with a Special Rapporteur who is supposed to write and submit a report every year. The reports should include draft articles, which was the most usual form in the past, draft guidelines, principles, or conclusions. One topic, namely “Sea-level rise in relation to international law” has been trusted to a Study Group. The Commission decided to include this topic on its programme in 2019. As usual, study groups have two or more co-chairs, this Study Group even has five co-chairs from various regional groups. When it comes to working methods, the Commission first discusses the reports of the Special Rapporteurs in plenary but then it sends the respective draft articles or guidelines to the Drafting Committee. Its work is very interactive, with no prepared statements, which makes any virtual meetings much more complicated. This was the main reason, together * Prof. JUDr. Pavel Šturma, DrSc., is Head of the Department of International Law, Faculty of Law, Charles University in Prague, senior research fellow at the Institute of Law of the Czech Academy of Sciences, President of the Czech Society of International Law and member of the UN International Law Commission. He is a co- author of the textbook Public International Law and author of many publications on codification of international law, international criminal law, human rights and international investment law. 1 Chairperson: Mr. Mahmoud D. Hmoud (Jordan), First Vice-Chairperson: Mr. Dire D. Tladi (South Africa), Second Vice-Chairperson: Mr. Evgeny Zagaynov (Russian Federation), Chair of the Drafting Committee: Ms. Patricia Galvão Teles (Portugal), Rapporteur: Mr. Juan José Ruda Santolaria (Peru).


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