International Law Commission

The International Law Commission (ILC) is a body of experts subordinate to the General Assembly., created for the purpose of codifying and developing international law. Since its creation in 1947, it has worked extensively in the field, meeting annually to review issues such as the law of the high seas, nationality and statelessness, and treaty law. The Commission is responsible for authoring a number of documents central to international law today, of which the most prominent has been a draft statute for the later International Criminal Court.

Our Documents: Government Statements | UN Documents | Civil Society Documents | International Organization Statement

The ILC was established through General Assembly Resolution 174 (11), which states its goal of "the promotion of the progressive development of international law and tis codification." Proposals on the subject are referred by the General Assembly (article 16) or submitted by other principal organs of the UN, member states, specialized agencies, or official bodies established by intergovernmental agreements (article 17).

Since its formulation of the Nürnberg principles at its first session in 1949, it has worked extensively in international criminal law. Among its most prominent roles was drafting the Statute for an International Criminal Court in 1994.

Selection Process
The ILC Statute provides that members of the Commission "shall be persons of recognized competence in international law," with qualifications in both doctrinal and practical aspects of the subject.[1]  Of the 34 members on the Commission, no two may be nationals of the same state. 

Candidates to the ILC are nominated by member states and elected through the General Assembly.   Members serve five-year terms, with the possibility of re-election. As the Commission should represent the "main forms of civilization" and "principal legal systems of the world," the members are to be drawn from each geographical region of the world thus:[2]

African States 8 seats
Asian States 7 seats
Eastern European States 3 seats
Latin American and Caribbean States 6 seats
Western European and Other States 8 seats
African States or Eastern European States, in rotation 1 seat
Asian States or Latin American States, in rotation 1 seat

The candidates with the greatest number of votes and "not less than a majority of the votes of the Members present" at the secret ballot will be selected for office.[3]

Recent Developments

The next elections for the International Law Commission will take place in 2016.

The most recent elections for the International Law Commission were held in 2011.  The nomination period for the 2011 elections opened in October 2010 and closed at the end of May 2011.  In late 2011, during the 66th GA, elections were held for all 34 members. The elected members began a new five-year term on 1 January 2012, which will end on the 31 December 2016. The two rotational seats for 2011 were allocated to one national of an African state and one national of an Asian state.[4]



[1] Statute of the International Law Commission, Article 2.
[2] General Assembly, Resolution 36/39, 18 November 1981.
[3] Statute of the International Law Commission, Article 9. 
[4] Election of the members of the International Law Commission, United Nations General Assembly, 66th Session, 7 June 2011. Full list of nominations provided.


Related UNElections Monitors


NR040665.pdf222.17 KB
A-RES-174(II).pdf530.75 KB
N1136629.pdf88.38 KB