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Sixth Committee of the 56th General Assembly

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  • Statement by Mr. Miloslav Petru, Representative of the Czech Republic, on Agenda Item 162 - International Law Commission Report, State responsibility

    New York, 1 November 2001


Statement by Mr. Miloslav Petru, Representative of the Czech Republic, on Agenda Item 162 - International Law Commission Report, State responsibility

Mr. Chairman,

at the outset allow me to express the thanks of the delegation of the Czech Republic to the Chairman of the International Law Commission, Mr. Peter Kabatsi, for his dedicated leadership of the 53rd session of the Commission, as well as for his introduction to the first Chapters of the Report of the International Law Commission, particularly for his presentation of Chapter IV. My delegation should also like to take this opportunity to commend the International Law Commission, its members and its Secretariat for their significant accomplishments during the 53rd session of the Commission.

Mr. Chairman,

State responsibility ranks undoubtedly among the most significant topics of international law and is of paramount importance to the international community as a whole. Therefore, the Czech delegation have followed with great interest the deliberations of both the International Law Commission and the Sixth Committee on this topic. Since its 7th session in 1953, where the Commission started to consider issues relating to State responsibility, the Commission has devoted considerable attention to this item on its agenda. The Czech delegation notes with satisfaction that the ambitious goal of the Commission to complete its work on State responsibility within its 53rd session was successfully achieved and that, after almost 50 years, the Commission completed perhaps the most important work it has ever had to deal with. In this regard, my delegation would like to pay tribute to all those who have been involved in this course during previous decades, particularly to the previous Special Rapporteurs, Garcia Amador, Roberto Ago, Willem Riphagen and Gaetano Arangio-Riuz. Above all, we would like to commend and highlight the outstanding work done by the last Special Rapporteur on State responsibility, Professor James Crawford.

Mr. Chairman,

Although we have only recently received the final version of the draft articles, we have studied it with interest, focusing on the articles which are of particular importance to the Czech Republic. However, we are of the opinion that more than 300 pages of the text comprising 59 draft articles and commentaries deserve further reflections and studies. Therefore, my delegation should like to reserve itself at this stage to the following remarks.

First of all, we wish to emphasize that we are satisfied with the final outcome on State responsibility as such. One can not read through the final set of the draft articles without noticing the significant improvements compared to the last year´s version. The final set of the draft articles is from our perspective more comprehensive and more rigorous in structure. As far as the substance is concerned my delegation appreciates particularly more balanced provisions on countermeasures and the new and broader wording of Article 31 paragraph 2. However, there are still some issues of my delegation´s concern. Despite the detailed commentaries on Article 40 and 41 dealing with serious breaches of peremptory norms of general international law and on Article 48 dealing with breaches of obligations towards the international community as a whole, it is not sufficiently clear to my delegation what is the purpose of using different terminology, what is the relationship between those two concepts, if any, and what is the purpose of having two different regimes of consequences in case of a serious breach of the former and in case of any breach of the letter. Bearing in mind the second of the two criteria entailed in Article 40, aimed at distinguishing breaches under the scope of this article from other breaches, i.e. the intensity criterion, my delegation is concerned about the following: Since the final set of the draft articles does not address the issue of who is to decide whether a breach of a peremptory norm is of serious nature or not, eventual controversies are likely to happen in practice.

Mr. Chairman,

We have been waiting for the outcome of the Commission´s work on State responsibility for a considerably long time. Therefore, as far as the question of the most advantaged form of the draft articles is concerned, the Czech delegation supports the procedure envisaged by the Commission in Article 72 of the Commission´s report, which is the procedure followed by the General Assembly in 1999 in connection with the articles on nationality of natural persons in relation to the succession of States. We are of the opinion that the General Assembly should take note of and, in addition, welcome the final set of the draft articles on Responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts in a resolution and annex the final set to that resolution. Furthermore, in my delegation´s view the General Assembly should do so at its 56th Session. Regarding the Commission´s recommendation contained in Article 73 of the Commission´s report my delegation has no objection to it at this stage.

In conclusion, in the view of my delegation the final set of the draft articles represents a major contribution to the codification and the progressive development of the law on State responsibility. In the form of an annex to a General Assembly resolution, when eventually adopted, it will provide invaluable guidance particularly to the legal international community.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman