Cookies on the DFA website

We use cookies to give the best experience on our site while also complying with Data Protection requirements. Continue without changing your settings, and you'll receive cookies, or change your cookie settings at any time.

Skip to main content

Statements on International Law Issues

Statements by Ireland on International Law Issues

Introduction

In the absence of a treaty governing relations between two or more states on a particular topic, what is important is evidence of the existence of consensus among states as to what the law should be - in other words, state practice combined with a recognition that a certain practice is obligatory. If sufficiently widespread and consistent, such practice and consensus may constitute customary international law.

Evidence of custom may be found among the following sources:

  • United Nations General Assembly resolutions
  • statements by governments
  • comments by governments on drafts produced by the International Law Commission
  • opinions of official legal advisers
  • decisions of national and international courts
  • diplomatic correspondence

However, as with all matters of evidence, the weight which can be given to a particular statement varies greatly depending on the circumstances in which it was made.

The website of the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations contains the text of recent statements made by Ireland in the UN Security Council and General Assembly. The site also contains statements made by Ireland on behalf of the European Union during its EU Presidency.

As Ireland agrees to the text of statements made by the Presidency of the European Union before they are delivered, these too may be evidence of Ireland’s position on certain legal matters.

Work of the ILC

Introduction

Article 13(1) of the UN Charter provides that the General Assembly shall initiate studies and make recommendations for the purpose of encouraging the progressive development of international law and its codification. In 1947 the General Assembly established the International Law Commission (ILC) to carry out this precise function.

The Statute of the ILC makes a distinction “for convenience” between:

(a) progressive (meaning “the preparation of draft conventions on subjects which have not yet been regulated by international law or in regard to which the law has not yet been sufficiently developed in the practice of States”), and

(b) codification (meaning “the more precise formulation and systematisation of rules of international law in fields where there already has been extensive State practice, precedent and doctrine”).

According to the ILC itself, “governments play an important role at every stage of the work of codification and progressive development … Individually, they furnish information at the outset of the Commission's work and comment upon its drafts and, collectively, they decide sometimes upon the initiation or priority of the work and always upon its outcome.”

The ILC presents annual reports to the Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly (the Committee which deals with legal matters). In addition, after the ILC has submitted its final draft to the General Assembly on a topic, the Assembly normally requests states to comment on the draft.

Irish Statements on the work of the ILC

The text of Ireland's statements to the UN General Assembly regarding the work of the ILC are listed below:

Statement on UNGA 72, 27 October 2017 on Part 2 of the ILC Report relating to Immunity of State Officials from Foreign Criminal Jurisdiction

Statement on UNGA 72, 25 October 2017 on Part 1 of the ILC Report relating to Crimes against Humanity

Statement on UNGA 71, 2 November 2016 on Part 3 of the ILC Report relating to Immunity of State Officials from Foreign Criminal Jurisdiction and Provisional Application of Treaties

Statement to UNGA 71, 1 November 2016 on Part 2 of the ILC Report relating to Crimes against Humanity and Jus Cogens.

Statement to UNGA 71, 26 October 2016 on Part 1 of the ILC Report relating to the Protection of Persons in the Event of Disasters, Identification of Customary International Law, Subsequent Agreements and Subsequent Practice in relation to the Interpretation of Treaties.

Statement to UNGA 70, 10 November 2015‌ on Part 3 of the ILC Report relating to Immunity of State Officials from foreign criminal jurisdiction and Provisional Application of Treaties

Statement to UNGA 70, 6 November 2015 on Part 2 of the ILC Report relating to Identification of Customary International Law

Statement to UNGA 69, 3 November 2014 on Part 3 of the ILC Report relating to Identification of Customary International Law and Provisional Application of Treaties

Statement to UNGA 69, 31 October 2014 on Part 2 of the ILC Report relating to Subsequent Agreements and Subsequent Practice in relation to the interpretation of treaties, Immunity of State Officials from foreign criminal jurisdiction and the Obligation to Extradite or Prosecute

Statement to UNGA 69, 27 October 2014‌ on Part 1 of the ILC Report relating to Expulsion of Aliens, Protection of Persons in the Event of Disasters, Crimes Against Humanity and Jus Cogens

Statement to UNGA 68, 5 November 2013‌ on Part 3 of the ILC Report relating to the Protection of Persons in the Event of Disasters, Formation of Customary International Law, Provisional Application of Treaties and Protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts.

Statement to UNGA 68, 29 October 2013‌ on Part 1 of the ILC Report relating to Subsequent Agreements and Subsequent Practice in relation to the interpretation of treaties and Immunity of State Officials from foreign criminal jurisdiction.

Statement to UNGA 67, 5 November 2012 on Part 3 of the ILC Report relating to Immunity of State Officials, Provisional Application of Treaties, Formation of Customary International Law, the Obligation to Extradite or Prosecute, Treaties over Time and the Most Favoured Nation Clause. 

Statement to UNGA 67, 2 November 2012 on Part 1 of the ILC Report relating to the Expulsion of Aliens, the Protection of Persons in the Event of Disasters and Other Decisions of the Commission.

Statement to UNGA 66, 4 November 2011 on the ILC Report in relation to Other Decisions and Conclusions of the Commission.

Statement to UNGA 66, 28 October 2011 on the ILC Report in relation to the Protection of Persons in the Event of Disasters.

Statement to UNGA 66, 12 October 2011 on the ILC Report in relation to the Scope and Application of the Principle of Universal Jurisdiction.

Statement to UNGA 65, 28 October 2010 on the ILC Report in relation to the Protection of Persons in the Event of Disasters.

Statement to UNGA 64, 30 October 2009 on the ILC Report in relation to Protection of Persons in the Event of Disasters.

Statement to UNGA 64, 30 October 2009 on the ILC Report in relation to the Responsibility of International Organisations.

Statement to UNGA 62, 1 November 2007 on the ILC Report in relation to the Obligation to Extradite or Prosecute.

Statement to UNGA 62, 29 October 2007 on the ILC Report in relation to the Responsibility of International Organisations.

Statement to UNGA 61, 2006 on the ILC’s draft articles on the Responsibility of International Organisations.

Statement to UNGA 60, 2005 on the ILC Report in relation to the Responsibility of International Organisations.

Other Statements

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade regularly answers Parliamentary Questions and makes statements to the Oireachtas on particular issues.

Recent speeches by the Minister are available in News & Press.

Statement at the launch of Irish Yearbook of International Law, UCC November 2012, by Legal Adviser, James Kingston, on behalf of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade.