|Statement by Mr. JIA Guide, Chinese Delegate, at the Sixth Committee of the 59th Session of the UN General Assembly, on Item 139: Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts
New York, 28 October 2004
Following 46 years of tireless efforts, the International Law Commission (ILC) finally completed the Draft Articles on Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts in 2001. It is yet another major contribution that the ILC has made to international law following its successful codification and development of international law in the fields of diplomatic and consular relations, treaties and oceans and is of positive significance for the steady and healthy development of international relations. The draft articles are structurally sound and contain comprehensive provisions on responsibility of states while the commentary provides detailed explanation to each and every draft article. The draft articles are generally balanced. The 56th Session of the General Assembly acknowledged the work of the ILC in Resolution 56/83. The outcome of its work has been referred to by some international judicial institutions and is becoming increasingly useful in practice.
With regard to what action the General Assembly is to take on the draft articles, the ILC recommended in 2001 that the GA should consider at a later stage the possibility of convening an international conference of plenipotentiaries to examine the draft articles with a view to concluding a convention on the topic. Resolution 56/83 took note of the recommendation and decided to include in the provisional agenda of the fifty-ninth session of the GA an item entitled “Responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts”.
In principle, the Chinese delegation has no objection to the convening of a diplomatic conference in due course to examine the draft articles and conclude an international convention on the basis of the draft articles. However, the question of responsibility of states is a very complex one as major interests of states are at stake. The draft articles have yet to satisfactorily address the concerns of quite a number of countries on some extremely controversial issues, such as “serious breaches of obligations under peremptory norms of general international law” and “counter measures”. The Chinese delegation stated its principled position on the question in a statement on the topic of responsibility of states in the 6th Committee during the 56th session of the General Assembly in 2001. In line with that position, the Chinese delegation believes that any further substantive action on the draft articles must be based on thorough consideration, adequate preparations and consensus. As conditions are not right yet for convening a diplomatic conference to examine the draft articles, the Chinese delegation suggests that the topic of responsibility of states for internationally wrongful acts be included on the agenda of the GA annually or biennially and a working group on the topic be set up in the 6th Committee to afford members an opportunity to regularly exchange views on all relevant issues and on ways to solve those issues with a view to reaching an eventual decision on action to be taken when all conditions are right.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.