The discussion within the Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly on the 2016 ILC Draft Articles on the Protection of Persons in the Event of Disasters

In 2016, at its seventy-first session, the General Assembly (GA) decided to include in the provisional agenda of its seventy-third session an item entitled ‘Protection of persons in the event of disasters’ and it invited governments to submit comments concerning the recommendation by the International Law Commission (ILC) to elaborate a convention on the basis of the Draft Articles on the Protection of Persons in the Event of Disasters.

The Sixth Committee considered the item at its 17th, 18th and 19th meetings between 11 and 19 November 2020. The members had before them the report of the UN Secretary-General submitted to the GA at its seventy-fifth session30 which contained written comments that had been received from Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador, Italy, Japan and Turkey.

During the debate, statements were made by the representatives of 33 States. The discussion was informed by the recognition that – as the world continued to face a growing number of disasters – the Covid-19 pandemic had exposed major gaps in the international legal order.

The majority of the delegations welcomed further discussion on the Draft Articles and expressed appreciation for the work of the ILC and the Special Rapporteur on the topic, displaying a more open approach to the possibility of adopting a binding convention.

During the discussion, a proposal was made by the delegation of Colombia to defer the consideration of the issue to the seventy-sixth session of the GA. No objections were raised to the proposal and the topic will thus be discussed by the Sixth Committee in 2021, when it is expected to adopt a draft resolution on the issue.