The Commission has also conceived and implemented working groups after appointing a Special Rapporteur to deal with particular issues as well as to create momentum for future projects on those issues. These can be very broad in scope and can include “arbitral procedure; State responsibility; relations between States and international organizations (first part of the topic and second part of the topic); draft code of offences against the peace and security of mankind; international liability for injurious consequences arising out of acts not prohibited by international law (the topic as a whole, prevention aspect of the topic and liability aspect of the topic); unilateral acts of States; nationality in relation to the succession of States; diplomatic protection; responsibility of international organizations; and shared natural resources.” (Paolillo, 79)
Whatever be the mandate of each working group, it is always accountable and subordinate to the broader goals of the UNILC. This ensures that the founding objectives of the commission are catered to as well as helps lay down the parameters of any study, to revise and, if need be, to update old proposals, and finally to make a final judgment on the effectiveness of the work.
The UNILC adopts a systematic approach to selecting its topics of work. As per its comprehensive Statute documents, the UNILC will consider any proposal “for the progressive development of international law”, but only if referred by the General Assembly or if presented by participating nation-states in the UN. Sometimes proposals are considered if they originate from the key agencies of the UN apart from the General Assembly, such as “specialized agencies or official bodies established by intergovernmental agreements to encourage the progressive development and codification of international law”. When it comes to actual codification, the UNILC is required to perform a comprehensive analysis of the entire international law canon in order to choose the most relevant topics. On top of that, the UNILC can recommend to the General Assembly that it feels requires immediate judicial attention (Graefrath, 597).
Assessing the Commission’s Work:
The commission is constantly on the lookout for improving its processes and working frameworks. So, in order to identify areas of improvement, the commission carries out critical studies periodically. Two most prominent one are the one by the UN Institute for Training and Research and another one by Professor B.G. Ramcharan. However, there have been criticisms that such critical analyses are not done frequently enough. But for what they are worth, these studies revealed some important facts regarding the international law, especially with respect to “outer space, human rights law, international humanitarian law, environmental law and international economic law” (McCaffrey, 312). Nevertheless, the UNILC needs to adopt more dynamic work models and need to carry out more introspective projects on its own efficacy and efficiency as well as its ability to achieve goals. The two studies mentioned above made some constructive recommendations for the overall improvement of the functioning of the commission. They suggest,
1. that the Commission’s session be split into a four-week winter session and an eight-week summer session;
2. that the Commission work in chambers or subcommittees;
3. that it become a full-time body or at least have full-time rapporteurs;
4. that support by the Secretariat and the Commission’s access to research facilities be increased;
5. that the agenda be condensed so that not every item is dealt with each year and items that are no longer important to governments are deleted; and
6. that the Commission’s output be varied to include restatements, model rules and reports, in addition to conventions. (Graefrath, 595)
So, what this shows is that the UNILC is never shy of looking in the mirror and trying to rectify its flaws. The only grievance could be the frequency of such clean-up projects, which some analysts consider to be very important for the commission to be an effective international mediating forum (McCaffrey, 314).