On the other hand, the Commission’s work in the fields of diplomatic and consular law achieved better success and recognition. The commission’s work in the area of international oceanic waters being the most appreciated one. According to one UN legal counselor,
“This topic was considered by the Commission at its 1957 and 1958 sessions, the General Assembly decided to convene an international conference on the recommended of the Commission. The conference, held in April 1961, led to the adoption of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, an Optional Protocol concerning Acquisition of Nationality, and an Optional Protocol concerning Compulsory Settlement of Disputes arising from the Application or Interpretation of the Convention” (Graefrath, 595).
Upcoming Legislative programs of the Commission:
With its impressive track record in aiding international peace and harmony, the Commission is set to achieve more legal milestones in the future. The Commission takes cognizance of the fact that its standards are dipping in certain key areas, as noted by the UNITAR report of 1981. For example, according to this study,
“The commission was the Commission’s declining to assert its competence over the developing law of outer space that set the stage for the proliferation of more ad hoc bodies. Once launched, the tendency expanded to include even some of the areas which had customarily been considered to be within the domain of the Commission. Two examples are the creation of the committee on the peaceful uses of the sea-bed and the ocean floor beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, and the establishment of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Drafting of an International Convention against the Taking of Hostages”. (Lee, 547)
The immediate task for the UNILC would be to address these shortcomings so that it can regain its once high standards. Other assignments would include formulating legal guidelines pertaining to extraterrestrial space (as in satellite orbits, etc). This area assumes special significance given the rapid advancements in space and telecommunications technology. The commission also needs to follow up on its UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) efforts, which alongside UNESCO has remained politically tense, as the industrial world and the emerging markets of the third world vie with each other for economic advantage (McCaffrey, 301).
Hence, from the discussion above, we can infer that the UNILC has had a key role to play in the development of international law. It could even be asserted that the criticisms elicited by the Commission’s work are only toward improving its functioning and there is hardly any criticism condemning its programs or questioning its ethical integrity. So far as the perception in certain quarters about the apparent decrease in the significance of the Commission in the context of a uni-polar world (dominated by the only superpower, the United States), it can only be said that such a view would be premature. The Commission had brought about significant changes in international relations since its inception and has an even bigger role to play in the face of the proliferation nuclear weapons and religious fundamentalism.
B Graefrath, “The International Law Commission Tomorrow: Improving its Organization and Methods of Work” 85 AJIL 595 (1991).
Felipe Paolillo, An Over-View of the International Law-Making Process and the Role of the International Law Commission, in Making Better International Law 79 (1998).
Luke T Lee, “International Law Commission Re-examined”, 59 AJIL 545 (1965).
McCaffrey, Stephen C. “An assessment of the work of the International Law Commission.” Natural Resources Journal 36.n2 (Spring 1996): 297-318.