Seventy-eighth Session,
47th Meeting (AM)

Sixth Committee Concludes Resumed Session on Crimes against Humanity

Concluding its second resumed session on the International Law Commission’s draft articles on “Crimes against humanity” today, the Sixth Committee (Legal) adopted a written summary of its deliberations during both the 2023 and 2024 resumed sessions on this topic, also taking note of the Chair’s summary of the same, as orally amended, after multiple delegations raised concerns over its wording and content.

At the outset of the meeting, Vice-Chair Alis Lungu (Romania), speaking on behalf of Rapporteur Moussa Mohamed Moussa (Djibouti), introduced the draft written summary (document A/C.6/78/L.22), as well as the draft Chair’s summary to be included as an annex thereto (document A/C.6/78/L.22/Add.1).  She noted that the annex was presently only available in the language of drafting — English — as there was insufficient time to translate it into the other official languages.  She noted, however, that a final version will be issued in all official languages after the conclusion of the session.

Summarizing the written summary by paragraph, she drew the Committee’s attention to the text’s nature as a technical report and noted that the first two paragraphs recall the salient parts of General Assembly resolution 77/249.  Paragraphs 4 to 10 detail the proceedings of the resumed session held from 10 to 14 April 2023.  Paragraphs 11 to 20 concern the proceedings of the 2024 resumed session, and she recommended both the written summary and its annex for consideration and adoption by the Committee.

Next, Chair Suriya Chindawongse (Thailand) called the Committee’s attention to such paragraphs in succession for adoption, inviting questions or comments.  During that process, several delegations engaged in a discussion with the Chair regarding the fact that the Rapporteur was not physically present.  On that, the representative of Nigeria — who initially noted the Rapporteur’s absence — expressed concern over a potential lack of transparency. 

Kenya’s representative, echoing that, suggested that — if a critical member of the Bureau were not to be present — this should be indicated at the beginning of the meeting.  For his part, the Chair stressed that the Bureau had consulted very closely with the Rapporteur throughout the process, and that the Secretariat had done its best to maintain transparency and accurately reflect the views of all regional groupings. 

Turning to the Chair’s summary, proposed to be attached as an annex, the Chair stated that such text would be appended for reference purposes only — not as a reflection of the Committee’s position and without prejudice to those of Governments.  A discussion then ensued regarding the content of the Chair’s summary, with the representative of Singapore suggesting certain technical edits and Nigeria’s delegate expressing reservations over appending an annex about which some delegations have concerns while raising some of her own.

Committee Co-Facilitator Anna Pála Sverrisdóttir (Iceland) then took the floor to note that, while delegations’ comments would go on the record, it was impossible to capture the position — or exact wording — of every delegation in a summary.  Sri Lanka’s representative, at this point, suggested that the Committee “err on the side of caution” and consider a short adjournment to address the issues raised.  Representatives of Gambia, Mexico, Mali and Uganda also raised concerns, with the latter reiterating the importance of having a text that is acceptable to all delegations.

After a short suspension, the Chair proposed amendments to two paragraphs within the Chair’s summary.  First, the second sentence in paragraph 30 would be changed to read:  “Several delegations proposed to include the slave trade as a crime against humanity.”  Additionally, the last sentence would be amended to indicate that “several delegations” suggested adding “slavery” as a crime against humanity.  Finally, he proposed appending “as crimes against humanity” to the end of the first sentence of paragraph 35.

Following this announcement, delegations continued to raise concerns over certain wording within the Chair’s summary, including the representatives of Cameroon, Eritrea, Malta, Iran, the Russian Federation, Egypt and India.  Some of those speakers proposed that the Committee “take note of”, rather than “adopt”, the Chair’s summary.

The Committee then adopted the written summary and took note of the Chair’s summary, as orally amended.  Before declaring the Committee’s consideration of its agenda item on “Crimes against humanity” closed, the Chair expressed hope that the Committee’s work over the past two years — as reflected in the written summary just adopted — will form a solid basis for further work on this agenda item at the next session of the General Assembly.

The Committee will next meet on 6 June 2024 to elect the Bureau for the seventy-ninth session.

For information media. Not an official record.