United Nations General Assembly Sixth Committee – International Law Week 2019

Published 19 November 2019 in:

Director-General for Legal Affairs, Ambassador Carl Magnus Nesser, represented Sweden at the United Nations International Law Week.

Director-General for Legal Affairs, Ambassador Carl Magnus Nesser, represented Sweden at the United Nations International Law Week in October and took part in the deliberations on the UN International Law Commission (ILC) annual report to the Sixth Committee. Sweden attaches great importance to the work of the ILC and the Sixth Committee on legal matters.

Sweden was part of a group of countries that organised the Informal Meeting of Legal Advisers, which also took place during International Law Week. The topics on this year’s agenda were the use of the veto in the Security Council, the use of force in international law, and the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions on the protection of victims of war.

The Nordic countries – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden – have a long-standing tradition of cooperation on issues of international law.

Three Nordic statements including substantive comments on the work of the ILC was given during the debate in the Sixth Committee on the ILC report (see links below).

In the first Nordic statement on the ILC report, Sweden expressed the Nordic countries’ appreciation of the work of the ILC and its continuing contribution to the progressive development and codification of international law in accordance with its mandate. The adoption this year, on second reading, of the entire set of draft articles on prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity stands out as a particularly significant achievement. Sweden and the other Nordic countries also welcomed the substantial progress on the other topics on the ILC agenda, including the adoption, on first reading, of the draft conclusions with commentaries on peremptory norms of general international law (jus cogens), and the draft principles with commentaries on the protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts.

The Nordic countries welcomed the ILC’s decision to include the topic of sea-level rise in relation to international law in its programme of work. As recently confirmed in the IPCC’s Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, the global mean sea level is rising; this rise is accelerating and is projected to continue beyond 2100. Sea-level rise has serious implications, particularly for small islands and low-lying coastal areas. Consideration of its relation to international law raises broad and complex questions, and the Commission is well suited to move this work forward. For the full statements, see the links below.

A number of statements by the Nordic countries are also delivered in relation to the other topics on the agenda of the Sixth Committee. Sweden delivered the statement on universal jurisdiction and the prevention of transboundary harm (links below).

Sweden is one of two vice-chairs of the Sixth Committee this year and is represented by Ms Cecilia Anderberg, First Secretary at the Permanent Mission of Sweden to the United Nations.

Sweden and the ICRC  also took the opportunity during International Law Week to present the upcoming study on protection of health care in armed conflict. One of the aims of the study is to translate the normative framework for the protection of health care into concrete and practical regulations and guidelines for armed forces and armed groups.


The Nordic statements: