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International Criminal Law: United Nations

A guide to online and print resources, including substantive and procedural law, secondary sources, journals and news.

United Nations

The United Nations mandate on international law emanates from the Charter of the United Nations which, in its Preamble, sets the goal "to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained." The UN Treaty Collection provides information on the status of over 500 major multilateral instruments deposited with the UN Secretary-General (including texts of reservations, declarations and objections).

The General Assembly's (GA) Sixth Committee deals with international legal matters. See Main Committees. Assembly actions based on Sixth Committee recommendations, and relevant documents, can be searched in the Index to Proceedings of the General Assembly. The Sixth Committee submits a separate report to the plenary on every agenda item allocated to it. They synthesize the Committee's consideration of the items and transmit the final version of draft resolutions/decisions recommended for adoption. They are working documents of the plenary and issued under the symbol for the plenary. Since GA resolutions and decisions often are not printed until weeks after their adoption, the final draft as contained in the Committee report (sometimes orally amended immediately prior to adoption) may be the only source for the text of a recent resolution/decision. A complete listing of Sixth Committee reports since the 57th session is found in the UN-I-QUE database.  

The International Law Commission was established by GA Resolution 174 (II) of 21 November 1947 (available as part of GA Resolutions adopted during its second session); the annexed Statute defines the mandate of the Commission. Its primary objective is "promotion of the progressive development of international law and its codification." The Statute was amended several times; the updated text is available online. The Commission meets in one annual session in Geneva and reports to the General Assembly. The Analytical Guide to the Work of the International Law Commission, 1949-1997 describes the work of the ILC on legal issues falling within its mandate with references to the source materials.

  • The full text of Texts, Instruments and Final Reports are available on the Commission website.
  • The full text of all Working Documents (symbol A/CN.4/-) are available on the Commission website and recent documents are also available through UNBISnet and the Official Document System of the United Nations.
    Reports submitted by special rapporteurs constitute a major category of working documents. A complete listing of these reports is found in the UN-I-QUE database and the reports for a given year are reprinted in the ILC Yearbook.
  • Provisional Summary Records of meetings (symbol A/CN.4/SR.[meeting number]) for a given year are reprinted in the ILC Yearbook.
  • Annual Commission reports to the GA are issued as Supplement #10 to the Official Records of the General Assembly. A complete list of these reports (1949+) is in the UN-I-QUE database. The annual report of a given year is reprinted in the ILC Yearbook. The full text of all annual reports are available through the Commission's website and recent reports are available from UNBISnet and the Official Document System of the United Nations.

The Yearbook of the International Law Commission reproduces, in volume I, records of meetings which took place in a given year; volume II contains the texts of major reports produced during the year (including the annual report to the General Assembly). A complete list of Yearbooks is  found in the UN-I-QUE database. The full text of all ILC Yearbooks is available through the Commission's website and UNBISnet.

The UN Documents are currently being migrated to a new online platform UN Documents: Research Guides & Resources

United Nations Resources and Links

The following is a list of additional UN related resources available online: