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This essay analyzes the outcome of the sixty-ninth session of the U.N. International Law Commission held in the summer of 2017 in Geneva. The session was the first of a new quinquennium of the Commission, consisting of members who will serve from 2017 until 2021. Notably, the Commission completed on first reading a full set of draft articles with commentary on crimes against humanity. Progress was also made in developing draft guidelines on the provisional application of treaties; draft guidelines on protection of the atmosphere; draft articles on the immunity of state officials from foreign criminal jurisdiction; and draft conclusions on peremptory norms of general international law (jus cogens).

The Commission did not make any significant progress with respect to its topic on protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts, but did appoint a new special rapporteur to carry the work forward. Further, the Commission added a new topic to its agenda on succession of states in respect of state responsibility, and added two new topics to its long-term work program, namely on general principles of law and on evidence before international courts and tribunals. The Commission did not work on two topics that completed their first readings in 2016 and that, after receiving reactions from governments and others, will likely undergo their second readings in 2018: identification of customary international law; and subsequent agreements and subsequent practice in relation to the interpretation of treaties.

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GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper Forthcoming; GWU Legal Studies Research Paper Forthcoming

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