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In the two decades since their adoption in 2001, the International Law Commission (ILC)’s Articles on the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts (ASR) have had an extraordinary influence, not just on the field of international law generally, but also on the work of the ILC itself. Indeed, the ILC concluded four projects that directly resulted from or were closely related to the ASR in the first decade after its adoption. Moreover, references to the ASR have worked their way into most (albeit not all) of the ILC topics completed since 2001.

Yet those express references tell just part of the story. Given the fundamental role of the issues addressed in the ASR across all fields of international law, it is natural for ILC members to consult habitually the ASR when drafting or revising texts and when developing the associated commentary. Even if not expressly referenced in the completed work of the ILC, the ASR are often noted in reports of the special rapporteurs, debates in the ILC plenary, and in the ILC’s drafting committee, not just for the broad propositions of law addressed in the ASR, but also for the particular words used by the ASR and their commentary when capturing legal concepts. As such, in the two decades since their adoption, the ASR have strongly influenced the ILC’s work on all of its topics. And, in all likelihood, such effects will continue into the future.

Part I explains the four projects completed from 2001 to 2011 that directly resulted from or were closely related to the ASR. Part II demonstrates the ASR’s influence on a number of other topics completed by the Commission over the past two decades. Part III concludes with reflections on why the ASR have left such an extensive heritage in the work of the ILC, and why such influence will likely continue in the future.

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