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Keynote speech professor Nico Schrijver at UN celebration of 70 Years International Law Commission

Professor Nico Schrijver is professor of public international law at Leiden University and currently the president of the Institut de Droit international /International Law Institute, the most prestigious international law institute which was established in 1873 and which for the quality of its work received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1904 .

The UN International Law Commission was established soon after the Second World War with the mandate to promote the progressive development of international law and its codification. It is a subsidiary organ of the UN General Assembly. Professor Nico Schrijver served as the keynote speaker at a celebratory event as part of a solemn meeting of the UNGA on 21 May 2018. He gave an assessment of the work of the ILC and praised its contributions to international law making during the past 70 years. Through the work of the ILC major parts of international law have been codified in treaty law, for example the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, Law of the Sea treaties and those on diplomatic and consular relations. Furthermore, its work has also resulted in some principal other texts, such as its draft articles on State Responsibility for Internationally Wrongful Acts, which have a major impact on the development of international law and judicial decisions in this field. Nico Schrijver addressed in his keynote also the interaction between the work of academics, especially through the Institut de Droit international, and the International Law Commission and earlier the League of Nations (e.g. , The Hague Codification Conference in 1930). He raised the question whether the agenda for international law is now more or less completed now that after 1945 so many multilateral treaties have been concluded or whether there is still work to be done and an agenda for the future? In his view the latter is certainly the case now that frequently new issues of pressing concern emerge which are in need of international law making, such as combatting international terrorism, protecting the global climate system and achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Furthermore, international law is in need of constant maintenance in order to remain relevant. Nico Schrijver emphasized also that international law is much more than just a ‘ belief’: in our deeply divided world it is our only common language as well as the embodiment of shared global values such as peace and security, humanity, justice, freedom and sustainability and a concrete regulatory framework for action in many fields of international relations.

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