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Statements on International Law Issues

Statements by Ireland on International Law Issues

  • Introduction
  • Work of the ILC
  • International Organisations
  • UNGA
  • Other Statements



In the absence of a treaty governing relations between two or more states on a particular topic, what is important is evidence of the existence of consensus among states as to what the law should be - in other words, state practice combined with a recognition that a certain practice is obligatory. If sufficiently widespread and consistent, such practice and consensus may constitute customary international law.

Evidence of custom may be found among the following sources:

  • United Nations General Assembly resolutions
  • statements by governments
  • comments by governments on drafts produced by the International Law Commission
  • opinions of official legal advisers
  • decisions of national and international courts
  • diplomatic correspondence

However, as with all matters of evidence, the weight which can be given to a particular statement varies greatly depending on the circumstances in which it was made.

The website of the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations contains the text of recent statements made by Ireland in the UN Security Council and General Assembly. The site also contains statements made by Ireland on behalf of the European Union during its EU Presidency.

As Ireland agrees to the text of statements made by the Presidency of the European Union before they are delivered, these too may be evidence of Ireland’s position on certain legal matters.

Work of the ILC

Work of the ILC


Article 13(1) of the UN Charter provides that the General Assembly shall initiate studies and make recommendations for the purpose of encouraging the progressive development of international law and its codification. In 1947 the General Assembly established the International Law Commission (ILC) to carry out this precise function.

The Statute of the ILC makes a distinction “for convenience” between:

(a) progressive (meaning “the preparation of draft conventions on subjects which have not yet been regulated by international law or in regard to which the law has not yet been sufficiently developed in the practice of States”), and

(b) codification (meaning “the more precise formulation and systematisation of rules of international law in fields where there already has been extensive State practice, precedent and doctrine”).

According to the ILC itself, “governments play an important role at every stage of the work of codification and progressive development … Individually, they furnish information at the outset of the Commission's work and comment upon its drafts and, collectively, they decide sometimes upon the initiation or priority of the work and always upon its outcome.”

The ILC presents annual reports to the Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly (the Committee which deals with legal matters). In addition, after the ILC has submitted its final draft to the General Assembly on a topic, the Assembly normally requests states to comment on the draft.

UN International Law Seminar

Each year, the UN in Geneva organises an International Law Seminar in July in connection with the UN International Law Commission. This is a programme for postgraduate students or for young professionals working in international law, between the ages of 24 and 38 years of age. The course itself is provided for free by the UN but there is no additional funding available for flights or accommodation. Qualified candidates are expected to have a solid knowledge of international law on the basis of postgraduate studies or professional experience. Comprehensive information on the course itself and on the application process is available from the International Law Seminar. The 57th session of the Seminar will take place from 3 – 21 July 2023. The application form for the 2024 session will be available on the International Law Seminar website in due course.

Irish Statements on the work of the ILC

The text of Ireland's statements to the UN General Assembly regarding the work of the ILC are listed below: 

International Organisations


Other Statements

Other Statements

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade regularly answers Parliamentary Questions and makes statements to the Oireachtas on particular issues.

Recent speeches by the Minister are available in News & Press.

Statement at the launch of Irish Yearbook of International Law, UCC November 2012, by Legal Adviser, James Kingston, on behalf of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade.