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United Nations General Assembly Sixth Committee

United Nations General Assembly Sixth Committee
Emblem of the United Nations.svg
AbbreviationLegal, C6
Legal statusActive
HeadquartersNew York, United States
Michal Mlynár
Parent organization
United Nations General Assembly
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The United Nations General Assembly Sixth Committee (also known as the Legal Committee or C6) is one of six main committees of the General Assembly of the United Nations. It deals primarily with legal matters and is the primary forum for the consideration of international law and other legal matters concerning the United Nations.[1]


The United Nations General Assembly has an express mandate to promote the progressive development of public international law as laid out in the Charter of the United Nations. Specifically, Article 13 of the Carter states that the General Assembly has the authority to "initiate studies and make recommendations for the purpose of: (a) promoting international co-operation in the political field and encouraging the progressive development of international law and its codification."[2]

Subsequent practice has interpreted this provision as a broad authorization to elaborate new treaties on the widest range of issues, to adopt them, and to recommend them to states for their subsequent signature, ratification or accession.[3] While international law-making negotiations take place in a variety of specialized bodies of the United Nations, depending on their actual subject-matter, those negotiations related to general international law are usually held at the Sixth Committee.[4]

Composition and method of work

The Sixth Committee has universal membership, as such all United Nations Member States are entitled to representation in its proceedings. Non-member states with observer status may also attend and participate in the discussions of the Committee.[1][5]

The Sixth Committee meets every year for six weeks in parallel with the General Assembly’s annual session, with its work beginning after the general debate and finishing by mid-November. Occasionally, the Committee may also be reconvened upon request of the General Assembly to address substantive questions. Before the work of the Committee begins, the General Assembly assigns to it a list of agenda items to be discussed. Common agenda items include:[6]

  • The promotion of justice and international law
  • Accountability and internal United Nations justice matters
  • Drug control
  • Crime prevention
  • Combating international terrorism

The Committee also hears the annual reports of its reporting bodies, as well as considers requests for observer status in the General Assembly.

The Committee does not hold a general debate at the start of its session, instead discussing its agenda items one by one, following a program of work adopted at its first meeting. Following formal discussions and negotiations, any adopted proposals are submitted to the Plenary of the General Assembly for final adoption. If a particular issue proves too complex for the Committee, it may refer it to the International Law Commission, or it may create an ad hoc committee to discuss it.[1][7]

The highlight of the Sixth Committee’s work is the "International Law Week" beginning at the end of October, when top Legal Advisers from Member States meet in New York to consider the report of the International Law Commission. Additionally, during the week, the reports of the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court are also presented to the Plenary of the General Assembly.[8]

Reporting bodies

The following bodies all report to the General Assembly through the Sixth Committee:[1]

  • Committee on Relations with the Host Country
  • International Law Commission
  • Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization
  • United Nations Commission on International Trade Law
  • United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination, and Wider Appreciation of International Law
  • Various ad hoc Committees established by the General Assembly in the context of the work of C6


The following make up the bureau of the Sixth Committee for the 74th Session of the General Assembly:[9][10]

Name Country Position
H.E. Michal Mlynár  Slovakia Chairperson
Cecilia Anderberg  Sweden Vice-Chair
Amadou Jaiteha  Gambia Vice-Chair
Pablo Arrocha Olabuenaga  Mexico Vice-Chair
Mohamed Hamad Al-Thani  Qatar Rapporteur

Treaties and resolutions negotiated at the Sixth Committee

The following treaties and resolutions have been negotiated, as a whole or in part, at the Sixth Committee:

Since 2000 the Sixth Committee has been elaborating a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism to complement the existing counter-terrorism instruments. That proposed treaty has not yet been adopted.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Ruder, Nicole; Nakano, Kenji; Aeschlimann, Johann (2017). Aeschlimann, Johann and Mary Regan (eds.). The GA Handbook: A Practical Guide to the United Nations General Assembly (PDF) (2nd ed.). New York: Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations. ISBN 978-0-615-49660-3.CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link)
  2. ^ Charter of the United Nations . San Francisco: United Nations. 1945 – via Wikisource.
  3. ^ The Charter of the United Nations: a commentary, (München: C. H. Beck Verlag, 1995), pp. 265 – 266; Paul C. Szasz, The Security Council Starts Legislating, 96 American Journal of International Law, (2002) p. 901.
  4. ^ United Nations General Assembly Rules of Procedure, art. 98; Alan Boyle and Christine Chinkin, The Making of International Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007) pp. 116 – 117.
  5. ^ "Sixth Committee (Legal)". General Assembly of the United Nations. United Nations. n.d. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  6. ^ United Nations General Assembly Sixth Committee Session 74 Document 1. Allocation of agenda items to the Sixth Committee A/C.6/74/1 30 September 2019. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  7. ^ Herbert W. Briggs, The International Law Commission (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1965); Alan Boyle and Christine Chinkin, The Making of International Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007) p. 170.
  8. ^ "Sixth Committee (Legal Committee)". Permanent Mission to the United Nations of the Argentine Republic. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship of Argentina. n.d. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  9. ^ "Sixth Committee (Legal) — 74th session: Bureau". General Assembly of the United Nations. United Nations. n.d. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
  10. ^ Manhire, Vanessa, ed. (2019). United Nations Handbook 2019–20 (PDF) (57th ed.). Wellington: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand. ISSN 0110-1951.

External links