Evolution of the International Law Commission: The Pursuit of Functional and Structural Balance

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Ünyılmaz H.

Public and private international law bulletin, vol.43, no.1, pp.409-446, 2023 (ESCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 43 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.26650/ppil.2023.43.1266596
  • Journal Name: Public and private international law bulletin
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), EBSCO Legal Source, Directory of Open Access Journals, ERIHPlus, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM), Sobiad Atıf Dizini
  • Page Numbers: pp.409-446
  • Bursa Uludag University Affiliated: Yes


The International Law Commission (ILC) was established with the aim of promoting the codification and progressive development of international law. Over the years, it has prepared numerous important treaties that are now considered elemental texts of current international law. Thanks to its institutional relations and expertise, the ILC has become an important legal authority that is respected for its work methods and outputs. Throughout its 75 years of service, the ILC has continuously adapted to changes and satisfied expectations. It has strived to maintain a balance among the various needs, demands, and approaches. This study surveys how the ILC has balanced these factors under three themes by first examining the balance between the codification of international customary law and the progressive development of international law as a functional effort. The study also evaluates its trend of preparing soft law texts rather than hard law texts, as well as the reasons and consequences these have had for the ILC. Lastly, the study inspects the ILC's structural balancing efforts with respect to the number of members and profiles of both the members and the officers. The study will use this analysis to demonstrate that the ILC as an organizational part of the United Nations is in a continuous endeavor for change and balance to maintain its acceptance and usefulness. As such, it remains an important institution in the development and promotion of international law.