Statement by Professor Sean D. Murphy, Member of the International Law Commission, on his Candidacy for Re-election

Read Time3 Minute, 14 Second
Professor Sean D. Murphy
New York City
November 3, 2015

Thank you very much, Ambassador Power and Deputy Legal Adviser McLeod, for those kind words of introduction. I’m very grateful to you and to Secretary Kerry for nominating me for re-election to the Commission. I will be very brief, but would like to touch on three points

First, it has been a tremendous honor to serve on the Commission. My colleagues, many of whom are here tonight, are an extremely talented group of jurists, representing legal traditions from across the globe. We do not always agree with each other on some of the issues that we confront, but the Commission has proven to be a very collegial body, where we listen carefully to each other and try to find a path forward that takes account of every Member’s concerns. That, I think, is one of the Commission’s inherent strengths.

Second, I was honored to be appointed in 2014 as Special Rapporteur for Crimes against Humanity. As many of you know, the objective of this topic is to draft what might become a new convention on the prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity, with its central focus on the development of national laws and on inter-State cooperation. This topic is not the work of any one person; it is a collective effort by all of the Members of the Commission to develop an instrument that is useful and that avoids any possible areas of concern. For example, one guiding principle of the topic is to avoid any possible conflict with the important work of the International Criminal Court and to develop an instrument in complete harmony with the Rome Statute.

As Special Rapporteur, I have felt it important to reach out to constituencies beyond just the Commission itself. As such, over the past year I have met with government officials and given lectures in Europe, Africa, the Americas, and Asia, to help explain the purpose and objectives of the Commission’s project on crimes against humanity. Two weeks from today, I will be in Cairo discussing the initiative with lawyers from the governments of Arab States, and from there I will fly to Nuremberg for a workshop where 27 legal experts, convened from all continents (except I suppose Antarctica!) will meet to offer advice on the next stage of this project.

My third and final point is that my time on the Commission has convinced me that there are various ways that we might improve the work of the Commission, and its relationship with the Sixth Committee. I feel that there is insufficient contact between our two bodies; that while the interaction occurring this week is important and must continue, it is not sufficient for the Commission to understand fully the concerns of the Sixth Committee, or for the Sixth Committee to understand fully the work of the Commission. In recent months, I and other Commission members have participated in informal meetings with Sixth Committee representatives during quieter times of the year; I think those interactions should continue and increase in frequency and scope. And we need to develop other ways of building up levels of trust and understanding between New York and Geneva. Toward that end, for example, I would like to see the Commission meet in New York for at least one-half of one session sometime during the next quinquennium.

In closing, over the course of the next year I hope to speak with as many governments as possible as to why I am running for re-election to the Commission, in the hope that, when the time comes, you again will see fit to support me.

My thanks to the U.S. Mission for its generous hospitality and to all of you for your kind attention.

Source: U.S Department of State


Robert Williams

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