Austria's Longstanding Tradition of Promoting International Law
Austria is proud of its longstanding tradition of promoting international law. Austria attaches great importance to the enhancement of the rule of law and legal certainty in international relations, which is of particular value to smaller countries. For this reason, Austria strongly supports and is actively engaged in the efforts of the United Nations in the field of progressive development and codification of international law.
Vienna was the host city of numerous major UN Codification Conferences leading to the adoption of many important multilateral conventions governing the conduct of States under international law, such as
- the 1961 Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations
- the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations
- the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties
- the 1975 Vienna Convention on the Representation of States in their Relations with International Organizations of a Universal Character
- the 1978 Vienna Convention on Succession of States in Respect of Treaties
- the 1983 Vienna Convention on Succession of States in respect of State Property, Archives and Debts, or
- the 1986 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties between States and International Organizations or between International Organizations).
The International Law Commission (ILC)
Austria is highly interested in the work of the International Law Commission (ILC), the main organ of the General Assembly (GA) for the promotion of the codification of international law. Following its legal tradition, three most renowned Austrian international law scholars (Prof. Alfred Verdross 1957-1966; Prof. Stephan Verosta 1977-1981; Prof. Gerhard Hafner 1997-2001) were represented in the ILC.
Austria in the Sixth Committee
Austria is also actively participating in, and contributing to, the work of the Sixth (Legal) Committee of the GA, particularly the discussions of the reports of the ILC. At the 44th session (1989) and the 56th session (2001) of the GA Austrian representatives were elected Chairman and Vice-Chairman, respectively, of the Sixth Committee. In March 2004, under the chairmanship of Austria, an Ad Hoc Committee of the Sixth Committee unanimously adopted the text of the Draft UN Convention on Jurisdictional Immunities of States and their Property, thus finalizing nearly three decades of work by the ILC and the Sixth Committee.
During the 58th session (2003) of the GA Austria and Sweden launched an Initiative to Revitalize the Debate in the Sixth Committee on the Report of the ILC. The initiative was strongly supported by the President of the 58th GA, Mr. Julian Hunte, and welcomed by virtually all Members of the Sixth Committee. In Resolution 58/77 of 9 December 2003 the GA expressly endorsed the Austrian-Swedish initiative and decided that the first week of discussion of the ILC-Report by the legal advisers in the Sixth Committee should henceforth be known as “International Law Week”.
Austrian Participation in Other UN-Activities
Austrian representatives have been actively participating in the field of codification of international law. These activities include the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Legal Subcommittee of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), the Secretariat of which is located in Vienna.