501.BD International Law/8–3046

Memorandum of Conversation, by Mrs. Alice M. McDiarmid of the Division of international Organization Affairs

Mr. Rogers of the Canadian Embassy was referred to SPA by Mr. Parsons, BC, to make inquiries concerning the agenda item on the progressive development and codification of international law, proposed by the United States.

Mr. Rogers wished to make informal inquiries as to what the United States had in mind for the progessive development and codification of international law. I explained that we considered it important to work out carefully the procedures through which the General Assembly might carry out its obligation to “initiate studies and make recommendations for the purpose of encouraging the progessive development of international law and its codification.” I stressed our interest in development as well as codification and mentioned the desirability of considering the role which the Economic and Social Council acting under Article 62 might play in the development of international law, the functions of the Secretariat Division for the Development of International Law, and the relations with public and private, national and international groups interested in codification.

Mr. Rogers explained that the Canadian Government was much interested in the codification of international law and wished to go ahead somewhat faster than we proposed. He showed me a copy of a memorandum which had not received ministerial approval but which served as an informal expression of their views.6 They wished to have set up at this meeting of the General Assembly a Commission on International Law closely connected to the General Assembly. This [Page 529] commission might, like the International Court of Justice, be composed of fifteen persons, experts on international law, elected for overlapping terms of nine years. I mentioned that we felt the persons working on codification should be experts but should also have had experience in government because one of the major problems was what governments would be willing to accept in the way of codification. The commission, in the Canadian view, should attempt a restatement of what international law actually was. As portions of the re-statement were prepared, they might be submitted to the General Assembly as declarations. If the commission found international law inadequate or outdated on a particular subject, it might prepare a draft convention for adoption by General Assembly and submission to states.

I told Mr. Rogers that I saw nothing essentially incompatible in the two proposals but that theirs represented a step further than we had been preparing to go at this time. He said the Canadians felt that a specific proposal would give direction to the discussion and reduce the time spent on general debate.

He left with me for further study a copy of the Canadian memorandum, emphasizing that it did not amount to a formal proposal since it had not received ministerial approval. He asked me to return it to him with any general comments which I cared to make.

  1. Not printed.