Statement at the 74th General Assembly Sixth Committee Agenda Item 81: Consideration of prevention of transboundary harm from hazardous activities

David Bigge, Attorney Adviser
Office of the Legal Adviser
Washington, D.C.
October 22, 2019


Thank you, Chair.

The Commission’s draft articles on prevention of transboundary harm from hazardous activities have marked a positive step toward encouraging States to establish the means to address such issues as notification in specific national and international contexts.

We continue to believe it is most appropriate for the draft articles to be treated as non-binding standards to guide the conduct and practice of states, and for the work on prevention of transboundary harm to remain formulated as draft articles. Retaining the current, recommendatory form of these draft articles and principles increases the likelihood that they will gain widespread consideration and fulfill their intended purposes of providing a valuable resource for States in this area. With respect to this agenda item, the United States position has not changed since our last statement.

As we have previously noted, both the draft articles and draft principles go beyond the present state of international law and practice, and are clearly innovative and aspirational in character rather than descriptive of current law or state practice. Both documents were designed as sources to encourage national and international action in specific contexts, rather than to form the basis of a global treaty. We therefore strongly support retaining these products in their current form.