On 8 September 2023 the Institute of International Law will celebrate its 150th anniversary. Even though works on the history of the Institute and its members have been undertaken, there is still a vast field of research unexplored. It is important that the memory of what has been the Institute, its members, its organs, its commissions will not be lost. The current technological means allow us to put this precious historical baggage at the disposal of the public. Also, the maintenance and the enhancement of the archives are in need of attention. In order to deal with these demands, the Bureau approved a proposal of the Secretary-General to create a Commission on the history of the Institute.
This Commission could be tasked with collecting and/or systematizing the information about the Institute and its members throughout its history, based on the documentation of the Institute itself as well as that existing beyond, for example, through the reports of the sessions and articles relating to the adopted resolutions by the Institute published in specialized journals. The drafting of a list of all past and present members with a brief note and a graphic table of the sessions of the Institute could also be significant. The establishment of a brief historical note about the national groups could also be part of the mission of the Commission, for which it could contact the existing national groups or persons capable of working on the national groups that do not exist anymore. The Commission could also be charged with the organization of competitions for young researchers to analyse the impact of the resolutions of the Institute on international law or the work of the Institute in the various domains of international law. The Commission could furthermore focus on the preparation of a report for the 150th anniversary in the same line as has been done for the 100th anniversary celebrated during the Rome Session.
The Commission should be composed of Confrères and Consoeurs that have a particular knowledge of the Institute over the years or who should be working in a general way on the history of international law. An appropriate geographical representation should be reflected. We propose to nominate a commission under the presidency of our Confrère Jean Salmon and composed of the following Confrères and Consoeurs: Georges Abi-Saab, Jean-Michel Arrighi, Geneviève Bastid-Burdeau, Lucius Caflisch, Giorgio Gaja, Martti Koskenniemi, Roy S. Lee, and Sir Peter North.
The establishment of this Commission would also be very useful for the development of a section on the history of the new website that we would like to put online as soon as possible.
The first report of the commission on the history of the Institute is available under publications.