Oceans and Law of the Sea

Rules of Procedure of the Commission

Last updated: 08 April 2009

CLCS/40/Rev.1 - Rules of Procedure of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf 17 April 2008 English Franšais Espa˝ol
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   About the Rules of Procedure

    Document CLCS/40/Rev.1 contains the latest version of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, embodying amendments and additions adopted by the Commission as at 11 April 2008. Annexes I and II to the present Rules were adopted by the Commission at its fourth session, held from 31 August to 4 September 1998. Annex III was adopted by the Commission at its thirteenth session, held from 26 to 30 April 2004, and replaced the modus operandi of the Commission (CLCS/L.3 of 12 September 1997) and the internal procedure of the subcommission of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS/L.12 of 25 May 2001).
The present Rules and their annexes supersede and replace documents CLCS/L.3 (12 September 1997) and CLCS/L.12 (25 May 2001) as well as all previously issued documents containing the Rules of Procedure of the Commission and their revisions or corrections (documents CLCS/3 (12 September 1997), CLCS/3/Corr.1 (27 April 1998), CLCS/3/Rev.1 (14 May 1998), CLCS/3/Rev.2 (4 September 1998), CLCS/3/Rev.2/Corr.1 (28 March 2000), CLCS/3/Rev.3 (6 February 2001), CLCS/3/Rev.3/Corr.1 (22 May 2001) and CLCS/40 (2 July 2004)).

    The Rules of Procedure is one of the basic documents of the Commission. Before the Commission was elected, Draft Rules of Procedure were prepared for it by the Secretariat (SPLOS/CLCS/WP.1) at the request of the Fifth Meeting of States Parties (SPLOS/14, para. 44). These Draft Rules were applied provisionally until the Commission considered and adopted its own rules.

    The Commission considered and adopted several of the rules at its first session (June 1997) and decided that the remainder would be subject to further discussion. Rules relating to the issue of confidentiality, which were not included in the original draft, were discussed during the session and incorporated into the draft rules. (See Statement of the Chairman CLCS/1).

    Several members of the Commission raised the issue of protection from potential liability resulting from allegations of breach of the rules of confidentiality. It was generally agreed that some provision would have to be adopted affording members of the Commission immunity from legal process in the performance of their functions.

    During its second session (September 1997) (Statement of the Chairman, CLCS/4), the Commission continued consideration of those draft rules of procedure that had not already been adopted. Following extensive deliberation, the majority of the rules were adopted. However, the rules contained in Annexes I and II dealing with delimitation disputes between States, and the issue of confidentiality, as well as protection from possible liability of members of the Commission arising from potential allegations of breach of the rules of confidentiality, respectively, required further consideration. According to rule 56 (which is now rule 58), the annexes form an integral part of the rules.

    The Commission then decided to adopt the Rules of Procedure, except for the annexes, and requested the Chairman to transmit the two annexes to the eighth Meeting of States Parties for consideration and comment. It decided that Annex I, containing provisions for handling a submission by a coastal State which may involve a delimitation dispute between States with opposite or adjacent coasts, or other cases of unresolved land or maritime disputes, would only be adopted after its consideration by the Meeting of States Parties.

    Annex II contained the rules on confidentiality, including provisions governing the classification and treatment of confidential material, as well as provisions for privileges and immunities of the members of the Commission in case of potential allegations of breach of confidentiality. Annex II would only be adopted if and when the issue of privileges and immunities of the members of the Commission, in dealing with confidential material and in the exercise of all their other functions, was resolved positively. The Commission also decided to request the Legal Counsel of the United Nations to provide it with a formal legal opinion as to whether article VI of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations should apply mutatis mutandis to the members of the Commission as experts on mission for the United Nations.

 

Annexes I and II to the Rules of Procedure

    The Chairman noted that in regard to Annex I of the Rules of Procedure, it had been pointed out at the Eighth Meeting that the rules should be drafted in a neutral manner and should be limited to specifying what the Commission can or cannot do. In accordance with the understanding reached during that Meeting, the Commission considered and approved editorial changes proposed by the Chairman to make it clear that the rules dealt only with the procedures of the Commission, and not with the rights of States.

    The Commission further considered comments and proposed amendments to Annex I to the Rules of Procedure communicated to the Chairman by the delegations of India, Mexico, Republic of Korea and the United States. The Commission concluded that issues raised in those communications had already been extensively addressed prior to the provisional adoption of Annex I.

    On the confidentiality issues contained in Annex II, the Chairman then reported that the Meeting had taken note of the opinion of the Legal Counsel (CLCS/5)(see also privileges and immunities) that the members of the Commission enjoyed the privileges and immunities accorded to experts on mission for the United Nations in accordance with article VI of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations. In this respect, the issue of the liability of the members of the Commission, in the event of an accusation by a submitting State that a breach of confidentiality had taken place, had been effectively addressed.

    The Commission also considered comments on rule 5, paragraph 2, of Annex II to the Rules of Procedure, and agreed to incorporate several amendments in Annex II and to add a new rule 7 on the return of confidential data to the coastal State. These changes were adopted after the consideration of comments communicated to the Chairman by the delegations of Germany and the United States. On 4 September 1998, the Commission formally adopted its Rules of Procedure in their entirety (CLCS/3/Rev.2).

    The Commission also decided to seek the legal opinion of the Legal Counsel as to which procedure would be the most appropriate in cases where it might be necessary to institute proceedings following an alleged breach of confidentiality. It received the opinion of the Legal Council in CLCS/14 (18 May 1999).

    At its seventh and eighth sessions, the Commission added several provisions to the rules relating to the issue of confidentiality, specifically addressing not only the issue of treatment of confidential information, but of the confidentiality of the discussions of submissions in the Commission itself. The Rules of Procedure were then reissued with those provisions contained in Annex II as CLCS/3/Rev.3 (and CLCS/3/Rev.3/Corr.1) on 6 February 2001.

        Annex III to the Rules of Procedure

At its eleventh session, the Commission noted that there were certain discrepancies among three of the basic documents of the Commission (Rules of Procedure (CLCS/3/Rev.3 and Corr.1), Modus Operandi (CLCS/L.3) and Internal procedure of the Subcommission of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS/L.12)). The Commission decided to undertake a review of those documents and, if necessary, make editorial amendments to make them consistent. The Scientific and Technical Guidelines were not to be subject to such a  review. It was also agreed that the review of the procedural documents should be limited to editorial issues, with a view to eliminating the inconsistencies or making certain provisions more practical. It was also agreed that those efforts should not lead to the substantive revision of the Rules of Procedure.

During the twelfth session, the Editorial Committee of the Commission proceeded with a review of the three basic existing documents (CLCS/L.3, CLCS/L.12 and CLCS/3/Rev.3.). The Secretariat had made available to the Editorial Committee in written form a thorough analysis of the three documents with a view to their alignment and consolidation. The Committee spent some time considering various solutions and during that process it became clear that a consensus solution would most likely involve the production of two documents: the Rules of Procedure, with as few changes as possible, and a new document combining the existing Modus Operandi of the Commission (CLCS/L.3) and the Internal Rules of Procedure of the Subcommission (CLCS/L.12). An open-ended working group presented a basic draft combining the existing documents CLCS/L.3 and CLCS/L.12, and also drawing elements from the basic work of the Secretariat. This draft was put forward for further discussion of the document in the full Editorial Committee. During the deliberations, a consensus developed to incorporate in substantial detail experience drawn from the handling of the first submission to the Commission regarding effective internal procedures developed at that stage.

The work of the  Editorial Committee on the draft consolidation of these two documents continued at the thirteenth session, on the basis of the combined document (CLCS/2004/CRP.1), which had been prepared by the Chairman of the Editorial Committee during the intersessional period and submitted for comments to the Commission. It was decided to retain the alternative title .Modus operandi for the consideration of a submission made to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. as the title of the document. The Commission also requested the Editorial Committee to consider the proposals for amendments to the rules of procedure contained in document CLCS/2004/CRP.2.

As a result of a number of meetings of  the Editorial Committee during that session, document CLCS/2004/CRP.1 was finalized. The Editorial Committee decided to include it as annex III to the rules of procedure. It had also agreed on draft amendments to the rules of procedure and submitted those drafts to the Commission for adoption. The Commission took note of the report of the Editorial Committee and expressed its appreciation to its Chairman, Mr. H. Brekke, for his work.

The Commission then proceeded with the formal adoption of annex III to the Rules of Procedure and of the amendments to several rules. Following the unanimous approval of the texts, the Commission requested its secretariat to reissue the rules of procedure, with the annexed Modus Operandi, as a new consolidated document (CLCS/40), thus incorporating what had originally been three separate documents into a single document.

In 2008, at its 21st session, the Commission adopted a series of amendments and the Rules of Procedure were reissued as CLCS/40/Rev.1.

Prepared by the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Office of Legal Affairs, United Nations.

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