Compliance of States (Applicant & Contracting States)

One of the main activities of the SC is to verify the compliance of new Contracting States (Applicants) and ensure that current Contracting States continue to comply to the Convention’s requirements.

 

Compliance of new Contracting States (Accession)

Article 12 of the Convention stipulates that “Any State being a Member of the United Nations or of any of the specialised agencies or of the International Atomic Energy Agency or a Party to the Statute of the International Court of Justice and having arrangements for the assay and marking of articles of precious metals necessary to comply with the requirements of the Convention and its Annexes may, upon invitation of the Contracting States to be transmitted by the depositary, accede to this Convention.

One of the essential requirements to join the Convention is that interested States must have “arrangements for the assay and marking of articles of precious metals necessary to comply with the requirements of the Convention and its Annexes”. This is why compliance to the Convention is one of the Standing Committee’s most important tasks and duties.

To ensure that all Applicant States are treated the same way, the Standing Committee has issued “Accession Guidelines”, which detail the process for a State to join the Convention.

Any State interested in the activities of the Convention and fulfilling the requirements of Article 12 can attend meetings of the Standing Committee upon invitation. Such meetings are important in order to establish the first contacts between the Convention and the interested State and allow for a better understanding of the Convention’s requirements.

To join the Convention, an interested State must first submit an Application Form and Questionnaire (see Compilation of Acts), which is circulated to all Members. An Inspection Team, appointed by the Standing Committee, will then carry out an inspection in order to verify that the Applicant State has the ability to apply the Convention’s provisions. The inspection involves an examination of the State’s legislation and of the control and marking system, as applied by the competent Assay Office(s). Based on the Inspection Team’s report, the Standing Committee will then decide whether to recommend to all Contracting States whether to invite the Applicant State to join the Convention. Once officially invited, the Applicant State must then ratify the Convention.

During the entire accession process, the Applicant State must pay an annual fee. The accession process can take several years, in particular if the Applicant State must first take some corrective actions following the Delegation’s visit or if its national parliament needs to ratify the Convention – a process which can be very long.

The following countries are currently in the process of acceding to the Convention:  Italy, Serbia, Sri Lanka and Ukraine. 

Italy is in the final stage of its accession process (the ratification is with the Italian Government, which must approve it). In Serbia, a law to implement the Convention must be submitted to Parliament before the ratification can be completed. Sri Lanka has not been invited to join the Convention yet and a follow-up technical visit by a Delegation of the Standing Committee must first be organised by the Sri Lankan Assay Office (possibly in 2020).  The ratification process is currently frozen with Ukraine, subject to a visit by a Delegation of the Standing Committee to Kiev in 2020.

 

Compliance of Contracting States

There is no system of periodic re-inspection of Contracting States, once they have joined the Convention.  The reason is the following: as the Convention is an international treaty, Contracting States are under the obligation to comply with the Convention’s requirements at all times in line with public international law (“pacta sunt servanda” [“treaties must be honoured”].   

There are, however, some informal means to ensure that Contracting States continue to comply with the Convention’s requirements, should they no longer do so.

During meetings of the Standing Committee, Ministry and Assay Office Representatives are invited to communicate important changes, notably regarding their national legislation or the organisation of Assay Offices.  If such changes may affect the implementation of the Convention’s requirements, discussions will be engaged to verify that it is not the case. This will be ensured through simple “peer pressure” (open discussions between SC representatives) as well as official communications with the State’s Ministry (or Government). This simple mechanism allows maintaining the equivalence between Contracting States in terms of their legal obligations.

There is no specific mechanism to suspend a Contracting State from the Convention, should it no longer honour its obligations. However, it is generally understood that the provisions of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties would apply in such case.

During the COVID-19 crisis, the Convention Secretariat remains open. If you need to reach us, please contact us by e-mail only at the following e-mail address: info@hallmarkingconvention.org

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