Standing Committee Meeting in Geneva

Geneva (29 November 2012): The 71st meeting of the Standing Committee (SC) took place in Geneva (Switzerland) on 27 November 2012 under the chairmanship of Mr Ronald W.A. Le Bas (Irish Assay Office). The meeting was attended by 59 officials representing 25 countries of which 18 Contracting States (Cyprus was not represented) 3 Applicant States (Croatia, Italy and Ukraine) and 4 non-Members (China, Montenegro, Russia and Serbia).

The SC renewed the chairmanship and re-elected the current Chairman for a period of 2 years (2013-2014).  It also elected - for the same period - a new First Deputy Chairman in the person of Mr Ashley Carson (Sheffield Assay Office) as well as a new First Second Chairperson in the person of Ms Maria Magdalena Ulaczyk (Warsaw Assay Office).  The election was carried out by secrete ballot and majority voting.  It is the first time in the Convention's history that majority voting has been used (normally decisions are taken by consensus). 

One of the main points of discussion during the meeting was Italy's possible accession to the Convention.  The Convention's Depositary (the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs) has consulted all Contracting States on whether to invite Italy to join the Convention based on the positive assessment of its application made by a Team of Experts, which was endorsed by the SC at the 69th SC meeting in Warsaw.  Following the consultation period, which expired in early May 2012, three Contracting States objected to Italy's accession.  Two of them (Hungary and the Slovak Republic) lifted their objections in time for the SC meeting, leaving the Czech Republic as the only Contracting State (out of 19) which is against Italy's accession.  The SC noted that the Czech Republic had not provided objective evidence to its objection to Italy's accession despite a request by the Depositary, made in June 2012, that such evidence be submitted.  The SC decided to ask the Depositary to send a reminder to the Czech Government and invite the latter to reply by the end of the year.  It is the first time in the Convention's history that a Contracting State objects to the accession of another State.

During the meeting, Serbia expressed its intention to submit a membership application to the Convention.  This was welcome by the SC. 

The SC reviewed a draft paper, prepared by the Secretariat, on changing the classification of documents and introducing some basic rules of confidentiality.  It also discussed another draft paper on whether entities and States, which were not recognised by all Contracting States, could attend SC meetings and possibly apply for Convention membership 

The SC agreed that a revision of the Guidelines on the Convention's Round Robin on Testing (the Round Robin is an interlaboratory proficiency testing scheme on precious metals), which had been prepared by the Convention's Standing Technical Group (STG), should be first discussed by the International Association of Assay Offices (  The Round Robins are run jointly by the Convention and the IAAO.  The aim of the revision is to run the Round Robins in a professional way.  This will be achieved by mandating the STG to organise Round Robins on a yearly basis as well as by using (i) the services of the Convention's Secretariat for the administration of the Round Robins, (ii) a reputable refiner which will provide homogenous samples and (iii) a professional statistician in order to assess the performance scores.  The revision will also make it possible to open certain Round Robins e.g. on platinum or palladium to refiners and bullion dealers.

The SC also agreed that Round Robins on Marking Techniques should be run on a regular basis and that general rules should be drafted in order to ensure an acceptable standard of quality - in particular for laser marking.

The SC bid farewell to Ms Dalia Yarom (Israeli Assay Office) who attended the SC meeting for the last time.  Ms Yarom is also the IAAO Chairperson.

Members agreed to reconvene in Geneva (Switzerland) on 21 March 2013 and - subject to confirmation - in Lisbon (Portugal) on 16 September 2013.