Standing Committee Meeting in Geneva

Geneva (26 March 2013): The 72nd meeting of the Standing Committee (SC) took place in Geneva (Switzerland) on 21 March 2013 under the chairmanship of Mr Ronald W.A. Le Bas (Irish Assay Office). The meeting was attended by 52 officials representing 24 countries of which 17 Contracting States (Cyprus and Slovenia were not represented), 3 Applicant States (Croatia, Italy and Ukraine) and 4 non-Members (Mongolia, Romania, Russia and Singapore). It was the first time that the meeting was attended by representatives of the Mongolian Agency for Standardization and Metrology.

The main point of discussion during the meeting was the Czech objection to Italy's accession, which was lodged in February 2012. The Czech Republic remains the only Contracting States (out of 19) to formally object to Italy's accession. The Convention's Depositary (the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs), acting on behalf of all other Contracting States, has invited the Czech Government to provide evidence to substantiate its objection but the Czech Government has not replied yet. The SC also discussed whether the Czech objection should be considered receivable considering that it is not based on the Inspection Report, which was unanimously endorsed at the 69th SC meeting in Warsaw in October 2011. A compromise proposal as well as clarification on Article 12 of the Convention, dealing with the accession, was also discussed but no consensus was found. The SC has, agreed to investigate the possibility of bringing the dispute to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague. The objection by the Czech Government, which is a first in the Convention's 40-year long history, has provoked the most serious crisis of the Organisation. Due to the inability of the SC to find a solution to its accession, Italy has suspended its participation from the SC with immediate effect.

The SC endorsed new Guidelines on confidentiality and absence of conflict of interest and agreed to allow Assay Offices, which are authorised under the Convention, to delegate some technical competences to other authorised Assay Offices on a temporary basis. It discussed the definition of precious metals alloy and new rules on the marking of multimetal articles but returned the two related papers to the Standing Technical Group (STG), a Sub-Committee established under the Standing Committee, for further discussion. The SC also reviewed a paper by the Swiss Assay Office to create a new Common Control Mark. A survey will be carried out in order to find out whether the proposal is supported by other Assay Offices. A paper by Denmark on XRF testing was also discussed and the STG has been invited to consider the Danish proposals.

The SC reviewed the number of precious metals articles marked with the Convention's Common Control Mark (CCM): 5,336,714 articles were marked with the CCM in 2012; this is 17.7% down in comparison with 2011.

The SC bid farewell to Mr Paul Marti (Head of the Swiss Assay Office) who attended the SC meeting for the last time.

Members agreed to reconvene in Lisbon (Portugal) on 16 September 2013 and then in Geneva (Switzerland) on 27 March 2014.