Standing Committee and Related Events in Geneva

The 91st meeting of the Standing Committee (SC) took place in Geneva (Switzerland) on 14 March 2024. It was preceded by two working group meetings: the Working Group on European Union met on 13 March in the morning while the Working Group on Vision and Strategy met in the afternoon (see under “Reports from the Working Groups”).

The SC meeting was chaired by Scott Walter (Edinburgh Assay Office), who was assisted by First Deputy Chairman, Thomas Brodmann (Swiss Assay Office), and Second Deputy Chairman, Peters Brangulis (Assay Office of Latvia). Mr Brangulis is also the Chairman of the Standing Technical Group (STG).

The SC was attended by 45 officials representing 20 out of 22 Contracting States, and 1 Observer (Montenegro). 7 “remote guests” from Austria, Ireland, Netherlands, Serbia, Slovenia, and Ukraine participated by WebEx videoconference. This is the first time that a hybrid meeting was organised for the SC. It was also the first participation of Italy as Member, since it officially acceded to the Convention as its 22nd Contracting State on 15 December 2023.


Operation of the Convention

The SC reviewed the operation of the Convention and noted that the number of articles marked with the Common Control Mark (CCM), which decreased by 1.4% to 7,232,313 in 2023. 35% of these articles were offsite marked.

The SC reviewed the membership application by Sri Lanka and Ukraine and noted a positive development in Ukraine, where a new law dated 21.11.2023 No. 3474-IX was adopted, which abolishes a 10% fee on marking. This law should now allow Ukraine to ratify the Convention. The SC confirmed its previous decision to exonerate Ukraine from paying the annual fee to the Convention until the war is over. The SC was also informed on recent bilateral contacts with the Sri Lankan Assay Office regarding the relocation of the Assay Office and the organisation of the follow-up visit to Sri Lanka by the Second Deputy Chairman.

The SC discussed remote participation, in particular hybrid meetings, i.e. in-person meetings with remote attendance by videoconference. The meeting in Geneva was the SC’s first-ever hybrid meeting and allowed participants, unable to travel to Geneva, to listen to the SC’s discussions. A trial was successfully completed as part of the meeting, during which remote guests were able to take the floor. Following discussions, the SC unanimously endorsed two proposals: the first is that hybrid meetings should only be organised when the SC meets in Geneva; the second is to mandate the Working Group on Vision & Strategy (WGVS) to address obstacles related to the organisation of hybrid meetings and to put in place the necessary checks and balances.

The SC adopted a policy paper on a revised vision, mission, and strategies for the Convention – including concrete proposals for their implementation. This policy paper will now be implemented with the assistance of the WGVS – see below.


Reports from the Working Groups

The three Working Groups, operating under the SC, are:

  • Working Group on Vision and Strategy (WGVS);
  • Working Group on Model Law (WGML); and
  • Working Group for engagement with the European Union (WGEU).

The WGVS discussed its new mandate with a particular focus on the planning / timeframe for the implementation of the revised Convention’s vision, mission and strategies. It also discussed which of the priority countries the Convention should approach first with an aim to expending the Convention’s membership.

The WGEU reviewed two documents, which had been prepared by Italy: the first is a compilation of legislation on precious metal control in all EU/EEA Member States (MS) as well as selected Non-EU MS (Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey and United Kingdom); the second is draft paper on the acceptance of the CCM by EU MS in light of the principle of mutual recognition. The draft paper was also discussed by the SC, which recommended adding a number of practical scenarios in order to illustrate the acceptance (or non-acceptance) of the CCM depending on how CCM articles are marketed in the EU. The WGEU also discussed the possibility of adding information on the EU/EEA Product Contact Point on the website of the Precious Metals Convention.

The WGML is working on the finalisation of the guidelines on model law and integrating comments received from Members during the consultation, which ended in December 2023.


Technical discussions

The STG Chairman, Peters Brangulis (Assay Office of Latvia), reported on the 35th Meeting of the STG held by VC on 30 January 2024. Based on the STG’s recommendation, the SC adopted the following Guidelines:

  • ‘Guidelines on Risk Management’;
  • ‘Guidelines on Integrated Control and Marking Processes’ (Off-Site Control and Marking);
  • ‘CCM Guidelines’ (including a CCM authenticity verification procedure).

All guidelines will enter into force on 1 July 2024 and be published on the Convention’s website.

The SC also adopted a new Assaying and Marking Pracice (AMP) case regarding based metals used in multimetal articles. The related decisions will enter in force, subject to the amendment of the Compilation of Technical Decisions.


Other matters

The SC discussed two proposals by Italy: the first was to re-establish contacts with the World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO) with an aim to ensure that CIBJO’s Precious Metals Book is kept up-to-date with the Conventions’ requirements. The latter serve as a basis for CIBJO’s Precious Metals Book, which defines good manufacturing and marking practices for precious metals articles.

The second proposal by Italy was to introduce a new logo for the Convention (in replacement of the CCM, type 2, for gold 750). The SC agreed to launch a competition on a logo for the Convention’s upcoming 50th Anniversary based on a design brief. The 50th anniversary logo will be chosen by the SC at its next meeting.


Next SC meetings

The SC accepted an invitation by Italy to reconvene face-to-face on 5 September 2024 in Vicenza (Italy). The SC meeting will be followed by a visit of the International Jewellery Fair of Vicenza (Vicenzaoro) and the Vicenza precious metals laboratory on 6 September 2024.

The SC also accepted a proposal by Cyprus to jointly celebrate the 30th anniversary of Cyprus Organisation for the Hallmarking of Precious Metals and the 50th anniversary of the Convention in Cyprus in September 2025. The exact date and venue will be announced at the next SC meeting.