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|International Organisations Bill [HL]|
These notes refer to the International Organisations Bill [HL] as brought from the House of Lords on 1st March 2005 [Bill 69]
INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS BILL [HL]
1. These explanatory notes relate to the International Organisations Bill [HL] as brought from the House of Lords on 1st March 2005. They have been prepared by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in order to assist the reader of the Bill and to help inform debate on it. They do not form part of the Bill and have not been endorsed by Parliament.
2. The notes need to be read in conjunction with the Bill. They are not, and are not meant to be, a comprehensive description of the Bill. So where a clause or part of a clause does not seem to require any explanation or comment, none is given.
SUMMARY AND BACKGROUND
3. This is a small, technical Bill which will enable the UK to fulfil outstanding international commitments to confer legal capacity and privileges and immunities on a number of international organisations and bodies, and certain categories of individuals connected to them. Under existing legislation the UK is unable to confer privileges and immunities on these organisations, although we are party to international agreements which commit us to do so.
4. The Bill covers the Commonwealth Secretariat/Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), bodies established under Title V (Provisions on a Common Foreign and Security Policy) or Title VI (Provisions on Police and Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters) of the Treaty on European Union, the International Criminal Court (ICC), the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS). The Bill consists of 11 clauses and a Schedule and extends to the whole of the UK.
[Bill 69EN] 53/4
COMMENTARY ON CLAUSES
Clauses 1, 2 and 3 Commonwealth Secretariat/Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal
5. At present, the Commonwealth Secretariat Act 1966 has been interpreted by the courts as allowing the courts to exercise supervisory jurisdiction, under the Arbitration Act 1996, over the Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal (CSAT). The Bill will give the Commonwealth Secretariat full immunity from jurisdiction of the United Kingdom courts, bringing the Secretariat into line with a number of other international organisations based in the United Kingdom. This immunity will not extend to written contracts entered into by or on behalf of the Commonwealth Secretariat before clause 1 of the Bill enters into force. The Bill will also accord the President and members of the CSAT the same immunity from legal process in relation to their official activities that is conferred on the Commonwealth Secretariat staff under the Commonwealth Secretariat Act 1966. The Bill also provides that if CSAT is replaced by a successor body, an order may be made by the Secretary of State for the purpose of conferring on the successor body privileges and immunities equivalent to those conferred on CSAT. The Bill will exempt the staff of the Commonwealth Secretariat from United Kingdom income tax on their salaries and emoluments on condition that the Secretariat will levy its own internal income tax for the benefit of the Secretariat.
Clause 4 The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
6. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe ("the OSCE"), was previously known as the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe ("the CSCE"). The OSCE consists of 55 member states, is active in conflict prevention, crisis management, human rights, democracy building and post-conflict rehabilitation throughout the Euro-Atlantic region, extending to the Caucasus and Central Asia. Although the OSCE has similar structures and working methods to an international organisation it is not considered to have international legal personality separate from its participating States. It is, therefore, not currently an "organisation" for the purposes of the International Organisations Act 1968 ("the 1968 Act"). The Bill will bring the OSCE within the scope of the 1968 Act and enable the United Kingdom to implement the provisions regarding legal capacity and privileges and immunities set out in a report of the CSCE Ad Hoc Group of Legal and Other Experts annexed to the decision of the CSCE Council of Ministers of 1 December 1993 held in Rome.
Clause 5 Bodies established under the Treaty on European Union
7. The Bill will add a further section to the 1968 Act to enable the UK to confer legal capacity and privileges and immunities, by Order in Council, on bodies established under Title V (Provisions on a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP)) or Title VI (Provisions on Police and Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters (PJCC)) of the Treaty on European Union ("TEU") and certain categories of individuals connected with those bodies. There is currently no existing legislation which enables the United Kingdom to implement its commitments under a number of CFSP and PJCC European Union measures to confer domestic legal capacity and privileges and immunities on bodies established under those measures.
Clause 6 International Criminal Court
8. The Bill will amend the International Criminal Court Act 2001 to allow the UK to confer privileges and immunities on representatives of States participating in the Assembly and its subsidiary organs, representatives of inter-governmental organisations and also on family members of the judges, prosecutor, deputy prosecutors or the registrar who form part of their household, during their period of residence in the UK. This will enable the UK to implement fully its obligations in the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the International Criminal Court of 2002 which the UK signed on 10 September 2002. It is not currently possible to use the 2001 Act to confer privileges and immunities on those individuals.
Clause 7 European Court of Human Rights
9. The Sixth Protocol to the General Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the Council of Europe confers privileges and immunities on members of the European Court of Human Rights. The UK has signed and ratified the Sixth Protocol. However, ratification of the Sixth Protocol was subject to a reservation in respect of Article 1, which confers privileges and immunities on judges and their family members. The Bill will enable the conferral of immunities and privileges on the members of the family of a judge of the European Court of Human Rights, allowing the UK to give full effect to the Sixth Protocol.
Clause 8 International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea
10. The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ("ITLOS") was established by Annex VI to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea ("UNCLOS"). ITLOS is an international court with its seat in Hamburg and has jurisdiction to hear disputes submitted to it in accordance with UNCLOS and all matters specifically provided for in any other agreement which confers jurisdiction on it. The UK is a State Party to UNCLOS. The Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ("the ITLOS Privileges and Immunities Agreement") provides that the Tribunal and various categories of individuals connected with it shall enjoy certain privileges and immunities. The UK has signed the ITLOS Privileges and Immunities Agreement but not yet ratified it because it is not possible to implement the provisions of the Agreement relating to the Tribunal itself using any of the enabling provisions of the 1968 Act. The Bill will bring ITLOS within the scope of the 1968 Act and thus enable the making of an Order in Council conferring privileges and immunities on the Tribunal and allow the United Kingdom to ratify the ITLOS Privileges and Immunities Agreement.
FINANCIAL EFFECTS OF THE BILL/EFFECTS ON PUBLIC SERVICE MANPOWER
11. The financial implications of the Bill are minimal. The same applies to manpower implications. There will be little or no loss of revenue as a result of the fiscal exemptions which will be granted under secondary legislation made by virtue of the provisions in the Bill. There are no cost implications for the Government arising from the provisions relating to the Commonwealth Secretariat. At the moment the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) refunds to the Secretariat the income tax contributions made by Secretariat staff to the Inland Revenue. The Government as a whole, therefore, does not gain financially from the income tax levied on the Secretariat staff. The new exemption from income tax provision will provide that the Secretariat staff are not subject to UK income tax. The result will be that the Secretariat staff will no longer need to pay income tax to the Inland Revenue which the FCO will then be obliged to refund. This will save both Inland Revenue and FCO administrative costs. All other organisations referred to in the Bill are based outside the UK. The only loss of revenue that might be incurred in respect of those organisations would be from relief by way of refunds of VAT on travel and incidental costs for visiting officials. It is not possible to provide an accurate estimate but it is thought that the amount involved will be under £1000 per annum.
SUMMARY OF THE REGULATORY IMPACT ASSESSMENT
12. The Bill is not expected to have any impact on business, charities or the voluntary sector. A Regulatory Impact Assessment associated with this Bill is available to the public on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website: www.fco.gov.uk.
EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
13. Section 19 of the Human Rights Act 1998 requires the Minister in charge of a Bill in either House of Parliament to make a statement about the compatibility of the provisions of the Bill with the Convention rights (as defined by section 1 of that Act). The statement has to be made before second reading. On 28 February 2005 the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs made the following statement:
14. Except for clauses 1 to 3, the International Organisations Bill will enter into force at the end of the period of two months beginning with the day on which it is passed. Clauses 1 to 3 will come into force, by order made by statutory instrument, on such a day as the Secretary of State appoints.
|© Parliamentary copyright 2005||Prepared: 2 March 2005|