Legal Committee of the General Conference
The Office of International Standards and Legal Affairs serves as the Secretariat of the Legal Committee of the General Conference at each of its sessions.
Composition - Functions - Interpretation of the Constitution
Composition (Rule 34 of the Rules of Procedure of the General Conference)
The Legal Committee shall consist of twenty-four members* elected by the Conference at its preceding session on the recommendation of the Nominations Committee. It shall elect its own Chairperson.
The Committee established for a session of the General Conference shall meet whenever necessary before the opening of the next ordinary session of the Conference if convened by the President of the latter acting on his own initiative or at the request of the Executive Board.
At the 40th session of the General Conference, it will be composed of the following 16 members** elected at the 39th session :
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
* At its 32nd session (2003), the General Conference decided to increase the number of the members of the Legal Committee to 24 (Resolution 32 C/78) as of the election to take place at its 33rd session.
** At its 39th session (2017), Group I presented two candidates for the five vacant seats, Group II did not present candidates for the three vacant seats, Group IV presented three candidates for the four vacant seats and Group V(a) presented two candidates for the three vacant seats; as a result, the General Conference elected only 16 members to the Legal Committee for the 40th session of the General Conference).
Functions (Rule 35 of the Rules of Procedure of the General Conference)
1. The Legal Committee shall consider:
(a) proposals for the amendment of the Constitution and of the Rules of Procedure of the General Conference;
(b) agenda items referred to it by the General Conference;
(c) appeals submitted by sponsors of draft resolutions to the General Conference that have been considered inadmissible by the Director-General under Rule 77;
(d) legal questions submitted to it by the General Conference or any of its organs;
(e) reports on conventions and recommendations transmitted to it by the General Conference.
The Committee shall submit its reports concerning questions (a) to (e) above either directly to the General Conference or to the referring organ or the organ which has been designated by the General Conference.
Acting as a credentials committee, the Committee shall also examine and report to the Conference without delay on the credentials of the delegations of Member States and Associate Members, of representatives of the United Nations and the specialized agencies, and of observers sent by non-Member States and other intergovernmental organizations.
The Committee shall inform the Conference whenever credentials are presented by delegations representing states that have not formally accepted the Constitution in accordance with Article XV thereof.
It shall also examine and report on the credentials of observers designated by international non-governmental or semi-governmental organizations admitted to the Conference in accordance with Rule 6, paragraph 6, and Rule 7.
Interpretation of the Constitution (Rule 36 of the Rules of Procedure of the General Conference)
The Legal Committee may be consulted on any question concerning the interpretation of the Constitution and of the rules and regulations.
Its opinion shall be adopted by a two-thirds majority of members present and voting.
It may decide by a simple majority to recommend to the General Conference that any question concerning the interpretation of the Constitution be referred to the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion.
In cases where the Organization is party to a dispute, the Legal Committee may decide, by a simple majority, to recommend to the General Conference that the case be submitted for final decision to an Arbitral Tribunal, arrangements for which shall be made by the Executive Board.
Agenda and reports of the Legal Committee of the 40th session of the General Conference