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Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Part III Final Clauses, Art.32 Notification by the Secretary-General

Giuliana Monina

From: The United Nations Convention Against Torture and its Optional Protocol: A Commentary (2nd Edition)

Edited By: Manfred Nowak, Moritz Birk, Giuliana Monina

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 20 April 2024

Subject(s):
Torture — Race — Treaties, interpretation

(p. 695) Article 32  Notification by the Secretary-General

The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall inform all States Members of the United Nations and all States which have signed this Convention or acceded to it of the following:

  1. (a)  Signatures, ratifications, and accessions under articles 25 and 26;

  2. (b)  The date of entry into force of this Convention under article 27 and the date of the entry into force of any amendments under article 29;

  3. (c)  Denunciations under article 31.

1.  Introduction

Article 32 is based on similar provisions in UN treaties, such as Article 24 CERD and Article 52 CCPR. It reflects the function of the Secretary-General as depositary of UN treaties. Since States parties have the obligation to deposit all instruments of ratification or accession or notifications of denunciations with the UN Secretary-General, he or she has equivalent duties of informing States accordingly.

2.  Travaux Préparatoires

2.1  Chronology of Draft Texts

IAPL Draft (15 January 1978)1

Article XXI

(Notification)

The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall inform all States of the following particulars:

  1. (1)  Signatures, ratifications, accessions and reservations under Articles XV–XVIII of this Convention;

  2. (2)  The date of entry into force of the present Convention;

  3. (3)  Notification under Article XX of the present Convention.

(p. 696) Proposals for the Preamble and the Final Provisions of the Draft Convention, Submitted by Sweden (2 December 1980)2

Article E

The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall inform all States of the following particulars:

  1. (a)  Signatures, ratifications and accessions under articles A and B;

  2. (b)  The date of entry into force of the present Convention under article C;

  3. (c)  Notifications under article D [revision].

2.2  Analysis of Working Group Discussions

The Government of Sweden submitted a set of final clauses in 1980,3 which were then discussed by the Working Group in 1983. Since the Working Group had taken into consideration proposals for the inclusion of an Article regulating denunciations of the Convention as well as a procedure for revision or amendments to the Convention, the delegations noted that the provision should also refer to notification of such denunciation, revision, or amendment.4 Taking into account these comments, the Chairman-Rapporteur introduced a revised provision to the Working Group,5 which was included as draft Article 30 to the report of the Working Group.

In 1984, after the Working Group had agreed to insert an Article on dispute settlement into the final clauses,6 draft Article 30 was renamed draft Article 31 and adopted by the Working Group. At the same time, the reference to Article 29 in subparagraph (c) regarding notification of a denunciation was replaced by a reference to Article 30.

3.  Issues of Interpretation

According to Article 32 CAT, the Secretary-General has a duty to inform all member States of the United Nations and all States which have signed or acceded to the Convention. Since the Convention, pursuant to Articles 25 and 26, is open to signature and accession by all States,7 non-member States of the United Nations may also sign, ratify, or accede to the Convention, and have the right to be informed accordingly. However, the Secretary-General has no obligation to inform all States; only all UN member States and those non-member States which have signed or acceded to the Convention. In the case of the dismemberment of a State party which is not a UN member State, the Secretary-General shall also inform the respective States that became party by a notification of succession.8 So far, only UN member States (with the exception of Switzerland at the time of signature (p. 697) and notification) have signed, ratified, succeeded, or acceded to the Convention, which means that the Secretary-General shall simply inform all UN member States.

Article 32 CAT requires the Secretary-General to inform the respective States of all signatures, ratifications, accessions, and denunciations, as well as of the dates of entry into force of the Convention and any amendments thereto. Considering that the only amendment adopted so far by States parties under Article 29 has not yet entered into force,9 no information requirement has arisen under this provision. Although neither Article 26 nor Article 32(a) explicitly refers to succession, UN member States shall also be informed of any notifications of succession.

In practice, the Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) treaty section in New York maintains a website10 with all signatures, ratifications, accessions, denunciations, and dates of entry into force of the Convention or any amendments to the Convention. A reference to the website is included in the Committee’s annual report as well as in the depository notifications by the treaty section of the Office of the Legal Affairs sent to the member States via email.

Some comparable provisions in other UN human rights treaties also require the Secretary-General to inform States of optional declarations recognizing the competence of the respective treaty bodies to receive and consider inter-State or individual communications, reservations, and requests by States parties for an amendment of the respective treaties.11 Since the Secretary-General functions as the depositary of UN treaties,12 it would have been useful to require him or her also to inform all States of all optional declarations under Articles 21(1) and 22(1) CAT; all reservations to the Convention; and, above all, the explicit opting-out reservations and notifications of withdrawals of such reservations in accordance with Articles 28 and 30 CAT, as well as of all proposals for an amendment of the Convention in accordance with Article 29(1) CAT. In practice, the Secretary-General, however, does inform all States of the notifications of States parties by making use of the website.13

Giuliana Monina

Footnotes:

1  Draft Convention for the Prevention and Suppression of Torture Submitted by the International Association of Penal Law (1978) UN Doc E/CN.4/NGO/213.

2  Proposal for the Preamble and the Final Provisions of the Draft Convention Submitted by Sweden (1980) UN Doc E/CN.4/1427.

3  ibid.

4  Report of the Working Group of the Commission on Human Rights (1983) UN Doc E/CN.4/1983/63, para 76.

5  Revised Set of Final Clauses Submitted by the Chairman-Rapporteur (1993) UN Doc E/CN.4/1983/WG.2/WP.15.

6  Report of the Working Group of the Commission on Human Rights (1984) UN Doc E/CN.4/1984/72, para 63.

7  See above Arts 25 and 26.

8  On the question of succession, see above Art 26, 3.2.

9  See above Art 29, 3.

10  UN, ‘Office of Legal Affairs’ <http://untreaty.un.org/ola> accessed 2 November 2017 and UN, ‘Treaty Collection’ <https://treaties.un.org/> accessed 2 November 2017.

11  cf eg Art 24(c) CERD; Art 8(5) of the first OP to the CCPR; Art 10(a) and (b) of the second OP to the CCPR; Art 28(1) CEDAW; Art 51(1) CRC; Art 91(1) CMW.

12  cf also below Art 33, § 4. Some treaties contain explicit provisions designating the Secretary-General as the depositary of the respective treaties see eg Art 53 CRC; Art 85 CMW.

13  See above § 8.