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Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Part III Final Clauses, Art.33 Authentic Texts

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, 2022. All Rights Reserved.date: 21 May 2022

Subject(s):
Torture — Treaties, interpretation

(p. 698) Article 33  Authentic Texts

  1. 1.  This Convention, of which the Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish texts are equally authentic, shall be deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

  2. 2.  The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall transmit certified copies of this Convention to all States.

1.  Introduction

Article 33 CAT represents the customary final clause of treaties concluded under the auspices of the United Nations.1 In conformity with the procedure common for UN treaties, it states that the text is equally authentic in all UN languages officially recognized at the date the treaty was adopted. This means that the six designated languages, which are also today recognized as the official UN languages,2 are equally controlling for the interpretation of the text, whereby it can be assumed that the terms in the Convention have the same meaning in each authentic text.3 Should a comparison of the authentic texts discover a difference in meaning, the true meaning is to be ascertained by applying the rules of interpretation set down in Articles 31, 32, and 33(4) VCLT.

2.  Travaux Préparatoires

2.1  Chronology of Draft Texts

Proposals for the Preamble and the Final Provisions of the Draft Convention, Submitted by Sweden (2 December 1980)4

(p. 699)

Article F

  1. 1.  The present Convention, of which the Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish texts are equally authentic, shall be deposited in the archives of the United Nations.

  2. 2.  The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall transmit certified copies of the present Convention to all States.

2.2  Analysis of Working Group Discussions

In the discussion of the final clauses by the Working Group in 1983, Article F of the Swedish proposal of 1980 did not give rise to any comments5 and was thus adopted without changes by the Working Group in 1984.

3.  Issues of Interpretation

In conformity with Article 102(1) UN Charter and Article 80 VCLT, Article 33 CAT in fact designates the UN Secretary-General as depositary of the Convention.6 Certified copies of the Convention in all UN languages shall be deposited in the archives of the United Nations. In addition to the information duties of the Secretary-General in relation to all UN member States, and all non-member States which have signed or acceded to the Convention, as stipulated in Article 32, Article 33(2) CAT also requires him or her to transmit certified copies of the Convention to all States. This particular information duty is not contained in certain other UN human rights treaties.7 Such certified copies shall be transmitted in all official UN languages. In practice, the Secretary-General does not send hard copies of treaties to member States. All treaties are available in all languages on the UN Treaty Collection website.8 However, the treaty section of the OLA sends depositary notifications to the UN member States via email.

Giuliana Monina

Footnotes:

1  cf eg Art 25 CERD; Art 53 CCPR; Art 14 of the first OP to the CCPR; Art 11 of the second OP to the CCPR; Art 31 CESCR; Art 30 CEDAW; Art 54 CRC; Art 93 CMW; Art 45 CED; Art 37 OPCAT.

2  In addition to Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish, Arabic was first recognized by GA Res 3190 (XXVIII) on 18 December 1973 as the sixth official UN language.

3  cf Art 33 VCLT.

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

5  Report of the Working Group of the Commission on Human Rights (1983) UN Doc E/CN.4/1983/63, para 77.

6  cf Manfred Nowak, UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: CCPR Commentary (2nd edn, NP Engel 2005) 817. Some UN human rights treaties confirm this by an explicit provision to this effect: cf eg Art 53 CRC; Art 85 CMW.

7  cf eg Art 30 CEDAW; Art 54 CRC; Art 50 CRPD.

8  See <https://treaties.un.org/> accessed 7 December 2017.