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Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment Or Punishment, Part VII Final Provisions, Art.37 Authentic Texts

Stephanie Krisper

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: 18 May 2022

Subject(s):
Torture — Treaties, interpretation

(p. 1031) Article 37  Authentic Texts

  1. 1.  The present Protocol, 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 the present Protocol to all States.

1.  Introduction

According to its Article 37, the OP is translated into all official UN languages and it explicitly refers to the fact that all translations are equally authentic.

2.  Travaux Préparatoires

2.1  Chronology of Draft Texts

Revised Costa Rica Draft (15 January 1991)1

Article 21

  1. 1.  The present Protocol, of which 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 this Protocol to all States.

Text of the Articles which Constitute the Outcome of the First Reading (25 January 1996)2

(p. 1032)

Article 21

  1. 1.  The present Protocol, of which 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 Protocol to all States.

2.2  Analysis of Working Group Discussions

Article 37 OP, which was included in a similar manner in all drafts, did not give rise to any discussion and was adopted at the fourth session of the Working Group in 1995.

3.  Issues of Interpretation

Article 37 OP is in conformity with the common procedure for UN Conventions, stating that ‘the Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish texts are equally authentic’.3 The six mentioned languages therefore equally control the interpretation of the Protocol’s text. Should a difference in meaning be discovered by a text comparison, the true meaning of the OP is to be ascertained by applying the rules of interpretation laid down in the VCLT.4

As elaborated above,5 the different language versions of Article 24 have raised some issues in terms of coherence and interpretation of the OPCAT, which were officially clarified by amendments to the original texts.

In conformity with Article 102(1) of the UN Charter and Article 80 VCLT, Article 37 OP, which is identical to Article 33 CAT, in fact designates the UN Secretary-General as depository of the OP.6

Stephanie Krisper

Footnotes:

1  Letter dated 15 January 1991 from the Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the United Nations at Geneva addressed to the Under-Secretary-General for Human Rights [1991] UN Doc E/CN.4/1991/66.

2  Report of the Working Group on the Draft Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment on its fourth session [1995] UN Doc E/CN.4/1996/28, Annex I; see also Report of the Working Group on the Draft Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment [1993] UN Doc E/CN.4/1994/25, Annex. Later drafts contain similar provisions: Report of the Working Group on the Draft Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment on its eighth session [1999] UN Doc E/CN.4/2000/58, Annex II, Art 25; Report of the Working Group on a Draft Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment on its ninth session [2001] UN Doc E/CN.4/2001/67, Annex I, Art 31; Annex II, Art 26; Report of the Working Group on a Draft Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment on its tenth session [2002] UN Doc E/CN.4/2002/78, Annex II E, Art 15; Report of the Working Group on a Draft Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment on its tenth session [2002] UN Doc E/CN.4/2002/78, Annex I (Proposal by the Chairperson-Rapporteur) Art 37.

3  These six languages are the official and designated languages of the United Nations.

4  cf Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (adopted 22 May 1969, opened for signature 23 May 1969, entered into force 27 January 1980) 1155 UNTS 331 (VCLT) Arts 31, 32, and 33(4); for greater detail on questions of interpretation, see above Art 33, and Manfred Nowak, UN Covenant in Civil and Political Rights: CCPR Commentary (2nd rev edn, NP Engel 2005) (CCPR Commentary) 817ff.

5  See above Art 24 OP, § 14.

6  On the duties of the Secretary General deriving from this function, see above Art 33, 4; Nowak, CCPR Commentary (n 4) 817ff.