Geneva, March 1997
|Committee on Legal Issues and International Labour Standards||LILS|
FIRST ITEM ON THE AGENDA
1. At the Governing Body's 267th Session, the Committee on Legal Issues and International Labour Standards considered that it would be useful for the Office to submit proposals to it at the present session of the Governing Body on the problem of the "time-limits for submitting objections to credentials" under article 26, paragraph 4(a), of the Conference Standing Orders.(1)
2. The problem of the limited time available to the Credentials Committee to consider objections has existed for a long time and has been aggravated by the shortening of the Conference. The problem of time-limits depends on the time at which the 72-hour time-limit laid down in article 26, paragraph 4(a) of the Standing Orders begins. The period begins at "10 o'clock a.m. of the date of the publication in the Provisional Record of the name and function of the person to whose nomination objection is taken". The Office's current practice is to publish three lists of delegates: the first "Provisional list" is issued in the morning of the day on which the Conference opens; a second "Revised list" appears eight days later; and a third "Final list" is published two days before the closing of the Conference.
3. The time-limit for the submission of objections relating to the first list does not pose any problem. In this case the Committee has time to follow the usual procedure, transmitting the text of objections to the governments in question so that they may express their views on the matter to the Committee and, where appropriate, to meet with the parties concerned. In these conditions, the Committee might be able to extend the time-limit for the representatives of the governments concerned, which they often request, in order to enable them to consult the authorities of their country.
4. In the case of objections concerning delegates or advisers whose names appear in the second list (Revised list), the Committee may find it difficult to follow the usual procedure described in the preceding paragraph. In this case it would be very desirable to reduce the time-limit.
5. As regards objections concerning delegates or advisers whose name does not appear until the third list (Final list) is issued, the Committee is unable to follow the usual procedure described above. A shorter time-limit for the submission of objections would, however, make it possible to consider the objection as a matter of urgency, rapidly calling in a representative of the government concerned so as to be able to adopt a report after obtaining all the relevant information to enable it to reach a decision. However, a delegate may be unable to reply because he or she has not consulted his or her government.
6. If governments were to adhere more closely to the time-limit laid down in article 26, paragraph 1, of the Conference Standing Orders,(2) this would certainly obviate the problems involved in the time-limits for the submission of objections to a certain extent. But the fact that in many cases objections are received before the names of the delegates and advisers in question have been published (and sometimes even before their credentials have been deposited) seems to indicate that those lodging the objections often know these names without their having to be published in the Conference list of delegates. It would therefore be useful to allow and even encourage the submission of objections as soon as possible so that the Committee would be able to consider the matter, and obtain additional information, in the best possible conditions. All that would be necessary would be to ensure that the time-limit laid down in the Standing Orders is not taken to mean a prohibition on submitting objections before publication. An appropriate wording is given below in the paragraph proposing the amendment to article 26, paragraph 4(a), of the Conference Standing Orders.
7. Another question which could be taken into account if paragraph 4(a) is amended is that of the provision contained at the end of the paragraph, to the effect that "Provided that the above time-limit may be extended by the Credentials Committee in the case of objections concerning the nomination of a delegate or adviser from a distant country". In the last 25 years there has not been a case in which the Committee has considered a late objection under this provision receivable. It would seem that improved means of communication and the presence in Geneva of major international confederations of workers' associations have made this provision no longer applicable. The Office therefore proposes that the opportunity of amending the Standing Orders be used to delete it.
8. As regards the time-limit for the submission of objections, the amendment proposed above would reduce the period for all objections to 48 hours. It would be difficult to set different time-limits, depending on which of the lists published during the Conference the name of the delegate or adviser in question appeared in. This is because the dates on which the lists are published, except in the case of the first, are determined by practice, which may be changed at any time, and lies outside the scope of the Standing Orders. This amendment would have the advantage of being simple: the time-limit is the same for all objections, without any possibility of extension. Moreover, in the light of the considerations set forth in paragraph 6 above, objections could be submitted before the name of the person whose credentials are contested appears in the list of delegates. It goes without saying that the objection will only be considered if and when the delegate's or adviser's name appears in the credentials deposited with the Secretary-General.
9. In the light of the foregoing considerations, the Committee may wish to propose to the Governing Body that it recommend that the International Labour Conference amend article 26, paragraph 4(a), of its Standing Orders as follows:(3)
4. An objection shall not be receivable in the following cases:
Geneva, 10 February 1997.
Point for decision: Paragraph 9.
2 According to this provision, "the credentials of delegates and their advisers shall be deposited with the International Labour Office at least 15 days before the date fixed for the opening of the session of the Conference". In the event, although most Members deposit credentials before the first Provisional list is published, these are often incomplete or subject to substantial change.