ASIAN-AFRICAN LEGAL CONSULTATIVE ORGANIZATION (AALCO)
The Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization (AALCO), originally known as the Asian Legal Consultative Committee (ALCC) was constituted on 15 November 1956. It is considered to be a tangible outcome of the historic Bandung Conference, held in Indonesia, in April 1955. Seven Asian States, namely Burma (now Myanmar), Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), India, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, and the United Arab Republic (now Arab Republic of Egypt and Syrian Arab Republic) are the original Member States. Later, in April 1958, in order to include participation of countries of the continent of Africa, its name was changed to Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee (AALCO). At the 40th Session, held at the Headquarters of AALCO in New Delhi, in 2001, the name of the Committee was changed to Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization (AALCO). It might seem to be a small nomenclature change; however, it has great symbolic significance reflecting the growing status of the Organization and the place it has secured among the family of international organizations.
B. Statutes and Statutory Rules of the Organization
Initially, AALCO was established as a non-permanent Committee for a term of five years. The five year term was further extended on four occasions until 1981, when at its Colombo Session, it was decided to place the Organization on a permanent footing. That decision necessitated revision of the original Statutes and Statutory Rules, the revised versions of which were adopted in 1987 and 1989 respectively. Alive to keeping the constituent instruments of the Organization in tune with the changing times and newer hopes and aspirations of its Members, the Member States, at the recently concluded Forty-Third Session of the Organization at Bali, Republic of Indonesia, in June 2004 accorded their unanimous approval to a new and revised Text of Statutes. The new Text of Statutes is in consonance with the constituent instruments with other intergovernmental Organizations and brings it in par with them. Consequently,the Statutory Rules are also being revised.
Forty-seven countries comprising almost all the major States from Asia and Africa are presently the Members of the Organization. These countries are: Arab Republic of Egypt; Bahrain; Bangladesh;Brunei Darussalam; Botswana; Cameroon; Cyprus; Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; Gambia;Ghana; India; Indonesia; Iraq; Islamic Republic of Iran; Japan; Jordan; Kenya; Kuwait; Lebanon; Libya; Malaysia; Mauritius; Mongolia; Myanmar; Nepal; Nigeria; Oman; Pakistan; People’s Republic of China; Qatar; Republic of Korea; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Singapore; Somalia; South Africa, Sri Lanka; State of Palestine; Sudan; Syria; Tanzania; Thailand; Turkey; Uganda; United Arab Emirates; and Republic of Yemen.
D. Purposes and Objectives
The purposes and objectives of the Organization as stipulated in Article 1 of the Statutes is as under:
- To serve as an advisory body to its Member States in the field of international law and as a forum for Asian-African co-operation in legal matters of common concern;
- To consider and deliberate on issues related to international law that may be referred to the Organization by the Member States and to make such recommendations to governments as deemed necessary;
- To exchange views, experiences and information on matters of common concern having legal implications and to make recommendations there to if deemed necessary;
- To communicate, with the consent of the governments of the Member States, the views of the Organization on matters of international law referred to it, to the United Nations, other institutions and international organizations;
- To examine subjects that are under consideration by the International Law Commission and to forward the views of the Organization to the Commission; to consider the reports of the Commission and to make recommendations thereon, wherever necessary, the Member States; and
- To under take, with the consent of/or at the request of Member States, such activities as may be deemed appropriate for the fulfillment of the functions and purposes of the Organization.
The basic functions and purposes of the Organization as enlisted above give effect to the way in which subjects/topics were considered by the Organization and formed over the years the Work Programme of AALCO. Thus, there are three ways in which a matter is placed on the Work Programme of AALCO: (a) Reference by a Member State; (b) Suo-moto initiative of the Secretary-General; and (c) Follow-up of the work of the International Law Commission. In order to carry out these basic functions and purposes of the Organization, the Secretariat prepares a study on the topic, which forms the background material for deliberations at the Annual Sessions.
E. AALCO’s Regional Arbitration Centres
One of the major achievements of AALCO in its programme in the economic field was the launching of its Integrated Scheme for Settlement of Disputes in the Economic and Commercial Transactions in 1978. Pursuant to that Scheme, it was decided to establish Regional Arbitration Centres under the auspices of AALCO, which would function as international institutions with the objectives to promote international commercial arbitration in the Asian-African regions and provide for conducting international arbitrations under these Centres.
Five such Centres have been established so far, which are located at Cairo (Arab Republic of Egypt), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Lagos (Nigeria), Tehran (Islamic Republic of Iran) and Nairobi (Republic of Kenya). The respective host Governments recognize their independent status like an international organization and have accorded privileges and immunities to these Centres.
AALCO provides its expertise and assistance to its Member States in the appointment of arbitrators and other matters related to the conduct of arbitration. Its Centers provide the opportunities for training of arbitrators as well. The Directors of the Centres present their reports on the functioning of the Centres at the Annual Sessions.
F. Permanent Headquarters of the AALCO
Pursuant to the Headquarters Agreement between the Government of India and AALCO which was signed on 26 April 2000, New Delhi is the seat of the Permanent Headquarters of AALCO (Article 2(1) of the Statutes). The Government of India has offered a plot of land in the diplomatic enclave in Chanakyapuri and a grant of US$ 1.5 million for the construction of AALCO’s Headquarter building and the residence of the Secretary-General.