Public International Law Unit

47th meeting of the CAHDI, 20-21 March 2014The Unit plans, implements and assesses cooperation intergovernmental activities in the field of public international law with a view to developing policies, define norms and assist member States in fulfilling their commitments,  in order to comply with the conventions, norms and values of the Council of Europe.

To this end, the Unit conducts research work as well as analysis and comparative studies in the field of public international law; maintain close professional contacts vise high-ranking officials, intergovernmental organisations and specialised institutes;  cooperates with other committees and bodies of the Council of Europe conducting activities related to public international law; organizes meetings, conferences, colloquies and seminars.

Secretariat of the CAHDI

The Public International Law Unit provides the Secretariat of the Committee of Legal Advisers on Public International Law (CAHDI). The CAHDI is the only truly pan-European forum where legal advisers of the Ministers for foreign affairs of the member States of the Council of Europe and a significant number of observer States and Organisations can exchange and possibly co-ordinate their views regarding major issues of public international law.

The CAHDI meets twice a year to exchange ideas, discuss various issues of public international law and issue opinions at the request of the Committee of Ministers.

Its aims are to:

  • develop the role of public international law and bring national viewpoints closer together,
  • share experience and practice through exchanges of views on topical issues,
  • create a framework for international co-operation, and so strengthen the role and influence the development of public international law by bringing legal advisers together to pool their experience,
  • monitor the work done by other international bodies in its areas of competence, and help member states to adopt common standpoints.

The CAHDI's various activities have led to the publication of studies and reports and the adoption of recommendations by the Committee of Ministers.  The issues examined have included, for instance:

  • state succession and questions of recognition,
  • classification of documents in the field of public international law,
  • the role of depositaries of international treaties,
  • debts of diplomatic missions,
  • the consequences of the so-called "disconnection clause" in international law.

The CAHDI is currently studying various other issues, including:

  • immunities of states and international organisations,
  • EU accession to the European Convention on Human Rights,
  • national implementation measures of UN sanctions,
  • peaceful settlement of disputes,
  • developments concerning international criminal tribunals and the International Criminal Court.

The CAHDI's recent work on reservations to international treaties is of particular significance.  The CAHDI allowed the member states to coordinate their views on the question of reservations regarded as inadmissible and, as a result, the Committee of Ministers adopted Recommendation No. R (99) 13 on responses to inadmissible reservations to international treaties.  In this connection, the CAHDI also functions as a European Observatory of Reservations to International Treaties and periodically monitors outstanding reservations to international treaties.

The CAHDI also liaises with the International Law Commission of the United Nations and the Council of the European Union's Working Party on Public International Law (COJUR).


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Directorate of
Legal Advice and
Public International Law

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Contact - CAHDI