In a political climate which encourages interdependence between states, international law is constantly developing, and is increasingly becoming a key factor in the organisation of inter-state relations. The Council of Europe is accordingly working to co-ordinate its member States' activities in this field, through the work 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).
Subordinate committees of the CAHDI
The CAHDI can create subordinate committees responsible for performing certain specific tasks. In this connection, three committees have been set up for limited periods to work both on state practice in the field of public international law and on reservations to international treaties.
This group of independent specialists had the task of considering the possible role of the CAHDI as a European Observatory of reservations to international treaties.
It operated in 1998 and held two meetings (Paris, 26-27 February 1998 and 14-16 September 1998) before being replaced by the DI-E-RIT.
This group of government experts wad responsible for assisting the CAHDI in implementing the procedure of observing reservations to international treaties. Its work mainly focused on the issue of responses to inadmissible reservations to international treaties and led to the adoption of Recommendation No. R (99) 13 on responses to inadmissible reservations to international treaties.
It operated in 1999 and 2000 and held three meetings (Vienna, 5 March 1999, Strasbourg, 6 September 1999, and Berlin, 10 March 2000).
DI-S-PR – Group of Specialists on Publications concerning State Practice in the Field of Public International Law
The DI-S-PR held three meetings (Strasbourg, 1-3 July 1992, Strasbourg, 21-23 June 1993, Strasbourg, 5-7 October 1995).
This group of government representatives had the task of considering ways of dealing with and exchanging information concerning state practice in the field of public international law and amending the model plan for the classification of documents concerning state practice in the field of public international law as set out in Resolution (68) 17 of the Committee of Ministers.
The revision of the model plan resulted in the adoption of Recommendation R (97) 11 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the amended model plan for the classification of documents concerning state practice in the field of public international law.