Unofficial translation of
The Closing Statement
of the Eightheenth Session of the Gulf
Cooperation Council Supreme Council
Kuwait City - The State of Kuwait
20 to 22 Sha’baan 1418 Hijri
Corresponding to 20 to 22 December 1997 A. D.
In response to a gracious invitation by His Highness Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Al-Sabah, Amir of the State of Kuwait, the Supreme Council of the Cooperation Council of the Gulf Arab States convened its Eighteenth Session in the State of Kuwait from 20 to 22 Sha’baan 1418 Hijri, corresponding to 20 to 22 December 1997 A. D.. The proceedings were chaired by His Highness Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Al-Sabah, Amir of the State of Kuwait. Present at the session were:
His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahayan,
President of the State of the United Arab Emirates
His Highness Sheikh Isa Bin Salman Al Khalifa,
Amir of the State of Bahrain
His Royal Highness Prince Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud,
Heir Apparent, Deputy Prime Minister and
Chief of the National Guard,
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Saeed
Sultan of Oman
His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifah Al Thani,
Amir of the State of Qatar
Also, His Excellency Sheikh Jameel Bin Ibrahim Al Hejailan, Secretary-General of the Cooperation Council of the Gulf Arab States participated in the meetings.
The Supreme Council reviewed the cooperative efforts and joint actions undertaken in the political, security, military, economic, social and legal areas since its Seventeenth Session. It also took note of the papers and recommendations made by the Ministerial Committee and the Ministerial Council. It stressed the genuine desire to strengthen common action within the framework of the Cooperation Council in pursuance of the high goals envisioned in the Statute of the Council. It called for expanding vistas of cooperation in tandem with regional and global developments with a view to fulfill the aspirations and hopes of the governments and peoples of the Council member states as well as to ensure regional security, stability and economic prosperity.
Advisory Board to the Supreme Council
With a view to enhance the involvement of the individual citizen in shaping and implementing the agenda of the Supreme Council, the Council decided to establish an Advisory Board to be composed of nationals of member states who enjoy the appropriate qualifications and expertise. The Board will provide advisory opinion in regard to matters reffered to it by the Supreme Council.
In the military sphere, the Supreme Council approved the decisions recommended by the Ministers of Defense at their 16th session held at Doha. Foremost among those decisions were those relating to the concrete steps to connect member states with a secure communications network for military purposes, radar coverage, early warning and military games.
The Council noted with satisfaction the progress made in military cooperation across the board, and stressed the need for further expansion of cooperation in this area with a view in particular to improve the collective defense capabilities of member states which share common goals, heritage and destiny.
In the area of security, the Supreme Council endorsed the decisions adopted by the ministers of the interior at their 16th session, including those relating to facilitate the travel of nationals within member states, free flow of goods and trade exchange. In particular, nationals of the Council member states will be issued with electronically-read passports within a period of no more than two years. This measure would eliminate the need to fill out the entry and exit forms for citizens traveling within the member states which still use those immigration forms. Also, land border crossing points will be operating more smoothly by manning them with better trained personnel and using more advanced equipment.
The Suprme Council reviewed the reports and conclusions of the ministerial committees on the plan of action for economic cooperation among member states.
With regard to the establishment of a customs union among member states and the completion of procedures towards developing a common customs tariff system vis-a-vis the outside world, the Supreme Council took note of the arrangements reached by the Financial and Economic Cooperation Committee. The Council also noted with satisfaction the progress made in the commodities nomenclature classification. The Council called for completion of measures aimed at creation of the customs union, including a proposal to standardize the customs duties on goods and to set a date for enforcing the standardized common customs tariff system for member states.
To underscore the importance of cooperation and interdependence among member states in the area of banking and the need to strengthen such cooperation, the Supreme Council decided to allow national banks in member states to open branches in any member state subject to the adhoc rules and regulations. The Council also decided to allow the Gulf International Bank to open branches in member states.
Emphasizing the need to tie and coordinate the economic interests of member states in the area of infrastructure projects, the supreme Council directed to start the implementation of the first stage of the electric network project. The Council agreed that the project will be owned and operated by an independent authority run on a commercial basis.
In pursuance of steps taken by individual member states to modernize their respective economic plans with a view to encourage investments and to attract more private and foreign entrepreneurs, the Supreme Council authorized the Ministerial Council to adopt the model guidelines articles (law) relating to the promotion of foreign investments in the member states. The Supreme Council assessed the economic situation in member states and noted with satisfaction the clear economic prosperity in member states. The Council paid tribute to the private sector for its robust investments in various segments of the economy.
The supreme Council also took note of the paper submitted by the State of Kuwait on the strategic parameters of economic growth of and integration among member states. In view of its positive content and valuable perspective on economic growth strategy in both medium and long range terms for member states, the Council decided to refer the paper to the Financial and Economic Cooperation Committee for careful examination.
The Supreme Council approved the uniform civil statute (law) for member states tio be known as the Kuwait Document. It also approved the uniform penal code (law) for member states, to be reffered to as The Doha Document. Both Systems are drawn from the Islamic religious law (Al-Sharee’ah). The two legal sets will serve as guidelines towards unification of the judiciary systems in member states.
Humanitarian and Environmental Affairs
The supreme Council reviewed the recommendations made by the Ministerial Council on cooperation in the humanitarian and environmental spheres.
While the Supreme Council appreciates the efforts of individual member states to constantly raise the ratio of their nationals in the work force and to facilitate national manpower mobility within member states, it stresses the importance of pursuing demographic policies that enhance social coherence, stability and security for the peoples of the region.
In the area of environmental protection and conservation, the Supreme Council approved three systems for the preservation and promotion of natural habitat, handling of radioactive materials and waste management, including the measures that must be complied with when moving hazardous waste across the borders of member states. All the measures are in line with relevant international regulations that represent a minimum of safety and protection procedures.
On the basis of the decision taken by the ministers of the interior at their 16th session, the Supreme Council endorsed the modalities and procedures relating to facilitate the transfer and exchange of organs among the organ transplant centers in the member states.
Implementation by Iraq of Security Council Resolutions Emanating from its Aggression Against the State of Kuwait
The Supreme Council discussed the most recent developments relating to the carrying out by Iraq of United Nations Security Council Resolutions relating to its aggression against the State of Kuwait. The Supreme Council affirmed the necessity for the Government of Iraq to implement all relevant Security Council Resolutions without selectivity, especially those relating to the elimination of mass destruction weapons that remain in the hold of Iraq, the relase of Kuwaiti and third country prisoners, the return of all Kuwaiti property, in addition to compliance with resolution 949 by refraining from any act of aggression or provocation against neighboring states.
The Supreme Council stresses that the invasion and occupation of the State of Kuwait by Iraq was a breach of inter-Arab and international treaties. Therefore, Iraq must solemnly acknowledge that by its occupation of the States of Kuwait, it had violated the Charter of the League of Arab States, the Common Arab Defense Pact and the Charter of the United Nations. The Supreme Council invites Iraq to take the necessary steps to demonstrate its good intentions towards the States of Kuwait and other states in the region in both words and deeds with a view to save the region the horrors of another similar catastrophe and to ensure security and stability for all states of the region.
The Supreme Council expressed its deep concern over the serious escalation of tension between Iraq and the United Nations as a result of the continued efforts by the Government of Iraq to hide dangerous and lethal biological and chemical weapons that endangered the life of the brethren people of Iraq and the peoples of the region. In this context, the Supreme Council applauded the coherent international position, represented by the United Nations Security Council, in the face of the last standoff. It reaffirmed its support for the United Nations Special Commission in charge of elimination of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and its Executive chairman with the intent to enable it to fulfill its mandate and invited the Government of Iraq to cooperate in earnest with the Special Commission without any restrictions or conditions. It stressed the need for Iraq to carry out all relevant Security Council Resolutions in a bid to mitigate sanctions and alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people, a suffering with which member states of the Supreme Council are sympathetic thus prompting them to welcome the “oil for food’” formula as a means to provide food and medical drugs need for the brotherly people of Iraq, as well as to welcome any other initiative that might ease their hardship.
The Supreme Council followed the recent developments in Northern Iraq and expressed concern over the regional repercussions of those events. It reaffirmed its firm position that the independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Iraq must be preserved.
The Question of Occupation of the Three Islands of the State of the United Arab Emirates and Relations with Iran
A. The Question of Occupation of the Three Island of the State of the United Arab Emirates.
The Supreme Council reviewed the developments relating to the question of occupation by Iran of the three islands of Greater Tunb, Smaller Tunb and Abu Mousa of the States of the United Arab Emirates. It reiterated its deep regret over the continued failure on the part of the Islamic Republic of Iran to respond favourably to the repeated, earnest and sincere calls by the United Arab Emirates as well as regional and international organizations, organs and groups rto resolve this dispute peacefully.
The Supreme Council reviewed the announcements by His Excellency President Mohammad Khatami of the Islamic Republic of Iran in which he expressed a desire to meet His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahayan, President of the State of the United Arab Emirates. The Council heard a welcoming reaction expressed by Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahayan to this orientation. The supreme Council welcomed any leadership encounter between the two countries.
While the Supreme cpouncil reaffirms the sovereignty of the State of the United Arab Emirates over its three islands of Greater Tunb, Smaller Tunb and Abu Mousa and its absolute support for all peaceful measures and means it might use to restore its sovereignty over the islands in question, the Council reiterates its demand to the Iranian government to end its occupation of the three islands, to cease its policy of imposing a fait accomply by force, to stop the construction of Iranian facilities on the islands with the intent of changing their demographic composition, to reverse all measures and to dismantle all installations unilaterally put in place on the three islands, and to pursue peaceful means to resolve the dispute over the islands in accordance with the principles and norms of international law, including acceptance of the option to refer the case to the International Court of Justice.
B. Relations with Iran
Starting from the firm positions of the Gulf Cooperation Council member states to build up good relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran on the basis of good neighborliness, mutual respect and non-interference in the internal affairs of other states, and in view of the positive indications and statements emanating from the Iranian ranking officials on the orientation of the government of Iran to open a new page in relations with the Cooperation Council member states, the Supreme Council discussed the new developments in relations with Iran. It expressed hope that the immediate future will see positive and tangible developments in relations between the two sides with a view to build mutual confidence and establish relations on solid foundation to ensure security and stability in the region.
The Middle East Peace Process
The Supreme Council considered the peace process in the Middle East and the serious deadlock it has reached as a result of failure on the part of the government of Israel to fulfill its commitments under the transitional accords signed with the Palestinian side and due to the unilateral steps it is taking prior to the final solution negotiations. Those steps include the expansion of existing settlements and the building of new ones, confiscation of Palestinian land, imposition of economic blockade against the Palestinian population, and obstruction of economic development prospects in the Palestinian territories. All these actions contravene the spirit and underpinning principles of the peace process as well as the provisions of agreements signed within the peace framework.
While the Supreme Council expresses its categorical rejection of the policies and practices of the government of Israel, it calls upon that government to honour all its obligations under the accords signed with the Palestine Liberation Organization, primarily completion of the redeployment phrases throughout the West Bank and starting the permanent status negotiations with the Palestinian side with a view to achieve full Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territories under occupation since 1967 and to enable the Palestinian people tp execise their full national legitimate rights, including their right to establieh their own independent state on their national territory, the capital of which would be Al-Quds Al-Shareef ( the Holy City of Jerusalem). The Supreme Council demands that the government of Israel should resume negotiations on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks from the point where all previous rounds have reached. It also demands that Israel must fully pull out from tthe occupied Syrian Arab Golan back to the border line of 4 June 1967 in accordance with Security Council resolutions 242 and 338. It also demands that Israel must withdraw fully from Southern Lebanon and the Western Bekaa and leave all occupied Lebanese territory to return under the soverignty of Lebanon in accordance with Security resolution 425.
While the Supreme Council appreciates the efforts made by the United States administration in support of the Middle East peace process, as well as the efforts of the Russian Federation, it calls upon them to continue and intensify their roles towards the resumption of negotiations on all tracks in order to put the peace process back in right normal course.
The Supreme Council applauds the international consensus in support of the maintenance of the peace process in the Middle East and the need to fulfill binding obligations and the resumption of negotiations on the basis of the United Nations resolutions and the “land for peace” formula in order to achieve just and comprehensive peace. In this connection, the Supreme Council pays tribute to the European Union and its member states for their efforts as well as for the political and economic support they have been providing to the Palestinian National Authority.
Elimination of Weapons of Mass Destruction
The Supreme Council expressed its concern over the continued existence of programmes for the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction in the region. It called for to turn the Middle East region, including the Gulf area, into a zone free of all mass destruction weapons including nuclear armaments. The Supreme Council stressed the need that Israel should accede to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and to subject all its nuclear installations to the international inspection system of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The Phenomena of Extremism, Violence and Terrorism
The Supreme Council reaffirmed that extremism, violence and terrorism are world-wide phenomena that are not exclusive to one particular people or region. It reaffirmed once again its denunciation and condemnation of these phenomena and its absolute rejection of all forms of violence and terrorism irrespective of their origin. The Council expressed its regret over the shelter provided by some states to extremist terrorist elements under the banner of human rights protection. The Supreme Council invites those states to draw a distinction between human rights and the terrorist destructive actions and policies pursued by those elements which jeopardize the security and safety of the affected states and pose a grave threat to their citizens and the alien residents living in them. It also calls upon those states to act with a view to prevent the exploitive use by those extremist terrorist elements and groups of their territory and laws to acquire funds and arms and to block them from undertaking any other activities that endanger the security and safety of states. The Supreme Council calls for the conclusion of an international convention on combatting terrorism.
The Supreme Council expressed its rejection and condemnation of the reaction by the European Parliament and other organizations and organs in terms of negative references to the judiciary systems and administration of justice in the member states of the Supreme Council. The Council considered such reactions as an unacceptable interference in the internal affairs of member states what would encourage the commission of crimes and terrorist acts thus creating an adverse impact on the security and stability of the region.
Finally, the Supreme Council welcomed the decision adopted by the Eighth Islamic Summit held in Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, between 9 and 11 December 1997, that the State of Qatar would host the Ninth Islamic Sumit to be convened in Doha in the year 2000.
The Supreme Council expressed its profound appreciation to His Highness Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, Amir of the State of Kuwait, and the government and people of Kuwait for their warm reception, gracious hospitality and sincere sentiments of brotherhood. It applauded the organizational arrangements made for hosting the meeting.
The heads of member states of the Supreme Council paid personnal tribute to His Highness Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, Amir of the State of Kuwait, Chairman of the current session of the Council, for his outstanding role in presiding over the meetings thus facilitating to a large measure the adoption of important decisions and conclusions in line with the aspirations of the peoples of the member states.
The Supreme Council looks forward to convene again at its Nineteenth Session to be held, God Willing, in the United Arab Emirates in December 1998, in response to a kind invitation extended by His Higness sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahayan, President of the State of the United Arab Emirates.
Issued uin Kuwait
on 22 Sha’baan 1418 Hijri
Corresponding to 22 December 1997 A. D.