Unofficial translation of
The Closing Statement of
the Twentieth Session of the GCC Supreme Council
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia - Riyadh
19-21 Shaa’ban 1420 AH /27- 29 November 1999 AD
In response to the gracious invitation by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al- Saud, King of Saudi Arabia, the Supreme Council of the Cooperation Council of the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) held its 20th session in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, from 19th to 21st Shaa’ban 1420 AH, corresponding to 27-29 November 1999 A.D., under the Chairmanship of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, King of Saudi Arabia in the presence of Their Majesties and Highnesses:
His Highness Sheikh Maktoom bin Rashed Al - Maktoom
Vice President and Prime Minister of the State of the
United Arab Emirates (UAE), Ruler of Dubai
His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Issa bin Salman Al – Khalifa,
Emir of the State of Bahrain
His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Saeed,
Sultan of Oman
His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al – Thani
Emir of the State of Qatar
His Highness Sheikh Jaber Al – Ahmad Al – Jaber Al- Sabah
Emir of the State of Kuwait
H.E. Sheikh Jameel bin Ibrahim Al-Hejailan, Secretary – General of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) also participated in the meeting.
The Supreme Council examined the results of two decades of collective process in economic, social, information, military and security fields, and expressed their satisfaction at the achievements made during that period by this beneficial process. The Council affirmed its desire and sincere will to consolidate the march of the collective process of the GCC towards progress, and to keep pace with the regional and international changes so that the higher aspirations and goals of this process may be realized. The Council conducted a comprehensive assessment of the developments taking place with regard to economic, political and security issues at all levels – Arab, regional and international. It stressed upon the importance of continuing to work for reinforcing security, stability and development of the GCC states and its peoples.
The Process of Joint Cooperation:
The Supreme Council examined the course of the collective economic process, and looked into the steps taken to launch the Customs Union of the GCC states, and the stages that have been completed towards reaching an agreement on uniform customs tariff. The Council approved the launch of the Customs Union of the GCC states with effect from the 1st of March 2005, so that the Member States may amend their current tariff rates gradually or at one go to the tune of 5.5% on the basic commodities, and 7.5% on the remaining commodities. This nomenclature is in accordance with the classification of commodities, which have been grouped as ‘exempt commodities’, ‘basic commodities’ and ‘remaining commodities’. The Council entrusted the Committee on Financial and Economic Cooperation with the task of taking all remaining steps and measures to bring about the launch of the Customs Union.
In an effort to complete the unification of the economic regulations of the GCC states, and to take the necessary steps to launch the Customs Union among them, the Supreme Council enacted the Uniform Customs Regulation (the Law) for the GCC States and approved its implementation as a reference model regulation for a period of one year after which amendments shall be effected in it in light of the feedback received from the Member States on this reference model regulation, thus paving the way for its mandatory implementation by the end of the year 2000 AD.
Reiterating its support to economic cooperation, trade exchange and to making direct investments more attractive, the Supreme Council approved the amendment of the regulation that determined the conditions for acquiring the national origin status (stated in the first paragraph, Article 3 of the Unified Economic Agreement). In order to acquire the status of national origin, it has now become sufficient to fulfill the condition of adding a percentage of the value on the industrial products while the condition of national ownership has been abolished for the projects manufacturing the product.
With a view to firmly establishing the concept of national-ization of economy, the Supreme Council resolved to amend the regulation pertaining to ownership of real estate by the GCC citizens in the member states and assigned the Committee on Financial and Economic Cooperation to look into the liberalization of ownership of real estate by the GCC citizens in the Member States for residential and investment purposes. In this regard the Council asked the Committee to present its recommendations to Supreme Council.
The Supreme Council lauded the decision of His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Issa Al-Khalifa, Emir of the State of Bahrain for allowing the natural as well as naturalized citizens of the GCC states the right to own buildings and land along the lines of Bahraini citizens, be it for residential purposes, erecting buildings, practicing any economic activity or for establishing investment projects etc. The Council appreciated this blessed step, which brings goodness and increases the depth of relationships and links, and brings the GCC citizens closer to each other.
The Supreme Council approved the patent regulation for the GCC states in its amended form so that it may conform to the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights agreement (TRIPS agreement), within the framework of the agreements with concluded with the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The Supreme Council expressed its satisfaction at the ratification of the contract for establishing the Electricity Grid Commission for the GCC states and its basic bye –laws, declaring it as a joint stock company, with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as its headquarters in order to pave the way for the implementation of the first stage of the project.
The Supreme Council assessed the economic situation in the GCC states as part of its keenness to strengthen the productive capacities of the GCC states in a manner that it increases the job opportunities for the citizens. The Council studied the important developments which are being witnessed by the world economic order as well as the pattern of swift liberalization and openness coming to fore in multilateral trade systems, and the increase in the establishment of economic, regional and international blocs. The Council assigned the Committee on Financial and Economic Cooperation with the task of revising the Common Economic Agreement so that it strengthens the productive structures and leads to the growth of the role of the private sector, and brings about the realization of mutual benefit for the people of the GCC states. The Council also assigned the committee with the task of preparing a long-term strategy for the relationship of the Gulf and its negotiations with all nations, regional blocs and international organizations with the goal of arriving at a stage where the Gulf is represented by a single voice at the regional and national levels.
The Council also studied the situation of the world petroleum markets, and expressed its satisfaction over the developments taking place in the petroleum market, affirming its constant and continuous desire to exert all efforts to ensure the stability of the world petroleum market in a manner that it preserves the interests of all the consumers and at the same time guarantees the continuity of the interests of the producers.
In recognition of the fact that petroleum constitutes the mainstay of the national economy in the GCC states, and that it is considered as the main source of energy in the world, the Supreme Council resolved to move forward towards crystallizing a unified position as regards petroleum market relations, so as to maintain a balance between demand and supply, and to deal with the emergency situations that might destabilize the market and have a negative effect, equally, on the interests of both the producers and consumers of petroleum.
Humanitarian and Environmental Affairs:
Based on the Council’s stress on strengthening and deepening the collective process in the field of education, and in order to meet the demands of its development plans; the Supreme Council directed the Ministers of Education and Training to take all steps and measures to develop the educational curricula in the GCC states.
As part of the concern for the human being and the safety of the environment, the Supreme Council passed directives to evolve effective mechanisms for bringing about coordination between the ministries and the concerned authorities at the national level in each Member State to take appropriate and sound steps in order to get rid of medical wastes, and to deal with radioactive wastes, and to effect coordination between the GCC states in transporting the dangerous wastes away from its borders.
With a view to encouraging the pharmaceutical industry in the GCC states, and to enable each Member State to benefit from the efforts of the other states in terms of registration of pharmaceutical products manufactured in the GCC states, the Supreme Council approved the organizing principles supporting it. It also agreed to accord the health and medical documents and certificates issued in any Member State the same treatment that is accorded to similar documents in that state.
The Consultative Commission of the GCC:
Implementing the Supreme Council’s resolution in the previous session with regard to employment of the national work force, and in order to facilitate their mobility from one Member State to another; and with a view to increasing the job opportunities for the GCC citizens and to nationalize jobs in the various sectors, and to achieve coordination among the Member States in this field, the Supreme Council approved the views of the Consultative Commission in this regard. The Council decided to assign the Consultative Commission with the task of undertaking an evaluation of the process of joint action in the field of economy, asking it to present its views in the 21st session of the Supreme Council.
In view of the desire of the Supreme Council to enhance the effectiveness of the implementation of the Long Term Strategy for Comprehensive Development for the GCC states (2000-2025), which was adopted by the Council in its 18th session with the objective of keeping pace with the rapid economic changes in the world order, the Supreme Council resolved to assign the Consultative Commission with the task of producing a reference model file to record that which is proposed by the Commission in terms of sub - goals and mechanisms for the programs and procedures to increase the effectiveness of the implementation of this strategy, and to submit periodic reports on it to the Council.
The Supreme Council approved the resolutions submitted by Their Highnesses and Excellencies, the Ministers of Defense of the GCC states, which were made in their 18th meeting held on 17-18 November 1999 AD in the State of the UAE on the issue of developing and following up the affairs of military cooperation with regard to the Dir’a Al Jazeerah Forces (Peninsula Shield), the Security Belt Project, secure communications, defense policy and Air force for the GCC states.
The Supreme Council expressed its satisfaction at the steps taken and emphasized upon the importance of continuing to implement all military cooperation programs aimed at building defense capabilities of the GCC states.
The Supreme Council ratified the resolutions of the 18th meeting of Their Highnesses and Excellencies, the Ministers of Interior of the GCC states held in Al – Ain, the State of the UAE during the month of November 1999 AD. These resolutions were aimed at enhancing the process of joint action related to aspects concerned with facilitating the mobility of citizens between the GCC states and issuing electronically - readable passports.
The Supreme Council also endorsed the Agreement reached among the Sultanate of Oman, UAE, Qatar and Bahrain on mobility of their citizens from one state to another with the identity card as it is an important step which strengthens the joint cooperation among the GCC states, deepens the proximity among its peoples and represents an advancement in the relationship to a level that realizes the hopes and aspirations of the peoples of the GCC.
The Supreme Council emphasized upon the need to complete the procedures related with the protection of the land and sea environment from pollution.
The Supreme Council welcomed the Organization of Islamic Conference’s (OIC’s) Treaty on combating terrorism, which was concluded at the 26th Islamic Conference held in Burkina Faso.
The Supreme Council examined the outcomes of the 10th meeting of the Information Ministers which was held in Al-Ain, the State of the UAE during the month of November 1999 AD, and approved the recommendations submitted before it, recommendations that aim at supporting the joint action in the field of mass media. The Council emphasized upon the need to monitor the implementation of the resolutions pertaining to the joint process in the field of mass media, and the need for the media to keep pace with the developments in the international media in a manner that the goals and aspirations of the GCC states are realized.
Diplomatic and Consular Cooperation:
The Supreme Council endorsed the diplomatic and consular cooperation agreement signed between the State of Qatar and the Sultanate of Oman on 21st Muharram 1419 AH corresponding to 18th May 1998 AD, and the agreement between the State of Bahrain and the State of Kuwait on 9th Shaa’ban 1420 AH corresponding to 17th November 1999 AD. These agreements enable the missions and consulates of each of the two countries to protect the interests of the other country and its citizens in the event of non - presence of diplomatic or consular representation of the other country in which the former is accredited. This will help in strengthening the process of cooperation, deepening of relationship and in bringing the Member States closer to each other.
Implementation by Iraq of the Security Council Resolutions pertaining to its aggression against the State of Kuwait:
The Supreme Council discussed the progress made by Iraq in the course of implementing the Security Council resolutions pertaining to its aggression on the State of Kuwait. The Council noted that despite the passage of eight years, the Iraqi regime continues to adopt a policy of procrastination with regard to the complete implementation of the international resolutions. It also discussed means to put an end to the humanitarian sufferings of the people of Iraq, holding the Iraqi regime responsible for causing and prolonging this suffering. The Supreme Council expressed its regret at the Iraqi regime’s continual rejection of the international initiatives and proposals, in particular the Arab proposals, which were put forward with the objective of evolving an effective mechanism and methodology for the lifting of international economic sanctions imposed on Iraq, thus presenting a way out for Iraq.
In this respect, the Council renewed its demand from the Iraqi Government to respond positively, accurately and faithfully to the Arab and international resolutions and voices that call for implementation of all resolutions of international legality, in particular those aspects of it which call for serious cooperation with the international committees working for the release of the Kuwaiti and other Prisoners of War (POWs) and the detainees, and for the return of Kuwaiti assets. Iraq must also refrain from committing any provocative or aggressive action against the State of Kuwait and the neighboring countries pursuant to the UNSC resolution 949, so that peace and stability may be established in the region.
The Supreme Council stressed on the need for Iraq to prove its peaceful intentions towards its neighbors in words and deeds. It must confess that its invasion of the State of Kuwait was a violation of the Arab and international charters including the Arab League Charter, the Common Arab Defense Pact, the Economic Cooperation Treaty and the UN Charter.
The Supreme Council called on the United Nations Security Council to take decisions that guarantee the creation of a mechanism organizing the relationship between Iraq and the United Nations so as to ensure the implementation by Iraq of all the relevant UNSC resolutions pertaining to its aggression on the State of Kuwait. It also called on the UN to continue to provide for the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people.
At the same time, the Supreme Council stressed upon the need to preserve Iraq’s independence, its territorial integrity and regional safety.
Relations with Iran:
The Supreme Council examined the steps taken by the Tripartite Committee, which has been entrusted by the Council with task of evolving a mechanism for bringing about direct negotiations between the State of the UAE and the Islamic Republic of Iran on the issue of the three islands. The Council directed the Committee to continue to exert efforts it had begun with the aim of creating conditions conducive to the evolution of a mechanism for conducting direct negotiations between the two countries.
The Middle East Peace Process:
The Supreme Council studied the developments taking place with regard to the Middle East Peace Process and hailed the Sharm Al-Shaikh Agreement that was concluded on 4th September 1999 AD between the Palestinian National Authority and the Israeli Government, as being a positive step in the right direction provided that this is followed by serious steps towards returning to the values and principles adopted by the Madrid Conference, and to the resumption of negotiations that would lead to the restoration of legitimate rights of the Arabs in accordance with the UNSC resolutions 242,338 and 425, as well as the principle of land for peace; and the achievement by the Palestinians of all their legitimate rights; and the establishment of their independent state on their national soil with the Holy Jerusalem as its capital. The Council reiterated its absolute rejection of all attempts from the side of the Israeli Government to change the demographic structure of the Holy Jerusalem, considering it to be a violation of international law and resolutions of international legitimacy.
The Supreme Council stressed the fact that comprehensive and just peace in the Middle East cannot be achieved except by complete Israeli withdrawal from all occupied territories, including from the occupied Golan Heights belonging to Syrian Arab Republic, to the border line existing on the 4th of June 1967 AD, and from Southern Lebanon and its Western Biqaa area in accordance with the UNSC resolutions 425 and 426 unconditionally.
While appreciating the Arab and international efforts that are being exerted to support the Peace Process, and urging the Israeli Government to quickly and faithfully implement the agreements and pledges it has committed to the Arab sides, the Supreme Council appeals the patrons of the Peace Process and the European Union and its member countries to continue to intensify their efforts to bring back the peace process on the right track. In this context, the Council lauded the efforts made by His Excellency President Clinton of the United States of America (USA) in this regard, as well as the resolution passed by the European Union Summit on 25th March 1999 AD affirming the right of the Palestinians to self determination, which includes establishment of an independent state.
Elimination of weapons of mass destruction:
The Supreme Council renewed its appeal to the international community to work towards freeing the Middle East Region, including the Gulf region, from the presence of all types of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. The Supreme Council stressed upon the need for Israel to join the Nuclear Non – Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and to subject all its nuclear installations to international inspections system of International Agency for Nuclear Energy (IAEA).
The Supreme Council examined the process of cooperation within the framework of the Damascus Declaration and emphasized the importance of working within the framework of the Declaration, and looked forward to the next meeting to be held for the member countries so that the aspirations of the people of those countries may be achieved.
The Situation in Chechnya:
The Supreme Council has been following the ongoing events taking place in Chechnya and its tragic and painful consequences, which have left thousands of deaths, injuries, and homelessness amongst the Chechan people. The Council called upon the Russian Federation to solve this problem by peaceful means and urged the start of direct negotiations between the two sides in order to prevent bloodshed, strengthen peace, and to protect innocent lives of children, women and the aged. It also called on the Russian Government to facilitate the reaching of the humanitarian aid to the Chechan people.
The Supreme Council expressed its immense appreciation to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, King of Saudi Arabia, his Government and the people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the warm reception, welcome and generous hospitality and the spirit of fraternity, extolling the excellent arrangement made for hosting this meeting.
The Supreme Council also lauded the great role played by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, King of Saudi Arabia and Chairman of the current session of the Supreme Council, for his wise management of the meetings which had the greatest impact on arriving at important decisions as part of the effort to realize the hopes and aspirations of the peoples of the GCC states.
The Supreme Council also lauded the true and sincere efforts exerted by His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahayan, President of the state of the UAE, during his Chairmanship of the 18th session of the Supreme Council and the wisdom and authority demonstrated by His Highness in managing and following up this blessed process.
The Supreme Council looks forward to meeting in its 21st session to be held in Manama – State of Bahrain in November 2000 AD, in response to the gracious invitation by His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Issa Al Khalifa, Emir of the State of Bahrain.
Issued in Riyadh
21 Shaa’ban 1420 AH
29 November 1999 AD
The Riyadh Declaration
Issued at the Twentieth session of the
Supreme Council of the GCC states
19-21 Shaa’ban 1420AH
27-29 November1999 AD
The Supreme Council of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC), in its 20th session held in Riyadh in the period from 19-21 Shaa’ban 1420AH corresponding 27-29 November1999 AD;
By the guidance from our true religion and the tolerant Islamic Shariah (Islamic Law), and based on the goals and objectives of the Founding Charter of the GCC; and
Based on the consciousness on part of the Council as regards the importance of this historic turning point, an analytical review of the developments and the turn of events in the world were undertaken, realizing that history is not created by distant spectators, and that the events are not shaped by the secluded and the meek; and considering the importance of the role that the Member States should play and the responsibility that they must assume as part of the Islamic and Arab nation, which at the same time is also a part of the world at large, it is necessary that they should be capable of keeping pace with the rapid changes, and that they should also be positively responsive to the new demandswithout losing any of their characteristics derived form Islamic originality and Arab purity;
The Supreme Council examined the economic developments taking place in the international arena and arrived at two basic conclusions, the import of which is that the wave of globalization has imposed itself on the world and has left its mark on the era, and that this wave necessitates evolution of strong economic entities capable of dealing with this wave and its attendant developments without exposing the prosperity of the people to economic disturbances. And, beginning from this starting point, the Supreme Council noted that in order to efficiently transact with this gigantic force, it is necessary that the Member States should not just remain spectators of the successive developments taking place on the world economic scene and be content with reactive policies, in fact they should take the initiative of actively contributing to and playing their role in the crystallization and shaping of the direction of their march through a unified Gulf economic entity, transacting, keeping pace and integrating with the Arab economic entity, which is correlated with that which guarantees the protection of the interests of the member states. In this context, the Council emphasized the importance of the need to lay down long - term strategies that are directed towards supporting the moves towards Arab economic integration so as to control the relations among the GCC states, the regional blocs and international organizations; and
By convening this session the Supreme Council has reinforced its position as a single entity; it is equipped with the experience of two decades. As such it has become necessary that it should pause to take stock of the record of its achievements and the record of that which must be achieved. It has also become essential to evaluate objectively and precisely the process of cooperation in the field of economy among the Member States so that the Council may leap forward with a new determination, an unwavering spirit and comprehensive vision that can activate the economies of the market, consolidate the productive structures and increase the role of the private sector in the process of development in a manner that it enables its economies to transact with the global changes so that it may lead to the achievement of that which its peoples aspire for and what they deserve in terms of welfare and affluence; and
In recognition of the importance of the comprehensive development in raising the level of the peoples and individuals, the Supreme Council has paid due attention to this vital issue, affirming that man should remain the pivot of development, its goal and essence. In this connection, the Supreme Council examined the comprehensive development strategy, which it had previously endorsed in its 18th session held in Abu Dhabi, and assigned the Consultative Council with the task of preparing a reference model file in order to increase the effectiveness with which this strategy is being implemented so that it may serve the Gulf citizen by providing new ideas and proposals that aim at activating the mechanisms and unleashing of capabilities; and
Recognizing the fact the petroleum constitutes the mainstay of the national economy in the GCC states and is considered as the main source of energy world over, the Supreme Council resolved to continue to work towards crystallizing a unified position towards the petroleum market with a view to guaranteeing a balance between demand and supply, and dealing with the sudden emergencies which might lead the to the instability of the market, which negatively affects the interests of both the producers and consumers equally;
The Supreme Council studied the current situation of the world petroleum market, and expressed its satisfaction at the developments taking place in the petroleum market, reiterating its abiding and keen desire to exert all efforts to guarantee the stability of the world petroleum markets so that it protects the interests of the consumers, and at the same time, guarantees the continuity of the interests of the producers; and
The Supreme Council, which is racing against time to build an entity that matches with the aspirations of its people, reiterates that the GCC, in reality, is nothing but an embodiment of Arab fraternity and Islamic solidarity and has not been away even for a moment from its large Arab environment nor has it isolated itself from the larger Islamic Ummah (nation). And, the efforts of the GCC towards unity are nothing but an expression of its faith that the power of the Arabian Gulf is power for the Arabs and that its dignity is also the dignity of the Islamic world. The Supreme Council renews its determination to meet the challenges and to overcome them; its weapon in this endeavor is its deep sense of faith in Allah and its strong confidence in the abilities of its people and the unifying force that binds them together so that the hopes and aspirations for a better future may be realized, a future adorned with sustainable and comprehensive development, and equipped with social justice, and full of bounties and growth.
And Allah Knows all intentions and He is the Grantor of All Success
Issued in Riyadh
21 Shaa’ban1420 AH
29 November 1999 AD