Article 34

34.1.2 All states formula

Since the UNWC seeks universal participation,535 it seems obvious to open it for signature to ‘all states.’ However, the ‘all states formula’ also has its drawbacks, since it has given rise to the question whether certain territories or entities whose status under international law as sovereign states was unclear would be permitted to become a signatory to the respective treaty.536

The Secretary-General, as the depositary for the Convention (see Section 35.1.1), follows the advice of the UN General Assembly when he receives instruments of acceptance, approval, accession, or ratification relating to a treaty from an entity whose claim to being a state seems questionable, since determining whether such a territory or entity would fall within the ‘any state formula’ would be outside his sphere of competence. The General Assembly issued a general understanding in this matter, stating that: ‘The Secretary-General, in discharging his functions as a depositary of a convention with an ‘all States’ clause, will follow the practice of the Assembly in implementing such a clause and, whenever advisable, will request the opinion of the Assembly before receiving a signature or an instrument of ratification or accession.’537


535 See, e.g., treaties concerning human rights, disarmament, or environment.

536 Treaty Section of the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs, Final Clauses of Multilateral Treaties: Handbook (United Nations Publications 2003) at 14.

537 See United Nations Juridical Yearbook, 1973, Sales No. E.75.V.1, at 79, footnote 9.

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