Article 7 REVIEW OF DECISIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE COMMISSION
Except for decisions under article 3, each decision or recommendation adopted
by the Commission pursuant to the provisions of this Convention shall be subject
to approval or modification by the Council or the General Assembly in the same
way as other decisions or recommendations of the Commission.
1. Articles 7 and 8 contain constitutional provisions concerning the
Commission on Narcotic Drugs. 1 The Single Convention does not provide for the
composition of the Commission as it does for that of the International Narcotics
Control Board.' The Parties to the Convention accept the composition of the
organ named "Commission on Narcotic Drugs of the Economic and Social Council", 3
to which they entrust a number of treaty functions, 4 as determined by the
Council from time to time in accordance with the Charter of the United
Nations. The Charter provision in question 5 stipulates that "The Economic and
Social Council shall set up commissions in economic and social fields and for
the promotion of human rights, and such other commissions as may be required for
the performance of its functions". The Council may, under this provision,
define the composition of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the powers which
it confers on that organ, in addition to those provided for in the multilateral
treaties, including in particular the Single Convention. 6
2. Under the present rules of the Council, the Commission is composed of
twenty-four Governments chosen by the Council normally for terms of four years,
with due regard to adequate representation of countries which are important
manufacturers of narcotic drugs, of those which are important producers of opium
or coca leaves and of those in which drug addiction or the illicit traffic in
narcotic drugs constitutes a serious problem. The principle of equitable
geographic distribution must as well be taken into account in this election.
7 Not only Members of the United Nations, but also States which are not
Members of the United Nations, may be elected if they are members of a
specialized agency or Parties to the Single Convention. 8 The delegates to the
Commission are at present representatives of Governments, and their appointment
does not require consultation with the Secretary-General or confirmation by the
Council as in the case of other functional commissions. 8 The Council has full
discretion to change the composition of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs; it may
even convert it into a body partially or fully composed of independent experts
chosen in their individual capacity. It must, however, maintain a collegial
body, 10 however composed, for the performance of the functions entrusted by the
Single Convention 11 to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.
3. The Commission has two different kinds of powers: those assigned to it
by its terms of reference or other decisions of the Council 12 ("Charter
functions"), and those granted to it by provisions of the Single Convention or
of earlier narcotics treaties ("treaty functions"). As regards these earlier
treaties, the view has been held that the authority which the Council has over
the Comsion's Charter functions does not extend to that organ's treaty
functions. Is Article 7 of the Convention settles this question in favour of the
Council's authority in respect of the treaty functions of the Commission under
the Single Convention. All decisions and recommendations of the Commission
taken under provisions of that Convention are subject to the authority of the
Council. Decisions taken under article 3 amending any of the Schedules can be
reviewed by the special procedure of paragraph 8. All other decisions i.e. all
except those taken in accordance with article 3 and all recommendations of the
Commission under the Single Convention are "subject to approval or modification
by the Council or the General Assembly in the same way as other decisions or
recommendations of the Commission", i.e. as the Commission's actions taken in
respect to functions derived from the United Nations Charter. The phrase "other
decisions and recommendations" refers to these "Charter functions" and not to
decisions which the Commission may take under powers which it has under earlier
treaties. 14 By abstaining from describing the procedure of approval or
modification by the Council or General Assembly, article 7 avoids possibly
controversial questions and leaves the way for evolutions in the United Nations
practice in this connexion.
4. The Council has complete authority over the decisions and
recommendations of the Commission in regard to "Charter functions", and thus
also in respect to such actions under the Single Convention, with the exception
of the Commission's decisions under article 3 which are subject to the different
review procedure mentioned above. The Council may expressly rescind these
decisions or recommendations, may modify them in any way it may see fit, or may
simply deny them implementation by failing to act on them. The Commission's
decisions and recommendations, whether in form of recommendations to the
Council, of draft resolutions suggested for the Council's adoption or of actions
in the name of the Commission itself, are included in the reports of the
Commission to the Council. They are normally not transmitted by the
Secretary-General for implementation to Governments or to international organs
to which they may be addressed until they have been approved by the Council,
either directly, or indirectly by "taking note" of the Commission's report
containing them. Only Commission resolutions of minor importance, which are
not controversial, which have no financial implications and which if they
concern a specialized agency have been accepted by that agency, are dispatched
for implementation before they are so approved by the
5. The authority of the General Assembly over the Economic and Social
Council and thus also over the Council's Commissions is laid down in the Charter
of the United Nations. Article 60 of the Charter provides that "responsibility
for the discharge of the functions of the Organization set forth in this Chapter
[i.e. in Chapter IX on international economic and social cooperation] shall be
vested in the General Assembly and, under the authority of the General Assembly,
in the Economic and Social Council, which shall have for this purpose the powers
set forth in Chapter X". Article 66, paragraph 3, stipulates that the Council
"shall perform such other functions as are specified elsewhere in the present
Charter or as may be assigned to it by the General Assembly". 16
6. The General Assembly at its first session adopted a resolution that the
Economic and Social Council, as one of the principal organs of the United
Nations, should be allowed the widest possible freedom to carry out its work. 17
The General Assembly's authority over the Council has been said to mean, in
practice, a continuing authority of a general nature. 18 The relation between
the two organs has, however, later been summed up by an author who states that
"generally speaking, the General Assembly has viewed its relations to ECOSOC as
permitting detailed review of the acts of that organ and free revision of its
recommendations". 19 While the Council has continuously initiated action without
specific authorization of the General Assembly, $° it has on a number of
occasions acted on the recommendation or request of the Assembly. 21 It has
also revised its decisions in compliance with the wishes of the General Assembly
whether expressed in the form of a "recommendation", "request" or "invitation".
7. The General Assembly has on some occasions addressed subsidiary organs
of the Council, either directly or through the Council. It has also given
directions to such organs. 23 It can therefore be concluded that it can also
give instructions to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. 24
8. The Spanish text of article 7 of the Single Convention uses the words "las
decisiones y recomendaciones aprobadas por la Comision en cumplimiento de sus
disposiciones" for the English version which reads "each decision or
recommendation adopted by the Commission pursuant to the provisions of this
Convention". The French wording "toute decision ou recommandation adoptee par la
Commission en execution des dispositions de la presente Convention" fully agrees
with the English text. The possessive adjective "sus" of the Spanish text refers
to "Comision". The recommendations and decisions of the Commission referred to
in the Spanish version would therefore not be those taken pursuant to the
provisions of the Single Convention-as in the English and French text-but
resolutions adopted pursuant to provisions of the Commission itself. Since the
meaning of the Spanish text, as a result of some error of drafting or
translation, is obviously obscure, it must be assumed that the English and
French text convey the intention of the Parties, as can be seen from the
discussion of this provision at the Plenipotentiary Conference which adopted the
Single Convention. 25
1 As regards the power of the Commission to change the Schedules, see
articles 3 and 8, para. (a); as regards other specific functions of the
Commission, see article 8, article 15, para. 1, article 18, article 31, para. 5
and article 32, para. 2. For the expenses of the Commission, see article 6; see
also article 5.
2. Article 9.
3. Articles 5 and 1, para. 1, subpara. (g).
4. See above, foot-note 1.
5. Article 68.
6. Rule 71 of the Rules of Procedure of the Council, in force at the time of
this writing, reads: "The Council shall set up such Commissions as may be
required for the performance of its functions, and shall define the powers and
composition of each of them."; document E/3063/Rev.l, United Nations
publication, Sales No. 67.1.32.
7. Economic and Social Council resolution 1147 (XLI), para. 4, together with
resolution 845 (XXXII) 11, paras. 2 and 3 and 111, para. 1.
8. Economic and Social Council resolution 845 (XXXII) II, para. 1; earlier
resolutions on the matter are 9 (I) and 199 (VIII).
9. See foot-note 4 to rule 13 of the Rules of Procedure of Functional
Commissions of the Economic and Social Council, document E/4767, United Nations
publication, Sales No. E.70.1.9; the other functional commissions are, at the
time of this writing, the Statistical Commission, the Population Commission, the
Commission for Social Development, the Commission on Human Rights and the
Commission on the Status of Women. See foot-note l to the title of these Rules
of Procedure. After the completion of this commentary the membership of the
Commission was increased to ?0 by Economic and Social Council resolution 1663 (LII)
of 1 June 1972.
10. A "commission", a body composed of more than one member.
11. Or by other multilateral drug treaties.
12. Economic and Social Council resolution 9 (I), para. 2.
13. In one particular case of exercising a treaty function, in appointing a
member of the Drug Supervisory Body under article 5, para. 6 of the 1931
Convention as amended by the 1946 Protocol, the Commission, at its thirteenth
session (1958), acted in fact contrary to a wish expressed by the Council; see
Economic and Social Council resolution 667 (XXIV) H, para. 2 and Official
Records of the Economic and Social C ouncil, Twenty-sixth Session, Supplement
No. 9, paras. 114-116. The Convention on Psychotropic Drugs, when in force will
also confer functions on the Commission; document E/CONF./58/6.
14. E.g. a decision under article 2 of the 1948 Protocol to place a drug
under provisional control.
15. Records, vol. II, p. 211.
16. The budget authority of the General Assembly (article 17 of the Charter)
strongly reinforces its controlling position.
17. General Assembly resolution 5 (I); Repertory of Practice of United
Nations Organs, vol. III. Articles 55-72 of the Charter, New York, 1955;
foot-note 12 relating it) the text of the Repertory concerning Article 60; see
also Leland M. Goodrich, t Edward Hambro, and Anne Patricia Simons, Charter of
the United Nations, Commentary and Documents, third edition revised, New York,
Columbia University Press, 1969, p. 406. It has been observed that since
General Assembly resolution 5 (I) t here has been a pronounced development in
the direction of subordination in respect to detailed decisions as well as
general authority"; ibid.
18. The volume of the Repertory referred to in the preceding foot-note, para.
8 of the text concerning Article 60 of the Charter
19. Goodrich and others, op. cit., p. 407.
20. The volume of the Repertory referred to in foot-note 16, para. 8 of the
text relating to Article 60 of the Charter.
21. Goodrich and others, op. cit., p. 406.
22. The volume of the Repertory referred to in foot-note 17, para. 9 of the
text relating to Article 60; see also volume III of Supplement No. 2 of this
Repertory, paras. 10 and 21 of the text relating to Article 60; and Goodrich and
others, op. cit., 406.
23. Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs, vol. III, paras. 17-22 of
the text relating to Article 60 of the Charter; Supplement No. 2 of the
Repertory, vol. III, para. 16 of the text relating to the same article; Goodrich
and others, op. cit., p. 407.
24. In resolution 2584 (XXIV) of 15 December 1969, the General Assembly
requested the Council to call upon the Commission on Narcotic Drugs to proceed
at its "special session" without delay to complete the draft protocol for the
control f psychotropic substances. The Commission at the time of the adoption of
the -elution was scheduled to meet in special session in January 1970. It
actually met It that time and completed the draft Protocol as called upon by the
General Assembly to do so; see foot-note 10 to comments on article 6, above.
25. Records, vol. 11, pp. 211-212.