Establishment of the Council
On 21st Rajab 1401 AH corresponding to 25th May 1981, Their Majesties and Highnesses, the leaders of the United Arab Emirates, State of Bahrain, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Sultanate of Oman, State of Qatar and State of Kuwait met in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, where they reached a cooperative framework joining the six states to effect coordination, integration and inter-connection among the Member States in all fields in order to achieve unity, according to article 4 of the GCC Charter. Article 4 also emphasized the deepening and strengthening of relations, links and areas of cooperation among their citizens. The underpinnings which are clearly provided for in the preamble of the GCC Charter, confirm the special relations, common qualities and similar systems founded on the creed of Islam, faith in a common destiny and sharing one goal, and that the cooperation among these states would serve the sublime objectives of the Arab nation.
The decision was not a product of the moment but an institutional embodiment of a historical, social and cultural reality. Deep religious and cultural ties link the six states, and strong kin relations prevail among their citizens. All these factors, enhanced by one geographical entity extending from sea to desert, have facilitated contacts and interaction among them, and created homogeneous values and characteristics.
Therefore, while, on one hand, the GCC is a continuation, evolution and institutionalisation of old prevailing realities, it is, on the other, a practical answer to the challenges of security and economic development in the area. It is also a fulfilment of the aspirations of its citizens towards some sort of Arab regional unity.
The GCC Charter states that the basic objectives are :
1. To effect co-ordination, integration and inter-connection between member states in all fields in order to achieve unity between them.
2. To deepen and strengthen relations, links and areas of cooperation now prevailing between their peoples in various fields.
3. To formulate similar regulations in various fields including the following:
A. Economic and financial affairs.
B. Commerce, customs and communications.
C. Education and culture.
D. Social and health affairs.
E. Information and tourism.
F. Legislative and administrative affairs.
4.To stimulate scientific and technological progress in the fields of industry , mining, agriculture , water and animal resources: to establish scientific research : to establish joint ventures and encourage cooperation by the private sector for the good of their peoples.
1. The Supreme Council
The Supreme Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is the highest authority of the organization. It is composed of the heads of the Member-States. Its presidency rotates periodically among the Member States in alphabetical order. It meets in an ordinary session each year. Extraordinary sessions may be convened at the request of any one Member-State seconded by another Member State. At its summit held in Abu Dhabi in 1998,the Supreme Council decided to hold consultative meetings in between the last and the coming summit. To be valid a meeting must be attended by two-thirds of the Member-States. Each Member State has one vote. Resolutions in substantive matters are carried by unanimous approval of participating member states in the voting. However, decisions on procedural matters are taken by the vote of the majority of the Supreme Council.
The Consultative Commission of the Supreme Council
It is composed of thirty members, five members from each of the Member State, chosen for their expertise and competence for a term of three years. This body considers matters referred to it by the Supreme Council of the GCC .
Dispute Settlement Commission
Beneath the Supreme Council is the Dispute Settlement Commission which is constituted by the Supreme Council for each case of dispute arising out of the interpretation of the terms of the charter.
2. The Ministerial Council
The Ministerial Council is composed of the Foreign Ministers of all the Member States or other ministers deputizing for them. The Council is presided over by the Member State which presided over the last ordinary session of the Supreme Council. It convenes its ordinary sessions once every three months . An extraordinary session can be convened at the invitation of any one Member State seconded by another Member State.
A session is valid if attended by two-thirds of the Member States.
The functions of the Ministerial Council include, among other things, formulating policies and making recommendations for promotion of cooperation among the Member States and achieving coordination among the Member-States for implementation of the ongoing projects. It submits its decisions in the form of recommendations to the Supreme Council for its approval. The Ministerial Council is also responsible for preparations to hold meetings of the Supreme Council and prepare its agenda. The voting procedure in the Ministerial Council is the same as in the Supreme Council.
3. The Secretariat General
The functions of the Secretariat General are broadly the preparation of special studies relating to cooperation, coordination, planning and programming for common action, preparation of periodical reports regarding the work done by the GCC, following up the implementation of its own decisions, preparation of reports and studies on the demand of either the Supreme Council or the Ministerial Council, making arrangements for holding of the meetings of various organs, finalization of their agenda and drafting resolutions.
The Secretariat General is composed of the following:
A. The Secretary-General: He is appointed by the Supreme Council for a term of three years renewable for another term.
B. Ten Assistant Secretaries-General: They deal with the functional areas under the jurisdiction of the GCC , like political, economic, military, security, humanitarian, environmental, legal, media, cultural affairs, information, finance and administration, strategic dialogue and negotiations. They are appointed by the Ministerial Council on the nomination of the Secretary-General for a renewable term of three years. The Secretariat General also includes the head of the GCC Delegation to the European Union at Brussels and the head of the GCC Delegation to the United Nations.
C. The Directors-General of the functional divisions of the Secretariat and all other subordinate employees: all of them are appointed by the Secretary General.
The functional structure of the General Secretariat covers a number of specialized and supportive areas like political, economic, military, security, humanitarian, and environmental affairs; finance and management, strategic dialogue and negotiations, intellectual property rights , the Office of the Technical Secretariat for Anti-dumping, the Technical Office of Communications located in the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Office of the Consultative Commission located in the Sultanate of Oman. The delegates of the missions of the GCC to the European Union and the United Nations form part of the administrative personnel of the Secretariat.