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 The Closing Statement of the Twenty Third Session

Unofficial translation of
 The Closing Statement of
 the Twenty Third Session of the GCC Supreme Council
 The State of Qatar - Doha
 17–18 Shawwal 1423 AH / 22 December 2002 AD

 In response to the gracious invitation by His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar, the Supreme Council convened its 23rd session in Doha, the State Qatar on Saturday and Sunday from 17th to 18th Shawwal 1423 AH corresponding to 21st to 22nd December 2002 AD under the Chairmanship of His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar, and was attended by their Majesties and Highnesses:


 His Highness Sheikh Maktoom bin Rashed Al - Maktoom
 Vice President and Prime Minister of the State of United
 Arab Emirates, Ruler of Dubai

 His Highness Sheikh Muhammad bin Mubarak Al - Khalifa
 Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister
 of the Kingdom of Bahrain

 His Royal Highness Prince Saud Al - Faisal
 Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

 His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Saeed
 Sultan of Oman

 His Excellency Sheikh Sabah Al - Ahmad Al – Jaber Al -Sabah
 The First Deputy Prime Minister and the
 Foreign Minister of the State of Kuwait

 His Excellency Abdul Rahman Al-Attiyah, the Secretary General of the Gulf Co-operation Council, also participated in the meeting.

 The Supreme Council reviewed the achievements made in the course of joint action in all the fields since its last session was convened. The Council also made a comprehensive evaluation of the developments taking place at all levels - regional, Arab and International.

 As part of its keen desire to bolster and push forward the blessed march towards joint co-operation, the Supreme Council examined the reports and recommendations submitted by the Ministerial Council about the implementation mechanisms for the contents of the vision document presented by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz, the First Deputy Prime Minister and the Head of the National Guard in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, during the Fourth Consultative Meeting of the GCC leaders held with the aim of propelling the joint action to broader and surer horizons. Appropriate decisions were made in this regard.

 In the field of economic affairs, the Supreme Council discussed the process of joint economic cooperation and perused the reports and recommendations submitted to it by the Ministerial Council, the appropriate Ministerial Committees and the Secretariat - General.

 The Supreme Council welcomed the call by his Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar and Chairman of the current session of the Council to broaden the avenues of joint co-operation between the GCC states and to optimize the performance of its institutions through constructive dialogue within the GCC, in a way that realizes the hopes and aspirations of the people, and that is to promote cooperation to the level of integration, especially in the vital areas that have a direct bearing on the interests of the citizens and their livelihoods, thus fostering a feeling among citizens that the Council has indeed become a daily and indispensable reality.

 To enhance cooperation in the field of economy, the Supreme Council endorsed the establishment of the Customs Union among the GCC States with effect from the 1st of January 2003 AD. It approved the measures agreed upon by the Financial and Economic Cooperation Committee, which has been entrusted with the task of supervising and implementing the Customs Union and with addressing the difficulties and obstacles that might arise from the implementation of the Customs Union, thereby ensuring the achievement of the desired goals, in particular, the facilitation of the flow of movement of goods between the GCC states; increasing the volume of inter-trade; and removal of customs and non - customs barriers that limit trading amongst them. The Council also decided to broaden the list of goods exempted from customs tariff for the GCC States so as to make it consistent and easy to implement by the beginning of the launch of the Customs Union.

 The Supreme Council gave directives to meet the prerequisites of the Common Gulf Market as soon as possible, not exceeding the year 2007AD. It underlined the principle of implementing complete equality between the GCC citizens to practice all economic activities, within a fixed time frame. The Supreme Council authorized the Financial and Economic Committee to review the list of professions that can be practiced only by the citizens of the Member States and to cancel whatever is left in that list.

 The Supreme Council reviewed the report of the Secretariat- General about the follow up of the time - bound implementation of the Monetary Union. It expressed its satisfaction with the practical steps taken by the Member States to approve the American dollar as the common anchor for the currencies of the GCC states in the current phase and pegging the rate of exchange of their currencies with it.

 With the objective of arriving at a homogenous petroleum policy, and taking common stands on developments in energy - related matters, the Supreme Council approved the document, which contains the petroleum strategy for the GCC states. It also ratified the Regional Emergency Plan for Petroleum Products of the Member States. The plan aims at devising the mechanisms for collective action among Member States and describes the ideal way to handle emergency situations that might face any of the Member States as a result of deficiency in or complete termination of local supplies of petroleum products.

 The Supreme Council examined the proposal submitted by the State of Qatar on setting up pipelines to export petroleum from the GCC States to the Sultanate of Oman into the Arab sea.

 While asserting the importance of this proposal, the Council decided to assign the Petroleum Cooperation Committee to conduct a study on the economic feasibility of this vital project and to submit the results and recommendations to the Supreme Council in its next session.

 In the field of Water Co-operation, the Council directed the Secretary General to choose an international agency with expertise in this field to conduct a study on the economic feasibility of the water grid project between the Member States, and to point out the sources of water in the GCC as well as the ideal technologies for desalination of salty water in a manner that it does not negatively impact the sea environment in the regional waters belonging to Member States.

 In order to ensure the activation of the joint action, the Council directed the appropriate Ministerial Committees to adopt principles and policies that guarantee its success and completion within a specific time frame. These principles and policies include increasing the participation of the private sector and various sections of society in accomplishing integration between the GCC states, and activating the role media in raising consciousness about the benefits of joint Gulf action and its requirements.

 The Council examined the latest developments pertaining to the economic relations of the GCC states with other countries and international economic blocs, including the ongoing negotiations between the GCC States and the European Union (EU) aimed at reaching an agreement on free trade between the two sides.

 In the field of humanitarian and environmental affairs, the Supreme Council examined the efforts made with regard to the Common Plan for the Development of Public Education Curricula, which has been approved earlier in its 20th session. The Council gave directives to accelerate the execution of the programs of the plan and to enrich it with various projects and programs that would ensure the achievement of its goals.

 The Council valued the important views highlighted by his Highness the Emir of the State of Qatar and the Chairman of the current session, which were expressed in his opening speech for the Conference, in particular those views in which his Highness emphasized the role of education in accomplishing the development goals, and those on the importance of building the personality of the Gulf individual so as to enable him/her to contribute in the development of his/her society; and the need to raise the standard of educational institutions and to give these institutions greater independence so as to enable them to unleash their creative energies. His Highness pointed out the need for educational systems to implement modern curricula, and to adopt global standards in evaluating the output of education while, at the same time preserving the Arab and Islamic identity and holding fast to the values of justice, tolerance and co-operation. It was decided to entrust the Secretariat - General with the task of implementing these directives.

 In the field of environment, the Supreme Council examined the efforts made to construct facilities to receive wastes discharged from ships and the balance water. The Council stressed the importance of expediting the construction of those facilities as a pre-requisite for joining the International Marbol Agreement.

 With regard to the Republic of Yemen’s accession to some specialized organizations in the GCC, the Supreme Council examined the steps taken to implement the resolutions made during its 22nd session about strengthening the fraternal co-operation and coordination within the framework of collective action of the GCC as well as the relations with the Republic of Yemen.

 In the field of legal affairs, the Supreme Council approved the Muscat document on the Uniform Real Estate Regulation (the law) for GCC, regarding it as a reference model law for a period of four years with the objective of unifying and harmonizing the real estate laws of the GCC states.

 In the field of military co-operation, the Supreme Council examined the progress made in military cooperation and coordination in various spheres. The Council expressed its satisfaction with the steps taken and studies conducted, in particular, those related to the conclusion of organizational and the procedural measures for the Common Defense Agreement.

 In this connection, the Supreme Council examined the outcome of the 21st meeting of the Defense Ministers and the first meeting of the Common Defense Council in which the byelaws for the Common Defense Council and internal procedures of the Council were adopted and the remaining recommendations related to regulating its procedures verified.

 In the field of security co-operation, the Supreme Council studied the progress made in security co-operation and coordination in light of the decisions made in this regard and expressed its satisfaction with the achievements made.

 In connection with prevention of terrorism, the Supreme Council asserted yet again, its condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and features, irrespective of its source or justification and place of its occurrence, lauding, at the same time, the constant and clear stand taken by the GCC states in drawing a line between terrorism and the right of the people to legitimate struggle and to resist against occupation. The Council stressed its keenness in strengthening and reinforcing the international efforts to fight the phenomenon of terrorism and to prevent it from occurring and to address the causes and motives behind terrorism within the international legal framework approved by the United Nations.

 With regard to the working of the Consultative Commission, the Supreme Council approved the views of the Commission pertaining to interaction with international economic and regional blocs and decided to refer them to the appropriate Ministerial Committees in order that they may lay down mechanisms for implementation of those views.

 Also, the Council decided to assign the Consultative Commission with the study of the following two topics in its next session: a comprehensive assessment of demographic issues and correction of the defect in population structure in order to attain demographic and social consistency; and another assessment on the economic social and familial role of women.

 Based on the proposal presented by the Sultanate of Oman, the Supreme Council approved that Commission should have a permanent headquarter in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman. The Council also agreed to form a committee to prepare a report on the progress of its work.

 The Supreme Council welcomed the agreement on diplomatic and consular co-operation reached between the State of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates signed in the State of Qatar on 25th Rabi Al Awwal 1423 AH corresponding to 3rd June 2002 AD. Similarly, the Council also welcomed the agreement to form the Common Higher Council for cooperation as well as the consular and diplomatic co-operation agreement between the two states, both of which were signed in the State of Kuwait on 7th Rabi Al Thani 1423 AH corresponding to 18th June 2002 AD.

 Again, the Supreme Council welcomed the conclusion of diplomatic and consular co-operation agreements between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in Riyadh on 26th Zil Hijja 1422AH corresponding to 10th March 2002 AD and also the consular and diplomatic agreement signed with the United Arab Emirates in Manama on 7th Rabi Al Thani 1423 AH corresponding to 17th June 2002 AD. The Council also welcomed the signing of the executive memorandum for agreement on diplomatic and consular agreement between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the State of Kuwait in Manama on 23rd Sha’aban 1423 AH corresponding to 29th October 2002 AD.

 The Supreme Council welcomed these agreements and expressed its approval as these agreements represent important and blessed steps towards strengthening the joint action among the GCC states, and conform to the higher goals of the Council.

 In connection with political issues, the Supreme Council discussed the developments taking place in relation to the standoff between the State of Kuwait and Iraq and the latest developments in the course of Iraq’s implementation of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

 Keenly desirous of creating appropriate conditions to prevent any further suffering of the people of Iraq and to firmly establish security, peace and stability in the Gulf region and the world, the Supreme Council renewed its commitment to the resolutions of the Arab summit regarding Iraq in Beirut. In this context, the Council welcomed the unconditional acceptance by Iraq of UN Security Council resolution no. 1441, which provides for the return of international inspectors to Iraq for resumption of their work related to the elimination of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. The Council urged Iraq to co-operate positively with the international weapons inspectors. It also urged the weapons inspectors to recognize the great responsibility on their shoulders and to observe neutrality and professional objectivity in discharge of their duty.

 The Supreme Council reaffirmed its unwavering position on the need to respect Iraq’s independence and integrity of its territory and the need to refrain from interfering in its internal affairs.

 The Supreme Council called upon the international community to enhance their efforts and do all they can to assist both Iraq and the international inspectors in ending the mission as early as possible thereby ensuring the lifting of sanctions from Iraq and ending the hardship of the Iraqi people and helping Iraq’s return to the fold of the international community.

 The Supreme Council reviewed with grave concern the message of the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, which was delivered on the 7th of December 2002 AD. The message contained false claims and slander against the State of Kuwait and its leadership, Government and people, constituting a violation of International and Arab resolutions concerning the need for Iraq to respect the security, independence and sovereignty of the State of Kuwait within its internationally recognized borders. The message incited the Kuwaiti people against their leadership and Government and supported the terrorist activities that took place in Kuwait, acts which were condemned by the whole world. The message confirms Iraq’s reneging on its commitment to the UN security Council, GCC and Arab resolutions aimed at eliminating terrorism, cutting off support to terrorism and incitement to perform terrorist acts. The message also contained threat to the State of Kuwait and the GCC states and amounts to interference in their internal affairs.

 While strongly disapproving and condemning such fabricated lies and slanders which threaten the security and stability of the region, the Supreme Council called upon the Iraqi government to fully comply with all international and Arab resolutions, particularly those related to the release of prisoners and detainees of the State of Kuwait and other countries. The Council also stressed upon the need to return all Kuwaiti assets specially those related to the national archives, official documents and registers. The Supreme Council demands from the Iraqi Government to refrain from such activities, which create tension and cause instability in the region and increase the suffering of the brotherly people of Iraq.

 The Supreme Council discussed the issue of the Iranian occupation of the three islands: the Greater and the Lesser Tunbs and Abu Musa belonging to the State of the United Arab Emirates. In this regard, the Council recalls and reaffirms its previous resolutions in this connection.

 Having reviewed the contacts and exchange of important visits between the State of the United Arab Emirates and the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Council expressed its hope that these contacts and visits would culminate in to positive and tangible steps, contribute towards strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries, promote cooperation between GCC States and the Islamic Republic of Iran and consolidate security and stability in the region.

 The Supreme Council reiterated its unwavering stand supporting the right of the State of the United Arab Emirates to its sovereignty over the three islands and over regional waters, the air space, the continental shelf and the economic zone belonging to the three islands, as these islands are an integral part of the State of the United Arab Emirates.

 After a thorough assessment, the Supreme Council reassigned the Ministerial Council with the task of continuing to consider all peaceful means that would lead to the restoration of the right of the State of the United Arab Emirates over its three islands.

 The Council reviewed with deep concern, the developments taking place in the in the Middle East Peace Process and the dangerous deterioration of situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, which is due to continued aggression of the Israeli occupying forces against the Palestinian people and their leadership, constituting a dangerous escalation of situations in the region and exposing the international security and peace to danger.

 While condemning these savage acts, the Council stresses upon the need to end the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian and Arab territories occupied by Israel in 1967, and to assist the Palestinian people in exercising their right to determine their own destiny and to establish their independent Palestinian State on their national soil with Holy Jerusalem as its capital in accordance with the provisions of the Arab peace initiative, which is the only way to realize comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Middle East and to save the region and the world from a war which might lead to dire consequences and human tragedy.

 The Supreme Council renewed its demand from the international community to exert pressure on Israel to halt these activities; and provide international protection to the Palestinians so that they could hold elections and undertake reforms required of them as a prerequisite for resumption of negotiations between the two sides.

 The Council renewed its demands from the international community to make the Middle East region, including the Gulf region free from all forms of weapons of mass destruction including nuclear weapons. It stressed upon the need Israel’s need to join the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) and to subject all its nuclear installations to international inspection system of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

 The Supreme Council affirmed its support for the measures being taken by the Interim Government in Afghanistan and its efforts to achieve security and stability in Afghanistan. The Council also expressed the support of the GCC countries for rebuilding and reconstruction Afghanistan.

 The Supreme Council expressed its immense appreciation and gratitude for the sincere and true efforts made by the Sultanate of Oman under the leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Saeed, the Sultan of Oman, during His Majesty’s Chairmanship of the 22nd session of the Supreme Council and the achievements made during the session in pushing forward the blessed process of joint action of the GCC towards broader horizons, and towards progress and prosperity for the people of the region.

 The Supreme Council appreciated the positive role being played by the State of Qatar under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Emir of Qatar and Chairman of the 9th Islamic Summit, which was held to help the cause of Islamic nation and to enhance joint Islamic action at this critical stage in which, the world is passing through rapid international changes.

 The Supreme Council also expressed its immense appreciation and gratitude to His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar, his Government and generous people for the hospitality and the sincere feelings of fraternity with which, the leaders of the Council were received. The leaders of the GCC states lauded the kind care and attention that was given by Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Chairman of the current session of the Supreme Council, to this meeting. The Council also lauded the wisdom with which his Highness managed the meeting and which had the greatest effect on reaching important decisions and resolutions. The GCC leaders expressed their confidence that the State of Qatar under the leadership of His Highness, will make valuable contributions to the blessed process of co-operation, thus promoting it to newer horizons in tandem with the requirements of the current circumstances, thereby realizing the hopes and aspirations of the people of the GCC in the present circumstances during his Highness’s Chairmanship of this session.

 The Supreme Council looks forward to meeting in its 24th session, God willing, in the State of Kuwait in December 2003 AD in response to the gracious invitation made by His Highness Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, Emir of the State of Kuwait.

 Issued in Doha
 18 Shawwal 1423 AH
 22 December 2002 AD

 The Doha Declaration On The Launch of
 the Customs Union for the Cooperation Council of the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC)
 (Issued at the 23rd Session of the Supreme Council)
 21st December 2002

 Based on the goals and objectives set forth in the founding charter of the Co-operation Council of the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) and those in the Economic Co-operation Agreement (ECA); and with a view to reinforcing the efforts made and measures taken to advance the cause of joint action in the field of economy; and in consideration of the Supreme Council’s keen desire to strengthen the bonds of co-operation among the member states, so that integration is achieved in all fields among them; and with a view to realizing the hopes and aspirations of the GCC citizens; the Supreme Council declares the launch of the Customs Union among GCC States with effect from the first day of January 2003.

 With the launch of the Union, the GCC States have become a single custom zone. The Customs Union nullifies the existing customs “taxes”, trade bylaws and regulatory procedures among individual member states, replacing them with unified customs byelaws and customs tariff to the tune of 5% on the goods from outside of the GCC.

 The Customs Union has been established on the principle of a single entry point where all customs procedures including the collection of unified customs tariffs will be completed.

 The Customs Union of the GCC shall be executed in accordance with Unified Customs (laws) and bylaws that will regulate all customs procedures in all GCC States. Similar laws and bylaws will be enacted in all fields related to the Customs Union.

 Similarly, goods produced in any one of the member states shall be treated at par with the national product and shall not be subjected to any customs procedures during the course of its movement from one member state to another.

 The launch of the Customs Union shall bring great benefits and profits for the GCC citizens by increasing the choices available to them, improving the quality of goods, lowering the prices due to increase in the market size and the reduction of the production cost. The launch of the Customs Union will increase the volume of inter-trade for the member states and remove the difficulties and restrictions faced by the movement of commodities.

 The establishment of the Customs Union will help in deriving benefit from the economies of scale, increased competition and high efficiency of production. The Union will also result in optimum utilization of available resources and in widening the scope of mutual investment. The Customs Union will bolster the bargaining position of the Member States and help them in securing better terms and conditions with other countries and economic blocs.

 With this great achievement the GCC states will have secured an active and influential position amongst the trading blocs, God willing.

 Issued at Doha on Sunday
 18th Shawwal 1423 AH
 21st December 2002 AD.