THE GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL-GCC
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 Gulf Cooperation Council 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 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 homogenous values and characteristics.
Therefore, while, on one hand, the GCC is a continuation, evolution and institutionalization 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 fulfillment of the aspirations of its citizens towards some sort of Arab regional unity.
The GCC Charter states that the basic objectives are to effect coordination, integration and inter-connection between the Member States in all fields, strengthening ties among their peoples, formulating similar regulations in various fields such as economy, finance, trade, customs, tourism, legislation, administration, as well as fostering scientific and technical progress in industry, mining, agriculture, water and animal resources, establishing scientific research centers, setting up joint ventures and encouraging cooperation of the private sector.
The structure of the GCC consists of the Supreme Council, the Ministerial Council and the Secretariat General:
The Supreme Council (the highest authority of the GCC) comprises the Heads of State of the six member countries. The Supreme Council meets once a year in ordinary session. Emergency sessions can be convened at any time by the heads of any two Member States. The chairmanship of the Supreme Council is held by each Member State in turn. Resolutions are carried by majority vote. The Supreme Council is responsible for determining the overall policy of the GCC and for ratifying recommendations presented to it by the Ministerial Council or the Secretariat General.
The Ministerial Council comprises the Foreign Ministers of the six member countries. The Ministerial Council meets once every three months in ordinary session. Emergency sessions can be convened at any time by the Foreign Ministers of any two Member States. The Ministerial Council draws up policies and makes recommendations on means of developing cooperation and coordination amongst Member States in the economic, social and cultural spheres.
The Secretariat General prepares reports, studies, accounts and budgets for the GCC. It drafts rules and regulations and is charged with the responsibility of assisting Member States in the implementation of decisions taken by the Supreme and Ministerial Councils. The Secretary General is appointed for a three-year period (renewable) by the Supreme Council on the recommendation of the Ministerial Council.
The Secretariat is based in the city of Riyadh. The GCC headquarters are located in the Diplomatic Quarter, where a substantial complex, financed by a gift from King Fahd, has been built to meet the Secretariat’s present and future needs.
The constitution of the GCC precisely reflected King Fahd’s own view of the importance of seeking ways to make the unity of Arab States a reality. The constitution required the organization to provide “the means for realizing coordination, integration and cooperation” in economic, social and cultural affairs. Specifically, the GCC aimed:
- to achieve coordination, integration and close ties leading to unity between the Member States;
- to deepen the ties, relations and all aspects of cooperation between the peoples of the region;
- to adopt similar systems and laws in: economics and financial affairs; commercial, customs and transportation affairs; education and cultural affairs; social and health affairs; communication, informational, political, legislative and administrative affairs;
- to encourage progress in the sciences and technologies involved in industry, mining, agriculture, water and animal resources, and to establish scientific research centers and to undertake joint projects.
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