551 Agreement Establishing the South Pacific Commission
CANBERRA, 6 February 1947
The Governments of Australia, the French Republic, the Kingdom of
the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom of Great Britain
and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America,
(hereinafter referred to as 'the participating Governments'),
Desiring to encourage and strengthen international co-operation in
promoting the economic and social welfare and advancement of the
peoples of the non-self-governing territories in the South Pacific
region administered by them,
Have, through their duly authorised representatives met together
in Canberra, made an Agreement in the following terms:-
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE COMMISSION
1. There is hereby established the South Pacific Commission
(hereinafter referred to as 'the Commission').
2. The territorial scope of the Commission shall comprise all
those non-self-governing territories in the Pacific Ocean which
are administered by the participating Governments and which lie
wholly or in part south of the Equator and east from and including
Netherlands New Guinea.
3. The territorial scope of the Commission may be altered by
agreement of all the participating Governments.
COMPOSITION OF THE COMMISSION
4. The Commission shall consist of not more than twelve
Commissioners. Each participating Government may appoint two
Commissioners and shall designate one of them as its senior
5. Each participating Government may appoint such alternates and
advisers to its Commissioners as it considers desirable.
POWERS AND FUNCTIONS
6. The Commission shall be a consultative and advisory body to the
participating Governments in matters affecting the economic and
social development of the non-self-governing territories within
the scope of the Commission and the welfare and advancement of
their peoples. To this end, the Commission shall have the
following powers and functions:-
(a) To study, formulate and recommend measures for the development
of, and where necessary the co-ordination of services affecting,
the economic and social rights and welfare of the inhabitants of
the territories within the scope of the Commission, particularly
in respect of agriculture (including animal husbandry),
communications, transport, fisheries, forestry, industry, labour,
marketing, production, trade and finance, public works, education,
health, housing and social welfare;
(b) to provide for and facilitate research in technical,
scientific, economic and social fields in the territories within
the scope of the Commission and to ensure the maximum co-operation
and co-ordination of the activities of research bodies;
(c) to make recommendations for the co-ordination of local
projects in any of the fields mentioned in the previous sub-
paragraphs which have regional significance and for the provision
of technological assistance from a wider field not otherwise
available to a territorial administration;
(d) to provide technical assistance, advice and information
(including statistical and other material) for the participating
(e) to promote co-operation with non-participating Governments and
with non-governmental organisations of a public or quasi-public
character having common interests in the area, in matters within
the competence of the Commission;
(f) to address inquiries to the participating Governments on
matters within its competence;
(g) to make recommendations with regard to the establishment and
activities of auxiliary and subsidiary bodies.
7. The Commission may discharge such other functions as may be
agreed upon by
the participating Governments.
8. The Commission may make such administrative arrangements as may
be necessary for the exercise of its powers and the discharge of
9. With a view to facilitating the inauguration of the work of the
Commission in matters immediately affecting the economic and
social welfare of the local inhabitants of the territories within
the scope of the Commission, the Commission shall give early
consideration to the projects set forth in the resolution
(appended to this Agreement) relating to important immediate
projects adopted by the South Seas Conference at Canberra,
Australia, on February 6, 1947.
10. The participating Governments undertake to secure such
legislative and administrative provision as may be required to
ensure that the Commission will be recognised in their territories
as possessing such legal capacity and as being entitled to such
privileges and immunities (including the inviolability of its
premises and archives) as are necessary for the independent
exercise of its powers and discharge of its functions.
PROCEDURE OF THE COMMISSION
11. Irrespective of the place of meeting, each senior Commissioner
shall preside over sessions of the Commission in rotation,
according to the English alphabetical order of the participating
12. The Commission may meet at such times and in such places as it
may determine. It shall hold two regular sessions in each year,
and such further sessions as it may decide.
13. At a meeting of the Commission two-thirds of all the senior
Commissioners shall constitute a quorum.
14. The decisions of the Commission shall be taken in accordance
with the following rules:-
(a) Senior Commissioners only shall be entitled to vote;
(b) procedural matters shall be decided by a majority of the
senior Commissioners present and voting;
(c) decisions on budgetary or financial matters which may involve
a financial contribution by the participating Governments (other
than a decision to adopt the annual administrative budget of the
Commission), shall require the concurring votes of all the senior
(d) decisions on all other matters (including a decision to adopt
the annual administrative budget of the Commission) shall require
the concurring votes of two-thirds of all the senior
15. In the absence of a senior Commissioner, his functions shall
be discharged for all purposes of this Article by the other
Commissioner appointed by his Government or, in the absence of
both, by an alternate designated by his Government or the senior
16. The Commission may appoint Committees and, subject to the
provisions of this Agreement, may promulgate rules of procedure
and other regulations governing the operations of the Commission,
of its auxiliary and subsidiary bodies and such Committees as it
shall establish, and of the Secretariat and generally for the
purpose of carrying into effect the terms of this Agreement.
17. The official languages of the Commission and its auxiliary and
subsidiary bodies shall include English and French.
18. The Commission shall make to each of the participating
Governments, and publish, an annual report on its activities,
including those of its auxiliary and subsidiary bodies.
19. In view of the special importance of research for the carrying
out of the purposes of the Commission, there shall be established
a Research Council which shall serve as a standing advisory body
auxiliary to the Commission.
COMPOSITION OF THE RESEARCH COUNCIL
20. Members of the Research Council shall be appointed by the
Commission on such terms and conditions as the Commission may
21. (a) The Commission shall appoint, as members of the Research
Council, such persons distinguished in the fields of research
within the competence of the Commission as it considers necessary
for the discharge of the Council's functions;
(b) Among the members of the Council so appointed there shall be a
small number of persons highly qualified in the several fields of
health, economic development and social development who shall
devote their full time to the work of the Research Council.
22. The Research Council shall elect a Chairman from its members.
23. The Commission shall appoint a full-time official who shall
direct research and be charged with the general responsibility for
supervising the execution of the programme of the Research
Council. He shall be, ex officio, a member and the Deputy Chairman
of the Council and, subject to the directions of the Commission,
shall be responsible for arranging and facilitating co-operative
research, for arranging and carrying out research projects of a
special nature, for collecting and disseminating information
concerning research and for facilitating the exchange of
experience among research workers of the area. He shall be
responsible to the Secretary-General for all administrative
matters connected with the work of the Research Council and of its
24. In all technical matters full-time members shall be under the
direction of the Deputy Chairman of the Research Council. In all
administrative matters they shall be responsible to the Secretary-
25. Recommendations of the Research Council in connection with
research projects to be undertaken shall be first submitted to the
Commission for approval.
FUNCTIONS OF THE RESEARCH COUNCIL
26. The functions of the Research Council shall be:-
(a) To maintain a continuous survey of research needs in the
territories within the scope of the Commission and to make
recommendations to the Commission on research to be undertaken;
(b) to arrange, with the assistance of the Secretary-General, for
the carrying out of the research studies approved by the
Commission, using existing institutions where appropriate and
(c) to co-ordinate the research activities of other bodies working
within the field of the Commission's activities and, where
possible, to avail itself of the assistance of such bodies;
(d) to appoint technical standing research committees to consider
problems in particular fields of research;
(e) to appoint, with the approval of the Commission, ad hoc
research committees to deal with special problems;
(f) to make to each session of the Commission a report of its
THE SOUTH PACIFIC CONFERENCE
27. In order to associate with the work of the Commission
representatives of the local inhabitants of, and of official and
non-official institutions directly concerned with, the territories
within the scope of the Commission, there shall be established a
South Pacific Conference with advisory powers as a body auxiliary
to the Commission.
SESSIONS OF THE CONFERENCE
28. A session of the South Pacific Conference shall be convoked
within two years after this Agreement comes into force, and
thereafter at intervals not exceeding three years.
29. Each session of the Conference shall be held in one of the
territories within the scope of the Commission at a place
designated by the Commission with due regard to the principle of
30. The Chairman of each session of the Conference shall be one of
the Commissioners of the Government in whose territory the session
31. The Secretary-General shall be responsible for the
administrative arrangements of the Conference.
32. The Commission shall adopt rules of procedure for the
Conferences and approve the agenda for each session of the
Conference. The Secretary-General shall prepare the necessary
documents for consideration by the Commission.
33. The Conference may make recommendations to the Commission on
procedural questions affecting its sessions. It may also recommend
to the Commission the inclusion of specific items on the agenda
for the Conference.
COMPOSITION OF THE CONFERENCE
34. Delegates to the Conference shall be appointed for each
territory which is within the scope of the Commission and which is
designated for this purpose by the Commission. The maximum number
of delegates for each territory shall be determined by the
Commission. In general, the representation shall be at least two
delegates for each designated territory.
35. Delegates shall be selected in such a manner as to ensure the
greatest possible measure of representation of the local
inhabitants of the territory.
36. Delegates shall be appointed for each designated territory in
accordance with its constitutional procedure.
37. The delegations for each designated territory may include
alternate delegates and as many advisers as the appointing
authority considers necessary.
FUNCTIONS OF THE CONFERENCE
38. The Conference may discuss such matters of common interest as
fall within the competence of the Commission, and may make
recommendations to the Commission on any such matters.
39. The Commission shall establish a Secretariat to serve the
Commission and its auxiliary and subsidiary bodies.
40. The Commission shall, subject to such terms and conditions as
it may prescribe, appoint a Secretary-General and a Deputy
Secretary-General. They shall hold office for five years unless
their appointments are earlier terminated by the Commission. They
shall be eligible for re-appointment.
41. The Secretary-General shall be the chief administrative
officer of the Commission and shall carry out all directions of
the Commission. He shall be responsible for the functioning of the
Secretariat, and shall be empowered, subject to such directions as
he may receive from the Commission, to appoint and dismiss, as
necessary, members of the staff of the Secretariat.
42. In the appointment of the Secretary-General, the Deputy
Secretary-General and the staff of the Secretariat, primary
consideration shall be given to the technical qualifications and
personal integrity of candidates. To the fullest extent consistent
with this consideration, the staff of the Secretariat shall be
appointed from the local inhabitants of the territories within the
scope of the Commission and with a view to obtaining equitable
national and local representation.
43. Each participating Government undertakes so far as possible
under its constitutional procedure to accord to the Secretary-
General, to the Deputy Secretary-General, to the full-time members
of the Research Council and to appropriate members of the staff of
the Secretariat such privileges and immunities as may be required
for the independent discharge of their functions. The Commission
may make recommendations with a view to determining the details of
the application of this paragraph or may propose conventions to
the participating Governments for this purpose.
44. In the performance of their duties, the Secretary-General, the
Deputy Secretary-General, the full-time members of the Research
Council and the staff of the Secretariat shall not seek or receive
instructions from any Government or from any other authority
external to the Commission. They shall refrain from any action
which might reflect on their position as international officials
responsible only to the Commission.
45. Each participating Government undertakes to respect the
exclusively international character of the responsibilities of the
Secretary-General, the Deputy Secretary-General, the full-time
members of the Research Council, and the staff of the Secretariat,
and not to seek to influence them in the discharge of their
46. The Commission shall adopt an annual budget for the
administrative expenses of the Commission and its auxiliary and
subsidiary bodies, and such supplementary budgets as it may
determine. The Secretary-General shall be responsible for
preparing and submitting to the Commission for its consideration
the annual administrative budget and such supplementary budgets as
the Commission may require.
47. Except for the salaries, allowances and miscellaneous
expenditures of the Commissioners and their immediate staffs,
which shall be determined and paid by the respective Governments
appointing them, the expenses of the Commission and its auxiliary
and subsidiary bodies (including the expenses of delegates to the
South Pacific Conference on a scale approved by the Commission)
shall be a charge on the funds of the Commission.
48. There shall be established, to meet the expenses of the
Commission, a fund to which each participating Government
undertakes, subject to the requirements of its constitutional
procedure, to contribute promptly its proportion of the estimated
expenditure of the Commission, as determined in the annual
administrative budget and in any supplementary budgets adopted by
49. The expenses of the Commission and its auxiliary and
subsidiary bodies shall be apportioned among the participating
Governments in the following proportions:-
Australia 30 per cent.
France 12 1/2 per cent.
The Netherlands 15 per cent.
New Zealand 15 per cent.
United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Northern Ireland 15 per cent.
United States of America 12 1/2 per cent.
Before the close of its second fiscal year, the Commission shall
review the apportionment of expenses and recommend to the
participating Governments such adjustments as it considers
desirable. Adjustments may at any time be made by agreement of all
the participating Governments.
50. The fiscal year of the Commission shall be the calendar year.
51. Subject to the directions of the Commission, the Secretary-
General shall be responsible for the control of the funds of the
Commission and of its auxiliary and subsidiary bodies and for all
accounting and expenditure. Audited statements of accounts for
each fiscal year shall be forwarded to each participating
Government as soon as possible after the close of the fiscal year.
52. The Secretary-General, or an officer authorised by the
Commission to act as Secretary-General pending the appointment of
the Secretary-General, shall at the earliest practical le date
after the coming into force of this Agreement submit to the
Commission an administrative budget for the current fiscal year
and any supplementary budgets which the Commission may require.
The Commission shall thereupon adopt for the current fiscal year
an administrative budget and such supplementary budget as it may
53. Pending adoption of the first budget of the Commission, the
administrative expenses of the Commission shall be met, on terms
to be determined by the Commission, from an initial working fund
of 40,000 sterling to which the participating Governments
undertake to contribute in the proportions provided for in
paragraph 49 of this Agreement.
54. The Commission may in its discretion accept for inclusion in
its first budget any expenditure incurred by the Governments of
Australia or New Zealand for the purpose of paragraph 64 of this
Agreement. The Commission may credit any such expenditure against
the contribution of the Government concerned. The aggregate of the
amounts which may be so accepted and credited shall not exceed
RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHER INTERNATIONAL BODIES
55. The Commission and its auxiliary and subsidiary bodies, while
having no organic connection with the United Nations, shall co-
operate as fully as possible with the United Nations and with
appropriate specialised agencies on matters of mutual concern
within the competence of the Commission.
56. The participating Governments undertake to consult with the
United Nations and the appropriate specialised agencies at such
times and in such manner as may be considered desirable, with a
view to defining the relationship which may in future exist and to
ensuring effective co-operation between the Commission, including
its auxiliary and subsidiary bodies, and the appropriate organs of
the United Nations and specialised agencies dealing with economic
and social matters.
57. The Commission may make recommendations to the participating
Governments as to the manner in which effect can best be given to
the principles stated in this Article.
58. The permanent headquarters of the Commission and its auxiliary
and subsidiary bodies shall be located within the territorial
scope of the Commission at such place as the Commission may
select. The Commission may establish branch offices and, except as
otherwise provided in this Agreement, may make provision for the
carrying on of any part of its work or the work of its auxiliary
and subsidiary bodies at such place or places within or without
the territorial scope of the Commission as it considers will most
effectively achieve the objectives for which it is established.
The Commission shall select the site of the permanent headquarters
within six months after this Agreement comes into force. Pending
the establishment of its permanent headquarters, it shall have
temporary headquarters in or near Sydney, Australia.
59. Nothing in this Agreement shall be construed to conflict with
the existing or future constitutional relations between any
participating Government and its territories or in any way to
affect the constitutional authority and responsibility of the
ALTERATION OF AGREEMENT
60. The provisions of this Agreement may be amended by consent of
all the participating Governments.
61. After the expiration of five years from the coming into force
of this Agreement a participating Government may withdraw from the
Agreement on giving one year's notice to the Commission.
62. If any participating Government ceases to administer non-self-
governing territories within the scope of the Commission, that
Government shall so notify the Commission and shall be deemed to
have withdrawn from the Agreement as from the close of the then
current calendar year.
63. Notwithstanding the withdrawal of a participating Government
this Agreement shall continue in force as between the other
64. Preliminary arrangements for the establishment of the
Commission shall be undertaken jointly by the Governments of
Australia and New Zealand.
ENTRY INTO FORCE
65. The Governments of Australia, the French Republic, the Kingdom
of the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America
shall become parties to this Agreement by-
(a) signature without reservation, or
(b) signature ad referendum and subsequent acceptance.
Acceptance shall be effected by notification to the Government of
Australia. The Agreement shall enter into force when all the
abovementioned Governments have become parties to it.
66. The Government of Australia shall notify the other
abovementioned Governments of each acceptance of this Agreement,
and also of the date on which the Agreement comes into force.
67. The Government of Australia shall on behalf of all the
participating Governments register this Agreement with the
Secretariat of the United Nations in pursuance of Article 102 of
the Charter of the United Nations.
This Agreement, of which the English, French and Netherlands texts
are equally authentic, shall be deposited in the archives of the
Government of Australia. Duly certified copies thereof shall be
transmitted by the Government of Australia to the other
IN WITNESS WHEREOF the duly authorised representatives of the
respective participating Governments have signed this Agreement.
Opened in Canberra for signature on the sixth day of February, one
thousand nine hundred and forty-seven.
For the Government of Australia ad referendum
For the Government of the French Republic ad referendum
For the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands ad referendum
VAN AERSSEN BEYEREN
For the Government of New Zealand ad referendum
A. G. OSBORNE
For the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Northern Ireland ad referendum
E. J. WILLIAMS
For the Government of the United States of America ad referendum
RESOLUTION CONCERNING IMMEDIATE PROJECTS
THAT the South Seas Conference recommends that the South Pacific
Commission on its establishment should give early consideration to
the projects set forth below. The Conference does not consider
that these projects are all-inclusive but considers them to be of
great importance to the economic and social welfare of the local
inhabitants of the non-self-governing territories in the South
Pacific. The Conference also considers that these projects, which
are not stated in any order of priority, should be undertaken at
an early date.
(a) Biochemical investigations in connection with animal
(b) Systematic botanical investigations.
(c) Research into plant pests and diseases research.
(d) A biological survey.
(e) A study of the relationship between plants and their
environment including soils and climate.
(a) An economic survey to include native industries, native
fisheries, native trading systems and native co-operative
movements and organisations.
(b) A study of the mechanisation of production and of suitable
schemes for the organisation of uniform grading, packing, pooling
and marketing of primary products such as copra.
(c) The development of schemes for the introduction to and
distribution in the territories of potentially useful species,
varieties, breeds or strains of plants and animals.
(d) The taking of all possible steps, within the scope of the
functions of the Commission, to ensure adequate shipping services
within the area.
Education and Social Development
(a) A study of the most efficient methods of teaching illiterate
people to read and write in their own language.
(b) A review of the research work already carried out in the field
of social anthropology and consideration of future lines of
research which would be of value to the territories in connection
with education and social development.
(c) A study of special educational and related activities for
handicapped persons- the blind, the mentally backward, lepers and
sufferers from other diseases.
(d) Research in the most efficient methods of training local
inhabitants for health, education and technical services and a
survey of existing facilities therefor.
(e) A study of the use of visual aids in education and in other
developmental and welfare activities.
(f) A study of the education and social development of women and
girls in relation to the status of women in the respective
communities and with a view to widening the cultural life and
improving the domestic conditions of women.
Fisheries research, including surveys and the testing of methods
of catching and of processing fish and other marine products with
the special aim of improving the nutrition of the local
Forestry-Surveys of or research in:-
(a) Forest resources in regard to areas, commercial timbers and
other forest products;
(b) forest management, including utilisation of forests and forest
(c) technology of wood and other forest products;
(d) the relationship between forests and water conservation and
Health and Medicine
(a) A survey of improved methods of nutrition and an investigation
of the relationship between nutrition and dental defects.
(b) An investigation to improve methods of village hygiene,
(c) General surveys of disease and disease-carriers, with
particular research into:-
(i) the respiratory diseases (including pulmonary and surgical
(iii) malaria prevention, and the dysenteries and other bowel
(iv) yaws and its relationship to syphilis;
(vi) hookworm and other intestinal parasites;
(vii) diseases of the skin;
(d) A study of infant and maternal welfare.
(e) A study of the human body's response to changes of climate and
environment with a view to the improvement of diet and general
(f) A study of quarantine procedures, including the existing
international regulations, in order to meet the particular needs
of the territories.
(g) The collection and dissemination of epidemiological
A study of labour conditions within the territories, with a view
to improvement in accordance with the recommendations of the
International Labour Organisation wherever applicable.
The establishment of an up-to-date technical and scientific
reference library. 
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