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|Type||Treaty establishing the bodies and functions of the Commonwealth of Independent States and defining its membership|
|Signed||22 January 1993|
|Effective||22 January 1994|
|Signatories|| Boris Yeltsin|
|Languages||the official languages of the signatory states of the Commonwealth|
The Charter of the Commonwealth of Independent States, also known as the Statutes of the Commonwealth of Independent States, (CIS Charter; Russian: Устав Содружества Независимых Государств, Ustav Sodruzhestva Nezavisimyh Gosudarstv, Устав СНГ) is an international treaty agreement between the states forming the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
The Charter was signed on January 22nd, 1993 in Minsk by some of the heads of state of the then Commonwealth of Independent States and was subsequently deposited to the United Nations. It defines the objectives, the bodies and functions of the Commonwealth of Independent States, as well as the criteria regarding its membership. Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan signed and ratified the treaty, while Azerbaijan acceded to it later. Georgia also acceded to the treaty in 1993, with the accession taking effect in 1994, but withdrew from it in 2008, with the decision taking legal effect in 2009. Ukraine and Turkmenistan did not sign or accede to the treaty, although considered part of the Commonwealth of Independent States at the time the treaty was signed.
CIS membership issues arising from the Charter treaty
This agreement has recently gained importance due to the fact that it defines which countries are considered as members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). In particular, according to its article 7, only countries that have ratified this treaty are considered as members of the CIS. The same article defines as "founding states of the CIS", the countries that had ratified the Treaty for the Establishment of the CIS and its related protocol. This created legal uncertainty, as Ukraine and Turkmenistan had ratified the Treaty for the Establishment of the CIS and its related protocol, and therefore are considered as "founding states of the CIS", but never ratified the CIS Charter, and therefore could not be considered as members of the CIS, at least after the Charter came into effect. Nevertheless, both Ukraine and Turkmenistan kept participating in the CIS, without being member states of it, with Turkmenistan becoming an associate member of CIS in August 2005, following the procedure defined in article 8 of the Charter. On the contrary, Ukraine stopped participating in the CIS altogether in 2018, creating, however, uncertainty regarding the procedure that had to be followed in order to cease being a part of the CIS.
Currently, Ukraine is not a member of the CIS, according the Charter treaty and has stopped participating in it. Nevertheless, it will forever be a "founding state of the CIS", unless the Charter treaty is amended or annulled. Additionally, according to Treaty for the Establishment of the CIS and its related protocol, as well as the other Alma-Ata declarations of 1991, Ukraine forms part of the CIS. Therefore, while Ukraine has effectively quit even its unofficial participation to the current form of CIS, the CIS secretariat has noted that it has not received formal notice from Ukraine of its withdrawal from the CIS, and therefore the CIS secretariat (as well as the Russian envoy to CIS) consider that Ukraine is still a state that that has not quit the CIS and may participate in it. To this end, the CIS secretariat stated that they will keep inviting Ukraine to participate, even though Ukraine is not a member and has officially and formally decided to stop participating.
Furthermore, the Charter treaty is also the treaty that essentially formalised the Commonwealth of Independent States, as it signified the legal connection between the countries that signed the Alma-Ata Protocol and broadened the Commonwealth of Independent States to legally include these states. Nevertheless, at the same time, it formally defined Ukraine and Turkmenistan as not member states, as these countries never ratified this treaty. However, these countries were treated by the member states of the CIS as equals in the context of the CIS for at more than a decade, being invited to participate, leading to the connotation of the informal term state-participants for them. It is worth noting that neither Ukraine nor Turkmenistan ever applied the Charter treaty even provisionally, while being allowed to participate in the CIS after 1993. Additionally, they were also allowed to take part in the bodies of the CIS, such as its Interparliamentary Assembly.
Finally, Georgia withdrew from the CIS Charter and all other CIS-related treaties, such as the Treaty for the Establishment of the CIS and its related protocol, in 18 August 2008. This decision took effect according to the Charter on 18 August 2009.
- "Charter" (PDF). treaties.un.org. 1993.
- "President: We will carefully review all the international treaties concluded in the framework of the CIS, and we will withdraw from those in which we find even the slightest mismatch with national interests — Official website of the President of Ukraine".
- "Ukraine Announces Plans To Quit CIS, Terminate Parts Of Russia Friendship Treaty". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty.
- "Ukraine did not officially inform on its withdrawal from CIS, - CIS Executive Committee". 2018-06-01. Retrieved 2018-04-23.
- "Ukraine's withdrawal from CIS to not bring it closer to EU, - Russia". 2018-05-22. Retrieved 2018-07-21.
- "CIS to continue sending meeting invitations to Ukraine". 2018-05-23. Retrieved 2018-07-21.