Article VII consists of eight paragraphs. This Article provides for two methods of modifying the Treaty -- a formal amendment process, which applies to any part of the Treaty, and a "simplified" procedure for making minor changes of an administrative or technical nature, which is limited to particular Parts of the Protocol and Annexes 1 and 2 to the Protocol.
Paragraph 1 of Article VII authorizes any State Party to propose amendments to the Treaty and to propose changes, as specified in paragraph 7, i.e., if they are related to matters of an administrative or technical nature, to the Protocol or Annexes thereto. This paragraph also indicates which procedures are applicable to amendments and changes respectively.
Paragraph 2 of Article VII provides that amendments may only be considered and adopted by an Amendment Conference. Thus, regular sessions of the Conference, convened in accordance with paragraph 14 of Article II, special sessions of the Conference, convened in accordance with paragraph 15 of Article II, and Review Conferences, convened in accordance with paragraph 17 of Article II could not take up proposed amendments or changes to the Treaty.
Paragraph 3 of Article VII sets forth the procedures for convening an Amendment Conference. Specifically, this paragraph requires that the text of a proposed amendment be submitted to the Director-General of the Organization. The Director-General must then circulate the proposal to all States Parties and to the Depositary (the Secretary-General of the UN) and seek the views of the States Parties on whether an Amendment Conference should be convened to consider the proposal. If a majority of the States Parties notify the Director-General no later than 30 days after the dates of its circulation that they support further consideration of the proposal, the Director-General must convene an Amendment Conference to which all States Parties are invited.
Paragraph 4 of Article VII requires that, if an Amendment Conference is convened, it must be held immediately following a regular session of the Conference unless all States Parties that support the convening of an Amendment Conference request that it be held earlier. However, the paragraph further requires that no Amendment Conference be convened less than 60 days after the circulation of the proposed amendment. Accordingly, if a regular session of the Conference concludes before the 60-day period has expired, the convening of the Amendment Conference must be delayed. This ensures that each State Party has adequate time to review a proposed amendment and develop its position prior to the convening of the Amendment Conference.
Paragraph 5 of Article VII sets forth the procedures by which a proposed amendment may be adopted at an Amendment Conference. Specifically, paragraph 5 provides that amendments must be adopted by a positive vote of a majority of the States Parties with no State Party casting a negative vote. This means that in order for a proposed amendment to be adopted two requirements must be met. First, a majority (50% plus one) of all the States Parties to the Treaty, not just of those present and voting, must vote in favor of the amendment. Second, the amendment will only be adopted if no State Party votes against it. This is significantly different from the voting procedures for decisions of the Conference of the States Parties on matters of substance, which are set forth in paragraph 22 of Article II. Those procedures require consensus, i.e., no State Party objects to the proposal, but if consensus is not possible, after a 24-hour delay, a two-thirds majority of States Parties present and voting is required to adopt the proposal.
Paragraph 6 of Article VII indicates that once an amendment is adopted by an Amendment Conference, it must be ratified before it will enter into force. Specifically, paragraph requires that for the amendment to become effective every State Party that cast a positive vote for the proposed amendment at the Amendment Conference must deposit its instrument of ratification or acceptance of the Amendment. Once this is accomplished, the amendment enters into force for all States Parties, 30 days after the deposit of the last required instrument of ratification or acceptance.
Note that the procedures set forth in paragraphs 5 and 6 provide a State Party with two different ways to veto a proposed amendment. A State Party may prevent an amendment from entering into force either by casting a negative vote at the Amendment Conference or by casting a positive vote, but subsequently failing to ratify or accept the amendment.
The purpose of this voting mechanism is twofold. First, the procedures give both States Parties and their legislatures the opportunity to block proposed amendments while at the same time not delaying the entry into force of amendments by requiring ratification or acceptance by States Parties that did not participate or vote in the Amendment Conference. Second, the procedures avoid the creation of a "two-tiered" regime, whereby some States Parties are bound by an amendment while other States Parties are not. Pursuant to paragraphs 5 and 6, once the requisite conditions are met, the amendment enters into force for all States Parties, regardless of whether they cast a positive vote or abstained or did not attend the Amendment Conference.
Paragraph 7 of Article VII sets forth the parts of the Protocol and Annexes to the Protocol that may be changed by the "simplified" process, i.e., without formal amendment of the Treaty, and the criteria for such changes. Specifically, this paragraph provides that in order to improve the viability and effectiveness of the Treaty, Parts I and III of the Protocol (which relate to the IMS and IDC, and confidence-building measures) and Annexes 1 and 2 to the Protocol (which list the IMS stations and list the characterization parameters for IDC standard event screening) may be changed in accordance with paragraph 8, i.e., the procedures for making changes that are related only to matters of an administrative or technical nature. This means that States Parties may propose changes of an administrative or technical nature, in order to improve the viability and effectiveness of the Treaty. Paragraph 7 indicates that all other provisions of the Protocol and Annexes thereto (provisions relating to on-site inspections) may not be changed using the procedures set forth in paragraph 8, i.e., the formal amendment process must be used.
Paragraph 8 of Article VII sets forth, in seven subparagraphs, the procedures for consideration and adoption of proposed changes of a technical or administrative nature (i.e., the "simplified" process). Specifically, subparagraph 8(a) of Article VII provides that the text of the proposed changes must be transmitted together with the necessary information to the Director-General of the Organization. This subparagraph also permits any State Party and the Director-General to submit additional information for the evaluation of the proposal, and requires the Director-General to communicate promptly any such proposals and information to all States Parties, the Executive Council and the Depositary (the Secretary-General of the UN).
Subparagraph 8(b) of Article VII provides that within 60 days after the Director-General receives a proposed change, the Director-General must evaluate the proposed change to determine all its possible consequences for the provisions of the Treaty and its implementation and must communicate any such information to all States Parties and the Executive Council.
Subparagraph 8(c) of Article VII requires the Executive Council to examine the proposal in the light of all information available to it, including whether the proposal fulfils the requirements of paragraph 7, i.e., the proposed change is of a technical or administrative nature. This subparagraph further requires the Executive Council, within 90 days of its receipt of the proposal, to notify all States Parties of its recommendation, with appropriate explanations, and requires each State Party to acknowledge receipt of the recommendation within 10 days.
Subparagraph 8(d) of Article VII provides that if the Executive Council recommends to all States Parties that the proposal be adopted, it shall be considered approved if no State Party objects to it within 90 days after receipt of the recommendation. Alternatively, if the Executive Council recommends that the proposal be rejected, paragraph 8(d) provides that the proposal shall be considered rejected if no State Party objects to the rejection within 90 days after receipt of the recommendation.
Subparagraph 8(e) of Article VII indicates that if a recommendation of the Executive Council does not meet with acceptance, i.e., if a State Party objects to the Executive Council's recommendation, a decision on the proposal, including whether it is of an administrative or technical nature, must be taken as a matter of substance by the Conference at its next session.
Subparagraph 8(f) of Article VII requires the Director-General to notify all States Parties and the Depositary of any decision taken under the paragraph 8 ("simplified" process).
Subparagraph 8(g) of Article VII provides that changes approved under the simplified process will enter into force for all States Parties 180 days after the date of notification by the Director-General of their approval unless another time period is recommended by the Executive Council, or decided by the Conference.
This means that under the simplified process proposed changes are first evaluated by the Technical Secretariat, and the evaluation provided to States Parties and the Executive Council. This evaluation is limited to an analysis of the impact of the change on the Treaty and the activities of the Technical Secretariat and does not involve a formal approval or recommendation. The proposed changes are then evaluated by the Executive Council.
The Executive Council first determines whether the proposed change is of an administrative or technical nature and whether the provision is one that may be modified by the "simplified" process. If the change meets these criteria, then the Executive Council will evaluate the merits of the proposed change and make either a positive or negative recommendation concerning the proposed change to all States Parties.
If the Executive Council recommends that a change be made, it becomes binding on all States Parties unless a State Party objects within 90 days. A State Party may object on either procedural grounds (e.g. the change is not of an administrative or technical nature) or substantive grounds (e.g., the change will not improve the operation of the Treaty). If a State Party objects, the Conference determines whether the proposed change meets the procedural requirements and whether the change is desirable. Adoption of the change requires consensus or, if consensus is not possible, a two-thirds majority of States Parties present and voting. If the Conference votes for the change, the change is binding on all States Parties, regardless of their vote. Finally, a State Party may also compel Conference consideration of a negative recommendation by the Executive Council if it objects to such a recommendation.