International legal status of the CIS as a regional organization

December 1991

“We, the Republic of Belarus, the Russian Federation (RSFSR), Ukraine, as the founding states of the Union of the SSR, who signed the Union Treaty of 1922, hereinafter referred to as the High Contracting Parties, state that the Union of the SSR as a subject of international law and geopolitical reality ceases to exist.”

December 1991

Alma-Ata, the heads of 11 (out of 15) former republics of the USSR signed the Declaration and the Protocol to the Agreement on the establishment of the CIS, adopted on December 8, 1991.

“The Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Belarus, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Republic of Kyrgyzstan, the Republic of Moldova, the Russian Federation (RSFSR), the Republic of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, the Republic of Uzbekistan and Ukraine on an equal footing and as High Contracting Parties form the Commonwealth of Independent States.”

The founding documents of the Commonwealth:

1. Agreement on the establishment of the CIS of December 8, 1991

2. Protocol to the Agreement on the establishment of the CIS of December 21, 1991

3. Alma-Ata Declaration of December 21, 1991

The structure of the CIS bodies:

1. Council of Heads of State;

2. Council of heads of government;

3. Interparliamentary Assembly;

4. Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs;

5. Executive Committee;

6. Council of Defense Ministers;

7. Council of Commanders of the Border Troops;

8. Economic Court;

9. Commission on Human Rights.

The supreme body of the Commonwealth is the Council of Heads of State . It discusses and resolves the most important strategic issues of the activities of the Member States in the area of their common interests. The Council of Heads of Government coordinates the cooperation of executive authorities in the economic, social and other areas of common interest.

The CIS Interparliamentary Assembly is called upon to coordinate interparliamentary cooperation. This body has a developed organizational structure and its own budget. One of the main activities of the Assembly is the development of model legislative acts for the CIS member states, of which more than a hundred have been developed and adopted.

The Council of Foreign Ministers of the CIS Member States (CMFA), on the basis of decisions of the Council of Heads of State and the Council of Heads of Government, coordinates the foreign policy activities of the Member States, including their activities on issues of world politics of mutual interest (Article 27 of the Charter).

The Executive Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States was established in 1999. The Executive Secretariat of the CIS acted before it, and even earlier – the Working Group for organizational and technical preparation and holding meetings of the Council of Heads of State and the Council of Heads of Government of the CIS.

International legal status of the CIS as a regional organization

The Commonwealth is not a state and does not have supranational powers.

G.V. Ignatenko:

“There are sufficient grounds to define the legal nature of the CIS as a regional international organization, as a subject of international law.”

E.S. Krivchikov:

“The Commonwealth has common goals, common interests and common areas of activity, recognizes the sovereignty of the member states, which allows us to speak of it as an international interstate organization based on an agreement that determines its legal personality and competence.”

ON THE. Mikhaleva

The CIS is a regional community, a new legal and political form of voluntary association of sovereign states, an interstate union of the former republics of the USSR, within which each state fully retains its state sovereignty and international legal personality. Legal forms of association based on a treaty create long-term relations between states, which, as a rule, are of an international legal nature.

L.V. Grechko and G.G. Shinkaretskaya

The Commonwealth already at the time of its formation had all the features of both an international organization and a confederation.

Commonwealth Economic Court Advisory Opinion

The CIS is a subject of international law due to the fact that the Commonwealth really exists and is a participant in international relations.

The CIS meets all the features of a regional international organization:

• established on the basis of international law and international treaty;

• has independent organizational and legal categories, rights and obligations, area of cooperation;

• has an autonomous will.

3. Topical issues of reforming the institutions of the Commonwealth

Speaking at a meeting of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, President of the Russian Federation V.V. Putin stressed that he considers it necessary to update the model of cooperation within the CIS. The performance of the Commonwealth could be much more significant. “We are faced with an alternative: either we will achieve a qualitative strengthening of the CIS, create on its basis a really working, influential in the world regional structure, or we will inevitably face the erosion of this geopolitical space,” the head of state said. Russia, as the President stated, cannot agree with such a development of events.

The large-scale tasks facing the CIS put forward on the agenda the issue of improving the forms, methods and mechanisms of multilateral cooperation.

The principle of “consensus” enshrined in the CIS Charter is in no way compatible with the possibility of non-participation of individual countries in certain decisions. In states, there are practically no specific deadlines for carrying out decisions through domestic procedures. As a result, these deadlines often drag on for years.

In order to increase the effectiveness of the CIS, turning it into an effective international organization, it would be necessary to:

1. to apply the principle of consensus “one state – one vote” only in relation to political decisions;

2. establish a lower limit of nine states participating in the agreement;

3. make major economic decisions taking into account the potential of states where Russia’s share would be 50%;

4. adopt a model law that defines a uniform procedure for domestic procedures regarding agreements concluded within the framework of the CIS;

5. To relieve the Council of Heads of State and the Council of Heads of Government, transfer some of the issues on which final binding decisions can be taken to the level of the CIS Economic Council and the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Commonwealth.


1. International public law: textbook / L.P. Anufrieva, K.A. Bekyashev, E.G. Moiseev, V.V. Ustinov [and others]; resp. ed. K.A. Bekyashev. – 5th ed., revised. and additional – Moscow: Prospect, 2011. – 1008 p.

2. Moiseev E.G. Legal status of the Commonwealth of Independent States: textbook. allowance / otv. ed. K.A. Bekyashev. M., 1995.

3. Krivchikova E.S. Regional international organizations // International law: textbook / otv. ed. Yu.M. Kolosov, E.S. Krivchikov. M., 2000. S. 274.

4. Mikhaleva N.A. Constitutional law of foreign countries of the CIS: textbook. allowance. M., 1998. S. 9.

5. Grechko L.V., Shinkaretskaya G.G. The concept of confederation and the CIS // Moscow Journal of International Law. 1994. No. 2. S. 72.

6. Advisory opinion of the Economic Court of the CIS No. 01-1 / 2-98 of June 23, 1998 // Decisions of the Economic Court of the CIS (1994-2000). Minsk, 2000. S.238-242.

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