Article VI consists of six paragraphs. This Article sets forth the general mechanisms for the settlement of disputes between States Parties or between the States Parties and the Organization. Additional mechanisms for dealing with disputes are contained in Article IV (questions regarding compliance) and Article V (measures to redress a situation). Note that, while the Executive Council and the Conference play an important role in dispute resolution, nothing in the Treaty gives them the power to impose a resolution of a dispute.
Paragraph 1 of Article VI requires that disputes that may arise concerning the application or the interpretation of the Treaty be settled in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Treaty and in conformity with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations. Chapter VI and paragraph 3 of Article 2 of the UN Charter set forth the principle that, inter alia, disputes shall be settled peacefully.
Paragraph 2 of Article VI states that when a dispute arises between two or more States Parties, or between one or more States Parties and the Organization, relating to the application or interpretation of the Treaty, the parties concerned are committed to entering into consultation with a view to the expeditious settlement of the dispute by negotiation or by other peaceful means of the parties' choice, including recourse to appropriate organs of the Treaty and, by mutual consent, referral to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in conformity with the Statute of the Court. This paragraph also states that the States Parties involved must keep the Executive Council informed of the actions being taken.
The purpose of paragraph 2 of Article VI is to establish the means by which States Parties and the Organization can settle disputes over the interpretation or application of the Treaty. The paragraph mandates consultations, but does not require referral to the International Court of Justice for settlement, unless both parties consent. Such settlement must be "in conformity with the Statute of the Court." Since paragraph 1 of Article 34 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice provides that only states may come before it with disputes, this means that only disputes between States Parties, not disputes between the Organization and States Parties, may be referred to the Court for resolution. Pursuant to paragraph 5 of this Article, however, the Executive Council or the Conference, subject to authorization of the UN General Assembly, may request advisory opinions of the Court.
Paragraph 3 of Article VI states that the Executive Council may contribute to the settlement of a dispute that may arise concerning the application or interpretation of the Treaty by whatever means it deems appropriate, including offering its good offices, calling upon the States Parties to a dispute to seek a settlement through a process of their choice, bringing the matter to the attention of the Conference and recommending a time limit for any agreed procedure.
Paragraph 4 of Article VI requires the Conference to consider questions related to disputes raised by States Parties or brought to its attention by the Executive Council and, as it finds necessary, establish or entrust organs with tasks related to the settlement of these disputes in conformity with paragraph 26(j) of Article II. (Paragraph 26(j) of Article II provides that the Conference shall establish such subsidiary organs as it finds necessary for the exercise of its functions in accordance with the Treaty.)
Paragraph 5 of Article VI states that the Conference and the Executive Council are separately empowered, subject to authorization from the General Assembly of the United Nations, to request the ICJ to render an advisory opinion on any legal question arising within the scope of the activities of the Organization. The paragraph further requires that an agreement between the Organization and the United Nations be concluded for this purpose in accordance with paragraph 38(h) of Article II. (Paragraph 38(h) of Article II provides that the Executive Council shall conclude agreements or arrangements with States Parties, other States and international organizations on behalf of the Organization, subject to prior approval by the Conference.)
The purpose of paragraph 5 of Article VI is to provide both the Conference and the Executive Council with the power to request a non-binding advisory opinion by the ICJ on any legal question concerning their activities or the activities of the Technical Secretariat. Although international organizations cannot be parties to a dispute before the Court, paragraph 1 of Article 65 of the ICJ's Statute provides that such organizations can request advisory opinions, if such requests are authorized by or in accordance with the UN Charter. Paragraph 2 of Article 96 of the UN Charter provides that specialized agencies, which may at any time be so authorized by the General Assembly, may also request advisory opinions of the ICJ on legal questions arising within the scope of their activities.
The exact relationship between the Organization and the UN remains to be worked out in the Preparatory Commission and/or the Organization. However, for the Organization to exercise this provision it would have to be a specialized agency at least for the purposes of paragraph 2 of Article 96 of the UN Charter. Note that to avoid the possible delay involved in seeking a UN General Assembly resolution for each request for an advisory opinion, paragraph 5 requires that an agreement with the UN granting approval for such requests be concluded.
Paragraph 6 states that Article VI is without prejudice to Article IV and Article V. The purpose of this paragraph is to make clear that a State Party may not invoke the provisions of Article VI as means of avoiding or delaying requests for clarification regarding compliance, including on-site inspections (Article IV) or requests to take measures to redress a situation (Article V).