Structure and bodies

Legal nature and competences

On the basis of practice over more than a hundred years, the Central Commission may be described as having two-fold attributions:

- Firstly, it constitutes a standing diplomatic conference within which the representatives of the Member States are able to discuss any matter involving navigation on the Rhine, including revision of the Rhine Convention and the conclusion of new conventions. (The amendments made to the Mannheim Convention and to a number of specific conventions, as for instance social security arrangements and working conditions for Rhine boatmen, and on waste produced during navigation on the Rhine, were negotiated within the CCNR.)

- It also constitutes an international organisation with corresponding attributions. These are of three types:

  • adoption of common regulations necessary for the safety of navigation on the Rhine; these regulations were originally adopted as part of an international convention. Under the Mannheim Convention, the Central Commission was given the power to decide on these regulations itself, according to the procedure laid down in Article 46. As already mentioned, these regulations may cover any aspect concerning the safety and prosperity of navigation on the Rhine and are binding on the Member States subject to the conditions laid down in Article 46;
  • investigation of complaints of failure to comply with either the Mannheim Convention or the various Regulations and measures adopted jointly. A procedure has been drawn up for investigating complaints (settlement of complaints) brought before the Central Commission;
  • decision-making in respect of appeals against court judgments involving navigation on the Rhine. This is dealt with by the Central Commission’s Chamber of Appeals, whose members are independent magistrates.

The Central Commission is also competent to investigate any issue involving the promotion of navigation on the Rhine. This attribution is exercised either formally in the form of deliberations adopted by its plenary meeting and its committees, or more informally within the framework of conferences, round-table discussions and other working meetings. Such work may result in various forms of action (recommendation, declaration, memorandum of understanding, etc).

Within this framework, the Commission also carries out studies, drafts documents and publishes information of various kinds, such as statistics and documents on market observation.

For the purpose of implementing its competences, the CCNR is recognised as a legal person under international law. It concluded a headquarters agreement with France on 10 May 1978.