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Clarification provided by the Office of Legal Affairs on the interpretation of paragraph 5 of Article 17 of the Basel Convention, dated 27 December 2007, in response to the request by the government of Egypt for clarification relating to annex to decision OEWG VI/16:

The term "consensus" in the practice of the United Nations, though not expressly defined, is generally understood to mean the adoption of a resolution or a decision without a vote in the absence of any formal objection or opposition. In this connection, it should be noted that the expressions "without a vote", "without objection", "by consensus" and "by general agreement" are, in the practice of the United Nations, synonymous and, therefore, interchangeable. The adoption of a resolution or decision in this manner does not necessarily reflect unanimity of opinion on the substantive matter. States have the opportunity, either prior to or after adoption, to make reservations, declarations, statements of interpretation and/or statements of position. Provided that the State concerned does not object to or challenge the existence of consensus or call for a vote on the resolution or decision, it is understood that consensus or general agreement is preserved. As opposed to the term "without objection", the term "without opposition" has been accorded no special meaning in the practice of the United Nations and it is not a term of art in the field of treaty law.

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