John N. Hazard
Momentous events have transpired since this paper was completed. Following a coup on August 12, 1991, and the installation of an "interim" government, it became evident that President Mikhail Gorbachev was unable to convince the various republics of the U.S.S.R. that it was in their interest to form some type of "union." Tiring of the effort, the leaders of the Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarus Republics met in Minsk to make a new beginning.
On December 9, 1991 the press carried news of an agreement to form a Commonwealth of Independent States ( CIS, or Commonwealth), with a coordinating center in Minsk. 1 The institutional structures were elaborated. The founders declared the U.S.S.R. as "ceasing its existence . . . as a subject of international law and geopolitical reality." The parties agreed to establish coordinating institutions to apply "principles . . . confirming our commitment to the goals and principles of the United Nations Charter, the Helsinki Final Act, and other documents from the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe." Additionally, they endorsed a bill of rights, augmenting a document that had been approved by the U.S.S.R. Congress of People's Deputies in Moscow as its last legislative act. 2
After issuing the agreement, the parties invited other republics of what had been the U.S.S.K. to join the Commonwealth, and all did so except Georgia. Only the Baltic States, to which the Congress had granted independence at its last meeting, remained outside the Commonwealth. Georgia was expected to join the founders eventually.
An agreement was signed by the founders on December 21, 1991, to add an institutional structure to the Commonwealth. 3 It took the form of a proposal to establish coordinate institutions in the future, to be charged eventually with coordination of foreign policy, a common economic space, common European and Asian policy, a customs policy, common transport and communications