Background Release

27 June 2003

UN Commission on International Trade Law to Hold Thirty-Sixth Session in Vienna, 30 June-11 July 2003

To Adopt New Model Legislation on Privately Financed Infrastructure Projects

VIENNA, 27 June (UN Information Service) -- Providing further legal guidance  to member states in the field of privately financed infrastructure projects will be one of the key topics of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) as it meets here for its 36th session from 30 June to 11 July 2003. The Commission is expected to finalize and adopt a set of model legislative provisions which are to further assist countries in implementing the UNCITRAL Legislative Guide on Privately Financed Infrastructure Projects adopted in 2000.

The Commission at its session in 2001 decided to set up a  Working Group mandated to draft specific model legislative provisions based on the Legislative Guide which includes more broad based recommendations rather than ready to use  specific models. The model legislative provisions are expected to provide concrete guidance to countries in the process of reforming legislation in the field of privately financed infrastructure projects, especially developing countries and countries with economies in transition. They deal with essential elements of a favourable framework for private investment in public infrastructure, such as authority and procedures for awarding infrastructure concessions, financial and contractual arrangements for infrastructure development and operation, termination of contracts and dispute settlement. The model provisions may assist in enhancing legal clarity and accountability to curb legislative grey areas that provide opportunities for arbitrariness or corruption in the relationship between private investors  and public authorities.

The model provisions -- prepared by the Vienna-based secretariat of UNCITRAL with the assistance of outside legal experts as well as feedback from members states -- are expected to be combined with the 2000 Legislative Guide to form one single text as an easy to use, useful reference for member states.

Participants of the session will also be looking at another legislative text, the draft UNCITRAL Legislative Guide on Insolvency Law. The Commission is expected to give its preliminary approval to the draft text with the final approval expected at its next annual session. Based on its previous successful work on cross-border insolvency and its established working relations with international organizations that have expertise and interest in the law on insolvency, the Commission was considered as the appropriate forum by member states and a number of international organizations to further discuss legislative measures to address insolvency. In 2000 the Commission entrusted a Working Group with the preparation of a comprehensive statement of key objectives and core features for a strong insolvency, debtor-creditor regime, including consideration of out-of-court restructuring, and a legislative guide containing flexible approaches to the implementation of such objectives and features. It is the draft text developed by the Working Group that the Commission will review for the first time at its current session.

The Commission -- the core legal body within the United Nations system entrusted with harmonizing international trade related law -- will also consider progress reports from four other working groups. The progress report of Working Group II will focus on arbitration. Working Group III on Transport Law set up in 2001 will report on its continued work in preparing an international convention that would deal with the legal aspects of containerized trade. Working Group IV dealing with electronic commerce set up in 2001 will report on its continued efforts to elaborate a draft convention on formation of electronic contracts and also on how to remove the obstacles to e-commerce in existing multilateral conventions. Working Group VI will report on its efforts to develop an efficient legal regime for security in goods involved in a commercial activity.

The session's agenda also includes two issues as possible future work items for the Commission. Participants are expected to discuss whether to focus future attention on public procurement issues especially as regards possible new developments that may trigger a consideration of reviewing the 1994 UNCITRAL Model Law on Procurement of Goods, Construction and Services. The other topic on the agenda for possible future work is commercial fraud. Member states are expected to look at this issue based on a note by the secretariat and decide in what form to deal with the problem. The Commission looked at this issue already during its session last year and requested its secretariat to prepare a study on fraudulent financial and trade practices in various areas of trade and finance.


The Commission is composed of thirty-six Member States elected by the General Assembly. Membership is structured so as to be representative of the world's various geographic regions and its principal economic and legal systems. Members of the Commission are elected for terms of six years, the terms of half the members expiring every three years.  The General Assembly decided that, as from the annual session of the Commission in 2004, its membership will be increased to sixty States, to be elected by the General Assembly at its upcoming Fifty-eighth session starting in September this year.

Currently the members are as follows: Austria, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, China, Colombia, Fiji, France, Germany, Honduras, Hungary, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Italy, Japan, Kenya, Lithuania, Mexico, Morocco, Paraguay, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Thailand, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Uganda, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America and Uruguay (which alternates annually with Argentina).

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