Press Releases

    24 November 2005

    General Assembly Adopts New Convention on Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracting

    NEW YORK, 23 November (UNCITRAL) -- The United Nations General Assembly adopted today a new Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracting.  The Convention is intended to remove obstacles to the use of electronic communications in international contracting, including obstacles that might arise under existing international trade law instruments, most of which were negotiated long before the development of new technology such as e-mail, electronic data interchange and the Internet.

    The new Convention was prepared by United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Working Group on Electronic Commerce over a number of sessions commencing in 2002 and completing its work in October 2004.  It was adopted by the UNCITRAL at its thirty-eighth Session, held in Vienna, Austria, in July 2005.  The Convention complements and builds upon earlier instruments prepared by the UNCITRAL, including the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Commerce and the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Signatures.

    Aimed at enhancing legal certainty and commercial predictability where electronic communications are used in relation to international contracts, the provisions of the convention deal with, among other things, determining a party's location in an electronic environment; the time and place of dispatch and receipt of electronic communications; and the use of automated message systems for contract formation.  Other provisions contain criteria establishing functional equivalence between electronic communications and paper documents -- including "original" paper documents -- as well as between electronic authentication methods and hand-written signatures.  The new Convention will assure companies and traders around the world that contracts negotiated electronically are as valid and enforceable as traditional paper-based transactions.

    This Convention will be open for signature by all States at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 16 January 2006 to 16 January 2008.  It is subject to ratification, acceptance or approval by the signatory States, and open for accession by all States that are not signatory States.  The Convention will enter into force on the first day of the month following the expiration of six months after the date of deposit of the third instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.  It is expected that a signature event would take place during the UNCITRAL's thirty-ninth session, to be held in New York from 19 June to 7 July 2006, to promote participation in the Convention by States and awareness of its provisions.

    The UNCITRAL is the core legal body of the United Nations system in the field of international trade law.  Its mandate is to remove legal obstacles to international trade by progressively modernizing and harmonizing trade law.  It prepares legal texts in a number of key areas such as international commercial dispute settlement, electronic commerce, insolvency, international payments, sale of goods, transport law, procurement and infrastructure development.  The UNCITRAL also provides technical assistance to law reform activities, including assisting Member States to review and assess their law reform needs and to draft the legislation required to implement the UNCITRAL texts.  The UNCITRAL Secretariat is located in Vienna, Austria.  The UNCITRAL maintains a website at .

    For information contact:  Jenny Clift, Senior Legal Officer, UNCITRAL Secretariat, E-mail: .

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