17 July 2009

UN Commission on International Trade Law Concludes 42nd Session in Vienna

VIENNA, 17 July (UN Information Service) - The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) concluded its 42nd annual session in Vienna today.

The Commission adopted the UNCITRAL Practice Guide on Cross-Border Insolvency Cooperation (the "Practice Guide") and emphasized its usefulness for practitioners and judges, as well as creditors and other stakeholders in insolvency proceedings, particularly in the context of the current financial crisis. The purpose of the Practice Guide is to provide readily accessible information on current practice in insolvency proceedings with respect to cross-border coordination and cooperation for reference and use by judges, practitioners and other stakeholders. In that regard, the Practice Guide was viewed as very timely, having application in a number of large, complex cases and being the first document on that topic to be prepared by an international organization.

In considering the 1994 Model Law on Procurement of Goods, Construction and Services, the Commission emphasized that the revised Model Law would have considerable impact on ongoing procurement law reforms at the local and regional levels, especially in the areas of electronic reverse auctions, e-procurement, framework agreements, competitive dialogue and procurement in the defence sector. On that basis, the Commission highlighted the importance of completion of the revised Model Law as soon as reasonably possible.

The Commission also heard reports from its working groups on arbitration and security interests, and discussed possible future work in the fields of electronic commerce, transport law and commercial fraud. In particular, the Commission agreed on the importance of continuing its cooperation with the World Customs Organization on the issue of cross-border single window facilities and requested the Secretariat to undertake studies on electronic transferable records and online dispute resolution. In addition, the Commission supported preparation of a detailed assessment of the legal and regulatory issues in the field of microfinance, which could assist legislators and policymakers in establishing a favourable legal framework.

The Commission welcomed the efforts and initiatives of the UNCITRAL Secretariat to increase coordination and cooperation with other international organizations active in the field of international trade law. Recognizing that the 2007 revision of the Uniform Customs and Practice for documentary credit (UCP 600) adopted by the International Chamber of Commerce provided effective international contractual rules governing documentary credits, the Commission recommended the use of UCP 600 in international trade.

The Commission recognized technical assistance and cooperation on a regional basis as being particularly useful and requested the Secretariat to explore the possibility of establishing a presence in regions or specific countries through, for example, collaborating with existing United Nations field offices, assigning staff to those offices or establishing UNCITRAL country offices.


The Commission is composed of 60 Member States elected by the United Nations General Assembly. Membership is structured so as to be representative of the world's geographic regions and its principal economic and legal systems. Members of the Commission are elected for terms of six years, the terms of half members expiring every three years.

Current members are: Algeria, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belarus, Benin, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Fiji, France, Gabon, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Lebanon, Madagascar, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Poland, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Thailand, Uganda, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) and Zimbabwe.

The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (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. 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 UNCITRAL texts. The UNCITRAL Secretariat is located in Vienna, Austria, and maintains a website at www.uncitral.org.

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For further information, please contact:

Jenny Clift
Senior Legal Officer
UNCITRAL Secretariat
Email: jenny.clift@uncitral.org