24 July 2014
VIENNA, 24 July (UN Information Service) - During its 47th annual session, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) approved a draft convention for submission to the United Nations General Assembly and established priorities for future work. The session was opened by the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel, Miguel de Serpa Soares, and included a rule of law briefing and a panel discussion on national practices in promoting the rule of law through access to justice.
Draft convention on transparency in investor-State arbitration
During the session, the Commission finalized and approved a draft convention on transparency in investor-State arbitration (the "convention on transparency") (see press release UNIS/L/202). The purpose of the draft convention is to provide a mechanism for application of the UNCITRAL Rules on Transparency in Treaty-based Investor-State Arbitration (the "Transparency Rules") to arbitrations conducted under investment treaties concluded prior to the effective date of the Rules (1 April 2014). Disputes between a foreign investor and a State often touch on subjects of public interest, such as infrastructure development, resource extraction, and environmental standards, but the arbitrations conducted to resolve these disputes have frequently taken place outside public view. The Transparency Rules were designed to make these disputes accessible to the public.
The draft convention on transparency will now be submitted to the United Nations General Assembly for final consideration and adoption at its 69th session later this year.
The Commission decided that the UNCITRAL Secretariat should hold a colloquium to explore possible future work in the field of electronic commerce, in particular in the areas of cloud computing, identity management, the use of mobile devices in electronic commerce, and single window facilities. In addition, the Commission requested that the working group on electronic commerce continue its work on a legislative text on electronic transferable records. In the field of arbitration, the Commission requested that the working group undertake a revision of the UNCITRAL Notes on Organizing Arbitral Proceedings and also consider the enforcement of international settlement agreements resulting from conciliation proceedings.
The Commission confirmed that other working groups should continue with mandated activities. It called on the work on insolvency of enterprise groups to be concluded at an early date. It also requested the working group on insolvency law to commence work on the recognition and enforcement of insolvency derived judgements and to take up consideration of the insolvency of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises ("MSMEs") once current work was completed. In addition, development of a model law on secured transactions, procedural rules for online dispute resolution, and of a text designed to reduce legal obstacles faced by MSMEs will also continue. With respect to the model law on secured transactions, the Commission adopted a recommendation of the working group on security interests that it should also address security interests in non-intermediated securities (e.g. shares in subsidiaries directly held by the parent company). Finally, the Commission confirmed the decision taken at its 46th session to hold a colloquium to celebrate the 35th anniversary in 2015 of the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods.
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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