For information only – not an official document
20 July 2022
UN Commission on International Trade Law concludes 55th Session in New York
VIENNA, 20 July (UN Information Service) – The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) has adopted legislative texts on the judicial sale of ships and on the use and cross-border recognition of identity management and trust services, as well as a set of recommendations on the use of the UNCITRAL Mediation Rules at its 55th session in New York. A round table on technical assistance to law reform in the area of insolvency; and side events on international negotiations on digital trade and “double hatting” in investor-State dispute settlement were also held.
Finalization and adoption of texts
Convention on the Judicial Sales of Ships
The Commission approved the final draft of the Convention on the Judicial Sales of Ships and recommended its adoption by the General Assembly it at its forthcoming 77th session. The Commission also recommended that the General Assembly authorize a signing ceremony to be held as soon as practicable in 2023 in Beijing, and that the Convention be known as the “Beijing Convention on the Judicial Sale of Ships” The Convention is expected to provide legal protection for purchasers of ships sold by judicial sale, while safeguarding the interests of shipowners and creditors. The draft of the Convention was developed by UNCITRAL Working Group VI, which held six sessions between 2019 and 2022, most of them in hybrid format under special COVID-19 arrangements.
Model Law on the Use and Cross-border Recognition of Identity Management and Trust Services
The Commission adopted the Model Law on the Use and Cross-border Recognition of Identity Management and Trust Services. Identity management services provide assurance as to the proper online identification of physical and legal persons, while trust services certify the quality of data, such as its origin and integrity. In those areas, the Model Law sets a uniform standard for the exchange of electronic transactions and documents, and, more generally, the underlying data. It is the first legislative text to do so at the global level and, as such, offers a legal building block to digital trade worldwide, complementing the existing suite of UNCITRAL legislative texts on electronic commerce.
Recommendations to assist mediation centres and other interested bodies with regard to mediation under the UNCITRAL Mediation Rules
The Commission also adopted the Recommendations on the use of UNCITRAL Mediation Rules which have been developed to inform and assist mediation centres and other interested bodies who plan on using the UNCITRAL Mediation Rules in the institutional context and to ensure the harmonious use of those rules.
The Commission discussed several topics for allocation to its working groups. In the area of dispute resolution in the digital economy (DRDE), the secretariat will carry out a stocktaking of related legal issues with the support of the Government of Japan. The Commission requested Working Group II to develop a guidance text on early dismissal and preliminary determination in international commercial arbitration and to develop texts on fast-track dispute resolution for technology-related disputes and adjudication. In the area of digital trade, Working Group IV will start work on two projects in tandem – the use of automation (including artificial intelligence) in contracting and data transactions, with an emphasis on the rights and obligations of parties to data provision contracts. The secretariat will also develop guidance on legal issues in blockchain contracting. In the area of transport, Working Group VI will take up work on the development of a new instrument on negotiable multimodal transport documents.
Exploratory work will continue on an “emergency kit” for States to avoid disruptions to international trade caused by pandemic or economic emergency, as will exploratory work on private law issues relating to clean investments (including carbon credit transactions) and other ways of translating climate change mitigation, adaptation and resilience into international trade law.
Technical Assistance Round Table
A technical assistance panel was held on the topic of insolvency. Speakers from the World Bank Group, the G8 Research Group, the UNCITRAL Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific, and the African Export-Import Bank discussed the relevance of the UNCITRAL insolvency texts to their current and ongoing work. The recording of the event will be available for viewing on the UNCITRAL YouTube channel in the near future.
Two side events were held during the Commission session.
The first event, entitled “UNCITRAL and the Law of Digital Trade”, provided a range of perspectives on trends in bilateral, regional and plurilateral digital trade agreements, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations on e-commerce and the development of digital economy partnership agreements, and how UNCITRAL texts (past and future) can provide the legal infrastructure for implementing those agreements. A recording of the event, which was co-organized with the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Korea and the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations, is available for viewing at: https://youtu.be/76wBQfJVQQM.
The second event was held with the New York Arbitration Center (NYIAC) and focused on the challenges of “double hatting” in international arbitration, particularly in the context of investor-State dispute settlement (whereby adjudicators undertake multiple roles). The session provided an overview of the draft Code of Conduct for Adjudicators, which is currently under development by Working Group III and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), and discussed issues related to double hatting and the portions of the draft text that would limit the practice.
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 uncitral.un.org.
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For more information please contact:
José Angelo Estrella Faria
Principal Legal Officer and Head, Legislative Branch