25 July 2023
VIENNA, 25 July (UN Information Service) – The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) adopted a series of guidelines and texts on mediation, dispute resolution and other international trade law topics at its 56th session in Vienna.
The following were adopted at the session: UNCITRAL Model Provisions on Mediation, the UNCITRAL Guidelines on Mediation for International Investment Disputes, the UNCITRAL Code of Conduct for Arbitrators, the UNCITRAL Code of Conduct for Judges, the UNCITRAL Guide on Access to Credit for Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) and a guidance text on early dismissal and preliminary determination to be included in the UNCITRAL Notes on Organizing Arbitral Proceedings. In addition to the adoption of legislative texts, the UNCITRAL secretariat organized the UNCITRAL Colloquium on Climate Change and the Law of International Trade and a series of side events were held.
Finalization and adoption of texts
Finalization and adoption of texts prepared by UNCITRAL Working Group III
The adoption of the UNCITRAL Model Provisions on Mediation, the UNCITRAL Guidelines on Mediation for International Investment Disputes, the UNCITRAL Code of Conduct for Arbitrators, and the UNCITRAL Code of Conduct for Judges comes after several years of preparation by and discussions at UNCITRAL Working Group III, which was entrusted in 2017 with a broad mandate to work on the possible reform of ISDS. More information is available here.
UNCITRAL Guide on Access to Credit for Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs)
The UNCITRAL Guide on Access to Credit for Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) completes the work the Commission initiated in 2013 to reduce the legal obstacles faced by MSMEs throughout their life cycles. The text recommends State reforms in certain areas of private or commercial law that may help to ease issues MSMEs face in accessing credit. Since those legal reforms alone may not remove the obstacles MSMEs have in this area, the Guide also refers to policy and regulatory measures that can enhance the effectiveness of the legal framework in facilitating access to credit for MSMEs. Additionally, recognizing that poverty of women is directly related to inequal access to economic opportunities, the Guide encourages States to adopt the necessary measures to ensure equal access to credit for women entrepreneurs. The Guide is expected to be published in late 2023 as part of the UNCITRAL MSME series in all official languages and will then be available on the MSME webpage on the UNCITRAL website.
UNCITRAL Notes on Organizing Arbitral Proceedings adopted in 2016 (with an additional note on early dismissal and preliminary determination adopted in 2023)
The Commission also adopted a guidance text on early dismissal and preliminary determination which will be included in a revised version of the UNCITRAL Notes on Organizing Arbitral Proceedings (2016). This text illustrates the discretionary power of an arbitral tribunal operating under the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules or other arbitration rules to dismiss a claim or defence or make a preliminary determination to that effect based on the “manifestly without merit” standard. It is hoped that this addition will make it easier for arbitral tribunals and arbitration practitioners to utilize this tool and will help discourage frivolous claims. The revised UNCITRAL Notes on Organizing Arbitral Proceedings text is expected to be published in late 2023 and will be available under the explanatory texts section of the International Commercial Arbitration webpage on the UNCITRAL website.
The Commission also made several decisions on the allocation of future work to its working groups and secretariat. The Commission decided to allocate work on a draft model law on warehouse receipts to a working group with the view of adopting it at its next session. The secretariat was asked to continue and finalize its work of a guidance document on legal issues relating to the use of distributed ledger systems in trade. The Commission also discussed the work carried out on the stocktaking project on dispute resolution in the digital economy (DRDE). The secretariat was asked to continue to implement the project, reviewing the wide range of developments, including those in developing countries, as well as focusing on the topics on the recognition and enforcement of electronic awards and electronic notices of arbitration and their service, which attracted the attention of the Commission.
Additionally, the Commission authorized the secretariat to finalize and publish a legal toolkit on the COVID-19 and international trade law instruments, “The COVID-19 and international trade law instruments: a legal toolkit by the UNCITRAL secretariat”. The legal toolkit will take into account the lessons learned from the COVID-19 experience, which saw widespread disruptions in the international trade flows and value chains. It is expected that this will be a valuable reference for States and other stakeholders that may have to deal with extraordinary situations in the future.
Following the UNCITRAL Colloquium on Climate Change and the Law of International Trade held during the Commission session, the Commission also requested the secretariat, within the mandate of UNCITRAL and in cooperation and collaboration with organizations with relevant expertise, to develop a more detailed study on the aspects of international trade law related to voluntary carbon credits and to invite all member States of the United Nations (particularly developing countries) to nominate experts to provide inputs to the work of the secretariat in this area.
UNCITRAL Colloquium on Climate Change and the Law of International Trade
The UNCITRAL secretariat organized a colloquium on the various legal issues surrounding climate change mitigation, adaptation, and resilience, in conjunction with relevant and interested international organizations, the results of which informed the Commission’s decision on future work.
The Colloquium considered areas in which international trade law can effectively support the achievement of climate action goals set by the international community, the scope and value of legal harmonization in those areas and the need for international guidance for legislators, policymakers, courts and dispute resolution bodies. In particular, the colloquium considered the contribution that UNCITRAL, as a subsidiary body of the United Nations General Assembly and an inclusive forum to devise global solutions, could make in the light of its mandate to promote the harmonization and modernization of the law of international trade in the form of possible future work and how existing UNCITRAL instruments in areas such as contract law, electronic commerce, insolvency, secured transactions, public procurement, public-private partnerships and dispute resolution can be applied to support climate action.
During the Commission session, the UNCITRAL secretariat organized a series of side events on topics of interest to the work of the Commission.
During the first week of the session, four side events relating to the work of investor-State dispute settlement reform took place addressing quantum of damages in investor-State dispute settlement, particularly the perspective of developing countries, the implementation of the code of conduct for arbitrators in international investment dispute resolution, the revision of the IBA Guidelines on Conflicts of Interest, and dispute prevention in investor-State dispute settlement.
During the second week, an event was organized by Paraguay to present the Chaco Vivo project to illustrate forest preservation and carbon sequestration. During the last week, three side events took place focusing on new frontiers of digital trade, the empowerment of women in international trade and the signing ceremony of the Beijing Convention on the Judicial Sale of Ships. Additional information about the side events is available on the UNCITRAL webpage.
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. For more information, visit: uncitral.un.org.
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For information, please contact:
José Angelo Estrella-Faria
Principal Legal Officer and Head, Legislative Branch
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