Round-up of session

11 July 2003

UN Commission on International Trade Law Concludes Thirty-Sixth Session in Vienna, 30 June-11 July 2003

Adopts New Model Legislation on Privately Financed Infrastructure Projects

VIENNA, 11 July (UN Information Service) -- The United Nations body entrusted with harmonizing international trade law concluded its 36th annual session here this afternoon with adopting a set of model legislative provisions on privately financed infrastructure projects. The adopted provisions are intended to assist member states in their national legislative work to establish legal frameworks that are favourable to privately financed infrastructure projects, transparent and correspond to international practice.

The model legislative provisions are an addition to the UNCITRAL Legislative Guide on Privately Financed Infrastructure Projects, which the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) had adopted in 2000.

The new model provisions were prepared by the Vienna-based secretariat of UNCITRAL with the assistance of outside legal experts as well as feedback from members states in two intergovernmental meetings. They offer concrete legislative guidance on essential elements of a favourable framework for private investment in public infrastructure, such as authority and procedures for awarding infrastructure concessions, financial and contractual arrangements for infrastructure development and operation, termination of contracts and dispute settlement. The model provisions may assist in enhancing legal clarity and accountability to curb legislative grey areas that provide opportunities for arbitrariness or corruption in the relationship between private investors  and public authorities.

In other action, the Commission reviewed and gave its preliminary approval to another legislative text, the draft UNCITRAL Legislative Guide on Insolvency Law. The text was drafted by a Working Group that was set up by the Commission in 2000.  The Woking Group, building on previous successful work done by UNCITRAL on cross-border insolvency, was entrusted with the preparation of a comprehensive statement of key objectives and core features for a strong insolvency, debtor-creditor regime, including consideration of out-of-court restructuring, and a legislative guide containing flexible approaches to the implementation of such objectives and features. Participants at the current session requested the secretariat of UNCITRAL to complete the draft Legislative Guide  for the 2004 session of the Commission for finalization and adoption. In the meantime the secretariat was requested to seek comments on the draft from Member States, relevant international organizations, non-governmental bodies, private sector, regional organizations and individual experts. The Commission especially called for the draft guide to be closely coordinated with the relevant principles  on insolvency adhered to by the World Bank.

The Commission also reviewed the activities of its four other working groups. The progress report of Working Group II focused on arbitration. In this regard the Commission discussed the current work of the Working Group on interim measures of protection as well as a possibility of including in its future work a review of previous UNCITRAL texts in arbitration and also to focus its attention on the issue of arbitrability.

Participants also reviewed the progress made by Working Group III on Transport Law, which was set up in 2001 to prepare an international convention that would deal with the legal aspects of containerized trade.

The  progress report of Working Group IV set up in 2001 to deal with electronic commerce was also reviewed. The Commission requested the Group to continue its efforts to elaborate a draft convention on the formation of electronic contracts and its work in assessing how to remove the obstacles to e-commerce in existing multilateral conventions.

The report of Working Group VI reviewed efforts to develop an efficient legal regime for security in goods involved in a commercial activity. In this regard the Commission confirmed that the Working Group continued to have a wide mandate and it was up to the Group to extend the scope of its activity beyond trade in goods to trade in receivables, letters of credit, deposit accounts and intellectual and industrial property rights.

In looking at possible areas of future work the Commission focused its attention on public procurement issues. Participants agreed that while the 1994 UNCITRAL Model Law on Procurement of Goods, Construction and Services proved to be a useful guide, novel issues and practices had arisen since its adoption which might justify a review and possible adjustment of its text. It was also suggested that alternative methods of procurement should also be reviewed. As a result, the secretariat was requested by the Commission to prepare a detailed study on those issues as well as to formulate proposals for the Commission's next session on how best to address them.


The Commission is composed of thirty-six Member States elected by the General Assembly. Membership is structured so as to be representative of the world's various geographic regions and its principal economic and legal systems. Members of the Commission are elected for terms of six years, the terms of half the members expiring every three years.  The General Assembly decided that, as from the annual session of the Commission in 2004, its membership will be increased to sixty States, to be elected by the General Assembly at its upcoming Fifty-eighth session starting in September this year.

Currently the members are as follows: Austria, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, China, Colombia, Fiji, France, Germany, Honduras, Hungary, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Italy, Japan, Kenya, Lithuania, Mexico, Morocco, Paraguay, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Thailand, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Uganda, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America and Uruguay (which alternates annually with Argentina).

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