For information only - not an official document
12 July 2013
VIENNA, 12 July (UN Information Service) - On 11 July 2013,the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) adopted the UNCITRAL Rules on Transparency in Treaty-based Investor-State Arbitration (the "Transparency Rules"). The Transparency Rules are the ground-breaking result of nearly three years of negotiations in the UNCITRAL Working Group on Arbitration. The Transparency Rules constitute a robust, innovative set of procedural rules that will make arbitrations involving a State, initiated under an investment treaty, accessible to the public.
The Transparency Rules represent a fundamental change from the status quo of arbitrations conducted outside the public spotlight. Indeed, confidentiality is often a valued feature of commercial arbitration. But in investor-State disputes, the arbitration involves a State and often issues of public interest, as well as taxpayer funds. Acknowledging the fundamental role of the public as a stakeholder in investor-State disputes, UNCITRAL undertook the drafting of the new Transparency Rules to provide a level of transparency and accessibility to the public of these disputes that is to date unprecedented. The Rules are also innovative in their approach to balancing the public interest in an arbitration involving a State, and the interest of the disputing parties in a fair and efficient resolution of their dispute.
The Transparency Rules, which will come into effect on 1 April 2014, will only apply to treaty-based investor-State arbitration. Future treaties referring disputes arising thereunder to the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules will be subject to the Rules on Transparency, unless the Parties to the treaty agree otherwise.
Consequently a new paragraph has been added to the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules (as revised in 2010) to ensure that the link between the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules and the Transparency Rules is made clear. The result is a new set of UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules, dated 2013, also adopted yesterday by the Commission, which will come into force at the same time as the Transparency Rules. The UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules (with new article 1, paragraph 4, as adopted in 2013) remain applicable to commercial arbitrations, to which the amendment will not apply. The UNCITRAL Arbitration rules ( with new article 1, paragraph 4, as adopted in 2013) will also come into effect on 1 April 2014.
The new Transparency Rules however are not limited to arbitrations conducted under the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules, and are available for use in investor-State arbitrations initiated under rules other than the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules, or in ad hoc proceedings.
In addition, the Commission decided to prepare a convention in relation to the application of the Transparency Rules to disputes arising under existing investment treaties.
The Commission also heard a presentation on the online platform - www.newyorkconvention1958.org - that provides freely accessible case law from across the globe on the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, 1958. This continuously updated compilation which includes summaries and full text of case law in a highly searchable format, represents a unique and wide-ranging effort to disseminate source information to as broad an audience as possible. The Commission decided to consider at its next session in 2014 the text of a guide on the New York Convention.
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.
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