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Sixty-second session

Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law on the work of its fortieth session (agenda item 81)

Summary of work

Background (source: A/62/100)

The General Assembly established the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law at its twenty-first session, in 1966, to promote the progressive harmonization and unification of the law of international trade, and requested the Commission to submit an annual report to the Assembly (resolution 2205 (XXI)). The Commission began its work in 1968. It originally consisted of 29 Member States representing the various geographic regions and the principal legal systems of the world. At its twenty-eighth and fifty-seventh sessions, respectively, the General Assembly increased the membership of the Commission from 29 to 36 States (resolution 3108 (XXVIII)) and from 36 to 60 States (resolution 57/20).

At its sixty-first session, the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to make all efforts to ensure that the revised articles of the Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, and the recommendation regarding the interpretation of article II, paragraph 2, and article VII, paragraph 1, of the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, done at New York on 10 June 1958, become generally known and available (resolution 61/33).

At the same session, the General Assembly reiterated its appeal to Governments, the relevant bodies of the United Nations system, organizations, institutions and individuals to make voluntary contributions to the UNCITRAL trust funds and otherwise to assist the secretariat of the Commission in carrying out technical assistance activities, in particular in developing countries, in the light of the relevance and importance of those activities to the implementation of the United Nations development agenda, including the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals; welcomed the preparation of digests of case law relating to the texts of the Commission, as well as the continuous efforts of the Commission to maintain and improve its website in accordance with the applicable guidelines; and requested the Secretary-General to explore options to facilitate the timely publication of the Yearbook of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (resolution 61/32).

Consideration at the sixty-second session

The Sixth Committee considered the item at its 11th, 12th and 28th meetings, on 22 and 23 October and on 19 November 2007.  At the 11th meeting, the Vice-Chairperson of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law at its fortieth session introduced the first part of the UNCITRAL report.

Statements were made by the representatives of Norway (on behalf of the Nordic States), India, Singapore, Austria, Morocco, Guatemala, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Belarus, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Australia, Nigeria, Japan, Mexico, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Kenya, the Russian Federation, Italy, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Iran (Islamic Republic of) and El Salvador.

General support was expressed on the work accomplished by the Commission during its fortieth session, especially regarding electronic commerce, security interest and procurement, and commended the efforts of the Secretariat in this regard. Some delegations stressed the role of UNCITRAL as the core legal body regarding international trade law in the United Nations system. Some delegations welcomed and recalled the important role of UNCITRAL regarding the promotion and maintenance of the rule of law at national and international levels. Several delegations welcomed the approval of part of the draft UNCITRAL legislative guide on secured transaction and expressed their satisfaction that this guide would be finalized during the resumed session in December 2007. Several delegations also commended the cooperation between UNODC and the Secretariat of the Commission regarding electronic fraud.

General support was also stated for the celebration in 2008 of the fiftieth anniversary of the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards in the view of the importance of this instrument.

Several delegations noted that the revision of the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules was timely in order to modernize the instrument, but that such revision should not temper with its flexibility and simplicity, elements that contributed to the success of this instrument.

Several speakers supported the proposal made by France to review the methods of works of the Commission, especially to address the place of non-governmental organizations and observers in the debates of the Commission. However the view was expressed that such review should be done carefully in order to preserve the flexibility of those working methods which have proven their efficiency. Some delegations also recalled their support for the established practice of the Commission to work by consensus.

While several Delegations commended the progress accomplished towards the completion of the draft Convention on issues relating to the international carriage of goods, some Speakers expressed their concerns regarding certain dispositions of the text, especially on freedom of contract in volume contracts. Some other Speakers, while also expressing their satisfaction on the work done in insolvency law, reiterated some of their concerns regarding some of its components.

Several delegations recalled the importance for developing States that the Secretariat continued providing them with technical assistance for law reforms, and in this regard, several Speakers urged members States to make voluntary contributions to the trust fund established to finance those activities.

The Vice-Chairperson of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law at its fortieth session made some concluding remarks.

Action taken by the Sixth Committee

At the 28th meeting, on 19 November 2007, the representative of Austria, on behalf of Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, the Russian Federation, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and Uruguay, subsequently joined by Belize and Burkina Faso, introduced a draft resolution entitled “Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law on the work of its fortieth session” (A/C.6/62/L.16). At the same meeting, the Committee adopted draft resolution A/C.6/62/L.16, without a vote. The representatives of the United States of America, Canada and France spoke in explanation of position after taking action on the draft resolution.

At the 28th meeting, on 19 November 2007, the representative of Austria, on behalf of the Bureau, also introduced a draft resolution entitled “Fiftieth anniversary of the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, done at New York on 10 June 1958.” (A/C.6/62/L.17). At the same meeting, the Committee also adopted draft resolution A/C.6/62/L.17 without a vote.

This agenda item was subsequently considered at the sixty-third session (2008)