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Sixty-fourth session

Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law on the work of its forty-second session (agenda item 79)

Summary of work

Background (source: A/64/100)

The General Assembly established the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) 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).

For the current composition of the Commission, see decision 61/417.

At its sixty-third session, the General Assembly welcomed the initiatives of the Commission towards expanding its technical assistance and cooperation programme and drew the attention of the Secretary-General to the limited resources that were made available in that field; and welcomed the comprehensive review undertaken by the Commission of its working methods and the discussion by the Commission of its role in promoting the rule of law at the national and international levels (resolution 63/120).

At the same session, the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to disseminate the text of the Legislative Guide on Secured Transactions of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law; and recommended that all States give favourable consideration to the Legislative Guide when revising or adopting legislation relevant to secured transactions (resolution 63/121).

Also at its sixty-third session, the General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Carriage of Goods Wholly or Partly by Sea and authorized a signing ceremony to be held on 23 September 2009 in the Netherlands (resolution 63/122).

Consideration at the sixty-fourth session

The Sixth Committee considered the item at its 6th, 22nd and 25th meetings, on 12 October and on 2 and 12 November 2009. At the 6th meeting, on 12 October, the Chairperson of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) at its forty-second session introduced the report of the Commission on the work of its forty-second session.

Statements were made by the representatives of Austria, Norway (on behalf of the Nordic countries), Switzerland, Australia, Belarus, China, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, United States of America, Thailand, Cameroon, Canada, France, Russian Federation, Japan, Greece, Venezuela, Pakistan and Islamic Republic of Iran. In their general observations, delegations commended the work and progress accomplished by UNCITRAL during its forty-second session and reiterated their strong support for the work of UNCITRAL as the leading body in the harmonization and modernization of international trade law.

All delegations expressed their support for the adoption of the Practice Guide on Cross-Border Insolvency Cooperation at the forty-second session of the Commission, stressing that the Practice Guide would be a valuable resource for practitioners and judges, as well as creditors and other stakeholders in insolvency proceedings particularly taking into account the current economic climate. 

Several delegations commended the Commission for its work in the revision of the 1994 UNCITRAL Model Law on Procurement of Goods, Construction and Services for its reflection of the new practice of public procurement through electronic means and called for the new draft to be considered and adopted as soon as reasonably possible. It was pointed out that the revised model law would be a useful tool for the ongoing reform of public procurement law and unification of legal standards in this field. 

As regards the work of the Commission on arbitration and conciliation, several delegations expressed their appreciation for the work of Working Group II of the Commission in revising the 1976 UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules and emphasized that the long-waited modernization of the widely accepted rules should be beneficial to and welcomed by practitioners. While some delegations expressed the urgent need for an updated set of rules by the Commission, the time the Working Group had to be allocated with in order to achieve a satisfyingly high standard for wider application was also recognized.

Several delegations also welcomed the work of Working Group VI for the progress achieved so far in preparing a supplement specific to security rights in intellectual property to the 2007 UNCITRAL Legislative Guide on Secured Transactions. The importance of the Legislative Guide attached to the facilitation of access to credit for small and medium sized enterprises and avoiding inconsistency on the national level was also pointed out.

A number of delegations praised the work of the Commission in the previous years leading to the Convention on Contracts for the International Carriage of Goods Wholly or Partly by Sea, also known as the Rotterdam Rules.

The urgent need for technical assistance from the Secretariat to developing countries by dissemination of publications, organization of seminars and other means was expressed by several delegations.

Some delegations also expressed their views on the future work of the Commission, articulating their interests in electronic commerce, micro-financing, commercial fraud, and transparency in investor-state treaty-based arbitration.

Regarding the working method of the Commission, most delegations welcomed the comprehensive review of the Commission’s working methods. Concerns on the conception of consensus, use of languages during informal meetings and other matters were mentioned. Some other delegations reiterated that even although the expertise and technical support from NGO observers were of great value to the work of the Commission, the composition of the Commission was still limited to Member States who were the only members entitled to voting in decision making process.
Action taken by the Sixth Committee

At the 22nd meeting, on 2 November, the representative of Austria, on behalf of Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, the Congo, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Paraguay, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, Romania, the Russian Federation, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), subsequently joined by Afghanistan, Benin, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Jamaica, Latvia, Malaysia and the Republic of Moldova, introduced a draft resolution entitled “Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law on the work of its forty-second session” (A/C.6/64/L.10). At its 25th meeting, on 12 November, the Committee adopted draft resolution A/C.6/64/L.10 without a vote.

At the 22nd meeting, on 2 November, the representative of Austria, on behalf of the Bureau, introduced a draft resolution entitled “Practice Guide on Cross-Border Insolvency Cooperation of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law” (A/C.6/64/L.11). At its 25th meeting, on 12 November, the Committee adopted draft resolution A/C.6/64/L.11 without a vote. This second draft resolution pertains to the Practice Guide on Cross-Border Insolvency Cooperation, as completed and adopted by the Commission, and requests the Secretary-General to publish its text and to transmit it to Governments.

This agenda item was subsequently considered at the sixty-fifth session (2010)