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Sixty-fifth session

Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law on the work of its forty-third session (Agenda item 77)

Summary of work

Background (source: A/65/100)

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 decisions 61/417 and 64/405 A, B and C.

At its sixty-fourth 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 (resolution 64/111).

Also at its sixty-fourth session, the General Assembly expressed its appreciation to UNCITRAL for the completion and adoption of its Practice Guide on Cross-Border Insolvency Cooperation; and requested the Secretary-General to publish, including electronically, the text of the Practice Guide and transmit it to Governments with the request that the text be made available to relevant authorities so that it would become widely known and available (resolution 64/112).

Consideration at the sixty-fifth session

The Sixth Committee considered the item at its 7th, 25th and 27th meetings, on 11 and 29 October and on 5 November 2010 (A/C.6/65/SR.7, 25 and 27). At its 7th meeting, the Chairman of UNCITRAL at its forty-third session introduced the report of the Commission on the work of its forty-third session (A/65/17).

Statements were made by the representatives of: Norway (on behalf of the Nordic countries), Austria, Belarus, Russian Federation, Mexico, Thailand, United States, Singapore, Republic of Korea, Japan, China, United Kingdom, Pakistan, El Salvador, Chile, Canada, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Benin and Ghana.

In their general observations, delegations commended the Commission for its fruitful forty-third session and reiterated their strong support for the work of UNCITRAL as the core legal body within the United Nations system in the harmonization and unification of international trade law. In this regard, delegations welcomed the finalization and adoption by the Commission of (a) the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules as revised in 2010, (b) the UNCITRAL Legislative Guide on Secured Transactions: Supplement on Security Rights in Intellectual Property, and (c) part three of the UNCITRAL Legislative Guide on Insolvency Law on the treatment of enterprise groups in insolvency. It was particularly noted that the revised UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules appropriately updated these Rules to meet current developments and thus ensured their continued importance and influence. It was also pointed out that the supplement to the UNCITRAL Legislative Guide on Secured Transactions would assist States in assessing economic efficiency of their secured transactions and intellectual property regimes and that the UNCITRAL Legislative Guide on Insolvency Law would contribute to increased economic efficiency of insolvency law regimes around the world.

While welcoming these developments, a concern was also expressed with delays in the deliberation of legal texts, and the importance of studying ways in which UNCITRAL could optimize the utilization of limited resources and enhance the efficiency of the Commission’s processes was stressed. In this context, the view was expressed that the Commission’s resources should primarily be dedicated towards completing the work it has been mandated to do, and that the Commission should focus on producing formal legal instruments instead of guidelines in order to enhance legal certainty.

Concerning the Commission’s work on procurement, several delegations welcomed the progress made by Working Group I on the revision of the 1994 Model Law on Procurement of Goods, Construction and Services and expressed the hope that work would be concluded in 2011. The point was also made expressing support for the work of Working Group II on Transport Law.

Several delegations expressed views concerning the future work of UNICTRAL, including on micro-financing, electronic commerce, online dispute resolution relating to cross-border electronic commerce transactions, transparency in treaty-based investor-State arbitration, insolvency law and security interests.

Some delegations noted that the work of UNCITRAL greatly contributed to the strengthening of the rule of law and welcomed the panel discussion that was held during its forty-third session on this topic. In this context, the view was expressed that events of this nature should be open to all Member States of the United Nations, not only to those that are part of the Commission.

Several delegations welcomed the adoption of conclusions concerning UNCITRAL’s working methods. In this context, some delegations also stressed the need of ensuring more effective participation of developing countries in the work of UNICTRAL.

A number of delegations emphasized the importance of technical assistance from the UNCITRAL Secretariat to developing countries. Some delegations further pointed out that such assistance was as important as the drafting of legal texts. Further dissemination of UNICTRAL work was also encouraged.

Action taken by the Sixth Committee

At the 25th meeting, on 29 October, the representative of Austria, on behalf of Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Philippines, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), subsequently joined by Armenia, Lithuania, Madagascar, Poland 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-third session” (A/C.6/65/L.4). At its 27th meeting, on 5 November, the Committee adopted draft resolution A/C.6/65/L.4 without a vote. In this draft resolution, the General Assembly would, among others things, endorse the efforts and initiatives of the Commission, as the core legal body within the United Nations system in the field of international trade law.

Also at the 25th meeting, the representative of Austria, on behalf of the Bureau, introduced three draft resolutions entitled “UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules as revised in 2010” (A/C.6/65/L.5), “UNCITRAL Legislative Guide on Secured Transactions: Supplement on Security Rights in Intellectual Property” (A/C.6/65/L.6), and “Part three of the UNCITRAL Legislative Guide on Insolvency Law” (A/C.6/65/L.7). At its 27th meeting, on 5 November, the Committee adopted draft resolutions A/C.6/65/L.5, A/C.6/65/L.6, A/C.6/65/L.7 without a vote.

Under the terms of draft resolution A/C.6/65/L.5, pertaining to the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules as revised in 2010, as formulated and adopted by the Commission, the General Assembly would recommend the use of the revised Rules in the settlement of disputes arising in the context of international commercial relations.

Under draft resolution A/C.6/65/L.6, concerning the UNCITRAL Legislative Guide on Secured Transactions: Supplement on Security Rights in Intellectual Property, as completed and adopted by the Commission, the General Assembly would recommend that all States utilize the Supplement to assess the economic efficiency of their intellectual property financing and give favourable consideration to the Supplement when revising or adopting relevant legislation.

Draft resolution A/C.6/65/L.7 pertains to Part three of the UNCITRAL Legislative Guide on Insolvency Law, as developed and adopted by the Commission, and recommends that all States utilize the Legislative Guide to assess the economic efficiency of their insolvency law regimes and give favourable consideration to the Guide when revising or adopting relevant legislation.

This agenda item was subsequently considered at the sixty-sixth session (2011).