Sixth Committee (Legal) — 75th session

Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law on the work of its fifty-third session (Agenda item 78)

Documentation

Summary of work

Background (source: A/75/100)

At its twenty-first session, the General Assembly established the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) 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 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 73/412.

The Assembly had on its agenda the item entitled “Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law” annually from the twenty-third to the forty-first sessions and has had the item entitled “Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law on the work of its … session” annually since its forty-second session (resolutions 2421 (XXIII), 2502 (XXIV), 2635 (XXV), 2766 (XXVI), 2928 (XXVII), 3104 (XXVIII), 3108 (XXVIII), 3316 (XXIX), 3494 (XXX), 31/98 to 31/100, 32/145, 33/92, 33/93, 34/142, 34/143, 35/51, 35/52, 36/32, 37/106, 37/107, 38/134, 38/135, 39/82, 40/71, 40/72, 41/77, 42/152, 42/153, 43/165 (United Nations Convention on International Bills of Exchange and International Promissory Notes), 43/166, 44/33, 45/42, 46/56 A and B, 47/34, 48/32 to 48/34, 49/54, 49/55, 50/47, 50/48 (United Nations Convention on Independent Guarantees and Stand-by Letters of Credit), 51/161, 51/162 (Model Law on Electronic Commerce adopted by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law), 52/157, 52/158 (Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law), 53/103, 54/103, 55/151, 56/79, 56/80, 56/81 (United Nations Convention on the Assignment of Receivables in International Trade), 57/17, 57/18 (Model Law on International Commercial Conciliation of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law), 57/19, 57/20, 58/75, 58/76, 59/39, 59/40, 60/20, 60/21 (United Nations Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts), 61/32, 61/33, 62/64, 62/65, 63/120, 63/121, 63/122 (United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Carriage of Goods Wholly or Partly by Sea), 64/111, 64/112, 65/21 to 65/24, 66/94 to 66/96, 67/89, 67/90, 68/106 to 68/109, 69/115, 69/116 (United Nations Convention on Transparency in Treaty-based Investor-State Arbitration), 70/115, 71/135 to 71/138, 72/113, 72/114, 73/197 to 73/200, and 74/182 to 74/184).

At its seventy-fourth session, the Assembly allocated the item to the Sixth Committee, where statements in the debate were made by the Chair of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law and by 31 delegations (see A/C.6/74/SR.20 and 21). The Assembly commended the Commission for the finalization and adoption of a number of texts and took note with interest of the progress made by the Commission in its work in several areas and noted with interest the decisions taken by the Commission on its future work (resolution 74/182).

Consideration at the seventy-fifth session

The Sixth Committee considered the item at its 15th and 19th meetings, on 10 and 19 November 2020. The views of the representatives who spoke during the Committee’s consideration of the item are reflected in the relevant summary records (See A/C.6/75/SR.15 and 19).

The Chair of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law at its fifty-third session introduced the report of the Commission (A/75/17).

Statements were made by representatives of the European Union (also on behalf of its member States (the candidate countries the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania, the country of the Stabilization and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia aligned themselves with the statement)), Finland (also on behalf of Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden (Nordic Countries)), Austria, Argentina, India, Honduras, the Philippines, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, United States of America, El Salvador, Sierra Leone, Israel, Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, Chile, Japan, Peru, Thailand, Islamic Republic of Iran, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Zambia, Italy, Belarus, Belgium and Singapore.

Delegations generally expressed support for the work of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law and commended it for the progress made at its fifty-third section. In particular, the finalization, jointly with the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT) and the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH), of the Legal Guide to Uniform Legal Instruments in the Area of International Commercial Contracts was welcomed. The entry into force of the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation (Singapore Convention on Mediation) was also highlighted.

A number of delegations welcomed the efforts of the Commission and its secretariat to adapt to the challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure business continuity. Furthermore, several delegations expressed their appreciation for the virtual panel series: UNCITRAL Texts and COVID-19 Response and Recovery. Several delegations emphasized that the use of the silence procedure by the Commission should be temporary and that the normal working methods of the Commission should return as soon as conditions allow. However, the hope that digital technology could continue to be used, subject to the need for transparency and inclusivity, was also expressed.

In relation to future work, many delegations highlighted their interest in aspects of the work of the working groups. Concerning Working Group I, a number of delegations expressed support for the work on the legislative guide on limited liability organizations for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. With respect to Working Group II, several delegations highlighted the progress of the work on expedited arbitration. Concerning Working Group III, progress in the work on possible reform of investor-State dispute settlement was welcomed. Several delegations highlighted the importance that the Working Group proceed in a transparent and inclusive manner. While some delegations expressed the desire that the work proceed without delay, the importance of a cautious and balanced approach was also highlighted. The agreement to pursue both a step-by-step and a systemic workstream simultaneously was noted. Regarding Working Group IV, several delegations welcomed the work on cross-border identity management and trust services. With respect to Working Group V, a number of delegations expressed appreciation for progress on recommendations for a simplified insolvency regime for micro and small enterprises. Additionally, several delegations welcomed the work of Working Group VI to develop an international instrument relating to the judicial sale of ships.

Finally, a number of delegations expressed support for the expansion of the membership of the Commission. In this respect, several delegations emphasized the importance of agreeing to an equitable geographical distribution of members. It was hoped that consensus on expansion would be reached in 2021.

Archived videos and summaries of plenary meetings

Video 15th meeting (10 November 2020, 10:00am – 1:00pm) | Summary

Video 19th meeting (19 November 2020, 3:00pm – 6:00pm) | Summary

Action taken by the Sixth Committee

At the 19th meeting, on 19 November 2020, the representative of Austria, on behalf of a number of sponsors (see A/75/424), introduced a draft resolution entitled “Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law on the work of its fifty-third session” (A/C.6/75/L.17). At the same meeting, the Committee adopted draft resolution A/C.6/75/L.17 without a vote.

Under the terms of the draft resolution, the Assembly would, inter alia, take note with interest of the decisions taken by the Commission as regards its future work and the progress made by the Commission in its work in several areas. In particular, the General Assembly would commend the Commission for the completion of the Legal Guide to Uniform Legal Instruments in the Area of International Commercial Contracts, prepared in coordination with the Hague Conference on Private International Law and the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law.

Subsequent action taken by the General Assembly

This agenda item will be considered at the seventy-sixth session (2021).

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