Delegates Call for Expansion of International Trade Commission Membership, Reforms in Investor-State Disputes, as Sixth Committee Takes Up Annual Report

GA/L/3602
21 October 2019
Seventy-fourth Session, 20th Meeting (AM)

Delegates Call for Expansion of International Trade Commission Membership, Reforms in Investor-State Disputes, as Sixth Committee Takes Up Annual Report

As the Sixth Committee (Legal) took up the report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) today, delegates called for an expansion of that Commission’s membership, along with reforms in investor‑State settlement disputes.

Wisit Wisitsora-At (Thailand), Chair of the fifty-second session of UNCITRAL, introduced the Commission’s report (document A/74/17), highlighting the finalization of seven texts in the space of two weeks, as opposed to the usual, a result of organizing the session differently.

Outlining the various texts, he noted that the one on public-private partnerships consolidates the Commission’s existing texts on privately financed infrastructure projects.  The Model Law on Enterprise Group Solvency, together with its guide, focuses on the insolvency of multiple debtors that are members of the same enterprise group, which may be located in one or more jurisdictions.

International trade is often referred to as an engine for development, he said, adding that the engine needs proper care.  With business practices evolving and the digital revolution, the objectives that motivated the General Assembly to establish the Commission 53 years ago are even more relevant today.

Turning to the proposal of Israel and Japan to broaden the Commission’s membership, he remarked:  “Many issues remain open.”  Calling it premature to submit the proposal to the Sixth Committee this year, he nevertheless encouraged States to consult on that proposal.

In the ensuing debate, Japan’s delegate said that expanding participation in the Commission’s work was essential to improve its effectiveness.  Highlighting his country’s proposal to increase its membership, he noted that his delegation held the first informal consultation on 24 September where all Permanent Missions in Vienna were invited to discuss salient issues.

The representative of the United States said he welcomed the planned discussions on the appropriate size and composition of the Commission’s membership.  However, the focus must be on ensuring the Commission can maintain and improve its capacities.

Argentina’s delegate, while highlighting the Commission’s assistance in creating an environment conducive to facilitating trade and investment between countries, said he supported the proposal to increase the number of the Commission’s members, provided that such increase achieves balanced geographic representation.

In that vein, the representative of Sierra Leone said that developing countries are often absent in the work of the Commission.  An inclusive approach and effective representation are crucial to prevent a single perspective from dominating international trade law.  He also expressed concern about the lack of diversity in the investor‑State dispute settlement mechanism, a focus of Working Group III.  The settlement of disputes is critical in cross‑border commerce, he said.

The representative of Thailand also spotlighted the importance of reform of the current dispute settlement system.  Praising the approach of Working Group III that allowed multiple reform options to be developed at the same time, he said that a successful reform must be practical and benefit as many States as possible.  He also said he supported the establishment of an advisory centre for the least developed and developing countries.

Finland’s delegate, also speaking for Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, joined others in noting the clear need for reform in the investor-State dispute settlement system.  It is crucial to reflect the principles of legitimacy, independence, openness, expertise, predictability and cost‑efficiency, she said.

Malaysia’s delegate struck a note of caution, however, pointing out that any mechanism in the area of investor‑State dispute settlement has its strengths and weaknesses.  Therefore, reform proposals should be thoroughly deliberated by Member States.

The Committee also concluded its consideration of requests for observer status in the General Assembly, with the representative of France introducing a draft solution requesting that for the International Trade Union Confederation.  China’s delegate introduced a draft resolution concerning the Boao Forum for Asia.

Also speaking today were representatives of Spain, Turkey, Russian Federation, Philippines, Sweden, Viet Nam, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Nepal, Singapore, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, United Kingdom, Republic of Korea, Italy, Honduras, Austria, India, El Salvador, Kuwait, Venezuela, Ukraine and Zambia, as well as a representative of the European Union delegation.

The Sixth Committee will meet at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 22 October, to conclude its consideration of the report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law and begin its debate on prevention of transboundary harm from hazardous activities and allocation of loss in the case of such harm as well as the law of transboundary aquifers.

Requests for Observer Status

Continuing its consideration of requests for observer status, the Committee took up draft resolution A/C.6/74/L.4 on the International Trade Union Confederation in the General Assembly.

The representative of France, introducing the draft, said that the expertise of the Confederation has been recognized all over the world.  As an observer, it will help to integrate the goals of full employment and decent work across the General Assembly.  That would enable better consideration for the rights of workers on issues ranging from migration to the role of women.  Because it represents 331 affiliated organizations in 163 countries and more than 2 million workers, the Confederation can also facilitate dialogue with civil society.  It is not, strictly speaking, an intergovernmental organization, she acknowledged, but the Assembly has the right to waive the criteria it has set and has provided waivers to candidate organizations where justified.

The delegate of Spain said that, like the International Organization of Employers, the Confederation meets a series of conditions and specificities that make it suitable for carrying out the function of observer of the General Assembly.  The Confederation has profound experience in the promotion of international cooperation and decision‑making on public policies to protect workers and improve their conditions.  She also highlighted the intimate and constitutive relationship between the Confederation and the International Labour Organization (ILO).  (For background on the International Organization of Employers, see Press Release GA/L/3601 of 18 October.)

The representative of Turkey also voiced support for the Confederation, adding that it constitutes an integral pillar of the tripartite structure of ILO and has made significant contributions to the work of the United Nations.

The representative of the United States underscored that the General Assembly decided to limit eligibility for observer status to those intergovernmental organizations whose activities cover matters of interest to it.  Although the Confederation clearly fulfils an important and unique role, it is ineligible for observer status in the Assembly because its membership is made up of trade unions, not States.  The Assembly did not intend to create a new potentially limitless category of exceptionally unique organizations, she said, expressing concern that additional exceptions will eventually render the Assembly’s decisions meaningless.

The delegate of the Philippines expressed support for the granting of observer status to the Confederation.

The representative of the Russian Federation, expressing respect for the work of the Confederation, including on the ILO platform, called for strict compliance with established General Assembly decisions and criteria.  “We cannot focus on one criterion and ignore the others,” she said, pointing out that the Confederation is not an intergovernmental organization.

The delegate of Sweden, voicing support for observer status, said that the Confederation as well as the International Organization of Employers are key actors in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  The Confederation has close collaboration with ILO, enabling them to contribute to the work of the General Assembly, she said.

The representative of China expressed major concerns about the positions and activities of the Confederation.  He noted his objection to giving it observer status in the General Assembly.

The Committee then took up draft resolution A/C.6/74/L.5 on observer status for the Boao Forum for Asia in the General Assembly.

The representative of China introduced the draft text, saying that the Forum is a non‑profit international organization open to all members of the United Nations that strives to promote economic exchange, interaction and cooperation among Asian countries and between Asia and other parts of the world.  It provides a high‑level venue for dialogue among Governments, businesses, experts and scholars on both Asian and global issues.  He stressed that granting observer status will reinforce long‑term cooperation between the Forum and the Organization, promote cooperation among Asian countries to achieve the 2030 Agenda and facilitate stable, inclusive and sustainable growth of the world economy.

The representative of the Philippines stated that the Forum’s work covers matters of interest to the General Assembly and therefore meets the criteria of observer status.  The Forum promotes cooperation among Asian countries and between Asia and the rest of the world, as well as with the Organization towards achieving the 2030 Agenda.  She added that the Forum is committed to upholding a multilateral trading system that is rules‑based, open, transparent, inclusive, just and equitable.

The delegate of Vietnam said that the Forum’s activities cover matters of interest to the General Assembly, including the promotion of economic exchange, investment and regional integration.  Since its inception, it has been instrumental in providing a platform for exchange of ideas among Governments, businesses and think tanks.

The representative of Myanmar also spoke in support of granting observer status to the Forum, adding that it works closely with specialized agencies of the United Nations and major international economic organizations in co‑hosting conferences and conducting joint studies.

The delegate of Nicaragua said that the Forum meets the necessary requirements for observer status.  Granting it observer status will enable the development and implementation of the 2030 Agenda across Asia.

The representative of Nepal said that the Forum has become an important platform for discussion and the sharing of experience on pertinent issues confronting the Asian region and beyond.  Governments, businesses and academia hold annual interactions and exchange ideas on issues including economic and social development, technology and innovation.  The Forum can contribute to deepening economic cooperation and facilitating the development of the continent, he emphasized, urging all Member States to support the resolution.

The representative of Singapore stated that granting the Forum observer status would benefit both the Forum and the General Assembly.  The Forum’s objectives include the promotion and strengthening of economic exchange, interaction and cooperation within Asia and between Asia and other parts of the world.  Its activities cover matters of interest to the General Assembly and it is in a position to contribute to that organ’s work.  Further, its presence as an observer could enhance its ability to carry out its functions, she said.

The delegate of Cambodia, endorsing the statement delivered by China, said that the work of the Forum is complementary to that of the Assembly.  Granting it observer status will enhance stronger cooperation between the Forum and United Nations agencies in the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals in Asian countries.

The delegate of Indonesia said that his country has been involved in the Forum’s work since its inception.  Its activities enable dialogue among Governments, businesses and experts.

The representative of Lao People’s Democratic Republic added his voice in support of granting observer status to the Forum, given the importance and relevance of its activities to the General Assembly.

The United States delegate said that, under the Forum’s charter, it is a non‑profit nongovernmental organization.  Its members are individuals, corporations, non‑profit organizations, and other non‑governmental organizations.  While the Forum is open to States becoming “initial countries” and such “initial countries” have a role in nominating individuals in the initial members category, States, as such, are not eligible for membership in the Forum under article 7 of its charter.  The Forum also does not have legal personality under international law.  Therefore, it cannot be considered an intergovernmental organization for purposes of General Assembly observer status.

The representative of Saudi Arabia said that the Forum provides a venue for dialogue among business leaders and academics and expands economic and trade opportunities in Asia.  She stressed that granting the Forum observer status could contribute to deeper long‑term cooperation between the Forum and the United Nations and between Asian countries towards attaining the Sustainable Development Goals.

The delegate of Pakistan said that the Forum provides a high‑level venue for dialogue among Governments, businesses and academia and promotes economic exchange and cooperation within the region and beyond.  He stressed that the Forum’s work covers matters of interest to the General Assembly and asked for Member States to support the draft resolution.

The representative of China, thanking those delegations that had voiced support for the Boao Forum, pointed out that the General Assembly grants observer status to States and intergovernmental organizations that cover matters of interest to the Assembly.  Noting the granting of that status to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Chamber of Commerce, he stressed that the Boao Forum has put forward many valuable proposals aligned with the work of the United Nations.  Granting it observer status is consistent with the spirit of the General Assembly decision.  In addition, in accordance with the charter of the Forum and Chinese law, the Forum has full legal personality, he said.

United Nations Commission on International Trade Law

WISIT WISITSORA-AT (Thailand), Chair of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), introduced the report on its fifty‑second session (document A/74/17).  He called attention to the finalization of seven texts in the space of two weeks, as opposed to the usual three weeks allocated to the Commission.  That was possible due to the Secretariat’s adjustments to the organization of the session, he said, expressing appreciation.  In adopting the texts, the Commission noted the need to avoid unnecessary duplication of work, underscored the importance of close coordination with the World Bank Group and recognized the role of the Insolvency and Creditor Rights Standard, known as the “ICR Standard”, as an assessment standard.

Also noting the proposal of Israel and Japan to enlarge the Commission’s membership, he said that “many issues remain open”.  While the Commission considers it premature to submit the proposal to the Sixth Committee this year, he encouraged States to consult on that proposal and requested the Secretariat to facilitate the consultations.  He then turned to the text on public‑private partnerships, which updates and consolidates the Commission’s existing texts on privately financed infrastructure projects.  The need to adopt these texts arose in response to the rapid evolution in the types of public‑private partnerships being undertaken and the practices involved in their conclusion and implementation, he said.

In the area of insolvency law, the Commission adopted the Model Law on Enterprise Group Solvency together with its guide to enactment, he continued.  These texts focus on the insolvency of multiple debtors that are members of the same enterprise group, which may be located in one or more jurisdictions.  Turning to the third text, the Practice Guide to the Model Law on Secured Transactions, he said that it is a non‑legislative text which describes the type of secured transactions that creditors and other businesses can undertake under the model law; it provides step‑by‑step explanations on how to engage in them.  The Commission also approved for publication the Secretariat notes on cloud computing contracts.  The notes are a non‑exhaustive source of information on drafting cloud computing contracts.  They build on current contractual practices, relevant technical standards and where available, existing legislation, he said.

Spotlighting the Commission’s working groups on a range of topics including expedited arbitration and an international instrument on the judicial sale of ships, he turned to its future work programme.  In that regard, the Commission has requested the Secretariat to continue its exploratory work on legal issues related to the digital economy and digital trade.  Further, the Commission has agreed to convene two international colloquiums:  one on civil asset‑tracing and recovery; and the second on applicable law in insolvency proceedings.

He went on to say that the objectives that motivated the General Assembly to establish the Commission 53 years ago are as relevant today as they were at that time, and even more so in light of evolving business practices, the digital revolution and the potentially disruptive effects of new technologies.  These developments call for sustained attention to the harmonization and modernization of international trade law.  International trade suffers when such modernization does not occur or it occurs in a disharmonized way.  Noting that international trade is often referred to as an engine for development, he said its contribution to economic growth and sustainable development is undeniable.  The engine of international trade needs proper care and the Commission makes an important contribution to this.  Nonetheless, it also needs good care to be able to continue carrying out its mandate, he stressed.

Ms. GAUCI, European Union delegation, welcomed the results of the Commission’s fifty‑second session, especially in the areas of arbitration and mediation, insolvency law and security interests.  She stressed that traditional investor‑State dispute settlement presents various challenges and should be reformed.  Where dispute resolution involves public matters, a standing body and a multilateral approach are best suited to effectively address all issues at stake.  Given the heavy workload related to such reform, she urged that additional working time is necessary to ensure the best use of resources and that results are attained within a reasonable timeframe.

Pointing to the significant advantages that the Commission presents in transparency, openness and accessibility, she encouraged all countries, international organizations and observers to actively take part in discussions in the Commission’s working groups.  To this end, the European Union has contributed to the Commission’s travel fund to ensure that the process in Working Group III is as inclusive as possible.  She encouraged other actors to make similar contributions.

NIINA NYRHINEN (Finland), also speaking for Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, welcomed the important role of UNCITRAL and the report on its fifty‑second session.  Finland continues to participate actively in the Commission’s working groups, she said, noting that in 2019 the Commission saw significant results in the area of insolvency law, including the adoption of two new texts:  a model law on enterprise group insolvency; and a text on the obligations of directors of enterprise group companies in the period approaching insolvency.

Spotlighting the valuable work done by Working Group V on insolvency and Working Group III on investor‑State dispute settlement, she said the latter has identified a clear need for reform reflecting the principles of legitimacy, independence, openness, expertise, predictability and cost‑efficiency.  She also acknowledged the efforts of Working Group II on arbitrary and conciliation dispute settlement, Working Group I on micro-, small- and medium‑sized enterprises and Working Group VI on the judicial sale of ships.  Taking note of the work of Working Group IV on electronic commerce, she noted her commitment to following ongoing discussions therein on legal issues relating to identity management and trust services.

MICHAEL IMRAN KANU (Sierra Leone), underscoring that settlement of disputes is critical in cross‑border commerce, said that the mandate of Working Group II should focus on improving the efficiency of arbitral proceedings.  Too much weight must not be attached to the consideration of whether the scope of its work should differentiate between commercial and investment arbitration.  Potential reforms on investor‑State dispute settlement should be developed in parallel without a distinction between incremental or systematic reforms, he said, also expressing concern about the lack of diversity in that mechanism, as well as plurality in the deliberation caused by lack of expertise and financial resources.  Regarding participation and capacity‑building, he noted absentees in the work of the Commission, particularly developing countries.  The working methods of UNCITRAL can be likened to those of the International Law Commission; the mandate aims to progressively develop or codify international trade law.  Such an aim should be all‑embracing to prevent the pursuit of a single perspective.  Sierra Leone will put forward a proposal to extend the coverage of the Commission’s trust fund for travel assistance to cover participation of non‑member observer States in Working Group III and settlement dispute reform.  An inclusive approach and effective representation are necessary based on membership instead of non‑member State observer status, he said.

CHUNG YOON JOO (Singapore), spotlighting the Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation, known as the Singapore Convention on Mediation, stated that this instrument will provide an efficient and effective international framework for cross‑border enforcement of settlement agreements resulting from mediation of commercial disputes.  Uncertainty in international enforceability of such agreements had been cited as a challenge to the use of mediation.  Therefore, the Convention is a milestone development for international trade as it enables these agreements to be enforced and invoked across borders.  This will facilitate the growth of international commerce and promote the use of mediation around the world.  She also welcomed the completion of the Commission’s Model Law on Enterprise Group Insolvency, which complements the Model Law on the Recognition and Enforcement of Insolvency‑Related Judgements, and ensures that insolvency regimes keep pace with developments in the increasingly borderless nature of businesses.

MARIA ANGELA PONCE (Philippines) said that, in regards to Working Group I, her country’s development plans recognize small entrepreneurs as important players of the economy, with micro‑, small‑, and medium‑sized enterprises accounting for 99 per cent of business establishments in the country.  “We need to assist them and make them globally competitive,” she emphasized.  She also said that while the mandate of Working Group III focuses on procedural aspects of investor‑State dispute settlement matters rather than on the underlying investment protection standards, any reform must strike a balance between rights and obligations of the States, on the one hand, and the investors on the other.  She expressed support for the Commission’s work on reducing legal obstacles — including access to credit — faced by these enterprises, particularly in developing countries.  In addition, the Philippines signed the Singapore Convention on Mediation, which complements the existing legal framework on international mediation.

ALEJANDRO GUILLERMO VERDIER (Argentina) stated that the Commission has assisted in creating an environment conducive to facilitating trade and investment between countries by promoting language giving certainty in this area to the international community.  He supported the proposal to increase the number of the Commission’s members, he said, provided that such increase achieves balanced geographic representation.  He also said that Working Group I should continue its work on the draft legislative guide on limited‑liability organizations as it aims to reduce the legal obstacles faced by micro‑, small‑ and medium‑sized enterprises throughout their life cycle.  Turning to investor‑State dispute settlement reform, he noted his support for this work to the extent that there is certainty with regards to viability in that forum.  As well, he welcomed the completion of various other model legal provisions.

Mr. DIXON (United Kingdom), associating himself with the European Union, expressed his support for the efforts of the working groups.  He commended Singapore for hosting the signing ceremony of the Singapore Convention on Mediation, adding:  “We are currently considering whether the United Kingdom should apply the Convention.”  He also welcomed the Secretariat’s continued support and the approach it has taken in considering the views of different stakeholders in the possible reform of investor‑State dispute settlement.  Highlighting the sessions of Working Group V on insolvency law, he applauded the progress on the insolvency of micro‑, small‑ and medium‑sized entities and the finalizing of the new Model Law provisions of multinational enterprise group solvency.

HWANG WOO JIN (Republic of Korea), underlining the importance of the investor‑State dispute settlement reform agenda in Working Group III, recalled that in July his country submitted a document covering three main topics:  modalities for future discussion; additional topics for the Working Group; and suggestions relating to a standing mechanism for the settlement of international investment disputes.  Expressing hope that such discussions will yield fruitful solutions, he pointed out that the Republic of Korea was selected to host the first UNCITRAL regional office, namely its Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific.  His country has provided financial and human resource support and strives to make the Centre a permanent organization, he said, spotlighting the latter’s contributions to discussions in the formulation of UNCITRAL rules and their dissemination across the region.

ENRICO MILANO (Italy), aligning himself with the European Union, highlighted the Commission’s role in helping Member States adapt their legislation to changing needs, including taking into account new technology and dedicating attention to micro-, small- and medium‑sized enterprises.  He also recognized the Commission’s contribution to sustainable development.  Expert fora, such as the Commission, ensure dialogue and inclusive cooperation and address issues critical to future governance such as investor‑State dispute settlement reform.  He said his country will continue to work towards shared solutions, broaden the basis for consensus and support the implementation of the Commission’s instruments through domestic legislation.

JULIAN SIMCOCK (United States) thanked the Secretariat for its excellent work managing the update of the Model Legislative Provisions and the Legislative Guide addressing public‑private partnerships.  Also lauding the Model Law on Enterprise Group Insolvency and its guide to enactment, he said that this law will contribute to the establishment of harmonized national enterprise group insolvency laws that protect and maximize the value of assets and operations of enterprise groups and their members while also providing appropriate protection to creditors.  Welcoming planned discussions on the appropriate size and composition of the Commission’s membership, he said that such discussions will focus on ensuring the Commission can maintain and improve its capacities.

YOLANNIE CERRATO (Honduras), welcoming the August 2019 signing of the Singapore Convention on Mediation, said her country was pleased to be among the first 46 States to sign the Convention.  She stressed that the Convention is the result of recognition of the value of mediation in international trade and that mediation is increasingly used in national and international trade practice as an alternative to the judicial process.  As well, she welcomed the Commission’s work on various instruments, including the Model Legislative Provisions on Public‑Private Partnerships, the Practice Guide for the Model Law on Secured Transactions and the Model Law on Enterprise Group Insolvency.  She also detailed her country’s work in this area, including domestic law that promotes and develops the competitiveness of micro‑, small‑ and medium‑sized enterprises and that recognizes and enforces foreign arbitration awards.

NATTHAKIT SINGTO (Thailand), underscoring the importance of reform of the investor‑State dispute settlement system, welcomed the significant progress made by Working Group III in phase III of its mandate.  A successful reform must be practical and benefit as many States as possible.  The Working Group’s approach in allowing multiple reform options to be developed at the same time is the right way.  Stressing the need for dispute prevention, he noted his support for the Working Group’s aim to explore reform tools, such as the establishment of an advisory centre for the least developed and developing countries.  He also commended the Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific for its work in raising awareness and disseminating knowledge and information on international trade standards and norms, particularly those elaborated by UNCITRAL in various fora.  He also highlighted the Centre’s capacity‑building and technical assistance for developing countries in the region.  As well, the Centre is currently collaborating with Chulalongkorn University to organize an event for the 2019 UNICITRAL Asia Pacific Day, to be held in Thailand towards the end of 2019.

NADIA ALEXANDRA KALB (Austria), aligning herself with the European Union, expressed pride in hosting UNCITRAL and applauded its achievements in the harmonization of legal frameworks, reform of the investor‑State dispute settlement system and other areas.  Also commending the Commission for its new session schedule, she welcomed further discussion on enhancing the efficiency of its work.  She reaffirmed that strengthening the rule of law through the Commission is essential for achieving the goals of the 2030 Agenda.  In that regard, she strongly supported the Commission’s work concerned with technical cooperation and assistance in the field of international trade law reform and development.  Noting Austria’s role as coordinator for the resolutions on the Commission, she encouraged delegations to co‑sponsor the omnibus text to show their support for its work.

UMASANKAR YEDLA (India) commended the Commission for having finalized and adopted the Model Legislative Provisions on Public‑Private Partnerships, along with the accompanying Legislative Guide.  Those texts will go a long way in helping countries adopt domestic laws establishing procedures for the approval, award and implementation of public‑private partnership projects in accordance with the principles of transparency, fairness, stability, proper management, integrity, completion, economy and long‑term sustainability.  Noting that 46 countries, including India, signed the Singapore Convention on Mediation, he said that instrument will strengthen the international dispute resolution framework.  It will facilitate the enforcement of mediated settlement agreements and, in turn, help trade and commerce.

Ms. LOPEZ (El Salvador) said the efforts of the United Nations and Member States of the Commission have made it possible for the economic and legal systems of the world to harmonize on trade relations.  Congratulating the Commission on the adoption of the Model Law on Enterprise Group Insolvency and its Guide to Enactment as well as the Legislative Guide on Public‑Private Partnerships, she said that the promotion of public‑private partnerships is important to economic development.  Bolstering cooperation for the development of trade and using new technologies to control and facilitate trade will boost sustainable development, she said, adding that her country has repeatedly demonstrated its commitment to the mandate of the Commission.  As an observer State, El Salvador has participated actively in the meetings of the working groups as far as possible, she noted.

HOTAKA MACHIDA (Japan) stressed that, in regard to Working Group III and the matter of investor‑State dispute settlement reform, the Commission’s work should be based on the facts related to the current investment arbitration system.  Regarding Working Group IV, he highlighted the importance of identity management, adding he hoped work on the matter would include attention to the principle of technology neutrality.  He called attention to his country’s proposal on expanding participation in the Commission’s work which, he emphasized, was essential to improve its effectiveness.  Thanking delegations for the support of that proposal, he said that Japan held informal consultations and invited all Permanent Missions in Vienna to discuss salient issues pertaining to the enlargement of the Commission’ membership; the first informal consultation was held on 24 September.

Ms. AL-FARHAN (Kuwait) highlighted the importance of updating national economic and trade law to account for the evolution of norms in international trade.  She also stressed the importance of developing legislation covering the digital domain, particularly electronic commerce.  Her Government passed legislation in 2014 governing electronic commerce transactions based on the Commission’s related model law.  This legislation, however, can only be effective if it is complemented by efforts to fight cybercrime.  She expressed support for strengthening the Commission’s role in promoting the rule of law.  As her country has benefited from participating in the Commission, as well as its working groups, she expressed hope for ongoing support of that work as it is proof that the United Nations can play a major role in international trade and in developing legislation relating to electronic commerce.

SARAH ZAHIRAH BINTI RUHAMA (Malaysia), noting that any mechanism in the area of investor‑State dispute settlement has its strengths and weaknesses, said that reform proposals in that regard should be thoroughly deliberated by Member States to determine their acceptability.  She added that her country, together with other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), is also assessing the possible need for reform within its regional platform on the issue.  Affirming that Malaysia remains committed to efforts to harmonize trade laws, she pledged that it will continue to actively contribute to the work of the Commission.

LILIANA JOSEFINA MATOS JUÁREZ (Venezuela) said that, as a member of the Commission, her country participates actively in its working groups and contributes to the design of new legal instruments and study topics of international importance.  Highlighting the role of the Commission in trade law and thereby, in promoting rule of law, she welcomed the progress made by the Commission, including the adoption of the Model Law on Secured Transactions and the Model Law on Enterprise Group Insolvency and its Guide to Enactment.  As well, Venezuela signed the Singapore Convention on Mediation, she said, expressing commitment to inclusive dialogue in all the working groups to improve the norms and methods of trade law and reach common solutions.

Mr. ALANAZI (Saudi Arabia) said that in the context of the rapidly unfolding developments in finance, his country has emerged as one of the most influential regional powers.  Therefore, the Council of Ministers of Saudi Arabia has approved the setting up of the Saudi Centre for Commercial Arbitration.  Since its inception, the Centre has been at the frontline of strategic partnerships and best practices in the area of arbitration.  Further, Saudi Arabia is one of the signatories of the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, also known as the New York Convention of 1958.  The Saudi arbitration system is underpinned by the Commission’s model law on the matter, focusing on expedited, smooth implementation measures as well as professional, transparent service, inspired by Islamic sharia and global standards, he noted.

DARYNA HORBACHOVA (Ukraine), associating herself with the European Union, underscored the importance of the work of the Commission in removing legal obstacles to cross‑border commerce.  Ukraine has become one of the 46 signatories to the Singapore Convention on Mediation, she added, also emphasizing:  “We are convinced that its implementation will enhance the role of mediation as an alternative to arbitration for the settlement of international commercial disputes.”  As a new member to UNCITRAL, Ukraine will contribute to the activities of the Commission, building on its past contributions to the establishment and widespread implementation of international trade law.

COMFORT MULENGA (Zambia), affirming the importance of the codification of international trade law, called attention to the recent amendment of her country’s Constitution that provides for alternative forms of dispute resolution, including traditional mechanisms.  She also highlighted the enactment of an arbitration act that incorporates the model law of the Commission on international trade law.  Under this act, a court may refer to the documents of the Commission’s working groups.  In interpreting the provisions of the first schedule, consideration of international conformity is required.  She described ongoing discussion to further review the act to bring it in line with international developments and, possibly, to introduce a stand‑alone national mediation act.   In addition, she said she supported efforts towards streamlined registration procedures and a transboundary law on insolvency.  Further support from the United Nations and other partners was needed, however, to build capacity in arbitration and mediation of international contractual disputes, she noted.

For information media. Not an official record.