Press Releases

    GA/L/3180
    9 October 2001

    MORE SUPPORT EXPRESSED FOR INCREASED FINANCIAL, PERSONNEL RESOURCES FOR INTERNATIONAL
    TRADE LAW COMMISSION

    Assembly’s Legal Committee Continues Review
    Of UNCITRAL Annual Report


    NEW YORK, 8 October (UN Headquarters) -- Given the importance of the harmonization of international trade law in this era of rapid globalization, several speakers supported a commensurate increase in the financial and personnel resources available to the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) as the Sixth Committee (Legal) continued its consideration of the Commission’s annual report this afternoon.

    The representative of Austria noted that in past years, the Sixth Committee had lamented the fact that the resources of UNCITRAL secretariat were too limited considering its large mandate. Austria was pleased that proposals to alleviate the burden of the Commission secretariat had been supported by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ).

    The representative of the United Kingdom noted with some misgiving that despite the Commission’s new working methods there was an increase in the workload that UNCITRAL was assuming. The key to the success of the new working methods, she said, was the setting of priorities to make the best use of the shorter time available for each of its working groups.

    In appealing for more contributions to the Commission’s trust fund on training and technical assistance, the delegate of Kenya pointed out that a number of countries, including his own, had benefited from seminars, symposiums and colloquiums organized by the Commission.

    Also speaking this afternoon were the representatives of Belarus, Singapore, Mali, Cyprus and Mexico.

    The Sixth Committee will meet at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 9 October and is expected to conclude its debate on the report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law. It will then consider an item on the scope of the legal protection under the 1994 Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel.

    Work Programme

    The Sixth Committee (Legal) met this afternoon to continue its consideration of the report of United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).

    Statements

    ANDREI N. POPKOV (Belarus) commended the results of the Commission’s session during which it completed work on the draft convention on assignment of receivables in international trade and the Model Law on Electronic Signatures. His delegation attached importance to the Commission’s work on elaboration of texts on international trade laws that were of interest to all. As a country with an economy in transition, he said, Belarus was making maximum efforts to expand international trade. It had acceded to four UNCITRAL conventions which had been incorporated into domestic law.

    His delegation welcomed the conclusion of the Commission’s work on the draft convention on assignment of receivables in international trade. A new civil code adopted by his government was based on the same principles contained in an instrument elaborated by the Commission. Belarus also welcomed the Commission’s work on electronic signatures.

    He drew attention to the need for a balanced approach to the work on insolvency. He welcomed the initiative to analyse problems connected with the international carriage of goods by sea. The issue was most timely, he said, adding that a convention on that would be a valuable contribution to the elaboration of international transport law.

    He said he supported the proposal to increase the membership of the Commission, but felt that it should be relatively small, in order for the Commission’s efficiency to be maintained. He said UNCITRAL should be more active in disseminating information about its work. It should also hold more seminars on its work and provide more technical assistance.

    LYNETTE LONG (Singapore) said developments in international commercial relations and new technologies had made the work of the Commission even more important. The draft convention on assignment of receivables would further enhance the flow of international trade by increasing the availability of lower-cost credit. Since 1996, with the completion of work on the Model Law on Electronic Commerce, the Commission had not rested on its laurels but had continued work on other aspects of electronic commerce law. The model law on electronic signatures maintained the balance between the interests of signatories, certification service providers and relying parties.

    Singapore appreciated the decision to prepare a legislative guide to implementing insolvency law. A legislative guide would provide the Commission with flexibility while at the same maximizing utility. However, the guide should not be too general or abstract, but should include model legislative provisions to the extent possible.

    Singapore was proud of the contribution it had been able to make to the training and assistance programmes. Given that current circumstances were very different from those at the time UNCITRAL was established, and that there would be no material or financial implications, Singapore supported the Commission’s recommendation for an increase in membership.

    ALEXANDER MARSCHIK (Austria) noted that in past years the Sixth Committee had lamented the fact that the UNCITRAL secretariat had too limited resources, considering its large mandate. Unfortunately, the situation had not changed. Austria was pleased that the proposals to alleviate the burden of the secretariat had been supported by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ). In view of the importance of harmonization and unification of international trade law in a time of globalization, and the importance the Secretary-General placed on the necessity of enhancing the rule of law, Austria hoped the Assembly would ensure that the UNCITRAL secretariat received additional resources.

    The draft convention on assignment of receivables met urgent needs of international trade, he said. As the Commission had to address various difficult legal problems, and to combine different legal systems, the draft convention would need close scrutiny and require time to fully demonstrate its usefulness.

    The model law on electronic signatures had received a fair amount of attention from the media, which demonstrated that UNCITRAL had chosen wisely in taking up the issue at this time. International trade was more than ready to take advantage of new technologies that facilitated business, he said. He expressed the hope that many States would take advantage of that instrument, as Austria had already done by implementing the European Union directive regarding electronic signatures, which contained several features also reflected in the model law.

    He commended the role of the Secretariat in promoting awareness of the Commission’s work, especially the time- and resource-consuming collection and dissemination of case law on UNCITRAL texts as well as the acclaimed training and technical assistance seminars. He added that if there were agreement on the principle of enlargement of the Commission it would be possible to find agreement on the best total number.

    ALICE BURNETT (United Kingdom) said the draft convention on assignment of receivables would enable business and lenders to reach funding agreements to the benefit of world trade. The model law on electronic signatures was also a significant piece of model legislation in an area of activity of increasing importance to all areas of commerce. She expressed the hope that it would assist in promoting e-business and e-commerce. The United Kingdom was happy to see that UNCITRAL was now turning its attention to electronic contracting and hoped the Commission would proceed in a measured manner.

    While the work on arbitration was moving in the right direction, the United Kingdom remained concerned that a model law on conciliation should not constrain, or regulate too tightly, a process whose main advantage was flexibility and informality. As to work on transport law, she urged the Commission to retain a clear direction in the scope of its work in the area. Describing reform of the law on security interests as an ambitious project, she said UNCITRAL must liaise closely with other international organizations to avoid the possibility of wasteful duplication of effort.

    The United Kingdom supported the proposal to increase the membership of the Commission. She noted with some misgivings that despite the new working methods, there was an increase in the workload that UNCITRAL was assuming. The key to the success of the new working methods was the setting of priorities to make the best use of the shorter time available for each working group. If that was not done with care, then there was a danger that all of UNCITRAL’S work might slip behind schedule.

    SALIFOU FOMBA (Mali) praised the high quality of the Commission’s work on the draft convention on assignment of receivables in international trade, and the Model Law on Electronic Signatures. He said Mali supported the Commission’s recommendation that the General Assembly should adopt the draft convention. His delegation also supported the establishment of a working group on infrastructures.

    Furthermore, Mali supported the proposed increase in the Commission’s membership, while maintaining its regional balance. It called for more training programmes for developing countries and increased resources for the Commission.

    BOB F. JALANG’O (Kenya) said the draft convention on the assignments of receivables in international trade could likely result in the availability of more affordable credit to businessmen. Kenya agreed with the Commission’s view that the draft convention should be adopted and opened for signature by States members of the United Nations.

    He observed that a number of countries, including his own, had benefited from seminars, symposiums and colloquiums organized by the Commission and recalled a successful seminar held in Nairobi last summer. Kenya had used some of the Commission’s texts to draft Government procurement rules and an arbitration act.

    Kenya appealed for more contributions to the Commission’s trust fund on training and technical assistance. It supported the proposed increase in the Commission’s membership, noting that the action would not result in increased costs of servicing its activities. Kenya also called for an increase in the Commission’s resources.

    ADREAS JACOVIDES (Cyprus) noted that in addition to completing the draft convention on assignment receivables, the Commission had also finalized the model law on electronic signatures. Moreover, the Commission had dealt with the topic of insolvency law by developing a comprehensive statement on key objectives and core features, and with the settlement of commercial disputes, with an appropriate emphasis on conciliation. Cyprus also noted and approved of the Commission’s work on privately financed infrastructure projects, which was a matter of particular interest to developing countries.

    Describing the workload of the Commission as heavy this year, in terms of substance, he expressed appreciation to the Chairman of UNCITRAL who, he said, had provided useful insights into the reasons for the enlargement of the Commission’s membership as well as into the new methods of the working groups, given the increased workload resulting from globalization.

    Given the importance of the role of commercial law for the proper functioning of economic activities in a healthy economic system, and of the need to ensure the broadest number of countries and legal systems in UNCITRAL’s work, he supported in principle the increase in membership. While he had an open mind as to the number, an increase to 72 would follow the current pattern of enlargements. He also supported an increase in the financial and human resources of the Commission that was commensurate of the work carried out by UNCITRAL.

    ALFONSO ASCENCIO (Mexico) said his country associated itself with the statement made on behalf of the Rio Group. It supported proposals for an increase in the Commission’s membership. Such an increase should be based on two factors: the Commission’s representative character and the preservation of its efficiency.

    He reiterated Mexico’s commitment to the Commission’s work in finding approaches that would help enhance international trade law.

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