12 December 2008
General Assembly Adopts Convention on Contracts for the International Carriage of Goods Wholly or Partly by Sea
VIENNA, 12 December (UN Information Service) - The United Nations General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Carriage of Goods Wholly or Partly by Sea on 11 December 2008. The General Assembly authorized the opening for signature of the Convention at a signing ceremony to be held on 23 September 2009 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and recommended that the rules embodied in the Convention be known as "The Rotterdam Rules."
The Convention on Contracts for the International Carriage of Goods Wholly or Partly by Sea aims to create a contemporary and uniform law providing for modern door-to-door container transport including an international sea leg, but not limited to port-to-port carriage of goods. There are many innovative features contained in the Convention, including provisions allowing for electronic transport records, and other features to fill the perceived gaps in existing transport regimes. Extensive negotiation by the Member States and observers of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) has resulted in overwhelming support for a significant increase to the limits on carrier liability for cargo loss or damage that apply in most countries. This is expected to be of substantial benefit for shippers, particularly those in developing and least-developed countries, which are consumers of transportation services. It is expected that harmonization and modernization of the legal regime in this area, which in many countries dates back to the 1920s or earlier, will lead to an overall reduction in transaction costs, increased predictability when problems are encountered, and greater commercial confidence when doing business internationally.
Since 2002, the Working Group on Transport Law of UNCITRAL worked in close cooperation with interested international inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations to prepare a legislative text on issues relating to the international carriage of goods. The draft Convention was prepared over thirteen sessions of the Working Group from April 2002 to January 2008, and was approved by UNCITRAL in New York on 3 July 2008, following which it was sent to the General Assembly for adoption at its current 63 rd session.
The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) is the core legal body of the United Nations system in the field of international trade law. Its mandate is to remove legal obstacles to international trade by progressively modernizing and harmonizing trade law. It prepares legal texts in a number of key areas such as international commercial dispute settlement, electronic commerce, insolvency, international payments, sale of goods, transport law, procurement and infrastructure development. UNCITRAL also provides technical assistance to law reform activities, including assisting Member States to review and assess their law reform needs and to draft the legislation required to implement UNCITRAL texts. The UNCITRAL Secretariat is located in Vienna, Austria. UNCITRAL maintains a website at www.uncitral.org.
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