November 25, 2017

Statement by Ambassador A. J. Jacovides on the Report of UNCITRAL

Mr. Chairman,

This being the first time I take the floor during this Session, permit me to extend to you and to the other members of the bureau the most sincere congratulations of my delegation on your well deserved election to your respective offices. We are convinced that, with your wide experience and recognized ability, you will conduct the Committee’s work, which this year includes important and sensitive topics such as International Terrorism, the International Criminal Court and Human Cloning, in an exemplary manner and we pledge our full cooperation. On a personal basis, having been associated with you in the Committee and elsewhere over several decades, I am particularly pleased to see you preside over our deliberations.

Mr. Chairman, this year’s annual Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (A/57/17) is up to its usual high standards and fully justifies its reputation as a technical body of high professional quality.  It sets out the various substantive topics dealt with by UNCITRAL during its 35th session. We note that in June this year the Commission adopted a Model Law on International Commercial Conciliation intended to foster economy and efficiency in international trade by encouraging the use of conciliation and to provide greater predictability in its use as a method for resolving disputes. It is hoped that it will significantly assist States in the area of modern conciliation and mediation techniques. The Commission also continued its constructive work on the subjects of insolvency, security interest, electronic contracting, transport law and privately financed infrastructure projects and has made commendable progress.

My delegation attaches particular importance to the work performed on arbitration and more particularly on the implementation of the 1958 New York Convention (Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Awards). In this connection, we commend the work carried out by the Working Group on Arbitration and note the progress achieved so far regarding the main issues under discussion there. Likewise, we share the view that non-compliance with arbitral awards is a serious matter that requires immediate attention since it could undermine the efficiency of arbitration and the reliability of contracts which could seriously disrupt international trade. Arbitration is becoming an increasingly important method for the settlement of disputes, nationally and internationally, as evidenced by the activities of, among other prominent institutions active in this field, the International Court of Arbitration (ICC), the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and the American Arbitration Association (AAA) as indeed the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague and, thus, it deserves particular attention.

Mr. Chairman, we are grateful to the Commission’s Chairman, Mr. Henry Smart, for his clear and comprehensive introduction of the Report which considerably facilitated our understanding of UNCITRAL’s work, priorities, method of operation and other issues and concerns, including the issue of enlargement of its membership.

My delegation, which was on the vanguard of the initiative to create UNCITRAL in the mid sixties and served on it for a number of years, is fully cognizant of the important role of commercial law for the proper functioning of a healthy economic system and of the need to ensure the active participation of the broadest possible number of countries and legal systems in the UNCITRAL law making process. Thus, we reiterate our support for the proposed enlargement in principle. While flexible as to the size of the enlargement and recognizing the need to maintain efficiency in carrying out the Commission’s work, we note the constructive suggestions made in this regard by the Austrian delegation and stress that the primary objective is that the Commission should be representative of all juridical and economic systems. My country, an early participant in UNCITRAL and, more recently, a recipient of valuable technical assistance, it keenly interested to contribute to the future work of UNCITRAL in its new composition.

Similarly, we are convinced that there exists persuasive reasons to support the increase of the Secretariat resources, in terms of personnel and finances, so as to enable it to discharge its duties in a way commensurate with its heavy work load.

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, my delegation highly appreciates the work of UNCITRAL and its contribution in promoting the harmonization and progressive development of international trade law. We attach particular importance to its work in the areas of training and technical assistance, in respect of which we have made our modest financial contribution. UNCITRAL deserves our full support.

Allow me also to make in passing the observation that the international lawyer of today must have expertise in both public and private international law.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.