United Nations Economic Commission on International Trade Law

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In 1966, The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) was established as a subsidiary body of the UN General Assembly (UNGA). UNCITRAL is the modernization and harmonization of rules on international business, responsible for helping to facilitate international trade and investment. The UN General Assembly ascertains the membership of UNCITRAL which has expanded to 60 states.

Objectives of UNCITRAL

The purpose is to develop rules on commercial transactions such as dispute resolution, international contract practices, transport, insolvency, electronic commerce, international payments, secured transactions, procurement, and sale of goods. Its work includes conventions, model laws, legal and legislative guides, and practical recommendations; updated information on case law and enactments of uniform commercial law; technical assistance in law reform projects; and regional and national seminars on uniform commercial law.

The aim of UNCITRAL is to limit any legal obstacles to the flow of international trade and to modernize and harmonize trade laws progressively. It attempts to coordinate the work of organizations active in such work and encourage acceptance and use of the rules and legal texts it develops.

Furthermore, it aims to implement its instruments in order to help countries to attract investment, resolve commercial disputes, build the trust of international community and to ensure good governance and rule of law.

UNCITRAL and Pakistan

Pakistan is elected by the United Nations General Assembly as a member of UNCITRAL till 2022.

The integration between Pakistan and UNCITRAL can be seen in the Arbitration Bill, 2009 (the Bill) introduced on 24th April 2009 into the Pakistan National Assembly. The Bill in its preamble aims to incorporate the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration (the Model Law) into Pakistan.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court judgment ‘Orient v SNGPL’ [2019 CLD 1082] discusses the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration.  The Court remarked that:

In a commercially fast paced world, where the world is essentially a global village, it is regrettable that Pakistan, although a signatory to UNCITRAL, has till date did not incorporate the provisions of the Model Law into its domestic law and the Foreign Arbitration Act makes no mention of incorporation by reference.

These words are a surety that Pakistan may in the near future become an UNCITRAL Model Law country.

The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific (UNCITRAL RCAP) and the Centre for International Investment and Commercial Arbitration (CIICA) held a conference on 6th October 2020 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG). The conference discussed the application of the CISG in the post-Covid-19 world with emphasis on whether Pakistan and other jurisdictions in the region should undergo the adoption of CISG.

Mr. Abdul Hameed, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Pakistan made a statement to the United Nations in the Sixth Committee on Agenda Item 79: Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law on the Work of Its Forty-Sixth Session (New York, 14 October 2013). He added how Pakistan values the Commission’s decision to adopt the UNCITRAL Rules on Transparency in Treaty-based Investor-State Arbitration and the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules. UNCITRAL rules on transparency will facilitate promotion of good governance, rule of law, and fairness in investment and arbitration processes. Nevertheless, supported the point made in article 7 in relation to exceptions to transparency including confidential information based on public policy and protection of the arbitral process’ integrity.

Mr. Hameed praised the performance of working group VI which adopted the UNCITRAL Guide on the Implementation of a Security Rights Registry in the last session of the Commission. Furthermore, working group V adopted the Guide to Enactment and Interpretation of the UNCITRAL Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency.

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