Remarks by John R. Arbogast, Counsellor, U.S. Mission to the United Nations at a General Assembly Sixth Committee (Legal) Meeting on the Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Agenda Item 79 UN Doc A/66/17

John R. Arbogast, Counsellor, U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, NY
October 10, 2011


Mr. Chairman: 

The United States wishes to thank the Secretary and the other members of the UNCITRAL Secretariat for their dedication, hard work, and achievements, as outlined in the Report of the Commission’s work at its 44th Plenary Session.  The United States remains a strong supporter of UNCITRAL, its programs and work achievements, and commends the Secretariat for its continued hard work, its focus on technical and complex economic and commerce issues, and its attention to the concerns of States at all levels of economic development and in all regions. 

The 44th Session was highly productive. Working efficiently on the basis of substantial preparatory efforts by Working Groups I and V, the Commission adopted two final texts.

We are pleased to favorably note the adoption of the revised UNCITRAL Model Law on Public Procurement, which updates and expands upon the 1994 UNCITRAL Model Law on Procurement of Goods, Construction and Services.  The revised Model Law will be extremely valuable to countries seeking to modernize their government procurement systems, and we note that its use has been supported by a number of international financial institutions. The Working Group is preparing a Guide to Enactment that will assist them, and we look forward to its early completion.
We also favorably note the adoption of the “judicial deskbook” collating prior completed work of the Commission in the economically important area of corporate insolvency matters, especially involving cross-border trade and commerce. This compilation makes the Commission’s work readily accessible to officials and practitioners worldwide.  We note in this regard that the United States has adopted the UNCITRAL Model Law on cross-border insolvency cases as a new chapter of the US Bankruptcy Code, and we recommend that other States consider such action so as to limit existing cross-border risk.     

The Commission’s report describes important progress in the area of investor-State arbitration in Working Group II; consideration of possible new instruments on on-line dispute resolution in Working Group III; new work initiated on managing cross-border insolvency cases as well as liabilities of corporate officers and directors in Working Group V, and continuing progress in Working Group VI in developing a registration system to implement the UNCITRAL Model Law on secured transactions.  Moreover, authorization was granted for a reactivated Working Group IV to begin work on electronic transferability of rights.   We are pleased to support all these activities, as they have great potential to promote commerce, trade and the rule of law throughout the regions of the world.

We would also like to emphasize the continuing role of UNCITRAL in promoting the rule of law.  We believe that UNCITRAL’s work to harmonize commercial law and the effect that can have on economic and legal systems can continue to make an important contribution to broader UN rule of law efforts, and should be so recognized.

Finally, we would like to note that as to the management of the Commissions’ meetings, we strongly support retaining the existing system of rotation of meetings between New York and Vienna. That arrangement was an important factor in agreeing to the relocation of the Secretariat staff to Vienna, so as to assure necessary exposure to a broader range of commerce and trade interests and to assure that mission legal officers, often located in the NY headquarter missions, were able to participate.  Having a forum in New York enhances UNCITRAL’s global exposure.  While we strongly support efforts of the UN Secretariat to achieve budget savings, we believe that eliminating holding UNCITRAL meetings in New York is not the right solution.  We urge that equivalent savings be found in other areas that would permit UNCITRAL to maintain its historical practice of holding meetings in both Vienna and New York.  We are pleased that a number of options for reducing costs have been raised, including the possibility of reducing meetings by one week each year, and we are committed to finding the necessary savings.           

We look forward to active engagement in the work of UNCITRAL this year. 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


PRN: 2011/324