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20 October 2008 - Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law on the work of its 41st session (item 74) - Speech delivered by Mr. Hubert Renié

63th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Sixth Committee

Speech delivered by Mr. Hubert Renié, First Counsellor, Legal Advisor

Mr. President,

I would first like to thank and commend the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) for its work over the past session. The forty-first session of the Commission was indeed especially busy.

The UNCITRAL has adopted the convention on "contract for the international carriage of goods wholly or partly by sea". With roughly one hundred articles, the goal of this key instrument is to standardize the legal regime for mainly maritime carriage.

The French delegation holds this truly innovative instrument in high regard. The final version adopted by UNCITRAL laid down safeguards that France deemed highly desirable as regards contractual freedom in the area of the carrier’s liability regime. France’s position in terms of this Convention depended on the genuine progress made in this area, and we believe that this has indeed been the case.

With respect to the ongoing work, the French delegation is satisfied with the direction provided for Working Group I’s work on public procurements, along with that of Working Group II’s work on arbitration. Quite correctly, this latter group restricted itself to updating the arbitration rules, while retaining the brevity and spirit of this instrument widely used around the world. Furthermore, it appears essential to us that the ongoing work be completed before the Working Group closely examines the matter of arbitrating disputes between a State and an investor, which although important, is overly specific.

With regard to the treatment of corporate groups in insolvency on which Working Group V is currently focusing its attention, UNCITRAL should maintain adopting an extremely prudent approach, in line with the principle of autonomy of legal persons, which is fundamental to company law.

Lastly, as regards Working Group VI on Security Interests, the French delegation would like to see ongoing work on intellectual property rights to be brought to a swift conclusion.

However, the French delegation would like to place particular emphasis on an overview of UNCITRAL’s work.

France welcomes the growing interest in UNCITRAL’s activities. Its expanding membership, up from 36 to 60 States, attests to the interest in its work around the world. This larger membership is very positive for UNCITRAL, but from the French delegation’s perspective, it must be accompanied by clarification of how it operates, as up to now it has been run using informal practices. Consequently, France took the initiative to open discussions on UNCITRAL’s working methods.

We are pleased that this activity began at the 41st UNCITRAL session. Delegations from all Member States reached agreement on three points which we believe are essential: the need to clarify the concept of consensus within the working groups, to determine the rights and obligations of non-governmental organizations which are admitted as observers, and finally, to diversify the languages used during various informal meetings.

Naturally, this year we are monitoring very closely the process which will lead to discussion and, if possible, adoption of a document on this issue at the Commission’s next plenary session.

These, Mr. President, are the French delegation’s main observations on the activity of UNCITRAL, to which France attributes great importance as a forum for international business law and a meeting place for different legal traditions.

In conclusion, I would like, Mr. President, to offer my warmest congratulations to Mr. Renaud Sorieul, who has just been appointed Secretary of UNCITRAL. The French delegation wishes him every success in his new position./.



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