After three years of active negotiation, UNCITRAL working group members successfully reached agreement on the formation of the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation. The treaty will be signed in Singapore in August 2019 and named the Singapore Convention on Mediation.
At present, when parties seek to enforce the outcomes of cross-border disputes, they have two existing means of recourse through the NY Convention (for international arbitration) and the Hague Convention (for cross-border litigation). However, until now, parties to cross-border mediation had limited if any means of enforcing cross-border settlements. With the Singapore Convention, mediation is now a viable option for parties seeking to resolve cross-border disputes.
Ms Sharon Ong, part of the Singapore delegation to UNCITRAL noted that at the final stages of negotiation, when a 2017 blizzard shut down the United Nations Headquarters where delegates had been meeting and squeezed into a nearby law firm’s conference room, “we resolved a lot of the issues that had been sticking points for many years. We all just came with a spirit of co-operation, so it was very collaborative and people were very open about things.” Mrs Morris-Sharma, chair of the UNCITRAL Working Group noted that “In any process that involves reaching a common understanding of how processes should be approached, delegations had to consider how this new system would fit in with their domestic processes… Thankfully I think we managed to strike a balance between the divergent views through the Singapore Convention.”
When ratified, the Convention will encourage commercial entities to resolve their disputes on the basis of party autonomy and agreement which mediation affords.