Washington, DC, December 3, 1998

The Meeting of Experts for the Sixth Inter-American Specialized Conference on Private International Law (CIDIP-VI) opened today in Washington, with active participation by Organization of American States (OAS) member state delegations, academics, private organizations and institutions engaged in law in the Americas.

At the opening ceremony, Mr. Enrique Lagos, the OAS’ Assistant Secretary for Legal Affairs, spoke of the profound social and economic impact the agenda will have at the Conference when it meets next year. He said instruments arising from that conference "will be vital to facilitating regional trade, enabling foreign investment and improving the quality of life for our people."

Asserting that the meeting has drawn the best of the hemisphere’s experts in the field, Mr. Lagos called for an inter-American international law for the twenty-first century "in response to our own legal challenges in the search for common solutions through harmonization of the various legal systems in effect in the Americas."

El Salvador’s Ambassador Mauricio Granillo, chairman of the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs, in giving the welcome expressed the view that the experts’ meeting will clear the way for the Inter-American Conference to be a success. Ambassador Granillo is also chairing the sessions of the meeting.

The experts will use their two-day gathering to deliberate on issues related to standardized commercial documentation, private international loan contracts and legal conflicts on extra-contractual liability, as well as a draft model law on flexible property guarantees.

The five CIDIP meetings held so far--in Panama in 1975, Montevideo in 1979, La Paz in 1984, Montevideo in 1989 and Mexico City in 1994--have resulted in the adoption of 21 conventions and two protocols on private international law covering such areas as family law, civil and criminal procedures, foreign judgments and arbitration awards and trade matters.