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April 2019

Department Participates in UNCITRAL Colloquium
on Contractual Networks

Department Participates in UNCITRAL Colloquium on Contractual Networks

The Department of International Law took part in the Colloquium on Contractual Networks and Other Forms of Inter-Firm Cooperation organized by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) in New York City on March 25th - 26th. Since 2013, UNCITRAL Working Group I has been striving towards reducing various legal obstacles faced by Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSMEs) throughout their life cycle. One such mechanism has been through simplification of incorporation and business registration. This Colloquium provided a forum for discussion to assist UNCITRAL “in evaluating the desirability of taking up (future) work on multiparty contracts that can facilitate MSMEs’ growth” and to develop a possible instrument to bridge the gap between contract law and company law.

Panel One considered challenges faced by MSMEs in the modern economy and the reasons behind formation of contractual networks. It included perspectives from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and academia and was moderated by the OAS representative. Panel Two presented examples of multiparty contracts with illustrations from the oil and gas sector, the aviation and automotive sectors, and contract farming. Panel Three considered legal tools from different legal traditions that facilitate various types of inter-firm cooperation, such as contractual joint ventures in China, relational contracts between manufacturers and suppliers in Japan, cooperatives in Africa and limited liability corporations in the United States of America. With the benefit of these presentations, the fourth and final panel deliberated over whether a uniform trade law instrument would promote contractual cooperation among MSMEs to foster business and the legal issues that would need to be addressed. The results will be taken up in subsequent sessions of Working Group I.  

When enterprises that are located in different jurisdictions wish to collaborate, there is a need to identify applicable law; freedom of choice is encouraged in this regard (Note by the UNCITRAL Secretariat, A/CN.9/954, para. 60). Accordingly, the Guide to the Law Applicable to International Commercial Contracts in the Americas, recently approved by the Inter-American Juridical Committee, will serve as a foundational document for further advances in corporate and commercial law, including contractual networking.

The Department of International Law maintains its cooperative relations with UNCITRAL and other international organizations in furtherance of the specific mandate from the OAS General Assembly “to promote the dissemination of private international law among member states, in collaboration with other organizations and associations that work in this area” (Resolution “International Law”, AG/RES. 2909 - XLVII-0/17).

During this period, the Department of International Law also gave a luncheon presentation to the International Law Society of LL.M. students at New York University about private international law in the Inter-American system. Presentations such as these are made periodically by the Department on request as time and resources permit and fall within the aforementioned mandate to promote private international law.

For further information on this matter, please contact the Department of International Law of the Secretariat for Legal Affairs of the OAS +1 202 370 0743.. 

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