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June 2019

Celebrating the 130th anniversary of the Treaties of Montevideo of 1889 on private international law

Celebrating the  130th anniversary of the Treaties of Montevideo of 1889 on private international law

In celebration of the 130th Anniversary of the Treaties of Montevideo of 1889, a conference was held in Montevideo, Uruguay on the 5th and 6th of June, organized by the Uruguayan Institute of Private International Law of the Faculty of Law of the University of the Republic. The objective was to consider the legacy of these treaties and their application in the current international context, while also reflecting on the future of the progressive development of private international law within the region.

The Treaties of Montevideo were adopted during the First South American Congress of Private International Law held in that city. After arduous negotiations that lasted from August 1888 to February 1889, eight treaties and an additional protocol were concluded, which addressed the major conflict of laws issues of the time and provided universal solutions. The Treaties of Montevideo covered the topics of international civil law, international commercial law, international procedural law, international criminal law, international intellectual property (specifically copyrights, trademarks, and patents) and self-employed professionals. An Additional Protocol to the Treaties of Private International Law was also adopted.

During the conference, numerous experts in private international law from different countries of the region and several international organizations reflected on the solutions provided by these treaties - which are still in force - in relation to current regional problems and on concrete alternatives to the progressive development of this subject. Among these alternatives, the Organization of American States (OAS) presented itself as an Organization that historically has made important contributions to private international law and that continues to play a fundamental role in this field today.

It was recalled by the Director of the OAS Department of International Law, who was among the attendees, that the Declaration of Panama on the Inter-American Contribution to the Development and Codification of International Law, approved by the General Assembly in 1996, states that "the OAS is the principal and irreplaceable forum in which member states, on an equal footing, adopt legal provisions in both public and private international law to govern their relations at the hemispheric level."

The OAS was also represented by Dr. José Moreno, member of the Inter-American Juridical Committee (CJI) and rapporteur on the subject of the law applicable to international commercial contracts in the Americas, on which topic a Guide was approved by said Committee this year. Work is currently being undertaken by the CJI in private international law in the topics of electronic warehouse receipts for agricultural products, simplified companies, and the extraterritorial effectiveness of foreign judgments and arbitral awards; this evidences the continuous progressive development of private international law within the OAS through one of its most important organs, that is, the CJI.

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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