During the 55th Plenary Meeting on Monday 17 December 2018 within the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, the UN member states elected new members for the UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL). At the meeting, Vietnam was chosen by 157 out of 193 states to become a member of the Commission. This is the first time Vietnam was elected for this position and its tenure would be from 2019 until 2025.
The Commission was established by the UN General Assembly in 1966 “to promote the progressive harmonization and unification of international trade law”. Since then, the Commission has made significant contributions to achieve this mandate, including preparing and promoting the application of international conventions and model laws in the field of international trade law. The Commission prepared among others the UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods 1980 (the CISG), the UN Convention on the Carriage of Goods by Sea 1978 (the Hamburg Rules), the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards 1958 (the New York Convention), the Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration 1985, the Arbitration Rules 1976, as well as certain practical notes and guidelines in different areas of international trade law. These instruments are regarded as some of the most prominent successes in the harmonization process of international trade law and the Commission is regarded as a core legal body of the UN.
In recent years, Vietnam has actively integrated into the world economy and already been a party to the CISG and the New York Convention prepared by the Commission. Over the past years, Vietnam has participated in the Commission’s affairs as an observer to actively contribute to the meetings and discussions of some Commission’s Working Groups. The Commission’s model rules and guidelines have also been used by Vietnamese entities in their business operation and dispute resolution. Vietnam’s official membership in UNCITRAL shows the worldwide recognition of our contribution to the common work of the international community and marks a further deep step of Vietnam into multilateral legal integration. Membership of UNCITRAL would help Vietnam up to speed with the most current developments and trends in international trade law and enable us to revise national laws on trade, thereby reducing obstacles and facilitating international trade. Most importantly, this is a great opportunity for Vietnam to a construct and shape common international rules right from the stage of discussion and negotiation with regard to the issues that Vietnam is having a concern about especially investor-state dispute settlement, international commercial dispute settlement, and electronic commerce.