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Progressive Development of the Law of International Trade:
Report of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, 1966

Introduction

I. The law of international trade

A. Concept of "law of international trade"

B. Legal techniques used to reduce conflicts and divergencies

1. Choice of Law Rules

2. Harmonization and Unification of Substantive Rules

C. Development of the law of international trade

1. Similarity

2. Application

3. Formulation

II. Survey of the work in the field of harmonization and unification of the law of international trade

A. Inter-governmental organizations

1. The International Institute for the Unification of Private Law

2. The Hague Conference on Private International Law

3. The League of Nations

(a) The Geneva Conventions on the unification of the law relating to bills of exchange (1930) and to cheques (1931)

(b) The Geneva Protocol on Arbitration Clauses of 1923 and the Geneva Convention on the Execution of Foreign Arbitral Awards of 1927

4. The United Nations

(a) The Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards of 1958

(b) Industrial property legislation

(c) United Nations regional economic commissions

(i) Economic Commission for Europe (ECE)
a. The ECE General Conditions of Sale and Standard Forms of Contract
b. European Convention on International Commercial Arbitration
(ii) Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE)
(iii) Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLA)
(iv) Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)

(d) United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

(e) Centre for Industrial Development

5. The United Nations Specialized Agencies

(a) International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD)

(b) Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO)

(c) The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

6. United International Bureaux for the Protection of Intellectual Property (BIRPI)

B. Regional inter-governmental organizations and groupings

1. The Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA)*

2. The European Economic Community (EEC)

3. The European Free Trade Association (EFTA)

4. The Latin American Countries

(a) Unification of conflict rules

(b) International commercial arbitration

(d) Other activities

5. The Council of Europe

6. The Benelux Countries

7. The Nordic Council

8. The Organization of African Unity (OAU)

9. The Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee

C. Non-governmental organizations

1. The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)

(a) The Court of Arbitration

(b) Incoterms 1953

(c) Uniform customs and practice for documentary credits

2. The International Maritime Committee (IMC)

3. The International Association of Legal Science

4. The International Law Association (ILA)

5. The Institute of International Law

D. Summary: main areas of harmonization and unification

III. Methods, approaches and topics suitable for the progressive harmonization and unification of the law of international trade

A. Methods

B. Approaches

C. Suitable topics

IV. Role of the United Nations in the progressive harmonization and unification of the law of international trade

A. Progress and shortcomings of the work in the field of harmonization and unification of the law of international trade

B. Desirable action to remedy the existing shortcomings

C. Role of the United Nations

1. Is the Unification and Harmonization of the Law of International Trade an Appropriate Subject for United Nations Action?

2. Would a United Nations Participation in this Activity Unnecessarily Duplicate the Work of Existing Agencies and Reduce or Abolish their Usefulness?

3. Would the United Nations be in a Position to Make a Significant Contribution to Furthering Unification on A World-Wide Scale or Otherwise?

4. Should the Functions of the United Nations be Confined to Co-Ordination or Should they Also Encompass Formulation?

5. Is There a Realistic Chance of Success or is the Task too Diffficult for Tangible Results?

D. Establishment of a United Nations Commission on International Trade Law

E. Financial implications of the establishment of a United Nations commission on international trade law

Endnotes

Endnotes

Concordance (wordlist)

Manifest (alternative outputs)

Metadata

Progressive Development of the Law of International Trade: Report of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, 1966

United Nations (UN)

copy @ Lex Mercatoria

II. Survey of the work in the field of harmonization and unification of the law of international trade

A. Inter-governmental organizations

3. The League of Nations

(a) The Geneva Conventions on the unification of the law relating to bills of exchange (1930) and to cheques (1931)

51. On 7 June 1930, three conventions on the unification of the law relating to bills of exchange  25  were signed at Geneva, and on 19 March 1931 three further conventions on the unification of the law relating to cheques  26  were signed at Geneva. The most important of these conventions are the Convention providing a Uniform Law for Bills of Exchange and Promissory Notes and the Convention providing a Uniform Law for Cheques. The others deal with conflict of law rules and provisions of national stamp legislation relating to these types of negotiable instruments.

52. The Geneva Conventions have achieved a significant unification of the law of negotiable instruments. The uniform law relating to both types of negotiable instruments has been introduced into the municipal legislation by sixteen countries, viz., Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland. In addition, Austria, Belgium and the USSR have accepted the Uniform Law on Bills of Exchange only, and Nicaragua has introduced the Uniform Law on Cheques only.

53. The countries belonging to the common law system did not take part in this unification of the law of negotiable instruments, nor have any of these countries given effect to these uniform laws in its territory.


 1. Ibid., Nineteenth Session, Annexes, annex No. 2, document A/5728.

 2. Ibid., Twentieth Session, Annexes, agenda item 92, document A/C.6/L.572, para. 3. 1...]

 3. See Hilding Eek, The Swedish Conflicts of Laws (The Hague, Nijhoff, 1965), p. 272.

 4. As the representative of China observed, ". . . should the various countries succeed in enacting uniform rules of substantive law, the rules of private international law would no longer be relevant since those rules presupposed that municipal laws would remain intact and merely sought to mitigate the disadvantages arising from them." He recalled "Beckett's comment that private international law was in a sense the antithesis of the universal unification of law. Its raison d'etre was the existence in different systems of law ... both the process of codification of private international law and that of unification of private law were designed to promote international trade, provided they advanced by degrees and did not turn out to have aims which were incompatible." (See Official Records of the General Assembly, Twentieth Session, Sixth Committee, 895th meeting, paras. 13 and 15.)

 5. See e.g., Gerard de Malynes' Lex Mercatoria, first published in 1636.

 6. Preceded by the Ordonnance sur le commerce of Louis XIV of 1673 and Colbert's Ordonnance de la marine of 1681.

 7. Preceded by the Allgemeine Wechselordnung of 1848. The Allgemeine Handelsgesetzbuch of 1861 is still in operation in Austria; in Germany it was superseded by the Handelsgesetzbuch of 1897.

 8. See T.F.T. Plucknett, A Concise History of the Common Law, 4th ed., (London, Butterworth, 1948), p. 332.

 9. See Clive M. Schmitthoff, "The Law of International Trade, Its Growth, Formulation and Operation" in The Sources of the Law of International Trade with special reference to East-West Trade, edited by Clive M. Schmitthoff (New York, Praeger, 1964), p. 3.

 10. See Henryk Trammer, "The Law of Foreign Trade in the Legal Systems of the Countries of Planned Economy," ibid., p. 42.

 11. See Clive M. Schmitthoff, "The Law of International Trade, Its Growth, Formulation and Operation," ibid., p. 4.

 12. See Aleksandar Goldstajn, "International Conventions and Standard Contracts as Means of Escaping from the Application of Municipal Law," ibid., p. 109.

 13. Austra, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Denmark, Ecuador, Federal Republic of Germany, Finland, France, Greece, Holy See, Hungary, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Portugal, Roumania, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Republic, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela and Yugoslavia.

 14. For analyses and comments on The Hague Conventions, see e.g. Philippe Kahn, "La Convention de la Haye du ler juillet 1964 portant loi uniforme sur la vente internationale des objets mobiliers corporels" in Revue trimestrielle de droit commercial (Paris). vol. 17, 1964, p. 45; John Honnold. "The Uniform Law for the International Sale of Goods: The Hague Convention of 1964" in Law and Contemporary Problems (Durham, North Carolina), vol. 30, 1965, p. 326; Harold Berman, "The Uniform Law on International Sale of Goods: A Constructive Critique," ibid., p. 354; Gunnar Lagergren, "The Uniform Law on Formation of Contracts for the International Sale of Goods" in Journal of Business Law (London, 1966), p. 22; Ernst von Caemmerer, "Internationales Kaufrecht" in Festschrift fur Hans Carl Nipperdey... (Munich, Beck, 1955), p. 211; Andre Tunc, Commentary of The Hague Convention of I July 1964 on the International Sale of Goods and on the Formation of Contracts of Sale (The Hague, Ministry of Justice 1966); Jorge Barrera Graf, La Reglamentacion uniforme de las compraventas internacionales de mercaderfas (Mexico, D.F., Universidad Nacional Autonoma, 1965).

 15. See Antonio Malintoppi, ' The Uniformity of Interpretation of International Conventions on Uniform Laws and of Standard Contracts," in Schmitthoff, op. cit., pp. 127-137.

 16. The record of the IIIrd Meeting may be found in Unification of Law: Yearbook, 1963 (Rome, Editions Unidroit, 1964).

 17. See "Utilite de rendre obligatoires pour tous les Etats, sous la forme d'un ou de plusieurs traites internationaux, un certain nombre de regles generales du droit international prive, pour assurer la decision uniforme des conflits entre les differentes legislations civiles et criminelles" in Revue de droit international, (Paris), vol. 7, 1931, p. 329.

 18. The decision to convene this first Conference owed much to the initiative of Tobias Asser, who subsequently served as President of the first four Hague Conferences (1893, 1894, 1900, 1904) .

 19. United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 220 (1955), No. 2997, p. 121.

 20. Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Federal Republic of Germany, Finland, France, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

 21. United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 510 (1964), No. 7411, p. 147.

 22. See G.C. Cheshire, "International Contracts for the Sale of Goods," in Journal of Business Law (London, 1960), p. 285.

 23. United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 286 (1958), No. 4173, p. 265.

 24. Ibid., vol. 527 (1965), No. 7625, p. 189.

 25. League of Nations, Treaty Series, vol. CXLIII (1933-1934), No. 3313, p. 257; No. 3314, p. 317; No. 3315, p. 337.

 26. Ibid., vol CXLIII (1933-1934), No. 3301, p. 7; No. 3316, p. 355; No. 3317, p. 407.

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