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


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  27  and the Geneva Convention on the Execution of Foreign Arbitral Awards of 1927  28 

4. The United Nations

(a) The Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards of 1958  29 

(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





SiSU Metadata, document information


SiSU Manifest, alternative outputs etc.

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

C. Non-governmental organizations

1. The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)

(c) Uniform customs and practice for documentary credits

164. The 1962 Revision of these rules is considered to be a successful example of the unification of modern practices in international trade. Prepared by the Commission on Banking Techniques and Practice of the ICC, the Revision first sets out general provisions and definitions relating to bankers' commercial credits, then deals with the form and notification of credits, the documents to be presented to the correspondent bank, various miscellaneous provisions, and finally the transfer of credits.

165. While the earlier Revision of 1951 had already been widely accepted and used for the opening and the execution of bankers' commercial credits, since the Revision of 1962, which came into operation on 1 July 1963, the British and Commonwealth banks as well have adhered to the Uniform Customs. Today the Uniform Customs are accepted in 173 countries and territories  73  adhering to different economic systems. Since the commercial credit is the most important and most frequently employed mechanism for the payment of the purchase price in export transactions,  74  the importance of this unifying formulation of the ICC is significant.

166. It should be kept in mind that the Uniform Customs are considered to be implicitly embodied into contractual relations and there is rarely an express reference to them. Although formerly the parties were required to express adoption of the Incoterms, a tendency has become apparent to consider that the Incoterms are relevant also to commercial transactions, even in the absence of explicit reference, unless the parties have expressed a contrary intention.

 73. For listings of the countries and territories concerned, see ICC document 470/INT.79 (19 April 1966).

 74. See Clive M. Schmitthoff, The Export Trade, 4th ed. (London, Stevens and Sons, 1962), pp. 211 ff.

 75. See A.N. Yiannopoulos, "The Unification of Private Maritime Law by International Conventions," in Law and Contemporary Problems (Durham, North Carolina, 1965), vol. 30, pp. 370, 372-3 (foot-notes omitted).

 76. See P. Chauveau, "L'unification du droit maritime et le C.M.I.," in Revue trimestrielle de droit commercial (Paris), vol. 16, 1963, p. 137.

 77. League of Nations, Treaty Series, vol. CXX (1931-1932), No. 2764, p. 155.

 78. Harold J. Berman and others, Aspects juridiques du commerce avec les pays d'economie planifiee (Paris, Librairie generale de Droit et de Jurisprudence, 1961); Some Problems of Non-Performance and Force Majeure in International Contracts of Sale, edited by H.E. Jokela (Helsinki, Institute of Comparative Law at the University of Helsinki, 1961); The Sources of the Law of International Trade with special reference to East-West Trade, edited by Clive M. Schmitthoff (New York, Praeger, 1964); and L'unification du droit de la vente internationale, edited by John Honnold (in preparation).

 79. See N.V. Boeg, "The International Law Association" in Liber Amicorum of Congratulations to Algor Bagge... (Stockholm, Norstedt, 1956).

 80. International Law Association, Report of the 50th Conference, (Brussels, 1962), pp.lii to lxvii.

 81. BIRPI publication 801 (E), Geneva, 1965.

 82. See Andre Tune, "English and Continental Commercial Law" in Journal of Business Law, (London, 1961), p. 246.

 83. Ibid., p. 240.

 84. As the representative of Hungary said, "It was particularly important for them [the developing countries] that the law of international trade should be updated and guarantee the highest security so that they would not be at the mercy of more experienced trade partners." (See Official Records of the General Assembly, Twentieth Session, Sixth Committee, 89th meeting, para. 8.)

 85. The technique of law reception is not a phenomenon which relates solely to the recent history of newly independent States. The legal systems of some countries or territories which in the past were dependencies of European States are still influenced by the law of the former colonial Powers. Thus the law in almost all states of the United States is derived from English law; many Latin-American States have received Spanish law; the Province of Quebec in Canada and the State of Louisiana in the United States have received French law. Furthermore, as between sovereign States the problem of adaptation to modern conditions has sometimes been dealt with by the same technique of law reception. Thus, for example, modern Greek and Japanese law have received German law and modern Turkish law has received Swiss law.

 86. See A.N. Allott, "Towards the Unification of Laws in Africa," in International and Comparative Law Quarterly (London), vol. 14, 1965, p. 389.

 87. See H.C. Gutteridge, Comparative Law, 2nd ed. (Cambridge, University Press, 1949), pp. 183-184.

 88. The representative of the Netherlands said, "The United Nations was already in the middle of the Development Decade, while the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development had initiated an ambitious programme of co-operation for economic development and the expansion of international trade. It was therefore important that the development of the law should not lag behind technical progress and material achievements ...". (See Official Records of the Ceneral Assembly, Twentieth Session, Sixth Committee, 896th meeting, para. 13).

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