08 January 2019

United Nations treaty on cross-border mediation named after Singapore

New convention providing for the cross-border enforcement of mediated settlement agreements is republic's first named UN treaty.

The United Nations (UN) has passed a resolution to adopt a new convention on mediation and has named it after Singapore, in recognition of the republic’s growing hub for international dispute resolution.

First UN treaty

The Singapore Convention on Mediation is the first UN treaty to be named after the republic, and a signing ceremony will be held in August in Singapore. K Shanmugam, Singapore’s Minister for Law and Home Affairs, said ‘it is a singular honour for Singapore and will further cement Singapore’s place on the world map for international dispute resolution.’ In a statement, the ministry of law said that the convention will give businesses greater assurance that mediated settlement agreements can be relied upon to resolve multinational commercial disputes. The ministry of law has set up various institutions to create a full suite of dispute resolution services, including the Singapore International Arbitration Centre, Singapore International Mediation Centre, Singapore International Commercial Court and Maxwell Chambers. In 2017, Singapore enacted a Mediation Act allowing parties to enforce their terms more easily.

Hope for more mediation

The hope is to replicate the success of the New York convention on arbitral awards, which has nearly 160 state signatories, with Sudan becoming the latest party last year. Officials hope the Singapore Convention will raise the popularity of mediation as a valid mode of dispute resolution around the world. Local stakeholders also hope the new convention will help increase the prominence and attraction of Singapore as a centre for mediation and the resolution of cross-border disputes. Though Singapore does have an international treaty named after it, namely the 2006 Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks, concluded under the framework of UN subsidiary body the World Intellectual Property Organisation.