46 countries sign UN treaty named after Singapore, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

46 countries sign UN treaty named after Singapore

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PM Lee hails convention on promoting mediation as a powerful statement for multilateralism

A landmark United Nations treaty that aims to promote the use of mediation in settling cross-border commercial disputes was signed by 46 countries yesterday, with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hailing it as a powerful statement in support of multilateralism.

The Singapore Convention on Mediation, the first UN treaty to be named after this country, provides a uniform international framework to enforce mediated agreements. Its aim is to give businesses more confidence in opting for mediation to resolve disputes, ultimately facilitating international trade.

"Today, a group of States have come together to recommit ourselves to multilateralism and to declare that we remain open for business, we are prepared to make binding commitments, and we are committed to preserve our relationships," said PM Lee.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat added last night: "The signing of the Convention is a clear signal of our commitment to a rules-based international order."

Singapore was the first to put ink to paper yesterday, followed by some of the biggest economies in the world, including the US, China and India.

Delegates from 70 countries gathered in Singapore for the historic occasion, which saw an orchid named the Aranda Singapore Convention on Mediation.

Speaking via video conference at the ceremony, United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres echoed PM Lee's remarks, saying the convention would contribute towards strengthening the rule of law and multilateralism.

Multilateralism has come under stress in recent years from growing inequality brought by globalisation.

PM Lee suggested multilateral institutions should be reformed and brought up to date as the alternative - a world without international rules, where might is right - disadvantages all.

PM Lee said the convention, drafted and negotiated by a working group chaired by a Singaporean, is the latest example of Singapore's commitment to the UN and international community.

"We may be a small country, with limited manpower and no natural resources, but nevertheless we do our best to contribute our part," he added.

The Singapore Convention is seen as the missing third piece in the international dispute resolution enforcement framework.


Awards resulting from arbitration and court judgements are already enforceable across borders under other conventions.

While mediation is a less costly and less adversarial option, it has been limited, as resulting agreements are only contractually binding. The Singapore Convention will give the process teeth, with signatory countries required to enforce mediated agreements in their courts.

More than 100 delegations had worked for three years on the treaty, named after Singapore in recognition of the key role Singaporeans played in the process. - ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ADRIAN LIM