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Hub News Article Mar 24, 2015

Eight States Signed UN Convention on Transparency in ISDS

The official signing ceremony for the United Nations Convention on Transparency in Treaty-based Investor-State Arbitration (the "Mauritius Convention on Transparency") was held in Mauritius today (17 March 2015). The Convention was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly last December.

The Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and Legal Counsel of the United Nations, Miguel de Serpa Soares, opened the signing ceremony in Port Louis, Mauritius. Representatives of Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Mauritius, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States signed the Mauritius Convention on Transparency at the ceremony (see https://treaties.un.org/).

The signing ceremony was preceded by panel discussions on topics relating to investment arbitration. The chairperson of the forty-seventh session of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), Ambassador Choong-hee Hahn of the Republic of Korea, Mauritius Minister of Financial Services, Good Governance and Institutional Reforms, Sudarshan Bhadain, Mauritius Minister of Foreign Affairs, Etienne Sinatambou, Mauritius Attorney-General, Ravi Yerrigadoo, former chairpersons of UNCITRAL, Salim Moollan and Hrvoje Sikiric, and other distinguished guests participated in the event.

UNCITRAL's work on transparency in investor-State arbitration stems from its long experience in the field of international arbitration. Recognizing the role of investment as a tool for sustainable development and the importance of ensuring transparency in investor-State arbitration, UNCITRAL commenced work on transparency in 2010 and adopted, in 2013, the UNCITRAL Rules on Transparency in Treaty-based Investor-State Arbitration(the "Transparency Rules").

The Transparency Rules, effective as of 1 April 2014, represent a fundamental change from the status quo of investor-State arbitrations often conducted behind closed doors and hidden from the public, even when issues raised gather much attention from the public and the media. Acknowledging the fundamental role of the public as a stakeholder in investor-State disputes, the Transparency Rules provide a level of transparency and accessibility to the public of these disputes that is to date unprecedented. The Rules are innovative as they balance the public interest in obtaining information and the interest of disputing parties for a fair and efficient resolution of their dispute.

The Mauritius Convention on Transparency, prepared by UNCITRAL since 2013 and formally adopted by the General Assembly on 10 December 2014, provides an efficient and flexible mechanism for States willing to do so to apply the Transparency Rules to disputes arising under the existing 3,000 bilateral and multilateral investment treaties currently in force. It also provides much flexibility to States, as parties to the Convention are allowed to exclude from the scope of the Convention certain investment treaties, certain sets of arbitration rules, or unilateral application.

UNCITRAL standards on transparency (the Transparency Rules, the Mauritius Convention on Transparency and the Transparency Registry) enhance transparency in treaty-based investor-State arbitration and disseminate knowledge about such dispute resolution proceedings. This is the most recent successful multilateral attempt to reform investment arbitration.

The Mauritius Convention on Transparency is now open for signature at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The Convention will enter into force six months after the deposit of the third instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.