Singapore

US, China to sign Singapore Convention for Mediation

They will be among 54 countries at signing ceremony of mediation treaty named after Singapore

The United States and China are set to be among the first countries to sign a convention on mediation that is named after Singapore.

The two economic giants, which have been locked in a trade war, are among 54 countries that will attend a signing ceremony for the Singapore Convention for Mediation on Aug 7.

They include Australia, Brunei, Japan, South Korea, Switzerland, Uganda and Vanuatu.

Around half of the countries, including the US and China, have indicated they will sign the treaty that will make it easier to enforce mediation settlements across borders.

Explaining its significance yesterday, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam said: "These are large economies, they have very big investments overseas and I think they understand the significance of making sure that there are international rules based mechanisms for dealing with disputes."

The convention will apply only to commercial settlement agreements and countries that sign it will have to enforce the mediation agreements in court.

Mr Shanmugam also told reporters at a press briefing that the treaty has received "very exceptional" support so far.

The United Nations adopted it only six months ago, and it was very encouraging that "a good number" of countries have said they will sign it, he said.

"I would say it's very exceptional, very fast, because normally the internal process in each country takes a very long time, usually more than a year, some several years," he added.

For instance, the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards attracted 10 signatories when it opened for signature in New York in 1958.

By now, 160 countries have signed it.

Countries in the European Union are not attending the ceremony to be held at Shangri-La Hotel, and when asked about this, the minister said it was due to a process issue as the EU needed to determine if it has to sign the treaty as a whole or if its member countries can sign it individually.

For the Singapore Convention to come into force, at least three countries have to sign and ratify it.

The new treaty was adopted in December last year when the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly passed a resolution to adopt the UN Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation. The assembly also decided to name it after Singapore.

Describing the move as extremely significant and historic for Singapore, Mr Shanmugam said the Republic had taken an active role in the UN in drafting the treaty and also getting consensus among the parties involved.

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