- The new Singapore Convention, signed in August this year, is a response to the growing use of mediation both domestically and internationally for the resolution of disputes.
- It enables parties to the settlement of an international dispute by mediation the ability to enforce the settlement.
- Australia is not yet a party to the Singapore Convention but there is a strong and viable case for it to be a signatory.
On 26 June 2018, the United Nations Convention on International Trade Law (‘UNCITRAL’) approved the final draft of the United Nation’s Convention on International Settlement Agreements resulting from Mediation, also known as the Singapore Convention (‘Singapore Convention’).
The intent of the Singapore Convention is to bring certainty to the international framework on mediation and facilitate the promotion of mediation as an alternative and effective method of resolving international trade disputes. It proposes to do so by enabling parties to the settlement of an international dispute by mediation the ability to enforce the settlement in the same manner that international arbitral awards can be recognised and enforced under the United Nation’s Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (‘New York Convention’).
Under the New York Convention, international arbitral awards, including consent awards, are recognised and enforceable in any of the 157 member States which are presently signatories to that convention in the same manner as any judgment of the domestic courts of those member States.
The Singapore Convention is a response to the growing use of mediation both domestically and internationally for the resolution of disputes. A survey by the International Mediation Institute in 2014 disclosed that 93 per cent of respondents would be more likely to mediate a dispute with a party from another country if that country had ratified a convention on the enforcement of mediated settlement agreements (International Mediation Institute, ‘IMI survey results overview: How Users View the Proposal for a UN Convention on the Enforcement of Mediated Settlements’ (16 January 2017)).
The Singapore Convention was signed in Singapore on 7 August 2019 by 46 countries: Afghanistan, Belarus, Benin, Brunei, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Fiji, Georgia, Grenada, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iran, Israel, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Montenegro, Nigeria, North Macedonia, Palau, Paraguay, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, USA, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Australia is not presently a signatory to the Singapore Convention and it is unclear whether it will become one and, if so, when.