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October 27, 2021

The Singapore Mediation Convention

Could help for international settlement agreements be coming soon?

The Singapore Convention was adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2018.

The Singapore Convention was adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2018.

The ABA is urging Secretary of State Antony Blinken to seek speedy Senate approval of the Singapore Convention on Mediation, which would promote the greater use of mediation and negotiated settlement as an efficient, cost-effective means of resolving cross-border commercial disputes and help facilitate international trade.

Known formally as the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation, the Singapore Convention would require countries that are parties to the treaty to enforce a mediated settlement agreement without the need for a new litigation or arbitration action if the settlement agreement is in writing, signed by the parties, and accompanied by evidence of mediation. It would encourage parties to mediate their international commercial disputes and negotiate settlements by making it easier for them to enforce their settlement agreements in all the nations that have ratified the treaty.

The Singapore Convention was adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2018 and signed by the U.S. and 45 other countries the following August. So far, 55 nations across the world have signed the Convention. Eight of those countries have formally ratified it, and the Convention entered into force on September 12, 2020.

Although the U.S. was pivotal in developing the Convention and is an original signatory, it has not yet been submitted to the Senate to continue the ratification process. Because it could be an important element in convincing companies and other parties to attempt to achieve mediated settlements of disputes, the ABA has been a strong supporter of the Convention.

A resolution passed by the ABA’s House of Delegates in February 2020, urges “all nations, including the United States, to become party to and implement” the Singapore Mediation Convention.

On Oct. 5, 2021, ABA President Reginald M. Turner wrote Secretary of State Blinken to express support for the Convention and ask him to seek prompt Senate approval, thus empowering the President to proceed with ratification. Turner wrote that  ratification should “significantly expand the use of mediation to resolve international commercial disputes.” In addition, Turner explained that “ratifying the treaty will help facilitate international trade by increasing the parties’ confidence that their settlement agreements can be easily enforced.”

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