India shares unique relationship with UNCITRAL: MoS Rajkumar Ranjan Singh

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Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs Rajkumar Ranjan Singh has said that India shares a unique relationship with UNCITRAL and has been a member of UNCITRAL since its inception. He spoke about the diversity of the region and the economic strides made by the South Asian Region.

Rajkumar Ranjan Singh made the remarks at the 2023 UNCITRAL South Asia Conference, jointly hosted by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), UNCITRAL and the UNCITRAL National Coordination Committee for India (UNCCI). Chief Justice of India Justice DY Chandrachud inaugurated the 2023 UNCITRAL South Asia Conference.

The Ministry of External Affairs in the press release said, “The three-day conference is in continuation of the conference hosted in New Delhi, in 2016 to celebrate 50 years of UNCITRAL and is aimed at furthering India’s engagement with UNCITRAL and to encourage interaction between UNCITRAL, Judiciary, bureaucracy, academia and the legal fraternity.”

In his inaugural address, DY Chandrachud recalled his participation at the previous conference in 2016 where he spoke about ISDS reforms which at that point was an unsettled question on whether UNCITRAL should address the topic and he pointed out that it has come a long way since then with the UNCITRAL Commission having just adopted the first texts on ISDS reforms.

Chandrachud pointed out that this was an example of the significant role played by India at UNCITRAL in having this topic allotted to a Working Group of UNCITRAL. He also pointed out that International investment law has been criticized for being disadvantageous to developing countries.

According to the press release, “He also pointed out that International investment law has been criticized for being disadvantageous to developing countries, and mentioned that it was essential that the formulation of any new systems in international investment law, such as the creation of a permanent court, adequately account for these concerns and ensure that they do not remain areas of concern as the need of the hour is a fair and balanced system for the resolution of investor-state disputes.”

Attorney General of India R Venkataramani spoke about the fallacies facing the investment treaty regime and the need to revisit the same. He highlighted the need for a declaration on global investment law, spearheaded by India and expressed hope of having a New Delhi Convention.

At the Conference, UNCITRAL Secretary Anna Joubin-Bret gave an overview of the various projects and subjects undertaken by UNCITRAL through its Working Groups and the status of the same.

Chair of UNCCI, Fali S Nariman spoke about the ailments faced by the international arbitration system including the debate on arbitrator bias. He called for the need to have a balanced and fair system of arbitration.

Judges of the Supreme Court of India, judges from various High Courts across the country, Senior Advocates, legal experts from across the world, academia and the government participated in the inaugural session of the conference.

The MEA in the press release said, “The comprehensive agenda, of the conference includes sessions featuring global and regional experts providing insights on a wide range of topics such as the digital economy, MSMEs and access to credit, insolvency, investor-state dispute settlement reform, international commercial arbitration, and mediation.”

According to the MEA press release, the highlights of the conference include the high-level Roundtable on Regional Perspectives on UNCITRAL and the final day focusing on alternative dispute resolution developments including a session where the panellists include judges from four High Courts from the various regions of the Country discussing on how to make India a hub for arbitration.

The MEA in the press release noted that the economic diplomacy division of the Ministry has been actively involved in the activities of UNCITRAL including the reforms to ISDS and promoting India as a hub for arbitration.

The Ministry of External Affairs through the conference hopes to reach out to the legal fraternity and policy makers in promoting India as a hub for arbitration and in the field of capacity building in international trade law to promote best practices and improve the ease of doing business.

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