1958 Report of the U.S. Delegation to the United Nations Conference on International Commercial Arbitration – Vol. 19 No. 1

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Author: Charles H. Sullivan

Published: April 2009

Enforcement of Arbitral Awards


I. Introduction and Summary

The United Nations Conference an International Commercial Arbitration was held at United Nations Headquarters, New York from May 20 to June 10, 1958.

The movement for a conference of governments on commercial arbitration originated with the International Chamber of Commerce, a non- governmental organization having consultative status with the Economic and Social Council. In 1953 the ICC prepared a draft convention on the enforcement international  arbitral awards as a replacement for the most effective existing  multilateral convention on this subject, the convention on the Execution of Foreign Arbitral. Award” signed at. Geneva September 26, 1921. The ICC proposals embodied advanced concepts of arbitration law. In particular,  the ICC postulated the idea of a supranational law of arbitration which would free arbitral awards entirely from control by national laws. Under t his concept the award would be subject only to the will of the parties as expressed in the agreement to arbitrate and to the canons or standards for enforcement provided by multilateral convention.

In 1954 ECOSOC established an ad hoc committee of experts to study the question of the enforcement of foreign arbitral awards, as presented by the ICC. The United States voted in favor of establishment of the committee of  experts as a gesture of support for arbitration generally but it did not seek representation on the committee. The ad hoc committee, which was composed or representatives of Australia, Belgium, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Sweden, The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and The United Kingdom, met in March 1955. After detailed consideration of the ICC Proposals, it formulated a draft convention of its own, which differed in material respects from that sponsored by the ICC and represented much less of a departure from the substantive principles of the Geneva Convention.

ECOSOC thereupon sought the views of governments as to the desirability of calling an international conference to conclude a convention along the lines of the draft prepared by the committee of experts. When a reasonable number of governments expressed approval ECOSOC, by Resolution 604(XXI), adopted May 3, 1956, formally decided to summon a conference to consider such a convention, and, use. “other possible measures for increasing the effectiveness of arbitration in the settlement of private law disputes” . The United States abstained from voting on this resolution.

The Conference devoted the bulk of its time and attention to the framing of a convention on the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards. Although based upon the ECOSOC draft, the new convention goes substantially beyond it in number of particulars. The most important is the addition of provisions for recognition of the validity of contracts or agreements far submission of existing and future disputes to arbitration.

The Conference also gave brief and rather sketchy consideration to…

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