Shanmugam: Singapore Convention on Mediation more important amid CoVid-19 Pandemic

SINGAPORE- With the Covid-19 pandemic, growing geopolitical tensions in Asia, and trade protectionism issues driving up disputes, there is more need for a reliable dispute resolution process now.

According to him, the Singapore Convention on Mediation takes on greater importance in this situation. The international trade dispute agreement of the United Nations came into effect in September 2013.

54 countries have signed the convention, while seven have ratified it.

Shanmugam expressed his hope that more countries would be joined, as the effectiveness or otherwise of the convention rests on the number and quality of ratifications.

“Covid-19 showed us how fast disputes can occur, and how unexpected certain circumstances can be that may lead to disputes,” he spoke at the UN Commission on International Trade Law Academy. This two-day mostly online conference was the main event of the Singapore Convention Week.

He stated that, in the wake of the Covid-19 Pandemic, many businesses had difficulty meeting their contractual obligations. And, assumptions made before the pandemic also have changed.

The world has seen increased civil unrest and political instability, rising geopolitical tensions, and more trade protectionism.

These trends have lead to fractured international markets, higher volatility business environments, and greater commercial risk for businesses, according to Mr Shanmugam.

“What’s occurring now is devastating to economies across the world. He also said that consumers and companies will be paying the price.

Mr Shanmugam observed that the Singapore convention would make mediation more efficient, less effective, and provide more certainty.

“It gives parties a lot more confidence that mediation can help to resolve cross-border dispute. It facilitates commerce and trade. This is also good for the global economic system.

Convention on International Settlement Agreements Based on Mediation is also known as United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements. It makes it easier for mediated arrangements to be enforced by acceding governments.

A settlement agreement that was made in one nation may not be recognized in another. Therefore, the parties would need a treaty to make it valid.

Mr Shanmugam revealed that Singapore will be working with UNCITRAL on enhancing the utility of Singapore’s Convention on Mediation and providing technical assistance for countries.

The UNCITRAL Academy’s Wednesday closing ceremony features panel discussions and fireside chats with top business and mediation professionals.

Anna Joubin – Bret, UNCITRAL secretary, made the opening dialog on Tuesday with Edwin Tong, Minister For Culture, Community and Youth.

She explained that it would be a better option to use more confrontational dispute resolution methods such as litigation for business leaders or in-house legal counsel.

Ms Joubin Bret shared that in the past she felt “preaching in desert” when she spoke about mediation. She also said that people often looked at her funny.

She added that the Singapore Convention on Mediation contributed to the growth of mediation and “nobody blinks anymore”.

Tong is the Second Minister for Law. He stated that mediation organizations need to be more in tune with the needs of businesses from different sectors. Furthermore, he added that more qualified mediators are needed.

In this regard, Government works with organisations like the Singapore International Dispute Resolution Academy & Singapore International Mediation Centre.

Mr Tong said that mediation is becoming increasingly popular as a means to resolve disputes among Singaporeans.

He cited the Community Mediation Centre to say that 80 per cent of all disputes mediated were settled.