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A special reception commemorating the 60th anniversary of the New York Convention was held at the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Courthouse of the Southern District of New York last month. ICC and UNCITRAL were the co-hosts of the milestone event attended by over 150 members of the international arbitration community in New York City.

John W.H. Denton AO, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce, met with the New York international arbitration community for the first time since he took helm of the organization in May 2018. “The New York Convention is a tremendous example of how business and governments can work together to strengthen global governance,” he said. “Its enduring relevance is a testament to ICC’s leadership in shaping the global environment for private dispute resolution over the past century.”  Mr Denton lauded UNCITRAL and the many organizations present for their collective efforts to provide clarity in the application and interpretation of the New York Convention before pledging to further ICC’s historical mission to make business work for everyone, every day, everywhere.

Mr Denton was joined in giving opening remarks at the reception by the Honorable Kevin Castel, Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Miguel de Serpa Soares, Under-Secretary General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel, Anna Joubin-Bret, Secretary of UNCITRAL, Nancy Thevenin, General Counsel of ICC USA (United States Council for International Business) and Immediate Past Chair of the New York State Bar Association International Section and George Bermann of Columbia Law School.

Ms Thevenin, General Counsel of ICC USA who played an instrumental role in organizing the reception said: “There is an elegance to the fact that this sparely worded document has been one of the mightiest tools employed by the international business community to foster trade and investment worldwide.”

Grant Hanessian, Chair of Baker McKenzie’s International Arbitration Group in North America and member of the ICC Court said: “It was a special privilege for ICC and New York’s arbitration community to participate in the 60th-anniversary celebration of the New York Convention. The Convention’s great success in providing a universal basis for enforcement of arbitration agreements and awards is a source of particular pride to ICC, which initiated the drafting process that led to the Convention’s adoption by the United Nations in 1958. The Convention, and the many complementary UNCITRAL projects, demonstrate the abiding importance of state cooperation to promote efficient, effective and equitable resolution of commercial and investment disputes.” 

Yas Banifatemi, Partner and Deputy practice leader in Shearman & Sterling’s International Arbitration Practice and a Vice-President of the ICC Court said: “The universality and active implementation of the 1958 New York Convention at domestic level makes it one of UNCITRAL’s most successful accomplishments.  Sixty years after its inception, these features also confirm the role that the Convention has played and continues to play as one of the core instruments and foundations of modern international arbitration.”

Benno Kimmelman, Partner and co-leader of Sidley Austin’s International Arbitration practice said: “The organizations responsible for drafting and supporting the adoption of the New York Convention, including ICC and UNCITRAL, have changed the landscape of international dispute resolution.  Today, 60 years after the Convention was signed, international arbitration is the choice of parties around the world for resolving their commercial disputes.  This is an amazing achievement.” 

The reception was preceded by a special roundtable event at United Nations Headquarters with representatives from ICC, the International Bar Association, the International Council for Commercial Arbitration, the US Department of Commerce, and UNCITRAL addressing the contribution(s) and cooperation of NGOs for the promotion, the application and interpretation of the NY Convention.

Ms Joubin-Bret gave a historical overview of the creation of the Convention initiated by ICC in 1950. As a first draft of the Convention was prepared by ICC’s Commission on Arbitration and ADR, its Secretary, Helene van Lith, emphazised the role ICC continues to play in applying and interpreting the convention through the Court’s scrutiny process and the publication of the forthcoming third revised edition of the ICC Guide to National Procedures for Recognition and Enforcement of Awards Under the New York Convention.