New York Convention

The New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards is a treaty open to accession by any Member State of the United Nations and any other State that is either a member of any specialised agency of the United Nations or a Party to the Statute of the International Court of Justice.  All major trading nations have signed or acceded to it and the total number of Contracting States (currently 149) grows continually.  Myanmar is the most recent to apply it (since 15 July 2013) and The Democratic Republic of Congo is currently in the process of becoming the 150th member (see News Item).

The New York Convention binds its member states to observe two key principles:

  • to respect parties’ agreements to arbitration: in practical terms this means that their national courts must decline to hear disputes that parties have validly agreed to submit to arbitration; and
  • to recognize and enforce awards resulting from an arbitration in the same way they would enforce a judgment of their own national courts, subject only to being permitted a limited judicial review of the existence of an arbitration agreement and the observance of due process.

When acceding to the Convention states may elect to restrict its application:

  • to the recognition and enforcement of awards made only in the territory of another Contracting State; and
  • to differences arising out of “commercial” relationships (whether contractual or not).

A list of members – including details of whether or not they have chosen to make these reservations – is on the website of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCTAD).

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