Published 15 March 2021
Contemporary mediation systems are emerging throughout Asia. In 2019, 16 jurisdictions from Asia and the Pacific region signed the UN Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation (the Singapore Convention). Moreover, Asia’s signatories include some of its largest economies, five ASEAN countries and seven members of the RCEP.
Why is this important? In a strict legal sense, the Singapore Convention is an instrument to facilitate the enforcement of international mediated settlement agreements (iMSAs); however its broader objective is to facilitate cross-border trade and investment. This is reflected in the Preamble to the Singapore Convention, which reiterates the view that “the establishment of a framework for international settlement agreements resulting from mediation that is acceptable to States with different legal, social and economic systems would contribute to the development of harmonious international economic relations [...]”
The Singapore Convention promises to leave a significant impact on international dispute resolution practices and, beyond that, on trade and investment flows. According to Edna Sussman, the Singapore Convention has inspired the “changes to the ICSID rules on conciliation [which] specifically suggests that the parties sign a settlement agreement [which may be embodied in a Conciliation Report] so that parties in ICSID conciliation proceedings can benefit from the enforcement regime for mediated settlements contemplated by the Singapore Convention”. Matthew Erie points out that global capital flows post-2008 are increasingly taking place within Asia, which means that more cross-border disputes are being resolved in the region. In this regard, the naming of the Convention after an Asian city-state may be serendipitous symbolism. The Convention has the capacity to enhance the attractiveness of mediation within regional initiatives, such as the Belt and Road Initiative , and support economic growth in Asia, which continues despite the global downturn due to Covid-19.
Footnotes omitted from this introduction.