On July 17, 2019, the Independent State of Papua New Guinea (PNG) became the 160th state to accede to the United Nations Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards 1958 (the New York Convention).
The New York Convention is widely regarded as the cornerstone of modern international arbitration, and it is credited with making international arbitration the most popular method of resolving international commercial disputes all over the world. It requires courts of contracting states to give effect to arbitration agreements and to recognize and enforce awards made in other states, subject to specific limited exceptions.
Our International Arbitration Group is delighted to have worked with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) and the PNG government on its accession to the New York Convention and the drafting of new international arbitration legislation. Partner Gary Born, chair of the firm's International Arbitration Group, was engaged by the ADB together with Daniel Meltz, a barrister at 12 Wentworth Selborne Chambers, to advise on the treaty accession and related arbitration law reform and led the group's work along with Senior Associate Jonathan Lim. Partner Steven Finizio also spoke at the 2nd South Pacific International Arbitration Conference in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, on March 25–26, 2019, when the PNG government first announced its intention to accede to the New York Convention. The group will continue to work with the ADB, UNCITRAL and the PNG government on implementing the New York Convention and related arbitration law reform, including a new international arbitration bill.
The group's work in PNG is part of a broader technical assistance project promoting international arbitration reform in the South Pacific, overseen by the ADB's Office of the General Counsel through its Law and Policy Reform Program and led by Christina Pak, principal counsel at the ADB. The project includes other countries in the South Pacific such as Fiji, Palau, Samoa, Timor Leste and Tonga.
The group also provided assistance to the government of Fiji in the drafting of the Fiji International Arbitration Bill 2017 and continues to support capacity-building initiatives for the private sector, government and judiciary in Fiji. Mr. Born and Mr. Lim took part in and helped to organize the inaugural ADB-UNCITRAL South Pacific International Arbitration Conference held in Denarau, Fiji, which took place on February 12–13, 2018. Mr. Born gave the conference's keynote address. On May 28 and 29, 2019, Mr. Lim spoke at international arbitration training seminars on the new International Arbitration Act in Suva, Fiji, that were jointly organized by the government of Fiji and the ADB for lawyers and non-lawyers in the private and public sectors.