Businesses will have greater certainty in resolving cross-border disputes through mediation, following the entering into force on 12 September of the Singapore Convention on Mediation.  

Also known as the United Nations (UN) Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation, it is the first UN treaty to be named after Singapore. As of 1 September 2020, the Convention has 53 signatories, including the United States, China and India, though not yet the United Kingdom. Of these, six have ratified the Convention: Singapore, Fiji, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Belarus and most recently Ecuador.   

With the Convention in force, businesses seeking enforcement of a mediated settlement agreement across borders can do so by applying directly to the courts of countries that have signed and ratified the treaty, instead of having to enforce the settlement agreement as a contract in accordance with each country’s domestic process. The Convention provides a harmonised and simplified enforcement framework.

Further adoption of the Convention globally is predicted to strengthen Singapore’s position as an international dispute resolution centre, serving the needs of businesses that use Singapore as a base for their international transactions. Over the years, Singapore has set up various institutions, including the Singapore International Arbitration Centre, Singapore International Mediation Centre, and Singapore International Commercial Court to provide a full suite of dispute resolution services for international commercial parties to resolve their disputes in Singapore.  

The Convention opened for signature on 7 August 2019, when 46 countries signed it, among the highest for first-day signatories for any UN trade convention.

Anna Joubin-Bret, Secretary of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, commented: “With the Convention successfully entered into force, we look forward to it bringing certainty and stability to the international framework on mediation, and contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals, including the goal of promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development.”