Following the decision A/CN.9/LIII/CRP.15 adopted by UNCITRAL Members States through silence procedure on 8th June, 2021, Amb. Philbert Abaka Johnson was elected as Chair of the 54th Session of UNCITRAL from 28th June -16th July, 2021.
Others elected on the Bureau of the 54th Session of UNCITRAL were Amb. D’hoop (Belgium), Mr. Andrés Hana (Chile) and Mr. Foo (Singapore) as Vice-Chairs. Prof. Sikirić (Croatia) as the Rapporteur.
The 54th session of UNCITRAL considered, among others, (a) a text on the United Nations Limited liability organisation (MSMEs), (b) a text on a simplified insolvency regime for MSMEs, (c) texts in the area of mediation (Investor-state mediation), (d) draft provisions on expedited arbitration (Investor-state dispute resolution), (e) future work programme of the commission; technical assistance programme ,legal issues arising from the digital economy, covid 19 and its impact on international trade law, resource requirement for the implementation of the work programme of the commission and (f), the proposal by Japan for the expansion of the membership of UNCITRAL.
Silence procedure on all the issues under deliberations came to an end on 30th July 2021 without any Member State of UNCITRAL breaking the silence.
To commemorate Africa’s Chairmanship of the 54th Session, the UNCITRAL Secretariat organised a side event dubbed ‘Africa Forum’ in the margins of the 54th Session. Deliberations at the forum coalesced on the need to engage African countries in the legislative work of UNCITRAL to among others, prevent the unpleasant and negative impact of investor-State dispute settlement cases on African countries. The participants at the forum stressed the need to organised UNCITRAL Day in Africa to create awareness, stimulate interest and enhance capacity of African public officials, academics, entrepreneurs, particularly, the youth in UNCITRAL trade Law issues. The Chair of the 54th Session of UNCITRAL intends to initiate action for the organisation of UNCITRAL Day in Africa in 2022.
A virtual panel discussions on technical assistance activities, focusing on MSMEs recovery and UNCITRAL Days was also held by the UNCITRAL Secretariat. Deliberations during the panel discussion dwelt on how the commission could assist Member States in the area of capacity building, MSMEs recovery from the Covid 19 economic shock, how a good commercial law framework can contribute effectively to that and how the use of UNCITRAL tools can support countries at all levels of economic development particularly in areas such as insolvency and access to finance.
The forum also discussed the UNCITRAL Days which have been held in Latin America and Asia and the relevance of such events for knowledge and skill sharing.
It may be recalled that Ghana chaired the first UNCITRAL Session in 1968 in the person of Amb. Emmanuel Kodjoe Dadzie and subsequently in 1978 in the person of Justice Dateh Bah.