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AfricaMoney | June 27, 2017

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Mauritius ratifies UN Convention on transparency in bid to be arbitration hub

Mauritius ratifies UN Convention on transparency in bid to be arbitration hub

The UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and Legal Counsel, Miguel de Serpa Soares, observed that Mauritius is a country that has truly embraced international arbitration as an effective method of resolving commercial and investment disputes. (Image: UNU)

Mauritius has embarked on the eventful journey of transforming into a regional arbitration hub, by becoming a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Transparency in Treaty-based Investor-State Arbitration.

The signing ceremony of the convention was performed yesterday March 17, 2015 at a conference held at the Intercontinental Hotel, Balaclava in Mauritius.

The conference addressed issues relating to investor-state arbitration and human rights as well as arbitration and access to justice.

Around 200 participants, both local and foreign, were present during the conference including Mauritius Minister of Financial Services, Good Governance and Institutional Reforms, Roshi Bhadain; the Attorney General, Ravi Yerrigadoo; and the Chair of the UNCITRAL, Ambassador Choong-hee Hahn, as well as other personalities.

The convention is a platform by which parties to investment treaties have expressed their consent to apply the Rules on Transparency in Treaty-based Investor-State Arbitration of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) to their existing investment promotion and protection agreements concluded before April 01, 2014.
 
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the conference, Mauritius Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Etienne Sinatambou, stressed the importance of transparency in Treaty-based investor-State Arbitration, while commending the UNCITRAL’s ongoing work on transparency.
 
According to him, the signing of the United Nations Convention on Transparency in Treaty-based Investor-State Arbitration, also known as the ‘Mauritius Convention on Transparency’, which has taken place in the island economy, is a source of pride for any Mauritian, as well as the Government.

“When Mauritius embarked on the journey for attempting to become an arbitration hub, it was not a matter to compete with the rest of the world but to establish partnerships with other countries,” the minister stressed. He also expressed conviction that what we are going to do today and what we have done in the last 25 years are complementary.
 
For his part, the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and Legal Counsel of the UN, Miguel de Serpa Soares, observed that Mauritius is a country that has truly embraced international arbitration as an effective method of resolving commercial and investment disputes.
 
As regards the UNCITRAL Rules on Transparency, the Under-Secretary-General observed that these rules represent a fundamental change from the status quo of investment arbitrations often conducted behind closed doors and hidden from public view, even when the issues being raised gathers much attention from the public and the media.  

“All in all, I firmly believe that the conclusion of the Mauritius Convention is a momentous occasion in the field of investment arbitration,” he said.
 
The presentations during this one-day conference focused on the following themes: How to ensure that human rights norms and standards inform law-making related to trade and investment at the national level; Transparency, accountability and access to information as important values in treaty-based, investor-State arbitration; Mauritius Convention on Transparency: A means to effectively address issues in the field of treaty-based investor-State arbitration; Places for regional arbitration – The experience of Mauritius; Investment arbitration in Africa; General framework – UN contributions to the development of arbitration; and the Relevance of transparency for setting up dispute settlement mechanisms.

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