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Cite as Evans, in Bianca-Bonell Commentary on the International Sales Law, Giuffrè: Milan (1987) 23-25. Reproduced with permission of Dott. A Giuffrè Editore, S.p.A.

Preamble

Malcolm Evans

1. History of the provision
2. Meaning and purpose of the provision
3. Problems concerning the provision

PREAMBLE

The States Parties to this Convention,

Bearing in mind the broad objectives in the resolutions adopted by the sixth special session of the General Assembly of the United Nations on the establishment of a New International Economic Order,

Considering that the development of international trade on the basis of equality and mutual benefit is an important element in promoting friendly relations among States,

Being of the opinion that the adoption of uniform rules which govern contracts for the internatonal sale of goods and take into account the different social, economic and legal systems would contribute to the removal of legal barriers in international trade and promote the development of international trade,

Have agreed as follows:

1. History of the provision.

     1.1. - In accordance with United Nations practice, the preambular provisions were prepared during the Diplomatic Conference which adopted the Convention.

2. Meaning and purpose of the provision.

     2.1. - The purpose of the preamble to an international agreement being to indicate the aim of the agreement and any specific considerations underlying it, it is interesting to note that the Preamble to the present Convention is much more developed than those of the conventions already elaborated on the basis of drafts prepared within UNCITRAL. [page 23]

     2.2. - Thus the Preamble to the United Nations Convention on the Limitation Period in the International Sale of Goods, 1975, was restricted to two clauses:

Considering that international trade is an important factor in the promotion of friendly relations among States,

Believing that the adoption of uniform rules governing the limitation period in the international sale of goods would facilitate the development of world trade [...]

while the 1978 United Nations Convention on the Carriage of Goods by Sea was even more succinct:

Having recognized the desirability of determining by agreement certain rules relating to the carriage of goods by sea [...]

     2.3. - Certain echoes of the Preamble to the 1975 Limitation Convention are to be found in the second paragraph of the Preamble to the present Convention which refers to «the development of international trade» as «an important element in promoting friendly relations among States» and in the third paragraph which speaks of «the adoption of uniform rules which govern contracts for the international sale of goods» as contributing to the promotion of «the development of internatlonal trade».

2.4. - The Preamble to the present Convention, which has moreover strongly influenced the wording of the Preamble to the 1983 Convention on Agency in the International Sale of Goods, incorporates, however, certain ideas which reflect the concerns of a number of States, in particular Third World countries, namely:

(i) the reference in the first paragraph to the New International Economic Order;

(ii) the development in the second paragraph of the corresponding provisions in the 1975 Limitation Convention cited above so as to refer to «equality and mutual benefit»; and

(iii) the reference in the third paragraph to «different social, economic and legal systems» and to «the removal of legal barriers in international trade».

3. Problems concerning the provision.

     3.1. - As already noted, the preambular provisions of the present Convention are more developed than those of the other [page 24] two conventions worked out within UNCITRAL to which reference has been made in the preceding section, as well as those of the 1964 Convention relating to a Uniform Law on the International Sale of Goods (ULIS) which speaks of the States signatory to the Convention as «[d]esiring to establish a uniform law on the international sale of goods». It is therefore perhaps useful to recall in this connection Article 31(2) of the United Nations Convention on the Law of Treaties of 23 May 1969 which specifically mentions the preamble of a treaty as being part of the context for the purpose of the interpretation of a treaty. On the other hand, it should be borne in mind that the character of the Convention is essentially technical and that rules of interpretation are already to be found in Article 7(1). In consequence, the scope for interpretation in the light of the Preamble may not be very wide and it will be of interest to see how far the case law may accord its provisions the status of something more than general declarations of political principle. [page 25]


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