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1980 Vienna Diplomatic Conference

Summary Records of the Plenary Meetings

12th plenary meeting

Friday, 11 April 1980, at 2.25 p.m.

President: Mr. EÖRSI (Hungary)

The meeting was called to order at 2.25 p.m.


1. The PRESIDENT announced that the Final Act of the United Nations Conference on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods and the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (A/CONF.97/18) were open for signature. The Final Act could be signed by any representative, without his having special powers, but only duly authorized plenipotentiaries could sign the Convention.

2. The Final Act was signed by representatives of the following States: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burma, Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, France, German Democratic Republic, Germany, Federal Republic of (3 representatives), Ghana, Greece, Hungary, India, Iraq, Ireland, Italy (2 representatives), Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Netherlands (2 representatives), Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan (2 representatives), Panama, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea (3 representatives), Romania, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (2 representatives), United States of America (2 representatives), Yugoslavia and Zaire (2 representatives).

3. The following countries signed the Convention also: Austria, Chile, Ghana, Hungary and Yugoslavia.


4. The PRESIDENT said that the instrument which had just been signed constituted an enrichment of international trade law. He summarized its antecedents, going back to the work of the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT) during the 1930s, which had reflected the concepts of comparative law prevailing at that time in the Western world. After the Second World War, decolonization and the appearance on the scene of a number of socialist States had given world-wide scope to the question of unified law, but the Western States had still played a predominant role in preparing the Uniform Law on the International Sale of Goods (ULIS), a noteworthy achievement and an excellent starting point for the improvement and extension of international law, in keeping with the needs of the developing world and the socialist countries, and alsowith the necessity for a fair balance between buyers and sellers. The United Nations had continued this work by establishing UNCITRAL, which had achieved a great deal in a short time towards unifying international sales law, thus paving the way for the success of the present Conference. The Working Group set up by UNCITRAL had needed only nine sessions to prepare the draft convention adopted by UNCITRAL in Vienna in 1977. At the present Conference, four weeks of hard work had enabled the First and Second Committees and the Drafting Committee to draw up, on the basis of that draft, the Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods. He paid tribute to the Chairmen of the First and Second Committees and the Drafting Committee, to the Executive Secretary and to the Secretariat. In conclusion, he expressed his satisfaction at the spirit of compromise which had reigned among participants and hoped that the Convention which had just been opened for signature would have great success.

5. Mr. GORBANOV (Bulgaria), speaking on behalf of the Group of socialist countries, paid tribute to UNCITRAL's efforts, which had culminated in the Convention just adopted by the Conference. He congratulated the officers of the Conference, the Executive Secretary and the Secretariat and thanked the Austrian Government and people for the welcome they had given the participants.

6. Mr. SHORE (Canada) thanked the officers of the Conference and the Secretariat.

7. Mr. HERBER (Federal Republic of Germany), after congratulating the President and the Secretariat, expressing the thanks of his Government for the work they had done and thanking the Austrian Government for its hospitally, noted that the Convention was the second important one to have been drawn up at world level on the basis of the work of UNCITRAL, the first being the United Nations Convention on the Carriage of Goods by Sea, 1978. He hoped that the two Conventions would enter into force as soon as possible. The Federal Republic of Germany had not yet signed the present Convention because its Government wished to study it together with other countries, especially with a view to its signature in common by all Common Market countries. Such an approach was in his view desirable. The course of the Conference gave reason to hope that all States could finally accept the Convention, which undoubtedly was an advance on ULIS and could encourage further the unification of international trade law. Whereas his country was one of the few States, Contracting Parties to ULIS, it was nevertheless ready to change to the new regime as soon as there was an indication that the newConvention was acceptable to those States which saw difficulties in adhering to ULIS.

8. Mr. LI-Chih-min (China) expressed his satisfaction that five weeks of intensive work had culminated in the success of the Conference. The Convention, which was a step towards the harmonization of international trade law, would permit legal obstacles to international trade to be removed, facilitate trade and promote the establishment of an economic order founded on equality and mutual interest. His Government would examine the Convention carefully and take positive action, to the extent possible. He congratulated the participants at the Conference, the Austrian Government, all the officers of the Conference and the Secretariat. In particular, he thanked the representatives for the constructive approach they had adopted.

9. Mr. HONNOLD (United States of America) congratulated the President and expressed his pleasure that the Conference had chosen, to lead its debates, a representative of the country whose initiative had led to the establishment of UNCITRAL. He thanked the Secretariat for its hard work and hoped that the Convention would promote the unification of international trade law.

10. Mr. SAM (Ghana), speaking on behalf of the African Group, thanked the Austrian Government and the municipal authorities of Vienna for their warm welcome. He paid tribute to the representatives of participating Governments, to the President of the Conference and the other officers, and to the Secretariat.

11. He hoped that the Convention would be used for many years by businessmen and traders of all countriesas well as by teachers and students of law. He also hoped that the enthusiasm shown during the Conference would be reflected among Governments. He noted, however, that many countries had not yet ratified the 1974 Convention on the Limitation Period in the International Sale of Goods.

12. Mr. MEHDI (Pakistan) said that the Conference would bear the stamp of its President, who had succeeded in reconciling diverging views. The importance of the Convention which had been adopted could not be denied, but it should be noted that, although some of Pakistan's views had been taken into account, the views of the third world countries had not always been given sufficient consideration, although harmony between them and the other nations was a prerequisite for any progress. He could not foresee what attitude his Government would adopt, but hoped that the Convention would enable more rational relationships between buyers and sellers to be established and would contribute to the creation of a more just economic and social order. On behalf of the Asian countries, he thanked the Secretariat, the Austrian Government, the President of the Conference and its officers.

13. Mr. SAMI (Iraq), speaking on behalf of the Arab countries, thanked all those who had contributed to the success of the Conference, particularly its officers. The Convention which had just been adopted was the first step towards the establishment of an international economic order based on justice and equality. His Government would study it very carefully, and he would recommend that it should sign and implement the Convention. The Iraqi Government would bring the Convention to the attention of all participants in international trade and to law students in his country. He hoped that the Convention would be approved by all countries so that it could contribute to the unification of international trade law.

14. The PRESIDENT declared the Conference closed.

The meeting rose at 3.45 p.m.

Pace Law School Institute ofInternational Commercial Law - Last updated February 1, 1999
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