It’s the little sister to the New York Convention, at least for now, and aims to place mediation on equal footing with arbitration to resolve cross-border disputes.

In 2018, the United Nations adopted the Singapore Convention, providing a uniform framework for enforcing settlements of international commercial disputes to encourage fast and efficient resolution.  We’ve read it for you and distilled its essence in six parts.

Purpose:  To facilitate international trade and commerce by enabling disputing parties to easily enforce and invoke settlement agreements across borders, making mediation an attractive alternative to litigation and arbitration in cross-border disputes.

Scope:  The Convention applies to a written settlement agreement resulting from mediation to resolve an international business dispute.  The Convention does not apply to domestic commercial disputes, non-commercial disputes, or settlement agreements approved by a court or concluded in the course of court proceedings.

Procedure:  A party files the signed settlement agreement in a signatory nation along with proof the agreement resulted from mediation, such as the mediator’s signature on the agreement or the mediator’s sworn affirmation.

Defenses:  Enumerated defenses include mental incapacity, invalid agreement under controlling law, incomplete or non-binding agreement, material modification, and wrongdoing by the mediator.

Signatories:  Fifty-five countries have signed the Convention as of May 2023, and eleven have ratified it.  The United States is a signatory but has yet to ratify it.

Impact:  For fifty years, businesses have preferred arbitration to resolve international disputes in part because the New York Convention establishes a uniform framework for enforcement of arbitral decisions in 160 signatory nations.  The Singapore Convention should have the same impact on mediation if a similar number of countries sign on.