An important recent development in the field of transport law was the adoption, in December 2008, of a new UN Convention on Contracts for the International Carriage of Goods Wholly or Partly by Sea. The new Convention, to be known as the Rotterdam Rules, provides mandatory standards of liability for loss or damage arising from the international carriage of goods by sea and is intended to provide a modern successor to earlier international conventions in the field, namely the so-called Hague Rules 1924, the Hague-Visby Rules, 1968 and the Hamburg Rules 1978. In contrast to these conventions currently in force, however, the Rotterdam Rules also apply to multimodal transport involving an international sea-leg and deal with a range of issues not presently subject to mandatory international law.
The UNCTAD secretariat participated in the preparatory work that was carried out by the UNCITRAL Working Group III (Transport Law) as an observer and has, over the years, prepared a number of documents to provide technical legal analysis of the draft text for consideration by the Working Group; these include an article-by-article commentary (UNCTAD/SDTE/TLB/4) and comments on specific aspects of the draft text (UNCTAD/SDTE/TLB/2004/2) (also available, in all official UN Languages, on the UNCITRAL Working Group III website as documents A/CN.9/WG.III/WP.21/Add.1; A/CN.9/WG.III/WP.41; and A/CN.9/WG.III/WP.46).
Following the adoption of the new Convention in December 2008, Governments will be considering the potential implications of ratifying the Rotterdam Rules. To assist governments, in particular in developing countries, in their assessment of the merits of ratification, an analytical overview of key features of the Rotterdam Rules has been published as part of the Review of Maritime Transport 2009, with a brief update in the Review of Maritime Transport 2010.
For the official text and status information of the Rotterdam Rules, see the dedicated pages of the UNCITRAL website, www.uncitral.org.