International mediation forum commemorates a new era in dispute resolution, highlights work needed to take the Singapore Convention on Mediation forward

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International dispute resolution practitioners today explored how businesses could take advantage of opportunities brought about by the signing of the Singapore Convention on Mediation.

The MANE Forum welcomed over 200 businesses and dispute resolution practitioners, executives and academics from around the world, including the Chief Justices of Fiji and Samoa. The event was graced by Guest-of-Honour, Singapore Senior Minister of State for Law and Health Mr Edwin Tong SC.

In his welcome address, Mr Tong said that with the introduction of the Singapore Convention on Mediation, the development of international commercial mediation will take off, but more work will be needed for international commercial mediation to be as widely used as a dispute resolution option for high-value cross-border transactions as litigation and arbitration.

Mr Tong also outlined three areas of work needed to take the Singapore Convention forward: first, having countries which have signed ratify early and having more countries sign the Convention; second, having businesses use mediation for high-value, cross-border commercial disputes and third; growing the pool of mediation institutions and practitioners capable of handling international commercial mediation and advising parties on its use. The Singapore Convention on Mediation needs three countries to sign and ratify to come into force. Mr Tong said that Singapore will be submitting a Bill to Parliament and working towards ratification by early next year.  

The Forum’s keynote speaker, Dr Noeleen Heyzer, Former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Member of the UN Secretary General’s High-level Advisory Board on Mediation, also added that the Singapore Convention is a critical tool for countries to mitigate tensions through the willingness to cooperate and achieving consensus on moving forward together.

“We are on the cusp of a major transition in the global economy, where dialogue and openness is no longer an alternative, but necessary to build shared prosperity in the interest of harmony and sustainable development,” she said.

At the Forum, the Singapore International Mediation Centre (SIMC) signed two Memoranda of Understanding, with the China International Economic & Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC) and the Korean Commercial Arbitration Board (KCAB) International respectively, to jointly promote international commercial mediation and train mediators.

Mr Tong said, “These MOUs are strong examples of how Singapore has been promoting cross-border collaborations and working closely with our international partners to raise the quality of mediators and promote the wider adoption of mediation globally.”

The SIMC-CIETAC MOU was signed by Mr George Lim SC, Chairman of SIMC and Mr Wang Chengjie, Secretary-General of CIETAC, and witnessed by Ms Gloria Lim, Director (Legal Industry Division), Ministry of Law and Ms Zhong Manying, Minister-Counsellor (Economic & Commercial Office), Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Singapore. The SIMC-KCAB MOU was signed by Mr George Lim SC and Prof Hi-Taek Shin, Chairman of KCAB.

The Forum is co-organised by the Singapore International Dispute Resolution Academy, Singapore International Mediation Centre, Singapore International Mediation Institute and Singapore Mediation Centre.

The Forum also featured distinguished individuals such as Mrs Anna Joubin-Bret, UNCITRAL Secretary; Mr Rimsky Yuen, Hong Kong’s Fomer Secretary of Justice; and Mr Akira Kawamura, President of the Japanese Association of Arbitrators. These specially curated panel sessions explored the evolution of international commercial mediation in Asia, the use of technology in cross-border mediation, and professional standards in mediation.