Singapore— On August 7, Wednesday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted that the signing of the United Nations’ (UN) treaty, the Singapore Convention, is a strengthened commitment to multilateralism from all the nations that participated in it. It shows that different countries can come together and achieve consensus.

He said, “Today, a group of states has come together to recommit ourselves to multilateralism and to declare that we remain open for business, we are prepared to make binding commitments, and we are committed to preserving our relationships.”

The first international treaty named after Singapore was signed at the Shangri-La Hotel, with Singapore being the first among 46 participating nations to sign it.

The treaty became known as the Singapore Convention on December 2018, after the UN Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation was adopted by the UN General Assembly.

The Straits Times (ST) reports that over 100 delegations worked on the treaty, which only applies to commercial settlement agreements, over a period of three years. The delegations included representatives from various nations, as well as technical experts from observer, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations.

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The signing ceremony was attended via video conference by Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, and in person by Stephen Matias, the UN Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Secretary-General. They declared that the treaty was open for signing, and, like PM Lee, also noted that the ceremony strengthened the rule of law and multilateralism.

PM Lee, who spoke at the ceremony, talked about how multilateralism has been facing challenges of late. But, as he said, “The solution is to improve it, not to abandon it.”

He highlighted the benefits that multilateral institutions have brought about, including peace, prosperity, security, and growth, and therefore, these institutions should not be abandoned.

“Instead we need to reform them and bring them up to date. We must make sure that they reflect current economic and political realities, and ready them to deal with new issues created by the progress of technology and globalisation.”

A world without multilateral institutions would be to all nations’ disadvantage. “Such a world would be especially challenging for countries like Singapore,” the Prime Minister pointed out.

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“That is why international treaties and the rule of law are especially important to us: Every word makes a difference, and when we sign a treaty, we will rigorously uphold what we have solemnly committed to.”

He added, “The Singapore Convention on Mediation is the missing third piece in the international dispute resolution enforcement framework. Businesses will benefit from greater flexibility, efficiency, and lower costs, while states can enhance access to justice by facilitating the enforcement of mediated agreements.”

PM Lee also noted that the Singapore Convention is proof of the country’s commitment to the community of nations.

“We may be a small country, with limited manpower and no natural resources, but nevertheless we do our best to contribute our part.”

“The signing of the Singapore Convention marks the start of a long-term commitment by Singapore, to promote the Convention and see to its adoption,” the Prime Minister continued. “We will also continue our broader efforts to work with friends and partners to advance the cause of justice.” -/TISG

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