UN treaty on maritime goods transportation set to be signed in Rotterdam

22 September 2009

A new United Nations treaty governing the movement of commercial cargo by sea is slated to be signed on Wednesday in Rotterdam, UN spokesperson Michele Montas announced today.

Ms. Montas told reporters that the Dutch city will host a signing ceremony for the UN Convention on Contracts for the International Carriage of Goods Wholly or Partly by Sea, also known as the “Rotterdam Rules.”

The Convention, adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2008, creates a set of contemporary and uniform rules for the transportation of containers that include an international sea leg, but is not limited to port-to-port shipping of goods.

Describing the rights and obligations of all parties involved in shipping goods by sea, the treaty aims to bring clarity regarding who is responsible and liable for what, when, where and to what extent.

Among the innovations contained in the Convention, which updates and replaces three obsolete treaties, are provisions covering electronic transport records and container shipping as well as regulations for combined sea and land transport.

The UN estimates that the shipping industry hauled 8 billion tons of cargo in 2007, or 80 per cent of the volume of world trade. The movement of oil constituted 33 per cent; dry bulks – iron ore, grain, coal, bauxite/alumina and phosphate – made up 25 per cent; and other dry cargos, including consumer goods, 42 per cent of the total goods shipped.


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