UNCTAD

Unlike the IMO, which is a technical organisation, United Nations Council For Trade & Development (UNCTAD) is more of a political animal. As its name suggests, United Nations Council For Trade & Development (UNCTAD) is that arm of the United Nations Organisation dedicated to trade and development. The word “development” in its title implies its bias towards developing nations and United Nations Council For Trade & Development (UNCTAD) makes no secret of the fact that, politically, it sees its principal role as that of assisting the so-called ‘third world’. United Nations Council For Trade & Development (UNCTAD), based in Geneva, has a shipping division staffed by a highly dedicated team and their efforts have met with a mixed degree of success. Their Non-Mandatory Minimum Standards for Shipping Agents which were promulgated in March 1988 were endorsed enthusiastically by almost all nations represented. Similarly their maritime training programmes, tailor-made for developing nations are very highly thought of. Less successful have been UNCTAD’s attempts to regulate liner trading with the Code of Practice for Liner Conferences (usually remembered for one clause often referred to as the 40-40-20 rule). This international convention was overtaken by commercial evolution and attempts to modify it have been unsuccessful. United Nations Council For Trade & Development (UNCTAD) also launched the ‘Hamburg Rules’ which seek to regulate shipowners’ liabilities on more favorable terms towards merchants than the more universally adopted Hague or Hague/Visby Rules. To date, the number of nations ratifying the Hamburg Rules are still insufficient to have any real impact. Two attempts to standardize the basic clauses in charter parties have so far failed to make progress. This, however, may not be surprising in view of the large volume of chartering which is controlled by groups who are quite happy with charter parties as they are. It would be quite unfair to judge United Nations Council For Trade & Development (UNCTAD) by these few well-publicised failures; their successes often go unnoticed. That there are successes at all is often surprising when one considers that the officials have to endeavour to achieve a consensus among members with very different outlooks and objectives, aligned in groups of developed and developing states. United Nations Council For Trade & Development (UNCTAD)’s proceedings and other current topics can be perused at www.unctad.org.