The United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Carriage of Goods Wholly or Partly by Sea (“the Rotterdam Rules”), which has opened for signatures since September 23, 2009, has enjoyed widespread support and has already been signed by 19 states, including the United States. The Rotterdam Rules are the result of intergovernmental negotiations that took place between 2002 and 2009 within the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law. They were adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 11, 2008.
The Rotterdam Rules are an update to earlier conventions and were seen as necessary given that an estimated 90% of maritime shipping is international and 80% of world trade is conducted by sea. The Rotterdam Rules describe the rights and obligations of all parties with an interest in the carriage of goods by sea and bring more clarity regarding who is responsible and liable for what, when, where and to what extent. It is hoped that the application of the new convention will make international trade easier and lead to a reduction in costs.
States that have signed the Rotterdam Rules now must ratify the convention to ensure its use in the industry. More information regarding the Rotterdam Rules—including the text of the convention—may be obtained on the website of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law.