The United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Carriage of Goods Wholly or Partly by Sea, known as the Rotterdam Rules, has received its 20th signature just one month after it first opened for signature. Niger became the 20th signatory to the Rotterdam Rules.
The signing ceremony for the Convention was held in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on 23 September 2009. Sixteen States signed the Convention on the opening day, making it the most successful of the conventions developed by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) so far in terms of signatures obtained on opening day.
The States signing the Convention upon its opening for signature in Rotterdam were: Congo, Denmark, France, Gabon, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Senegal, Spain, Switzerland, Togo and the United States of America. Joining the initial 16 States in signing the Convention since were: Armenia, Cameroon, Madagascar and Niger. The 20 signatories represent a mix of developing and developed countries, including several major trading and maritime nations. Together, the 20 represent over 25 per cent of current world trade volume according to the United Nations 2008 International Merchandise Trade Statistics Yearbook. The Convention needs 20 ratifications to enter into force.
The Rotterdam Rules were adopted by the General Assembly on 11 December 2008 to establish a uniform and modern global legal regime governing the rights and obligations of stakeholders in the maritime transport industry under a single contract for door-to-door carriage. The Convention builds upon, and provides a modern alternative to earlier conventions governing the international carriage of goods by sea, as well as codifying important industry practice. The Rules provide a legal framework that accounts for the many technological and commercial developments that have taken place in maritime transport since the adoption of the earlier conventions, including the growth of containerization, the need for door-to-door transport under a single contract of carriage and the development of electronic commerce.