Friday, September 3, 2010
There are four modes of transport in international transportation: air, water, rail, and road.
As to water, the United States follows the Hague Rules and applies the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (COGSA) while much of the rest of the world uses the Hague-Visby Rules.
The Hamburg Rules, promulgated by UNCITRAL, are now in effect for 34 nations. Click here to see the list of state parties. (Note to any professors using the second edition of Chow & Schoenbaum -- page 94 states that only 20 countries are parties.) Unfortunately even the larger number of ratifications has not brought the Hamburg Rules any respect, as many of the countries who are parties are smaller countries, and some are also landlocked.
UNCITRAL made another attempt in 2008 to update the rules for shipping when it promulgated the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Carriage of Goods Wholly or Partly by Sea - the "Rotterdam Rules."
The Rotterdam Rules will enter into effect when 20 countries ratify that treaty. As of September 3, 2010, there are 22 signatories to the treaty but no nation has yet ratified it. But there is movement on the treaty. On August 31, 2010, the nation of Luxembourg signed the treaty and became the 22nd signatory state. Click here to see the current status on the UNCITRAL website and to find links to the Rotterdam Rules and related documents. Also, the American Bar Association House of Delegates voted in February 2010 to support U.S. ratification of the Rotterdam Rules. Click here for more information.
A listing on Wikipedia for the Rotterdam Rules stated (wrongly) that because it had 20 signatories it was in effect. We know better. Signature alone is not enough, the countries must also ratify. I've corrected that Wikipedia entry so that my students (who never read this blog) won't come across that some time and think that the Rotterdam in effect.