When the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) meets in New York this month, Brooklyn Law School will be represented by more scholars than any educational institution in the world, with Professors Neil Cohen and Edward Janger and Adjunct Professor (and Bankruptcy Judge) Elizabeth Stong each contributing to the Commission’s work.
UNCITRAL is the core legal body of the United Nations in the field of international trade law, specializing in worldwide reform of commercial law. Each year, its 64 member nations (including the United States) send delegates to UNCITRAL “Working Group” and to the Commission’s annual meeting. Experts selected for the Working Groups do the bulk of the substantive work in preparing UNCITRAL texts—including treaties, model laws, and legislative guides—for final approval by the Commission. The Working Groups meet twice annually, alternating between New York and Vienna, and the Commission meets annually, also alternating between New York and Vienna.
|Prof. Edward Janger|
Cohen, an expert in domestic and international commercial law and contracts, will be representing the United States as a member of its delegation to Working Group VI, which focuses on harmonizing and modernizing the law governing secured transactions. Cohen is an UNCITRAL veteran, having served continuously as a United States delegate to UNCITRAL and its Working Groups since 1995. He has also been designated as an expert in secured transactions law by UNCITRAL and has been invited by the Commission to participate in over two dozen “Expert Groups” that assist the Secretariat of the Commission in its work.
Janger, a well-known authority on commercial transactions and bankruptcy law, and Judge Stong, a bankruptcy judge on the U.S. bankruptcy court for the Eastern District of New York, will participate in the Working Group VI meeting as “observers” on behalf of the International Insolvency Institute (III). Non-governmental organizations, such as III, send observers to the Commission’s meetings to offer professional advice and counsel in their areas of expertise.
Working Group VI is currently following up on its groundbreaking Legislative Guide for nations that wish to modernize their secured transactions laws by preparing a guide to the establishment of, and legal rules governing, the secured transactions registries that will be at the heart of the new legal systems. As Cohen explained, in the United States such registries are maintained by the states, providing notice of security interests in a debtor’s property in a manner analogous to mortgage registries for real estate. UNCITRAL’s Legislative Guide recommends that other nations follow this model, and the registry guide will ultimately serve as a model of how governments may establish and run such a system.
The registry guide will be produced by the Working Group and the Commission, utilizing the expertise and judgment of the delegates and observer. In this case, much of that expertise will be from Brooklyn Law School.
“That we have three members of our faculty participating in the Commission’s work speaks highly of the Law School as a center of expertise in the field of secured transactions,” said Cohen. “I think it also shows that BLS is a community of lawyers and scholars committed to using our expertise to benefit the public interest.”