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Singapore reaffirms its role as a global affairs fixer

Singapore has just strengthened its global position as an international affairs and trade intermediary, proxy and fixer. With the signing in the city-state on August 7, 2019 of the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation (the “Singapore Convention on Mediation”) by 46 States (including ASEAN members, US, China, India and South Korea), hailed as the “missing third piece in international dispute resolution”, Singapore has just reaffirmed itself as a champion and go-to point for a multilateral world.

Already a focal point for inter-government security issues, with the holding each year since 2002 of the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ Asia Security Summit (“The Shangri-La Dialogue”), Singapore has more recently exhibited itself as the preferred location for sensitive meetings, with the holding on June 12, 2018 of the 2018 North Korea-United States Singapore Summit that saw Presidents Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un sitting face-to-face at Capella Hotel, on Sentosa Island.

Already capitalizing on its stable political and regulatory environment, Rachel Ting Zhi Lim, of the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, reminds us that “the Convention is also expected to encourage businesses to seek out Singapore as a venue for sorting out their disputes. The Singapore Mediation Convention would serve to further promote Singapore’s reputation as an international hub for mediation. In November 2017, Singapore enacted the Mediation Act, which allows users to enforce their settlement agreements arising from mediations at the Singapore International Mediation Centre as consent orders.

This is textbook soft power. On top of putting itself at the center of the global mediation landscape (just as New York City achieved in the field of arbitration, with the New York Convention), Singapore is once more projecting a much-needed image of consensus and conflict-prevention in these times of multiplying trade frictions, opposition to China’s Belt & Road Initiative and weakening WTO influence. Offering an upstream solution to conflict arbitration (mediation) is one smart move indeed, in the spirit of yesterday’s (August 8, 2019) National Day Message by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at Jewel Changi Airport. One great way to celebrate Singapore’s Bicentennial and 54th birthday !

Picture credits: Singapore Convention on Mediation

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