Message to the Senate Transmitting the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods

September 21, 1983

To the Senate of the United States:

With a view to receiving the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification, I transmit herewith the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods. This Convention was adopted on April 11, 1980, by the United Nations Conference on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods and was signed on behalf of the United States at United Nations Headquarters on August 31, 1981.

The Convention would unify the law for international sales, as our Uniform Commercial Code in Article 2 unifies the law for domestic sales.

The Convention was prepared, with the active participation of representatives of the United States, by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) and received the unanimous approval of this worldwide body; the Convention was then adopted, without dissent, by the United Nations Conference of sixty-two States. This unanimity attests to the broadly perceived need for the Convention and the value of its provisions.

The House of Delegates of the American Bar Association recommended in 1981 that the United States ratify the Convention, subject to a declaration permitted under Article 95 as to the grounds for applicability. I concur fully in this recommendation for the reasons set forth in the enclosed report of the Department of State.

The report of the Department of State provides a summary of the Convention and describes its approach. Worthy of emphasis is the international deference that the Convention accords to the contract made by the parties to an international sale. The parties may agree that domestic law rather than the Convention will apply, and their contract may modify or supplant the Convention's rules. The uniform international rules play their significant role when, as often occurs, a problem arises that the parties did not anticipate and solve by contract.

International trade now is subject to serious legal uncertainties. Questions often arise as to whether our law or foreign law governs the transaction, and our traders and their counsel find it difficult to evaluate and answer claims based on one or another of the many unfamiliar foreign legal systems. The Convention's uniform rules offer effective answers to these problems.

Enhancing legal certainty for international sales contracts will serve the interests of all parties engaged in commerce by facilitating international trade. I recommend that the Senate of the United States promptly give its advice and consent to the ratification of this Convention.

Ronald Reagan

The White House,

September 21, 1983.