1. This Convention, of which the Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish texts shall be equally authentic, shall be deposited in the archives of the United Nations.
2. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall transmit a certified copy of this Convention to the States contemplated in article VIII.
Travaux préparatoires on Article XVI
A. Draft Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards and Comments by Governments and Organizations
A.1. ECOSOC: Report of the Committee on the Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards: 18 March 1955
A.2. Comments by Governments and Organisations on the Draft Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards: January 1956 - March 1958
B. United Nations Conference On International Commercial Arbitration: Documents
B.10. Text of Articles Adopted by the Conference: 4-6 June 1958
B.11. Text of the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards as Provisionally Approved by Drafting Committee 6-9 June 1958
B.14. Final Act and Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards
C. Summary Records of the United Nations Conference on International Commercial Arbitration, New York, 20 May - 10 June 1958
1. Article XVI provides that Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish – the official languages of the United Nations at the time of the preparation of the Convention – are the authentic languages of the Convention and are to be considered equally authoritative. The Convention does not include provision on how to address situations of diverging language versions.
2. Although some commentators have identified potential differences between the authentic versions of the Convention,1 none of the reported cases have discussed the matter of divergent language versions.
1. See, e.g., Dorothee Schramm, Elliott Geisinger et al., Article XVI, in RECOGNITION AND ENFORCEMENT OF FOREIGN ARBITRAL AWARDS: A GLOBAL COMMENTARY ON THE NEW YORK CONVENTION 555, at 556 (H. Kronke, P. Nacimiento, D. Otto, N.C. Port eds., 2010).
3. In case an ambiguity would exist in one of the authentic language versions of the Convention, courts could normally apply the rules of interpretation provided in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969. Pursuant to Articles 31 and 32 of the Vienna Convention, “[a] treaty shall be interpreted in good faith in accordance with the ordinary meaning to be given to the terms of the treaty in their context and in the light of its object and purpose” and “[r]ecourse may be had to supplementary means of interpretation, including the preparatory work of the treaty and the circumstances of its conclusion, in order to confirm the meaning resulting from the application of article 31”.
4. In Kahn Lucas Lancaster Inc. v. Lark International Ltd., the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit relied on the versions of the Convention listed in article XVI to assist it in interpreting the meaning of article II(2). In addition to its textual analysis of the English-language version, the Court reviewed article II(2) in each of the four other languages deemed to be authentic (i.e. Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish).2 The Court concluded that like the English version, the French, Spanish and Chinese versions of article II(2) suggest that regardless of whether an agreement to arbitrate is found in an arbitration clause in a contract or as a separate arbitration agreement, it must be signed by the parties or contained in an exchange of letters. The Court stated that it was “reluctant to allow the seemingly contradictory Russian language version to dictate a different result. This is particularly so in light of the stated purposes of the Convention, one of which is to ‘unify the standards by which agreements to arbitrate are observed and arbitral awards are enforced in the signatory countries.’” The Court’s interpretation of article II(2) was confirmed by the drafting and legislative history of this provision.