In this topic remaining issues on the application of harmonizing/unifying instruments will be considered, once all other impediments have already been dealt with on previous topics.

First, the focus is on unification, precisely on its requirement of application being done similarly enough by applicators so the choice of the applicator is not relevant to the result obtained.[1]

The main problems in this section are related to diverging interpretation of instruments due to language discrepancies[2] and the influence of domestic legal orders to the application of harmonizing/unifying instruments.[3]

Regarding language discrepancies, applying interpretation rules is the best approach. Such rules are usually found in the instrument text or in the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. In relation to the influence domestic legal orders play, interpretation rules are also relevant, mostly the ones determining harmonizing/unifying instruments must be interpreted autonomously and considering their international character.[4] Further, the more information on such instruments is spread on the domestic level, the more correct their application will be. It is especially true when information is available on the judge’s mother-tongue.[5]

Initiatives on spreading knowledge on unifying/harmonizing instruments are very welcome and considered the best way to increase their adequate application. Databases containing doctrine, case law, and information on harmonizing/unifying instruments are very important too.[6] Courses are a great king of initiative too and should be directed not only to university students, but to graduated applicators that are unfamiliar to the field and anyone else interested in the subject.[7] However, efforts should be applied to increase the number of arbitral awards made available to applicators.[8] Considering the more specialized character of arbitration decisions, the publication of arbitral awards content could help spreading the most adequate fashion of applying harmonizing/unifying instruments.[9] Obviously, the confidentiality must be preserved.

Further, the creation of an international court to improve harmonization/unification of international commercial law is not recommended. This is so for two main reasons: there is no guarantee the existence of such a court leads to an adequate application of harmonizing/unifying instruments (as it is possible to verify from domestic courts);[10] and arbitration is a very used dispute settlement mechanism that would have to be banned if such court were to be effective; i.e. the creation of an international court would only fulfill its aims if arbitration was no longer used, what is not possible nor recommended.

Some initiatives on regional level were taken, such as in the European Union[11] and in the OHADA.[12] However, obstacles are faced when trying to grant cohesion and efficiency to the system, what shows a global initiative would be subject to difficulties too.[13]

Second, there is the possibility some instruments are used to aid the interpretation of others. We could call it “harmonizing interpretation”. Any instrument may be used for this purpose.[14]_[15] The aim is bringing the content of such instruments into domestic law in order to encourage their use in the national level and bring new ideas to national law, fostering harmonization too.[16] In this sense, knowledge sharing is mandatory, so applicators can identify cases to which these new instruments may be used and, therefore, use harmonizing interpretation more frequently.

  1. Problems accruing from the relation among Harmonization and Unification instruments themselves

The relation among harmonizing/unifying instruments takes place in mainly two ways: during their creation and during their application/interpretation. Every instrument may work as source of inspiration or model for others. In this sense, it is very important to bear in mind pre-existent instruments and their content in order to avoid collisions and contradictions and, consequently, grant cohesion to the system. Generally, during application, the level of compatibility of instruments varies according to their binding force and scope of application.

Considering the large quantity of instruments already created and, therefore, made available to applicators, new instruments should be based on deficiencies of the existing system.[17] Besides, the feasibility of the proposed solution should be analyzed.[18] Balance between diversity and harmonization/unification is important, as well as between rigidity and flexibility of rules.[19]

In this sense, formulating agencies should work together to optimize their activities and avoid the drafting of conflicting or overlapping instruments. They should take into account both formal and material characteristics of the instruments.[20]

Regarding global and regional instruments, it is important to define their scope of application very well, so initiatives created by one formulating agency are not lost due to others created in the opposite sense by another one.[21]

The “dialog of sources” [22] is the best approach to grant harmonic solutions when it comes to the application of more than one harmonizing/unifying instrument simultaneously. Hard law and soft law instruments should be used together in order to improve harmonic coexistence of instruments and the achievement of better practical results. The same is true considering the relation between harmonizing/unifying instruments and domestic law.[23]

  1. Conclusion

Highlighting problems on harmonization and unification of international commercial law is the first step in order to optimize efforts to facilitate international commercial relations. Next step is taking such issues strongly into account when drafting, interpreting and applying harmonizing/unifying instruments. Formulating agencies play a very important role in this mission, such as States, all other applicators, and academics. Of course this is not an easy task as there are many interests and difficulties involved.

In this sense, the word that should guide works in this field for the next years is balance: balance between divergence and equality; balance between existing instruments and societies’ new needs; balance between rigidity and flexibility; and last but not least, balance between party autonomy and State power. Bearing this in mind, activities should be focused on initiatives aiming at solving deficiencies of the existing system.

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[1]  Parallel proceedings (including arbitration) are included in the applicator’s selection issues.

[2] BONELL, 1990, p. 867; ULRICH MAYER, 1998, pp. 588-589.

[3] MATTEUCCI, 1957, p. 423-424.

[4] ULRICH MAYER, 1998, p. 599; BONELL, 1990, p. 867

[5] BOSCOLO, 2016, section 2.B.iv.

[6]  Some of them are available at: http://www.unilex.info/; https://www.uncitral.org/pdf/english/clout/CISG-digest-2012-e.pdf; <http://www.cisg.law.pace.edu/>; http://www.cisgac.com/; <http://www.cisg-brasil.net/> all of them accessed on 08 January 2017; BeRgER, 1999, p. 233. (CENTRAL http://www.central-koeln.de/en ID122 accessed on 08 January 2017) Regarding the CISG Advisory Council, see also: KARTON & DE GERMINY 2009.

[7] FARIA, 2009, pp. 33-34.

[8] DE LY, 1997, p. 545.

[9] DE LY, 1997, p. 545.

[10]         ANDERSEN, 2007, p. 6-7; JAYME, 1995, p. 259.

[11] BIAVATI, 2009, p. 411-426; RIECHENBERG, 2004, p. 321.

[12] LEBOULANGER, 2009, pp. 548-549.

[13]         ANDERSEN, 2007, p. 6-7; JAYME, 1995, p. 259.

[14]         As seen on KULESZA, 2015, pp. 319-321.

[15] BIN, 1993, p. 475.

[16] BIN, 1993, p. 475-479.

[17] BOELE-WOELKI, 2010, pp. 336-337.

[18] GOODE, 2003, item I.

[19] BERGER, 1999, p. 206-212; DE LY, 1997, pp. 523-536.

[20] FARIA, 2009, p. 22; BONELL, 1996, p. 245; DE LY, 1997, p. 536.

[21] KRONKE, 2004, p. 476-477; FARIA, 2009, p. 25; GARRO, 2015, pp. 2-5; MAYER, 2008, p. 400-401; BONELL, 1996, p. 233.

[22] JAYME, 1995, p. 259.

[23] BOELE-WOELKI, 2010, p. 344; BASSO, 2011, p. 98; KRONKE, 2004, p. 475; BOSCOLO, 2015.; VISCASILLAS, 1998, item VI.B. In the same sense KROLL & MISTELIS & VISCASILLAS 2011, p. 289-290; CISG-AC Opinion n.13, p. 21-22; AGRO, 2011, p. 733; BONELL, 2002, p. 348-349; ULRICH MAYER, 1998, p. 599; BADAN, 2012, p. 50; KRONKE, 2014, p. 38.