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UNCITRAL: Day 3, Suez and thanks for all the fish

While the Security Council and the CEU-EcoFin sought to avert the Horn of Africa spiralling into war over the Ethiopian Nile Dam Project, UNCITRAL was called to an emergency session to discuss disruptions to the Ethiopian coffee industry and shipping on the Suez Canal.

As the committee was informed, the disruptions have led to the inability for producers to carry out contracts as agreed within the necessary timeframe. These contracts have arbitration clauses, designating the alternative dispute resolution process as the one and only to be followed with regard to any dispute between the parties to the contract.

Ethiopian farmers are adamant that they have discharged their obligations under the respective contracts by the book. Some of them stated that they will deliver the coffee beans as soon as possible once new crops become available, while others have claimed that due to the changed circumstances, the contracts have been terminated. By claiming so, they have referred to many legal doctrines, such as vis maior and impossibilium nulla est obligatio, as well as the frustration of purpose or impracticability, to name but a few.

It is awaited with interest to see what report comes out of the UNCITRAL on this interesting case.

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