The United Nations General Assembly today adopted a new international convention to cover liability for damage to cargo moving on the ocean, or in multimodal moves that include ocean transportation.
The document, formally known as the Convention on Contracts for the International Carriage of Goods Wholly or Partly by Sea, is the product of six years of work by an international maritime law working group under the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law.
The so-called Rotterdam Rules modernize previous liability conventions, including the 1924 Hague treaty, which is the basis for the U.S. Carriage of Goods by Sea Act.
The new convention includes items that were high on the agenda of the U.S. delegation, including a "right to contract" clause that allows shippers and carriers to contractually change the terms of coverage. The document also will extend liability limits to inland carriers operating on an ocean carrier's through bill of lading.
Chester D. Hooper, a leading member of the U.S. delegation, said that the next step will be ratification by a two-thirds vote in the Senate.
Whether or not the Senate has approved the convention, nations will gather in Rotterdam next September to sign it.