UNUnited Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Legal Instruments, Norms and Standards - Introduction

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Everybody stands to gain when countries adopt common international legal instruments and standards and harmonize their technical regulations. Consumers obtain guaranteed quality and security. Producers economize both at the production and sales levels and simplify their inventories when they no longer have to adapt their products to a multitude of different national rules. International trade is facilitated when sellers and buyers base contracts on common classifications, standard documentation and trade procedures. Shared assets which ignore borders, such as the environment, can be better protected through internationally agreed legal instruments. International cooperation as well as national legislative and regulatory work is simplified and accelerated when reference can be made to internationally agreed documents. Moreover, the multiplication of technical instruments shared by the countries of the region facilitates their economic relations, creates links and helps to overcome differences.

Member countries of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) realized this from the outset. Their common efforts over the last sixty years have resulted in a wealth of conventions, harmonized technical regulations, norms and standards. Virtually all of the Commission’s subsidiary bodies have contributed in one way or another to their elaboration.

Studies have shown that many of UNECE’s agreements on technical and/or procedural harmonization are being effectively implemented. The attached list of conventions, norms and standards, which have been negotiated under the auspices of the UNECE, has been compiled in order to facilitate wider access to this valuable body of information.

Executive Secretary of the
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe