The State of Israel, like other States currently - is directly exposed to the ramifications of international law in a wide range of topics. Additionally, the State is currently a signatory of thousands of international agreements that give rise to specific binding commitments. There has been in recent years, a significant increase in the amount of international contractual obligations that the State performs, it being estimated that the State enters into hundreds of new contracts each year. The international agreements to which the State is a party vary between multi-party international conventions to agreements of a private commercial nature. In many cases such contracts give rise to extremely significant obligations on the part of the State - whether as regards policy, changes in legislation or otherwise, as well as in many cases overlapping with judicial bodies or other international conflict resolution mechanisms. The amount of such contracts will apparently increase even further as a result of Israel's accession to the World Trade Organization, and to the closeness of its relations with the European Community, the Far East, South America and its Arab neighbors.
The development in the international arena also finds expression in all matters pertaining to the preparation of provisions concerned with the ways of resolving disputes that are entailed in an international agreement. Immense importance is attached to the substance of the mechanism that is to deal with a dispute, and the level of the State's commitment to adopting the decisions of such a mechanism. In the past States would, as a matter of routine, refuse to subordinate themselves in the framework of an international agreement, to an agreed conflict resolution mechanism. In the last 10 years this situation has changed dramatically, with an advanced country categorically refusing to discuss a conflict resolution mechanism being the exception rather than the rule. In light of this change, we have in recent years witnessed the development of suggested models for means of resolving disputes adopted by various States in certain cases. These mechanisms vary between mediation and arbitration mechanisms of different kinds and quasi-judicial international mechanisms that directly bind the country concerned as part of its State Law. The State of Israel is already a signatory of many international agreements that subordinate it to foreign mediation or arbitration mechanisms, and exposure to international litigation in a wide range of subjects.
The many developments that have occurred in international law and the direct ramifications of them on States, and the intensification of international enforcement in the civil and criminal spheres, have forced States to address and deal with this subject. In recent years units such as the Israeli Unit, have been established in many countries. These Units specialize in advising on matters relating to international law, in the preparation of international agreements, international conflict resolution, and representation of States in international forums. The Units were established as a result of the recognition that it was necessary for there to be a readjustment on the part of the States to the question of the handling of international law and its implications, the conduct of negotiations on these subjects, and representation of the State in disputes involving a foreign element. Dealing with these matters requires a fundamental familiarity with foreign legal systems, international law, methods of conflict resolution, experience in international negotiations, a knowledge of foreign languages, and an ability to conduct arbitration or mediation litigation in the context of international proceedings.
Purposes of the Unit
The Unit is charged with responsibility for handling the following matters:
- Provision of advice and participation in negotiations for the preparation of international contacts or agreements.
- Arranging examinations of compatibility of the proposed international agreement with Israeli Law and overall policy.
- Arranging examinations of compatibility of the proposed agreement with international law, and the ramifications in terms of international law of the commitments as to coordination of State legislation as necessary - if this is required in order to meet the terms of the international agreement.
- Writing of and submission of reports which the State is required to submit to various bodies and organizations overseas, and to various countries.
- Monitoring breaches of agreements by other States vis a vis the State of Israel and dealing with such breaches.
- Provision of advice starting from the most preliminary stage of an international dispute deriving from the agreements (irrespective of whether the State is the Plaintiff or the Defendant).
- Making continuous advice available and at the disposal of the various Ministries in all matters pertaining to the processes of negotiation for resolution of disputes with international parties.
- Representation of the State at all stages of the dispute including in negotiations for resolution of the dispute and/or attendance at mediation proceedings, or arbitration proceedings or other international panels.
- Inter-Ministry coordination in respect of negotiations or disputes in which several Ministries are involved simultaneously.
- Regulation of the contractual arrangements and supervision of the work of foreign law firms in all matters pertaining to international disputes.
- Establishment of a database of international agreements, methods of resolving international disputes, potential panel members, lawyers representing the opposing party, law firms overseas, and categories of the various disputes in which the State is involved.
- Holding day courses and seminars for legal advisors and employees of the legal bureaus on subjects relating to the preparation of international contracts, methods of negotiation with foreign parties, means of resolving international disputes (including mediation and arbitration), rulings of international panels, foreign legal systems.
- Collaboration with parties in Israel and worldwide in the development and promotion of international conflict resolution mechanisms.