The UNIDROIT Joint Chair Programmes are part of a new approach that the Secretariat has adopted to bolster technical knowledge and expertise in certain areas of the Institute’s Work Programme. Through the appointment of experts for periods of one year or more, depending on the specific Terms of Reference of the Chair, the Institute receives highly specialised advice without a need to resort to external experts, whose free time is often limited. This adds capacity and stability to the Secretariat’s workforce. In our first experience, this approach has proven particularily useful in the exploratory phases of our projects, where few or no external experts are involved.

Born with the aim of supporting UNIDROIT staff in phases of projects in which research is instrumental, as well as reinforcing partnerships with relevant stakeholders, the results of the Chair Programmes is expected  to feed into both the Academic and Project output of the Institute.

The UNIDROIT-Bank of Italy Chair Programme has bolstered the existing cooperation between UNIDROIT, the Bank of Italy and IVASS (the Italian supervisor of the insurance and reinsurance markets) and has already contributed to joint research, training and dissemination of matters of common interest.

Under the Programme, the Unidroit Secretariat issued a call for applications in January 2021.

Due to delays caused by the pandemic, the first UNIDROIT – Bank of Italy Chair was awarded to Mr Hossein Nabilou in May 2021 (Assistant Professor of Law & Finance at University of Amsterdam), with a mandate to work in the fields of (i) digital assets and private law; (ii) the conception and analysis of specific procedures to deal with distressed financial institutions, with a focus on non-systemic banks. The two topics are part of current projects existing on the UNIDROIT 2020-2022 Work Programme, and constitute natural areas of interest for the Bank of Italy and/or IVASS.

During his stay at UNIDROIT, Prof. Nabilou contributed to developed of two ongoing projects (Bank Insolvency and Digital Assets and Private Law), prepared two papers and participated in a number of events:

  • The first paper on “Probabilistic settlement finality in Proof-of-Work Blockchains: Legal Considerations combines the literature on financial regulation (in particular, the law of payments and financial market infrastructures), technology law (distributed systems and blockchains), and the private law (in particular, contract, commercial, and property law). A short summary of the paper has also appeared in the Oxford Business Law Blog.
  • The second paper on “The law and macroeconomics of custody and asset segregation rules: Defining the future of crypto-banking” covers the custody principle and how it has the potential to shape the future of cryptocurrencies and decentralised finance (DeFi). This paper is closely related to the project on the digital assets and private law, and in particular, the work carried out by the subgroup on custody. A short summary of the paper has also appeared in Oxford Business Law Blog. Following contacts with the legal department of the Bank of Italy, the Secretariat has been preparing and will submit a formal request to renew the Grant, which should be approved during the summer 2022.

Subject to the approval of the Bank of Italy, a new resource is therefore likely to join the Institute for a year, starting in Autum 2022.

In January 2022, UNIDROIT received a grant from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI) to host a Chair Programme in the field of private law and sustainable development. This new Programme aims at, more generally, involving a senior or mid-career professor/researcher in the development of the UNIDROIT/FAO/IFAD project on Legal Structure of Agricultural Enterprises (LSAE). The candidate is expected to assist the Secretariat with comparative research and data collection, as well as with the analysis of gender equality in the various collaborative forms of agricultural enterprises considered within the LSAE project.

In addition, the prospective Chair will cooperate with the UNIDROIT Secretariat in activities for the implementation of other legal guides already developed by Unidroit in the field of private law and agrictultural development (e.g. Contract Farming and Agricultural Land Investment Contracts).

The UNIDROIT/MAECI Chair must have consolidated experience as a jurist in the field of comparative private law (e.g. already in possession of a research doctorate or more than five years of practical experience). Ideally the candidate should have experience with contract, corporate and agricultural law and should be aware of the challenges faced by smallholders and small and medium-sized agricultural enterprises to access markets, technology, financial resources.

Preference will be given to women candidates from developing countries, preferably from countries of the African continent given the particular challenges that still exist in a number of these countries for the access of women to agricultural enterprises.