United Nations Commission on International Trade Law is the core legal body of the United Nations in the field of international trade law. It is a legal body with universal membership specialising in commercial law reform worldwide after its establishment in 1965.

The role of UNCITRAL is to provide the rules for international arbitration. It does not participate in either public or private disputes. UNCITRAL does not offer legal advice         in specific disputes and does not nominate arbitrators, administer arbitrations etc.  “UNCITRAL arbitration” means dispute should be settled in arbitral proceedings conducted in accordance with the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules. The UNCITRAL’s main function is formulating modern, fair and harmonised rules on commercial transactions. These include:

  • Conventions, model laws and rules which are acceptable worldwide
  • Legal and legislative guides and recommendations of great practical value
  • Updated information on case law and enactments of uniform commercial law
  • Technical assistance in law reform projects
  • Regional and national seminars on uniform commercial law.

An important contribution of the UNCITRAL is its Arbitration Rules that were adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1976. The Arbitration Rules were adopted after extensive consultations with various interested international organisations and leading arbitration experts by the UNCITRAL. The UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules were revised and updated with changes in arbitration practices. It was revised in 2010 and in 2013 to adopt best practices regarding treaty-based Investor-State Arbitration. Here, the organisation adopted Rules on Transparency in Treaty-based Investor-State Arbitration.

Parties/nations to a contract may agree to use the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules to guide the resolution of disputes arising between them. The UNCITRAL also has a model law on cross-border Insolvency. Several disputes raised in the Permanent Court of Arbitration are settled in terms of the rules of the UNCITRAL.

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