United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) | IAS Target IAS Target

United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL)

The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) is a subsidiary body of the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) responsible for helping to facilitate international trade and investment. UNCITRAL carries out its work at annual sessions held alternately in New York City and Vienna, where it is headquartered. It is the core illicit body of the United Nations system in the field of international trade law.

Members 60
Established 1966 by UNGA
Headquarters Vienna, Austria
Parent organization UN General Assembly

The Commission member States are appointed by the General Assembly. Membership is structured so as to be representative of the world's various geographic regions and its principal economic and legal systems. Members of the commission are nominated for terms of six years; the terms of half the members expire every three years.

UNCITRAL's mandate

  • To encourage the progressive harmonization and unification of international trade law through conventions, model laws, and other instruments that address key areas of commerce, from dispute resolution to the sale of goods and procurement.
  • It also aims to modernize and harmonize rules on international business.

Functions of UNCITRAL

  • Maintaining relation with other UN organs and specialized agencies concerned with international trade.
  • Coordinating the work of active organizations and encouraging cooperation among them.
  • Promoting the adoption of new international conventions, model laws and uniform laws and promoting the codification and wider acceptance of international trade terms, provisions, customs and practice, in collaboration with the organizations operating in this field.
  • Establishing and maintaining a close collaboration with the UN Conference on Trade and development.
  • Promoting wider participation in existing international conventions and wider acceptance of existing model and uniform laws.
  • Promoting ways and means of ensuring a uniform interpretation and application of international conventions and uniform laws in the field of the law of international trade.
  • Collecting and disseminating information on national legislation and modern legal developments, including case law, in the field of the law of international trade.


The methods of work are organized at three levels.
UNCITRAL The first level UNCITRAL itself (The Commission), which holds an annual plenary session.
Intergovernmental working groups The second level is the intergovernmental working groups which are developing the topics on UNCITRAL's work program. Texts designed to simplify trade transactions and ease associated costs are developed by working groups comprising all member States of UNCITRAL, which meet once or twice per year. The Non-member States and interested international and regional organizations are also invited and can actively contribute to the work since decisions are taken by consensus, not by vote. Draft texts completed by these working groups are submitted to UNCITRAL for finalization and adoption at its annual session.
International Trade Law Division of the United Nations Office The International Trade Law Division of the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs provides substantive secretariat services to UNCITRAL, such as conducting research and preparing studies and drafts. This is the third level, which assists the other two in the preparation and conduct of their work.

India and UNCITRAL

  • India is a founding member of UNCITRAL
  • India hosted the golden jubilee celebrations of United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).
  • In 2016 it was re-nominated for a term of six years (2016-2022).
  • India is only one of eight countries which have been a member of UNCITRAL since its inception