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Background to UNCITRAL

Established in 1966, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) develops model laws and conventions that form an essential part of the legal framework for global trade.    

UNCITRAL is often best known in Australia for its Arbitration Model Law which is used across the globe as the basis for settling international disputes. The Model Law also provides the foundation for Australia’s International Arbitration Act 1974 (Cth). 

A range of other significant conventions are developed through UNCITRAL and have been adopted in Australia and internationally, including laws relating to electronic transactions, cross-border insolvency and the international sale of goods. 

Australia is currently a member of UNCITRAL, which is comprised of 60 member states elected by the General Assembly. Australia’s term of office is set to expire in 2016.

UNCITRAL’s aim to further harmonize and unify the law of international trade is progressed through annual Commission meetings with six Working Groups that convene twice a year. The work of UNCITRAL is coordinated by a permanent secretariat based in Vienna, and since 2012 it has established a Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific (RCAP) based in Incheon, Korea.