The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL)

is the core legal body of the United Nations system in the field of international trade law. UNCITRAL´s business is the modernisation and harmonisation of the rules on international business and has worldwide experiences for over 40 years.

As international trade means faster growth, higher living standards and new opportunities through commerce, UNCITRAL is formulating modern, fair and harmonised rules on commercial transactions.

UNCITRAL has a long history of developing model laws in various areas, including procurement. In 1994 it adopted the UNCITRAL Model Law on Procurement of Goods, Construction, and Services. The Model Law provides a template for national governments seeking to establish or reform public procurement legislation.

In 2004 UNCITRAL´s Working Group I – Procurement was given the task to update the Model Law to reflect new procurement practices, in particular regarding electronic procurement (e-procurement) and related aspects of electronic commerce. Its work also draws on the experience gained in the use of the Model Law as a basis for public procurement legal reform. The EBRD has joined the UNCITRAL Working Group I – Procurement as an observer and contributes to developing the new primary public procurement standard for legal reform.


The Commission comprises 60 member States elected by the United Nations General Assembly for a term of six years. Membership is structured to ensure representation of the world's various geographic regions and its principal economic and legal systems.


Texts designed to simplify trade transactions and reduce associated costs are developed by working groups comprising all member States of UNCITRAL, which meet once or twice per year. 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.


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.


UNCITRAL develops different types of texts to modernize and harmonize the law of international trade. These texts are generally legislative in nature, such as conventions, model laws and legislative guides, or non-legislative texts such as contractual rules that can be incorporated into commercial contracts and legal guides.

Convention: an agreement among States establishing obligations binding upon those States that ratify or accede to it.

Model law: a set of model legislative provisionsthat States can adopt by enacting it into national law.

Legislative guide: a text that provides guidance for the development of laws, discussing relevant policy issues and choices and recommending appropriate legislative solutions.

Contractual rules: standard clauses or rules designed to be included in commercial contracts.

Legal guide: a text that provides guidance for the drafting of contracts, discussing relevant issues and recommending solutions appropriate to particular circumstances.


One of UNCITRAL's priorities is providing technical legislative assistance for modernization of trade laws and commercial practices. In addition to promoting understanding of international trade law texts and the benefits they can bring to the expansion of international trade, UNCITRAL assists States to develop the laws required to implement these legislative texts and commercial associations to promote the use of non-legislative rules.


The Case Law on UNCITRAL Texts system is a collection of court decisions and arbitral awards interpreting UNCITRAL texts. Currently, CLOUT includes case abstracts in the six United Nations languages on the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG) (Vienna, 1980) and the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration (1985). Other texts will be added as case law becomes available.


Over the last 24 years, UNCITRAL has completed major international texts on the sale of goods, transport, dispute resolution, procurement and infrastructure development, international payments, electronic commerce and insolvency. International arbitration, transport law, electronic commerce, insolvency law, security interests and public procurement are the focus of current work.

Source: http://www.uncitral.org/pdf/english/uncitral-leaflet-e.pdf

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