The Government of India felt that its economic reforms might remain incomplete if corresponding changes were not brought in laws relating to settlement of disputes, especially through arbitration and conciliation. Thus need to reform arbitration law become necessary.

The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law was established by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 17th December 1966 with the object of harmonizing and promoting the law relating to International Trade. The commission is composed of 36 member states chosen to represent the world various geographic regions and its principal economic legal systems. This body has been described as “ the core legal body within the United Nation system in the field of International Trade to coordinate legal activities in the field in order to avoid duplication of effort and to promote efficiency consistency and coherence in the unification and harmonization of the Trade law”. UNCITRAL encourages participation of interested observers in its work. Such observers are United Nations of member states and International Organization.

Trade means faster growth, higher living standards, and new opportunities through commerce. In order to increase these opportunities worldwide, UNCITRAL is formulating modern, fair, and harmonized 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


All documents prepared in the drafting process of Model Law are equally important.  For obtaining a thorough understanding of these surrounding the model law, it’s necessary to analyze all the major documents published during the drafting. The other documents of prime importance in this connection are:

  • The secretariat analytical commentary,
  • The working group Reports,
  • The government comments,
  • The summary Records,
  • The commission report on its 18th

The General Assembly recommended to all the states throughout the world to enact modern Arbitration legislation based on the Model Law. This is a remarkable legacy given by the United Nations to the “International Commercial Arbitration” which has particularly influenced the Indian law. These guidelines have since been codified in the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996.

Members of UNCITRAL are selected from among States Members of the United Nations and represent different legal traditions and levels of economic development. The original membership comprised 29 States.3 It was expanded by the United Nations General Assembly in 19734 to 36 States and again in 20025 to 60 States. The expansion reflected the broader participation and contribution by States beyond the then existing member States and stimulated interest in UNCITRAL’s expanding work programme. For detailed information concerning the membership of UNCITRAL. Structured to ensure that the various geographic regions and the principal economic and legal systems of the world are represented, the 60 member States include 14 African States, 14 Asian States, 8 Eastern European States, 10  Latin  American and Caribbean States and 14 Western European and other States. The General Assembly elects members for terms of six years; every three years the terms of half of the members expire. As a general rule, elections are held towards the end of the year before the year in which membership expires.The actual date of expiry is the day immediately before the day on which the Commission session to be held in that year commences. Membership is typically discussed before the election within the various regional groupings, each of which has the fixed number of seats in the Commission as noted above and Member States submit their candidatures through their Permanent Missions in association with the chairpersons of their respective regional groups. Membership does not entail any additional financial contribution, as UNCITRAL is a permanent commission of the General Assembly and its secretariat is part of the United Nations Secretariat. The UNCITRAL secretariat is not involved in the election of members of the Commission.

If the parties have not previously agreed on the number of arbitrators (i.e. one or three), and if within fifteen days after the receipt by the respondent of the notice of arbitration the parties have not agreed that there shall be only one arbitrator, three arbitrators shall be appointed.

Thus, the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996 is based on the lines of UNCITRAL MODEL LAW AND THE RULES THUS THE Act of 1996 has international origins or perspectives aimed at to command the confidence of international market. The 2 international instruments, namely

  • UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration 1985 and
  • UNCITRAL Conciliation Rules 1980 have influenced the framers in drafting the present legislation. It is therefore imminent to compare the Act with reference to above two and other related international instruments.

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