Academic journal article Melbourne Journal of International Law

Contractual Dispute Resolution in International Trade: The UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules (1976) and the UNCITRAL Conciliation Rules (1980)

Academic journal article Melbourne Journal of International Law

Contractual Dispute Resolution in International Trade: The UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules (1976) and the UNCITRAL Conciliation Rules (1980)

Article excerpt

CONTENTS  I Introduction                                                      184 II Conciliation or Arbitration                                      185 III UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules (1976)                               187       A Ad Hoc and Institutional Arbitration                        187       B Background to the Arbitration Rules                         188       C Overview of the Arbitration Rules                           188           1 Introductory Rules: Section I                           188           2 Composition of the Arbitral Tribunal: Section II        189           3 Arbitral Proceedings: Section III                       191           4 The Award: Section IV                                   193       D Notes on Organising Arbitral Proceedings                    195       E Influence and Acceptance of the Arbitration Rules           195 IV UNCITRAL Conciliation Rules (1980)                               197      A Key Features of the Conciliation Rules                       197      B Conciliation Process                                         198      C Influence and Acceptance of the Conciliation Rules           198 V Working Group on Arbitration                                      199 VI Conclusion                                                       199 


Over the past few decades, international commercial dispute resolution has witnessed substantial change and improvement. A notable feature has been a move away from the traditional court-based litigation model, allowing exploration of other methods and techniques. The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (`UNCITRAL') has played an important role in this development of alternative dispute resolution. Since its establishment in 1966 UNCITRAL has made improving international commercial dispute resolution one of its priorities. (1) Two important achievements arising from its efforts are the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules (1976) (`Arbitration Rules') and the UNCITRAL Conciliation Rules (1980) (`Conciliation Rules'). (2) The products of active participation of international experts from various legal, economic and social backgrounds, both have made a significant contribution to the more efficient resolution of international commercial disputes.

Both sets of Rules are based on agreement between the parties, operating on a private contractual rather than public statutory level. This is an important point which distinguishes the Rules from UNCITRAL's other major achievement in dispute resolution: the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration (`Model Law'). (3) The Rules are a form of contractual trade law dispute resolution. Since the expectations of the private parties to an arbitration or conciliation under the Rules risk being frustrated by the domestic laws of different countries, the Model Law provides countries with a template that they can adopt for their national laws in order to `provide a hospitable legal climate for international commercial arbitration.' (4)

This article intends to serve as an introduction to the Rules. We begin by distinguishing conciliation from arbitration and explaining the comparative strengths and weaknesses of these two forms of dispute resolution. We then give an outline of the Arbitration Rules in the context of ad hoc and institutional arbitration generally, followed by an assessment of the influence and acceptance of the Arbitration Rules. We provide a similar analysis of the Conciliation Rules, before concluding with a look at the likely development of the two sets of Rules in the future.


The search for alternatives to traditional court-based litigation has resulted in a variety of forms of dispute resolution, which vary in their degrees of complexity, flexibility and formality. These include: arbitration, assisted negotiation, counselling, conciliation, evaluation, expert appraisal, mediation and mini-trials. …

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