Frequently Asked Questions - UNCITRAL Texts

What is the difference between a UNCITRAL legislative text and a UNCITRAL non-legislative text?

UNCITRAL legislative texts, such as conventions, model laws, and legislative guides, may be adopted by States through the enactment of domestic legislation. UNCITRAL non-legislative texts, such as the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules, can be used by parties to international trade contracts.

Legislative texts include the following:

  • United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods
  • Convention on the Limitation Period in the International Sale of Goods
  • UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration
  • UNCITRAL Model Law on Procurement of Goods, Construction and Services
  • United Nations Convention on Independent Guarantees and Stand-by Letters of Credit
  • UNCITRAL Model Law on International Credit Transfers
  • United Nations Convention on International Bills of Exchange and International Promissory Notes
  • United Nations Convention on the Carriage of Goods by Sea, 1978 (Hamburg)
  • United Nations Convention on the Liability of Operators of Transport Terminals in International Trade
  • UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Commerce
  • UNCITRAL Legislative Guide on Privately Financed Infrastructure Projects
  • UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Signatures
  • UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Conciliation
  • United Nations Convention on the Assignment of Receivables in International Trade
  • UNCITRAL Legislative Guide on Insolvency Law and the United Nations Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts.

Non-legislative texts include the following: UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules; UNCITRAL Conciliation Rules; UNCITRAL Notes on Organizing Arbitral Proceedings; UNCITRAL Legal Guide on Drawing Up International Contracts for the Construction of Industrial Works; and UNCITRAL Legal Guide on International Countertrade Transactions.

What is the difference between a model law and a convention?

A model law is created as a suggested pattern for law-makers in national governments to consider adopting as part of their domestic legislation. A convention is an instrument that is binding under international law on States and other entities with treaty-making capacity that choose to become a party to that instrument. In general, departures from a Convention are only permitted if the Convention permits reservations to be taken to its provisions.

Are there "signatories" to Model Laws?

No. Given that a Model Law is a pattern for a law that is intended to be enacted by governments as domestic legislation, such a law is effectively the same as any other bill passed by the parliament. Consequently, there are no lists of "signatories" such as you would find concerning treaties.

State "***" is listed under the "Status of Conventions and Enactments of UNCITRAL Model Laws" as having signed a particular UNCITRAL Convention. Does that mean that the Convention applies to that State?

No. Under general principles of treaty law, the act of signing a treaty does not automatically make the signatory State a party to that treaty. A further act such as ratification or accession is required for the State to be bound by the treaty at international law, provided the treaty has entered into force. Domestic legislation may also be required for the terms of the treaty to be implemented within the territory of the State.

UNCITRAL treaties are deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The Treaty Section of the Office of Legal Affairs discharges the depositary function on behalf of the Secretary-General. For more information on treaty-related matters, please visit the website of the Treaty Collection.

How do I determine if a State is a party to a Convention? How do I determine if a State has enacted a UNCITRAL Model Law?

UNCITRAL monitors ratifications of Conventions and Enactments of UNCITRAL Model Laws. Information on the status of conventions and model laws is regularly updated on the UNCITRAL website and is made available as detailed tables related to specific texts and as a single table providing an overview of all texts. This list is updated as soon as the Secretariat is informed of changes in status or new enactments. Readers are also advised to consult the United Nations Treaty Collection for authoritative status information.

What is the copyright policy of UNCITRAL concerning the reproduction and distribution of UNCITRAL texts?

To obtain permission to reproduce and distribute UNCITRAL materials, please contact the UNCITRAL Secretariat.