The UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG)

The United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG) is a multilateral treaty that establishes a uniform legal regime for contracts for the cross-border sale of goods. Such sales contracts operate as the backbone of international trade, and uniform rules for sales contracts provide traders with an efficient, modern and comprehensive legal framework to support their commercial activities. Its uniform rules, specifically designed to meet the needs of cross border commerce, increase certainty in commercial transactions and decrease their costs. The CISG thus supports sustainable economic development in general, and because risks and costs are disproportionately felt by small and medium-sized enterprises, is of particular benefit in promoting cross-border commercial activities on their part.

The CISG has been adopted by 94 States from all legal traditions and levels of economic development and that together represent over two-thirds of the global economy. The UNCITRAL Secretariat is organising a series of awareness-raising events and technical assistance activities to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the CISG in 2020 (“CISG@40”). The CISG@40 activities pursue several goals. One of them is to identify potential new States parties to the CISG, to support and promote the treaty adoption process, namely to accelerate the achievement of the symbolic number of 100 States parties, and to broaden CISG coverage by supporting the withdrawal of declarations and the territorial extensions for existing States parties. Secondly, as regards use in practice, the challenge is to raise awareness of the CISG’s benefits in the commercial environment and among the judiciary on its uniform interpretation. One important component of this line of activity is broadening and deepening contributors’ commitment to the Case law on UNCITRAL Texts (“CLOUT”) system and to involve new partners in the CLOUT network. In this framework, the publication in 2020 of a Guide on International Commercial Contracts (with a focus on sales) (prepared jointly by UNCITRAL, the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (Unidroit) and the Hague Conference on Private International Law) stands out. Additional topics relevant for CISG@40 include the use of the CISG as a model for national law reform, the broader adoption and use of closely-related treaties such as the Limitation Convention and the Electronic Communications Convention, and matters relating to the use of the CISG in the digital economy such as the relationship between the CISG and smart contracts.

CISG@40 News


  • The Journal of Law & Commerce has published a special issue containing the papers presented at a conference held in March 2019 celebrating “The CISG at Middle Age” as well as professor Harry Flechtner. Professor Flechtner is a globally-recognised CISG scholar who has worked with the UNCITRAL Secretariat on important projects such as the CISG Digest. He is also an acclaimed music composer, his most famous hit being the “CISG Song”. 

  • The CISG and COVID-19. There has been a lot of discussion about the EU-AstraZeneca Advance Purchase Agreement since it was released by the EU following its dispute with Astra-Zeneca. In Global sales law in a global pandemic: The CISG as the applicable law to the EU-AstraZeneca Advance Purchase Agreement, Dr. Ben Köhler argues that the CISG is likely the applicable law for the agreement and discusses potential consequences of the CISG's application.

  • El 20 de enero de 2021 participó en un evento para celebrar la entrada en vigor de la CISG en Guatemala y promover su uso e interpretación uniforme. Este artículo ofrece una descripción general de la CISG desde la perspectiva de Guatemala.

  • A recent blog post, Africa in The Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods: Slow ratification by African countries, reviews the status of ratification of the CISG by countries in Africa. The blog post was written by Martin Gitau, an intern with tralac (Trade Law Centre) – a public benefit organisation based in the Western Cape region of South Africa that develops technical expertise and capacity in trade governance across Africa. Read the article here.

View News Archive here.

Additional Resources

The text of the CISG together with an Explanatory Note is available on the UNCITRAL website in all official United Nations languages.

The authoritative status of the CISG is available in the United Nations Treaty Collection.

The Case Law on UNCITRAL Texts (CLOUT) system contains about 1000 cases on the CISG and related texts. They are available in the CLOUT database. Moreover, the UNCITRAL Digest of Case Law on the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods presents judicial and arbitral decisions in a clear, consolidated and comprehensive manner.

The UNCITRAL Library Online Catalogue contains more than 1000 citations of books, articles and other materials discussing the CISG and related texts. Materials available online include the publication “Thirty-five Years of Uniform Sales Law: Trends and Perspectives, Proceedings of the High-Level Panel held during the Forty-eighth Session of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, Vienna, 6 July 2015”.

UNCITRAL has prepared other texts in the field of international sales of goods and related transactions. Among them, the Convention on the Limitation Period in the International Sale of Goods (New York, 1974) and the United Nations Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts (New York, 2005) are particularly significant.




Upcoming CISG@40 Events

Congreso international: Celebrando los 40 años de la CISG
8-9 April 2021
Madrid, Spain
Youtube channel (will be streamed live)

La Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M), con el apoyo de la CNUDMI, organiza un Congreso Internacional en celebración de los 40 años de la CISG. El Congreso tendrá lugar los días 8 y 9 de abril de 2021 y será trasmitido en el canal de youtube Moot Madrid

On 8-9 April 2021, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) will hold an event celebrating the 40th anniversary of the CISG as a lead-up event to the International Competition of Arbitration and Commercial Law (Moot Madrid). The event is co-organized by UC3M and UNCITRAL.

International Commercial Legislation: Trends and Perspectives
Doha, Qatar
2-3 November 2021
Call for Papers

The conference will celebrate the CISG@40 and will explore the following main themes: the role of UNCITRAL in the harmonization of national laws; the impact of model laws and international principles and guidelines in drafting national laws; the impact of the CISG on private transactions; and the broader adoption and use of the CISG in Arab countries.

40 años de la Convención de las Naciones Unidas sobre los contratos de compraventa internacional de mercaderías
Buenos Aires, Argentina
16 November 2021

La Facultad de Ciencias Jurídicas de la Universidad del Salvador, Argentina invitó a la Secretaría de la CNUDMI a participar del Seminario sobre los 40 años de la CIM (CISG en inglés). El video del evento se encuentra aquí.

View all events here.