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International Commercial Arbitration

International Commercial Arbitration Conventions

International commercial arbitrations are normally governed by conventions signed by member states. A list of the major conventions is below. Please also see the World Arbitration Reporter (discussed in the Reporters section of this guide) for additional conventions and treaties.

  • Geneva Protocol and Geneva Convention: Two early modern agreements on ICA are the 1923 Geneva Protocol (27 L.N.T.S. 157, from HeinOnline, available to the CLS community) and the 1927 Geneva Convention (92 L.N.T.S. 301, from HeinOnline, available to the CLS community).
  • New York Convention (United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards): Replacing the Geneva Protocol and Geneva Convention is the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, otherwise known as the New York Convention. Once a state becomes a party to the New York Convention, they are no longer subject to the Geneva Protocol and Geneva Convention. The list of parties to the New York Convention and any declarations or reservations made by such party to the convention are available at through the UN Treaty Collection.
  • European Convention on ICA: The European Convention on ICA deals with arbitration agreements, arbitral procedures and awards. The list of parties to the European Convention on ICA and any declarations or reservations made by such party to the convention are available through the UN Treaty Collection.
  • Panama Convention (Inter-American Convention on International Commercial Arbitration): This convention was entered into in 1975 among the United States and most South American nations. It is also known as the Panama Convention. The signatories to the convention can be found through the website of the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States.
  • ICSID Convention; Washington Convention (International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes Convention): This convention is also known as the ICSID Convention or the Washington Convention of 1965. It deals with investment disputes between a state (or some state entities) and an individual who is a national of another state that signed the ICSID convention. The language of the convention, rules and regulations regarding arbitrations through the can be found through the website of the World Bank as well as a current list of parties to the ICSID convention.
  • Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters: This convention was concluded in 1971, but has been entered into by only 5 countries. Currently, the five signatories are: Albania, Cyprus, Kuwait, Netherlands and Portugal.
  • Council Regulation (EC) No. 44/2001 of December 22, 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters: This regulation deals with the issue of enforcement of arbitral decisions for members of the European Union.
  • Inter-American Convention on International Commercial Arbitration: The text of the convention and the signatories can be found on the Organization of American States website.


Bilateral Investment Treaties

Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) are treaties between two countries that often contain clauses allowing foreign investors to require international arbitration of some categories of investment disputes with the state in which the foreign investment has been made. These treaties often have provisions relating to the enforceability of international arbitration awards.

ICSID’s website contains a database of bilateral investment treaties. You can browse by country or year of signature, or search for a particular treaty between two countries. This database consists of information provided by the countries which enter into such BITs and is therefore not necessarily complete.

The looseleaf publication Investment Promotion and Protection Treaties (Fourth Floor, K1112 .I581) is complied by ICSID and contains the text of the bilateral investment treaties that ICSID has been provided by the signatories to such treaties.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development's ("UNCTAD") website contains a database where one can search all the bilateral investment treaties entered into by a particular country, with date of signature and date of entry into force.

Individual countries will sometimes provide a list of their BITs. The list of BITs currently in force by the United States can be found at the website of the Trade Compliance Center, along with links to the text of such treaties.

UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration

The ICA model law was originally adopted in 1985 to help states adapt their laws to accommodate international commercial arbitration and was amended in 2006.

UNCITRAL keeps track of which countries have adopted ICA legislation consistent with the language of the Model Law.