International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT)
The International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT) is an independent intergovernmental Organisation with its seat in the Villa Aldobrandini in Rome. Its purpose is to study needs and methods for modernising, harmonising and co-ordinating private and in particular commercial law as between States and groups of States and to formulate uniform law instruments, principles and rules to achieve those objectives. Founded in 1926 as an auxiliary organ of the League of Nations, the Institute was, following the demise of the League, re-established in 1940 on the basis of a multilateral agreement, the UNIDROIT Statute, its basic statutory objective is to prepare modern and where appropriate harmonised uniform rules of private law understood in a broad sense.
In over 90 years of work, UNIDROIT has expanded to include 63 Member States from all five continents, prepared over seventy studies and drafts, many of which have resulted in international instruments, including international Conventions, Model Laws, Principles and Legal and Contractual Guides in various fields ranging from Secured Transactions, Capital Markets, and Contract Law, to Civil Procedure, Cultural Property and Agriculture, among others. UNIDROIT's work has also served as the basis for a number of international instruments adopted under the auspices of other international Organisations, several of which are already in force. The uniform rules drawn up by UNIDROIT have, in keeping with its intergovernmental structure, generally taken the form of international Conventions, designed to apply automatically in preference to a State’s municipal law once all the formal requirements of that State’s domestic law for their entry into force have been completed. However, alternative forms of unification have become increasingly popular in areas where a binding instrument is not felt to be essential. Such alternatives may include model laws which States may take into consideration when drafting domestic legislation or general principles which the judges, arbitrators and contracting parties they address are free to decide whether to use or not. Where a subject is not judged ripe for uniform rules, another alternative consists in the legal guides, typically on new business techniques or types of transaction or on the framework for the organisation of markets both at the domestic and the international level.
UNIDROIT maintains close ties of co-operation with other international Organisations, both intergovernmental and non-governmental, which in many cases take the form of co-operation agreements concluded at inter-Secretariat level.