ASIAN-AFRICAN LEGAL CONSULTATIVE ORGANIZATION (AALCO)
Regional Centres for International Commercial Arbitration
The Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization (AALCO) during its 13th Session held in Lagos in 1973, proposed that apart from follow-up of the work of the UNCITRAL in the field of International Commercial Arbitration, the Organization should also make independent study of some of the more important practical problems relating to the subject from the point of view of the Asian-African region. Accordingly, the Secretariat prepared an outline of the study, which received favorable response from the Member States. The Secretariat thereafter prepared a detailed and comprehensive study and the Trade Law Sub-Committee considered this study during the Tokyo Session.
At the Tokyo Session (14th Session) held in 1974, AALCO endorsed the recommendations of its Trade Law Sub-Committee, that efforts should be made by Member States to develop institutional arbitration in the Asian and African regions. Thereafter, the Secretariat, following the mandate in the Tokyo Session, prepared a revised study on the same topic so as to enable the Trade Law Sub-Committee during the Kuala Lumpur Session, to formulate principles or model rules for consideration. At the Kuala Lumpur Session (16th Session) held in1976, the Trade Law Sub Committee requested the Secretariat to undertake a feasibility study for establishing regional arbitration centers in the Asian-African region, to be placed before the Baghdad Session.
At the Baghdad Session (17th Session) held in 1977, discussions were focused on the Secretariat study titled ‘Integrated Scheme for Settlement of Disputes in the Economic and Commercial Matters? which envisaged inter alia the establishment of a network of Regional Centres for Arbitration functioning under the auspices of the AALCO in different parts of Asia and Africa so that the flow of arbitration cases to arbitral institutions outside the Afro-Asian region could be minimized.
At the Doha Session in 1978, the Organization in order to promote the development of the Afro-Asian region decided to establish Regional Centres for International Commercial Arbitration as a viable alternative to the traditional institutions in the West. It was envisaged that the two centers would function as international institutions under the auspices of AALCO with the following objectives:
(a) Promoting international commercial arbitration in Asian and African regions;
(b) Coordinating and assisting the activities of existing arbitral institutions, particularly among those within the two regions;
(c) Rendering assistance in the conduct of Ad Hoc arbitrations, particularly those held under the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules;
(d) Assisting in the enforcement of arbitral awards; and
(e) Providing for arbitration under the auspices of the two centers where appropriate.
In pursuance of the above decision, an Agreement was concluded in April 1978 between the AALCO and the Government of Malaysia in respect of establishment of a Regional Center for Arbitration in Kuala Lumpur. A similar Agreement was concluded in January 1979 with the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt in respect of establishment of a Regional Center for Arbitration in Cairo. The Agreements recognized the status of the Centers as intergovernmental organizations and conferred certain immunities and privileges for their independent functioning.
The Host Governments also offered suitable premises, financial grants and necessary staff to run the Centers. The Centers adopted UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules with suitable modifications and offered their services to any party whether within or outside the region for the administered arbitration and facilities for arbitration whether ad hoc or under the auspices of any other institution.
The success of these two Regional Arbitration Centers prompted the AALCO to establish two more centers, one in Lagos, which was formally inaugurated in 1989. The other Centre was established in Tehran, for which an Agreement was concluded between AALCO and Islamic Republic of Iran in 1997 and the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran has ratified the Agreement for implementation on 10 June 2003.
Asian International Arbitration Center, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The Asian International Arbitration Centre (AIAC) formerly known as The Regional Centre for Arbitration, Kuala Lumpur (RCAKL) established in 1978, was the first such Centre in Asia. The Centre offers facilities and assistance for the conduct of arbitral proceedings, including the enforcement of awards made in the proceedings held under the auspices of the Centre. The Rules for arbitration under the auspices of the Centre are the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules of 1976 with certain modifications and adaptations. Other main functions of the Centre are to promote international commercial arbitration in the Asia-Pacific region and to render advice and assistance to parties who may approach the Centre.
Apart from these services the Centre also provides other options for the settlement of disputes such as mediation/conciliation under the Conciliation Rules of the Centre. The Centre, realizing the growing importance of intellectual property in the arena of Information and Communications Technology, also administer international and domestic domain name dispute resolution service, provided by the Malaysian Network Information Centre (MYNIC), which administers the .my domain. All domain name disputes are governed and administered in accordance with MYNIC's Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (MYDRP), Rules of the MYDRP and RCAKL Supplemental Rules.
(ii) Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (CRCICA), Arab Republic of Egypt
The Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration was established in 1979 by AALCO and the Egyptian Government for an experimental period of three years. In 1983, an agreement was concluded between AALCO and the Egyptian Government for granting permanent status to the Cairo Centre.
The Cairo Centre offers specialized services to settle trade and investment disputes, through arbitration. It includes also Alternative Dispute Resolution techniques (ADR) such as conciliation, mediation and technical expertise. Apart from this, the Centre also offers advice to parties to international commercial and investment contracts with regards to drafting these contracts, promote arbitration and other ADR techniques in the Afro-Asian region through the organization of international conferences and seminars and organize training programs for international arbitrators and legal scholars from the Afro-Asian region through the Centre’s Institute for Arbitration and Investment. The Cairo Centre follows the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules with certain modification.
Apart from this, the Cairo Centre had also established the Institute of Arbitration and Investment in 1990; the Institute of Arab and African Arbitrators in Egypt in 1991; the Centre’s Maritime Arbitration Branch in Alexandria, which is meant to deal exclusively with maritime disputes, in 1992; the Cairo Branch of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators of London in 1999; Alexandria Centre for International Arbitration in 2001; and a Mediation and ADR Centre as a branch of the Cairo Centre to administer commercial arbitration and other peaceful non-binding means of avoiding and settling trade and investment disputes, in 2001.
(iii) Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration Lagos (RCICAL), Nigeria
In 1980, an Agreement was concluded with the Federal Government of Nigeria for the location of a third Center in Lagos. The Centre was formally inaugurated in March 1989. On 26th April 1999, Hon’ble Alhaji Abdullahi Ibrahim OFR (SAN), the then Attorney General and Minister of Justice, on behalf of Nigeria and H. E. Mr. Tang Chengyuan, the then Secretary-General of the AALCO, signed an Agreement which formalized the continued functioning of the Center for a period of five years with effect from January 1999 to December 2004.
(iv) Tehran Regional Arbitration Centre (TRAC), Islamic Republic of Iran
Tehran Regional Arbitration Centre (TRAC) was established on 3 May 1997, through an Agreement concluded between the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and AALCO. At the AALCO’s 42nd Session in Seoul (2003), the Delegate of Islamic Republic of Iran informed that the Judicial Power has adopted the Agreement and that all the legal procedure applicable in the Islamic Republic of Iran for the ratification of the said Agreement is complete. TRAC effectively commenced its activities on July 2005 by publishing its Rules of Arbitration. TRAC’s current director is Dr. Alireza Alipanah, appointed in July 2022. On March 2018, TRAC released its new set of Arbitration Rules.
TRAC’s main duty, as an international organization, is to organize institutional arbitration. It is also active in:
- Promotion of international commercial arbitration in the region;
- Coordination of the activities of, and assistance to, existing arbitration institutions in the region;
- Assistance to ad-hoc arbitration, especially in cases applying the UNCITRAL Rules; and
- Assistance to the enforcement of arbitral awards.
(v) Nairobi Centre for International Arbitration (NCIA), Nairobi, Republic of Kenya
On 3 April 2006, during the Forty-Fifth Annual Session of AALCO, held in New Delhi, India, a Memorandum of Understanding for the establishment of a regional centre for arbitration in Nairobi was signed by the Secretary-General of AALCO and the Attorney-General of the Republic of Kenya. The following year, on 2 July 2007 at the Forty-Sixth Annual Session of AALCO in Cape Town, South Africa, an agreement was signed establishing the Nairobi Regional Arbitration Centre.
On 25 January 2013, the Nairobi Centre for International Arbitration Act came into force. The systems and structures of the Centre were established in 2014-2015 by the inaugural Board of Directors and the Centre’s Arbitration and Mediation Rules were published in December 2015. The Nairobi Centre for International Arbitration was thereafter inaugurated on 5 December 2016.
(vi) Hong Kong Regional Arbitration Centre (HKRAC), Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China
AALCO Hong Kong Regional Arbitration Centre is the sixth and latest arbitration centre established under the auspices of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization (AALCO).
The Centre was officially established during the 59th Annual Session of AALCO held in 2021 in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. Following this, the Centre was officially opened on the 25 May 2022.
The Centre aims to promote the growth and effective functioning of arbitration institutions and other alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services, to promote wider application of various ADR rules, to provide facilities for ADR services including ad hoc arbitrations as well as facilitating cost-effective and time-efficient disputes resolution, be it physical, online and hybrid mode and making available our state-of-the-art Online Disputes Resolution platform.
 The Secretariat study elaborated the two basic objectives of the AALCO’s integrated dispute settlement scheme. In the first place, to establish a system under which disputes and differences arising out of transactions in which both the parties belong to the Asian-African and Pacific regions could be settled under fair, inexpensive and adequate procedures. Secondly, to encourage parties to have their arbitrations within the region where the investment made or the place of performance under an international transaction was a country within this region. The conclusions made in the study were in favour of establishment of six sub-regions, namely East Asia, South-East Asia, West Asia, North Africa and West Africa. It was, however, pointed out that scheme could initially work with two centers and other centers could be established in the light of experience and volume of work.
 Asian International Arbitration Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Tel: +603 2271 1000 or Fax: +603 2271 1010; email: email@example.com
 The Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration, 1, Al-Saleh Ayoub St., Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt. Telephones: (202) 7351333; 7351335, Fax: 7351336, email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website:www.crcica.org;
 Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration, 2A Ozumba, Mbadiwe Avenue, Victoria-Island, P.O. Box 50565, Falomo Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria. Tel: +234 (0) 9023581002, email: email@example.com
 Tehran Regional Arbitration Centre, 140 Shahid Moussavi St. Teleghani Ave., Tehran 15836, Iran. Telephones: 0098 21 88 32 41 82-83 Fax: 00 98 21 88 32 41 84 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.trac.ir
 Nairobi Centre for International Arbitration, Co-operative Bank House, 8th Floor, Haile Selassie Avenue, P.O BOX 548-00200, Nairobi, Kenya; email: email@example.com; Tel: +254-020-2224029 / 2240377 ext 131/140; Mobile: +254 771 293055
 AALCO Hong Kong Regional Arbitration Centre, 23/F Shanghai Commercial Bank Tower, 12 Queen's Road Central, Central, Hong Kong. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +852 2180 0923
Agreements Signed Between the AALCO and the Governments