Article I of the UN Charter calls for the adjustment or settlement of international disputes by peaceful means in conformity with the principles of justice and international law. In Article 13, the charter also requires the General Assembly to "initiate studies and make recommendations for the purpose of … encouraging the progressive development of international law and its codification." To help it fulfill this mandate, the General Assembly set up two law commissions.
The International Law Commission was established in 1947 as a permanent subsidiary organ with its own separate statute. It began meeting in 1949 and since that time has completed a significant body of work.
At its 1966 session, the General Assembly established another commission with the specific object of promoting the harmonization and unification of international law in the field of trade. The UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) held its first meeting in 1968.