Like the International Law Commission, UNCITRAL is a permanent subsidiary organ of the General Assembly, which elects its members, observing the principle of balance among the geographical regions and the main economic and legal systems of the world.
In contrast to the International Law Commission, whose members serve in their individual capacities, the UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) is composed of the representatives of 36 (originally 29) states. Members serve six-year terms and are eligible for reelection. States not members of UNCITRAL, representatives of United Nations organs (the IMF and the World Bank), and some other international organizations (for example, the Inter-American Development Bank and the former Organization of African Unity, now African Union) may attend its sessions as observers.
The commission holds one regular session a year. As of 25 June 2001, the members of UNCITRAL (and the years their memberships expire) were: Argentina (2004—alternating annually with Uruguay, starting in 1998), Austria (2004), Benin (2007), Brazil (2007), Burkina Faso (2004), Cameroon (2007), Canada (2007), China (2007), Colombia (2004), Fiji (2004), France (2007), Germany (2007), Honduras (2004), Hungary (2004), India (2004), Iran (Islamic Republic of) (2004), Italy (2004), Japan (2007), Kenya (2004), Lithuania (2004), Mexico (2007), Morocco (2007), Paraguay (2004), Romania (2004), Russian Federation (2007), Rwanda (2007), Sierra Leone (2007), Singapore (2007), Spain (2004), Sudan (2004), Sweden (2007), Thailand (2004), The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (2007), Uganda (2004), United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (2007), United States of America (2004), and Uruguay (2004-alternating annually with Argentina, starting in 1999).
Between sessions, working groups designated by the commission meet on specific topics such as electronic commerce, international contract practices, arbitration, and insolvency law.