International commercial law treaties are designed to facilitate and regulate aspects of cross-border economic activities, trade, and business relations. They play a crucial role in promoting economic benefits by creating a legal framework for international trade and commerce. Such economic benefits, however, are predicated on reliance by transacting parties on the provisions contained in a treaty. Entry into force of a treaty alone is insufficient to warrant such reliance and requires two additional steps: “implementation” and “compliance”.

Implementation and compliance play a significant role in achieving the goals of the treaties. Although there is limited hard evidence, it appears that inadequate implementation and compliance may hamper the effectiveness of international treaties, including leading to dissatisfaction with the time and resources invested to produce them.

The purpose of this Project on Implementation of and Compliance with International Commercial Law Treaties (the “Treaty Project”) is to offer guidance to facilitate implementation and compliance in relation to international commercial law treaties. The Project seeks to identify and to help address the complexities and challenges associated with implementation and compliance.

The Treaty Project has three main objectives in relation to commercial law treaties:

  1. To research and explore the different elements of implementation and compliance;
  2. To raise awareness of challenges encountered in implementation and compliance; and
  3. To develop guidance on best practices for strategies, tools, and actions to enhance implementation and compliance.


The Treaty Project is organised under the auspices of the Cape Town Convention Academic Project, which is a partnership between Unidroit and the University of Cambridge, with the Aviation Working Group as its Founding Sponsor. The Project is supported by the Unidroit Foundation and Aviareto and is aligned with the philosophy of the Foundation in supporting work designed to increase the effectiveness and benefits of international commercial law reform.

The scope of the Treaty Project, however, extends beyond the Cape Town Convention, examining various international commercial law treaties in the area of private law, regardless of the sponsoring international organisation, such as Unidroit and UNCITRAL. While the Project will focus on international commercial law treaties, it will examine and learn from approaches to, and experiences with, implementation and compliance in the context of other major fields of law.

The Treaty Project aims to help such organisations, States, and commercial actors who are affected by non-implementation and non-compliance of such treaties (a) design future international commercial law treaties, and (b) put in place related mechanisms which can facilitate effective implementation and compliance.

It is an interdisciplinary project, with the participation of academics and lawyers from leading universities and international organisations.


A planning session on the Implementation of and Compliance with International Commercial Law Treaties Project (Treaty Project) took place on 15 February 2024 at the seat of UNIDROIT in Rome and online. The session was attended by 12 participants.

The session developed a basic methodology whereby experts from various fields of treaty law would address implementation and compliance issues in their fields, permitting comparative analysis and an assessment of elements relevant to international commercial law treaties.

This would be done by completion of a common questionnaire, for initial review by a working group, which will meet at the Lauterpatcht Centre at the University of Cambridge in January 2025, a key collaborator in the Treaty Project.



Planning session – Report