Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG) – Definition

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Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG) Definition

Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG) also referred to as Vienna Convention is a treaty that was formed by the United Nation in order to create a uniform international convention or model law. This treaty is sign onto by 89 countries that occupy a major proportion of the international trade. This makes the treaty to be one of the most relevant and successful international uniform laws.

A Little More on What is the Contracts for the International Sale of Goods

The Contracts for the International Sale of Goods was developed and signed in Vienna in 1980   by The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL). The law was brought into action before the multilateral treaty on 1st Jan 1988 following its ratification by 11 states.  The CISG is sometimes referred to as the Vienna convention since it was signed and put into action in Vienna.

The treaty allows the international traders especially the exporters to use the uniform law regarding their trade since CISG provide substantive and uniform rules in which the arbitrators, contracting parties and courts may rely on when solving issues related to international trade. The CISG is considered to supplant and included in the applicable domestic rules and regulations regarding the transaction of goods between the international trade parties unless it is excluded by express agreement on the contract.

Various countries have accepted the CISG from different geographical regions, and this has made it be one of the successes of UNCITRAL. The law is used by the states from different regions in their social, economic and legal system and incorporated in every stage of economic development. The member countries that have ratified the treaty are referred to as the Contracting States. The CISG has been confirmed to have the greatest impact among the uniform convention laws regarding the global trans-border business. CISG is described as one of the greatest achievements of international trade legislation that has been able to unify international sales law. The law is also flexible to allow the member states to take exemptions to some stated articles. The flexibility in the law is considered to be an instrumental factor that can be used to lure the countries that have inappropriate legal traditions to be a member of the convention.  While some countries who are members of the CISG have made their declarations regarding this law, 68 out of 89 member states have acceded to the convention without making their declarations.

This convention forms the basis for the annual Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot that always take place in Vienna.  This comprises of teams of lawyers from law schools around the world.


The CISG give the contracting members an opportunity to lodge reservations also known as a declaration in the CISG preferred language.  This has been done by almost one-fourth of the CISG contracting states.

Some of the states have reviewed and withdrawn their declarations.  Nordic countries especially, members of the Nordic Council excluding Iceland had originally unsubscribed from the application of Part II under article 92 CISG. However, over the recent period, they have withdrawn from the reservation of Article 92 CISG and became a member to Part II CISG, apart from trade among themselves, where CISG is not applied as a whole due to a declaration lodged under article 94. Similarly, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, and China withdrew its documented declaration. The Czech Republic also withdrew its declaration that was preventing the use of article 1(1)(b

Instead of restricting the application of CISG within their law system, some countries have expanded the application by removing the some of the conditions for the CISG application. For example, the law of Israeli provides that the CISG will apply equally to members whose business location is in the non-member state.

Language, structure, and content

The CISG is designed and written in a simple language that refers to events and things that has content with common words.  This was a cognitive motive to give an opportunity to the national legal system to be exceeded through the use of a common legal lingua franca and ignores the words that are associated with domestic legal tones.  Moreover, it enhances the translation into the six official languages of the UN. As part of the UN tradition, all six languages are applied equally and authentic.

Increased adoption of CISG

Some countries such as Guatemala and Rwanda have developed a domestic procedure for considering the application of CISG and implemented laws that authorize its adoption. The CISG is anticipated to enter into action for its instrument of accession that is placed with Secretary-General of the United Nations. Besides other countries such as Kazakhstan are in the process of adopting the CISG.

References for Contracts for the International Sale of Good (CISG)

Academic Research on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG)

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