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The Asian-African Legal Consultative Organisation (AALCO) was established on 15th November 1956 as the outcome of the Bandung Conference, which took place from 18th to 24th April 1955 in Bandung, Indonesia. It was initially formed to serve as an advisory board to member states on matters relating to international law.

AALCO changed its name, from its original name Asian Legal Consultative Committee (ALCC), to Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee (AALCC) to reflect the participation of countries from the African continent. AALCC was subsequently known as the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organisation (AALCO), which symbolises the organisation’s effort in moving forward and placing itself on the same platform as its international counterparts.

AALCO's main functions include assisting Member States in drafting constitutions, model legislations and bilateral agreements upon request and providing expertise and assistance to Member States in the appointment of arbitrators and other matters relating to arbitral proceedings as well as training of arbitrators. AALCO also monitors the development of regional centres for arbitration. Respective directors of the centres are required to present progress reports at every annual AALCO session.

A major achievement of AALCO is launching the Integrated Scheme for Settlement of Disputes in the Economic and Commercial Transactions in 1978, where Regional Arbitration Centres were established under the auspices of AALCO to promote and provide for international commercial arbitration in the Asian-African regions.

Origin

The Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization (AALCO), originally known as the Asian Legal Consultative Committee (ALCC) was constituted on 15 November 1956. It is considered to be a tangible outcome of the historic Bandung Conference, held in Indonesia, in April 1955. Seven Asian States, namely Burma (now Myanmar), Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), India, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, and the United Arab Republic (now Arab Republic of Egypt and Syrian Arab Republic) are the original Member States. Later, in April 1958, in order to include participation of countries of the continent of Africa its name was changed to Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee (AALCC). At the 40th Session, held at the Headquarters of AALCC in New Delhi, in 2001, the name of the Committee was changed to Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization (AALCO). It might seem to be a small nomenclature change, however, it has great symbolic significance reflecting the growing status of the Organization and the place it has secured among the family of international organizations.

Statutes and statutory rules of the organization

Initially, AALCO was established as a non-permanent Committee for a term of five years. The five year term was further extended on four occasions until 1981, when at its Colombo Session, it was decided to place the Organization on a permanent footing. That decision necessitated revision of the original Statutes and Statutory Rules, the revised versions of which were adopted in 1987 and 1989 respectively. Alive to keeping the constituent instruments of the Organization in tune with the changing times and newer hopes and aspirations of its Members, the Member States, at the recently concluded Forty-Third Session of the Organization at Bali, Republic of Indonesia, in June 2004 accorded their unanimous approval to a new and revised Text of Statutes. The new Text of Statutes is in consonance with the constituent instruments with other intergovernmental Organizations and brings it in par with them. Consequently, the Statutory Rules are also being revised.

Membership

Member States:

Forty-seven countries comprising almost all the major States from Asia and Africa are presently the Members of the Organization. These countries are: Arab Republic of Egypt; Bahrain; Bangladesh; Brunei Darussalam; Botswana; Cameroon; Cyprus; Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; Gambia; Ghana; India; Indonesia; Iraq; Islamic Republic of Iran; Japan; Jordan; Kenya; Kuwait; Lebanon; Libya; Malaysia; Mauritius; Mongolia; Myanmar; Nepal; Nigeria; Oman; Pakistan; People’s Republic of China;Qatar; Republic of Korea; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Singapore; Somalia; South Africa, Sri Lanka; State of Palestine; Sudan; Syria; Tanzania; Thailand; Turkey; Uganda; United Arab Emirates; and Republic of Yemen.

Permanent headquarters of the AALCO

Pursuant to the Headquarters Agreement between the Government of India and AALCO which was signed on 26 April 2000, New Delhi is the seat of the Permanent Headquarters of AALCO (Article 2(1) of the Statutes). The Government of India has offered a plot of land in the diplomatic enclave in Chanakyapuri and a grant of US$ 1.5 million for the construction of AALCO’s Headquarter building and the residence of the Secretary-General. The construction was completed in 2006.

Secretariat

The purposes and objectives of the Organization as stipulated in Article 1 of the Statutes is as under:

The Secretariat of the Organization is located at its Permanent Headquarters in New Delhi and is headed by an elected Secretary-General (Article 3 of the Statutes). Deputy Secretaries-General and Assistant Secretaries-General who are senior officers of Member Governments sent on secondment assist the Secretary-General. Presently, the Governments of People’s Republic of China, Islamic Republic of Iran, and Japan have deputed their Senior Officials to the Secretariat. The regular staff of the Secretariat includes officials in professional and administrative categories. The Organization also maintains Permanent Observer Missions to the United Nations at New York and Vienna.

AALCO’s Regional Arbitration Centres

One of the major achievements of AALCO in its programme in the economic field was the launching of its Integrated Scheme for Settlement of Disputes in the Economic and Commercial Transactions in 1978. Pursuant to that Scheme, it was decided to establish Regional Arbitration Centres under the auspices of AALCO, which would function as international institutions with the objectives to promote international commercial arbitration in the Asian-African regions and provide for conducting international arbitrations under these Centres.

Four such Centres have been established so far, which are located at Cairo (Arab Republic of Egypt), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Lagos (Nigeria) and Tehran (Islamic Republic of Iran). The respective hosts Governments recognize their independent status like an international organization and have accorded privileges and immunities to these Centres.
AALCO provides its expertise and assistance to its Member States in the appointment of arbitrators and other matters related to the conduct of arbitration. Its centers provide the opportunities for training of arbitrators as well. The Directors of the Centres present their reports on the functioning of the Centres at the Annual Sessions.