The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is a nonprofit organization that is made up of member states; it was formed in 1919 for the purpose of promoting open trade and a free financial market. Many believed that there was a need for a neutral entity that could champion corporate responsibility in order to achieve global peace through business transactions. Once the United Nations was formed in 1945, ICC was given the highest level consultative status with the organization and its agencies. The purpose of this move was to ensure that the United Nations was informed of international business views when making crucial decisions during meetings.
ICC’s International Secretariat is located in Paris, and the first president was Etienne Clementel. He was a French minister of commerce and has been credited with establishing the International Court of Arbitration in 1923. Originally, the member states were Belgium, England, France, Italy, and the United States.
However, today, the organization represents approximately 140 countries around the world, and national committees are in 84 of the countries.
The ICC is responsible for acting as a catalyst for economic growth, job creation, and prosperity throughout the world. The organization facilitates activities that ensure that global business decisions are in the best interest of economic development throughout the world. In addition, some believe its role is to be a business advocate to governments and intergovernmental agencies. Some of the activities include assisting businesses with self-regulation, working against corruption and commercial crimes in world business, and supporting open trade and marketing a healthy economic system. These activities are achieved through the work of various branches of the organization, including the following
- International Secretariat—The Secretary General leads this body in an effort to achieve the programs that have been approved by the ICC. This office is the operational component of the organization and responsible for ensuring that the work approved by the World Council is performed.
- Executive Board—The board is comprised of approximately 15–30 members and is responsible for implementing policies approved by the ICC. Each member serves for three years. The chairmanship consists of the present chairman, his predecessor, and the vice chairman.
- International Bureau of Chambers of Commerce—This entity was created in 1951 to bring together the world chambers of commerce in developing and industrial countries. This organization was renamed the World Chambers Federation (WCF) in 2001 during the 2nd World Chambers Congress, held in Korea. WCF is also responsible for administering the ATA Carnet system for temporary duty-free imports.
- International Anti-Corruption Commission— This commission was an attempt by the ICC to create a body that would promote self-regulation against bribery and corruption among businesses. The commission consists of 90 members from 34 countries, and they meet twice a year to discuss issues of interest to maintaining an ethical global business environment.
- Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP)—Members of this committee represent organizations that are committed to ensuring that intellectual property rights are respected and protected. Part of their mission is to raise awareness of the social and economic costs of piracy and counterfeiting. These two deviant activities have become a source of concern for many industries around the world (i.e., the music industry). When these actions go uncontrolled, there is a decrease in legitimate employment opportunities as well as tax revenues. BASCAP was formed to connect all of the business sectors around the world in an effort to fight counterfeiting and piracy. Three of the major goals of this group are (1) to increase public and political awareness of these crimes and how the acts can cause economic and social harm; (2) to encourage government action and secure allocation of resources to improve enforcement of policies and laws; and (3) to create an environment where intellectual property is respected and protected.
- ICC International Court of Arbitration—This entity is the oldest established ICC institution, and its main responsibility is to resolve international commercial disputes via the arbitration process. Many companies prefer to use this system because they want to (1) receive a fair trial and avoid potential bias by national courts, (2) avoid bad press and damaging publicity, and (3) maintain confidentiality. In addition, arbitration tends to be less expensive and quicker than litigation.
Arbitration is more flexible than litigation and an organization does not have to be an ICC member to take part in the process. Also, the parties involved in the dispute have the privilege of deciding what form of arbitration will be used to resolve the dispute. They are allowed to select the arbitrators, the location of the arbitration, and the laws that are appropriate. In many cases, the parties can select the target date for completion.
The steps involved in the arbitration process are as follows:
- The party initiating the dispute submits a request for arbitration to the secretariat of the International Court of Arbitration in Paris. The secretariat is responsible for notifying the defendant of the charges, and the party has 30 days to respond to the accusation.
- The International Court of Arbitration (ICA) initiates proceedings. At this time, the parties decide whether (1) their dispute will be settled by one or three arbitrators, (2) the International Court of Arbitration will make the selection, and (3) they should select their own arbitrator(s).
- The arbitral tribunal has two months to draft and forward to the ICA the case’s terms of reference. The ICA examines the terms of reference for conformity with ICC Rules. The ICA then takes note of or approves the terms of reference before arbitration can proceed.
- The second half of the advance is paid and the arbitral tribunal proceeds with the case. The tribunal has six months to prepare and submit a draft award to the ICA.
- The ICA reviews the award. Once approved, the award is signed by the arbitrator(s) and parties are notified of the decision.
- “Appendix III: International Chamber of Commerce ICC) National Committees and Groups,” Handbook of World Trade (2004);
- Bate, “Part 1: The Origins and Nature of the World Trade Organization: Forging the Tools of Trade—Core Tasks of the International Chamber of Commerce,” Handbook of World Trade (2004);
- William F. Fox, “The International Chamber of Commerce’s GUIDEC Principles: Private-Sector Rules for Digital Signatures,” International Lawyer (v.35, 2001);
- Dominic Kelly, “The International Chamber of Commerce,” New Political Economy (v.10/2, 2005).
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