What Is the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)?

The International Chamber of Commerce is the largest, most diverse business organization in the world. The ICC represents 45 million companies in over 100 countries with broad business interests.

The ICC's networks of committees and experts represent the full range of business sectors. They also maintain contact with the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, and other intergovernmental agencies.

Key Takeaways

  • The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is the largest business organization in the world, with 45 million member companies from more than 100 countries. 
  • The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) aims to foster international trade and commerce to promote and protect open markets for goods and services and the free flow of capital.
  • The ICC performs a number of functions for businesses, including the establishment of rules, dispute resolution, policy advocacy, and training.
  • The ICC's vast networks of committees and experts belong to a full range of business sectors and keep members informed of all issues that affect their industries.
  • The ICC maintains contact with the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, and other intergovernmental agencies.

Understanding the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)

The ICC aims to foster international trade and commerce to promote and protect open markets for goods and services and the free flow of capital. The ICC is responsible for a number of functions, including the establishment of rules, dispute resolution, policy advocacy, and training. The ICC also wages war on commercial crime and corruption to bolster economic growth, create jobs and stabilize employment, and ensure overall economic prosperity.

Because members of the ICC and their associates engage in international business, the ICC has unparalleled authority in setting rules that govern cross-border business. While these rules are voluntary, thousands of daily transactions abide by the ICC-established rules as part of regular international trade.

The History of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)

The ICC was founded in Paris, France in 1919. The organization’s international secretariat was also established in Paris, and its International Court of Arbitration was formed in 1923. The first chair of the chamber was Étienne Clémentel, the early-20th-century French politician.

The ICC’s Governing Bodies

There are four primary governing bodies of the ICC. The lead governing body is the World Council, which is composed of national committee representatives. The highest officers of the ICC, the chair, and vice-chair are elected by the World Council every two years. 

The executive board provides strategic direction for the ICC. The board is elected by the World Council and is comprised of 30 business leaders and ex-officio members. The executive board's prominent duties are the development of ICC strategies and policy implementation.

The international secretariat is the operational arm of the ICC and is responsible for developing and implementing the ICC’s work program and introducing business perspectives to intergovernmental organizations. The secretary-general, who is appointed by the World Council, oversees this governing body.

The finance committee acts as an advisor to the executive board on all financial aspects. This committee prepares the budget on behalf of the board, submits regular reports, reviews the financial implications of ICC activities, and oversees all expenses and revenue flow.