The American Arbitration Association was founded in 1926, following enactment of the Federal Arbitration Act, with the specific goal of helping to implement arbitration as an out-of-court solution to resolving disputes. This legal framework was passed by Congress and signed by President Calvin Coolidge.  The AAA's staff members and panelists continue to live out the principles on which the Association was founded. 

The AAA's official mission statement and vision statement are based on three core values: integrity, conflict management, and service. The AAA has long held its mediators and arbitrators to strict codes of ethics and model standards of conduct to ensure fairness and impartiality in conflict management. To further ensure the AAA's integrity, however, the Association also developed Standards of Ethics and Business Conduct for its staff, as well as a general Statement of Ethical Principles to expand on its core values as an organization.

Finally, the AAA — as a not-for-profit organization — has a core dedication to service, and particularly education, in the field of alternative dispute resolution.