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Evolving Diversity in International Arbitration: Current Trends and Future Outlook

Evolving Diversity in International Arbitration: Current Trends and Future Outlook

Diversity in the field of international arbitration is still an issue, according to a 2012 Inter Law poll. Since then, nevertheless, the field of international arbitration has grown more open to discussing this idea and less at ease with it. The topic of diversity is currently being openly discussed at conferences and online forums, and corporate customers are starting to demand diverse legal teams to handle their business issues. This article updates and expands upon the research undertaken for the original article, stating that in appointing an arbitrator, each individual must take personal responsibility for considering a diverse range of candidates.

There have always been two issues with tackling diversity in the international field: the difficulty of determining who, if anybody, has responsibility for resolving the issue and the lack of openness around the appointment process for arbitrators. The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Dispute (ICSID) and commercial arbitration organisations are most likely to have information on the makeup of appointments of international arbitrators. The best estimate of the percentage of women appointed to international arbitration tribunals is around 6% (5.63% for ICSID and approximately 6.5% for international commercial tribunals).

This article examines how different arbitration organisations handle diversity and how they keep records of the details of the arbitrators they pick for cases. The Arbitration Institute of the Finland Chamber of Commerce, the Dallas Centre for International and Commercial Arbitration, the Brussels Centre for International and Commercial Arbitration, the Dublin Dispute Resolution Centre, the Singapore International Arbitration Centre, the Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration, the Indian Institute of Arbitration and Mediation, the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry, the Dubai International Arbitration Centre, the Cairo Regional Centre for International and Commercial Arbitration, and the China International Economic and Trade Association were among the organisations the authors contacted.

The LCIA, JAMS, Finland Chamber of Commerce, Netherlands Arbitration Institute, and ICDR are the only organisations that formally record and retain data on diversity, according to the authors' findings. In 2013, women made up 6.9% of the 160 arbitrators chosen by the parties and 19.8% of the 162 arbitrator appointments chosen by the LCIA, for a blended proportion of 13%. JAMS estimated that women made up around 24% of arbitration appointments annually and gave arbitrators and JAMS staff members yearly diversity training. Since 2007, the Finland Chamber of Commerce (FCC) has kept track of gender data, which it utilises to further its overarching objective of selecting the most qualified candidates for leadership roles or arbitral tribunals.

The lack of diversity in international arbitration tribunals is a growing concern, with institutions like the LCIA, JAMS, FCC, ICDR, and NAI indicating an increase in awareness. It is recommended that the current estimate of the proportion of women appointed as arbitrators be lowered to around 10%. More openness and better data management are required to bring about significant change. More and more, big businesses are putting pressure on suppliers to adopt a transparent diversity and inclusion strategy by leveraging their purchasing power to demand change. This could lead to a re-evaluation of diversity and inclusion practices by counsel, not only about legal teams but also in the composition of tribunals.

  • Women make up only about 10% of arbitrator appointments in international arbitration tribunals.
  • Large businesses are leveraging their influence to demand transparent diversity and inclusion strategies from legal service providers.
  • Organizations like LCIA, JAMS, FCC, ICDR, and NAI are increasingly aware of diversity issues and are keeping better records.

BY : Vaishnavi Rastogi

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