Diversity in International Arbitral Tribunals

Asset Kussaiyn

As one practitioner said, the arbitral tribunal’s diversity is the last thing in anyone’s mind when they are looking for an arbitrator. Many surveys also demonstrate that the diversity in arbitral tribunals is still an issue. Most of the time, parties in dispute tend to rely on a closed pool of famous arbitrators leaving behind the other part of young and rising practitioners. This article would like to discover the following questions: What is the importance of diversity? Is it a valid concern, if yes, why? How should institutions play a role in ensuring diversity?

Arbitration has always been at the disposition of elites where only lawyers from the western hemisphere take the leading positions in international law firms and arbitral tribunals. For instance, according to the 2018 ICSID Report, 85% of appointed arbitrators were from Western Europe. Although ICSID tries to do its best in ensuring the diversity of its tribunals, it is still to the parties’ discretion to appoint their arbitrators. Some scholars believe that the problem is then aggravated by the distinctive features of international arbitration, the lack of transparency in the appointment process. Especially today, with the rise of globalization, the diversity in different parts of life is becoming a new norm.

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