The Bahrain Chamber for Dispute Resolution (BCDR-AAA) was a co-sponsor of the Second World Meeting of Societies for International Law (Meeting), organized by the French Society for International Law and held at The Hague Academy of International Law on 2 and 3 September 2019. Entitled Current Challenges to International Law: The Role of Societies for International Law, the event consisted of five plenary roundtables and twelve panel discussions designed to stimulate debate and dialogue among societies for international law and national branches of the International Law Association on the many varied issues with which international law is today confronted.
Click here to see the full program of the meeting.
BCDR-AAA's CEO Professor Nassib G. Ziadé was a speaker at the plenary roundtable that closed the first day of the meeting. Moderated by the Vice-President of the International Court of Justice, Judge Hanqin Xue, the roundtable explored the subject of Shadows and Lights on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes, taking stock of existing means of dispute resolution and the questions raised by their coexistence. Professor Ziadé's distinguished co-speakers were Mr. Philippe Gautier, Registrar of the International Court of Justice; Professor Hélène Ruiz Fabri, Director of the Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for Procedural Law; and Mr. Ben Juratowitch QC, Partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.
Speaking on The Investment Law "Market": ICSID and Regional Arbitration Centres, Competition or Complementarity?, Professor Ziadé first recalled the uniqueness and predominance of the ICSID system, whose strength rests, in particular, on every ICSID Contracting State's obligation to recognize an ICSID award as binding and to enforce it as if it were a final judgment rendered by a court of that State.
Relying on figures from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Professor Ziadé noted, however, that there was a growing trend for investment disputes to be administered by arbitration centers other than ICSID, too. These early signs of competition were not from regional arbitration centers but rather from arbitration centers with a global reach, such as the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (SCC), and the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). For Professor Ziadé, this was hardly surprising as investment treaties, including those between emerging countries, refer almost exclusively to arbitration centers in the West. He referred to the Cairo Regional Center for International Commercial Arbitration (CRCICA) as one of the few exceptions, as it is listed in a few investment treaties entered into by Egypt and between States of the MENA region as one of the available options for the aggrieved party.
Professor Ziadé pointed to the administration of ad hoc arbitrations under regional investment agreements as an area in which regional arbitration centers could attract investment cases. He mentioned the 1980 Unified Agreement for the Investment of Arab Capital in the Arab States and the 1981 Agreement for the Promotion, Protection and Guarantee of Investments among the Member States of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference as examples of regional investment agreements providing for the option of ad hoc arbitration. Such instruments provide a real opportunity for regional arbitration centers to attract investment arbitration disputes.
Professor Ziadé nonetheless stressed that regional centers would need to operate in accordance with international standards if they were to attract investment disputes. They should first equip themselves with modern arbitration rules. They would then need to recruit qualified staff and assemble a diversified roster of experienced arbitrators. Finally, and above all, the countries in which these regional centers are located should create the conditions in which international arbitration can thrive by adopting liberal arbitration laws, granting adequate immunities to arbitrators, and ensuring the arbitration-friendliness of their courts.
Professor Ziadé's speech was delivered in French and can be read in full here.
The meeting ended with closing remarks from the President of the United Nations General Assembly, H.E. María Fernanda Espinosa, and a joint declaration by the Societies for International Law affirming the important role these societies play in accompanying, anticipating, and promoting necessary developments in international law.