ICC supports the Equal Representation in Arbitration (ERA) Pledge

13 July, 2016

The ICC International Court of Arbitration was among the first organisations to endorse the Pledge before it was even launched on May 18, since it signed the Pledge on 8 May 2016.

The ICC has participated in this initiative since Sylvia Noury started it in April last year and was represented by the author, who is also a member of the Pledge Steering Committee. The author indicated from the outset of this initiative that the ICC was willing to sign the Pledge and to contribute to increasing the number of women appointed as arbitrators.

The Pledge is a call to the international dispute resolution community to improve the profile and representation of women in international dispute resolution, and to commit to offer equal opportunities for equal qualifications.

The signature of the Pledge by the ICC is in line with the efforts undertaken in recent years to be more attentive to gender issues and nominate more female arbitrators and more female Court members. A year ago nine female and eight male vice-presidents were appointed, therefore with Alexis Mourre as President of the Court, equality of numbers at the Bureau of the Court was achieved. The number of Court members has increased in recent years and this trend will continue; in addition to the nine vice-presidents, 25 Court members are women. The total number of Court members including the President is 145, of which 34 are women, representing thus 23,5% of the Court members.

The ICC recently published a Note to the ICC National Committees and Groups about the proposal of arbitrators, in which those Committees and Groups are encouraged to observe generational and gender diversity. They are likewise encouraged, in their proposals of arbitrators, to favour gender diversity and diversity as to the various components of the local arbitration communities.

One of the steps recommended in the Pledge to measure progress is the tracking and publication of gender statistics for appointments of women arbitrators. In a landmark move, the ICC has published for the first time statistics on the gender balance of ICC tribunals. Women arbitrators represented just over 10% of all appointments and confirmations in 2015; 43% were appointed or confirmed as co-arbitrators, and 57% were appointed either as sole arbitrators (32%) or tribunal presidents (25%). The Court, thus, selects more women arbitrators than the parties.

The disclosure of gender statistics forms part of the ICC’s on-going strategy to enhance both the transparency and diversity of international arbitration. The Court remains committed to enhancing the diversity of ICC tribunals and believes that the publication of annual statistics has a key role to play in this regard.

The ICC Court also decided in January 2016 to publish on its website the names of arbitrators sitting in ICC cases, their nationality, their role within the tribunal, whether their appointment was made by the Court or by the parties and whether the arbitration is pending or closed. This novelty is among several other measures that the Court has recently been adapting to move towards more transparency. The first names were published on June 27; two out of the six arbitrators were women.

“The ICC is deeply committed to improve the representation of women in international dispute resolution”, said Alexis Mourre, President of the ICC International Court of Arbitration. He added that “diversity is one of the fundamental keys for the future in arbitration. Arbitration will not survive if it remains a closed club of male, pale and stale practitioners”. Listen to the interview of Alexis Mourre, President of the ICC International Court of Arbitration: https://youtu.be/HyOcoe1BQCk.

As the number of players in dispute resolution from around the globe signing the Pledge grows every day, the author hopes that by committing together to change the playing field, we will attain a better representation of women on arbitral tribunals, considering the number of talented female practitioners.

The photo represents a give-away offered at the launch of the Pledge in London on May 18.

Mirèze Philippe
Special Counsel at the Secretariat of the ICC International Court of Arbitration
Founding Co-President ArbitralWomen and Membership Director
Member of the Pledge Steering Committee