Not long ago, diversity was a relatively alien concept in our society and, undoubtedly, no one was talking about diversity in international arbitration. The arbitration world was a closed community, some sort of Anglo-European gentlemen’s club where everyone was familiar with the style and proclivities of one another. Today, diversity within arbitration has become an important subject as the community has recognised it is critical for the sustainability and performance of arbitration as a dispute resolution mechanism. Diversity in international arbitration is not only important, it is essential to the longevity and legitimacy of the process.

Diversity enhances arbitration. Different perspectives in a tribunal lead to better decision making. It is therefore in the interest of the arbitral process to achieve diversity. The problems and misinterpretations caused by gender or cultural diversity are more evident than ever before. Diversity, or a lack thereof, can make parties talk at cross-purposes, even when they speak the same language. It can turn the tools of dispute resolution – words and reason – into dangerous weapons. Between the different political, economic, religious, linguistic, gender, sexual preference and legal systems, a dispute concerning an ordinary commercial contract can create chaos.

Jan-Mar 2018 issue

BVI International Arbitration Centre