UCL Faculty of Laws


Appointing Adjudicators in Investor-State Arbitration and International Dispute Settlement

23 November 2023, 6:30 pm–7:30 pm

Gavel - Money

A UCL Laws International Law Group event

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Moot Court, UCL Faculty of Laws
Bentham House, Endsleigh Gardens

Appointing Adjudicators in Investor-State Arbitration and International Dispute Settlement: Diversity Concerns and Policy Responses

About this event

Investor-State dispute settlement (ISDS) can be highly consequential for States legally, financially and politically. The lack of diversity of adjudicators in ISDS has thus been subject to criticism. As International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) caseload statistics show, arbitrators in investor-State arbitration are mostly males from Western Europe and North America. Concerns about the lack of diversity in investor-State arbitration also permeate ongoing inter-governmental negotiation on ISDS reform in the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Working Group III. Reform proposals range from recalibrating the current investor-State arbitration system to establishing a multilateral standing court. In designing adjudicator appointment mechanism, ensuring diversity, including ‘geographical, gender and linguistic diversity as well as equitable representation of different legal systems and cultures’, is a key policy goal.

In this lecture, Yanwen Zhang will build on arguments made in her forthcoming article in Journal of International Dispute Settlement: ‘Equitable Representation on International Benches and the Appointment of Tribunal Members in Investor¬-State Dispute Settlement: A Historical Perspective’, and explore different approaches for addressing diversity concerns and their underlying rationales: Why did the ICSID drafters, including States from different geographical regions, adopt a modest approach to equitable representation? How has the equitable representation requirement evolved in the development of international courts and tribunals, from the establishment of the Permanent Court of Arbitration to the contemporary practice of the International Court of Justice? What are the takeaways for the design of and choice between policy options for addressing diversity concerns in ongoing ISDS reform?

The lecture will be followed by an opportunity for questions, and drinks. All are welcome, from specialists in the area to students seeking to better understand a rapidly evolving and very important instrument for dispute settlement in international law.  

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