2019 ICCA President's Report to the ICCA Membership

From ICCA President Gabrielle Kaufmann-Kohler, February 2020


ICCA enjoyed a busy and prosperous year in 2019, during which our presence in the international arbitration community continued to grow. In conjunction with ICC Mexico and the ICC Court of Arbitration, ICCA hosted a successful conference in Mexico City, two conferences in Beijing and several New York Convention roadshows, while Young ICCA facilitated some 25 skills training workshops around the world. In the course of the year, ICCA launched two new projects and progressed with its existing initiatives, all of which address some of the most compelling and challenging questions facing international arbitration at this time. Meanwhile, ICCA’s publications remained an unrivalled source of knowledge for practitioners and academics alike. In short, we are carrying forward ICCA’s mission of promoting a greater understanding and knowledge of international dispute settlement and have strong momentum as we look to the decade ahead.




We welcomed 150 new members of diverse backgrounds and experience into our ranks in 2019. Gatherings such as the ICC Mexico Conference in March and the New York Convention Roadshows in Europe, Asia and South America served to unite our international membership and give members the opportunity to debate and discuss relevant issues in the field with their peers.


We are also pleased to report that the 8th edition of the ICCA Membership Directory was published and distributed in January 2020. A complete, fully searchable online version of the Directory is available here: https://www.arbitration-icca.org/members/search.html.




In 2019, ICCA Members were encouraged to contribute their knowledge and expertise to a broad spectrum of ICCA and affiliate organisation projects. Several of these initiatives hosted successful events throughout the year: ICCA’s Diversity and Inclusiveness Task Force produced a draft policy on the organisation’s diversity and inclusiveness going forward; the ICCA-IBA Joint Data Protection Task Force held its inaugural consultation meeting at IBA Arbitration Day in Montreal  and published  its Draft Roadmap on Data Protection for public comment; ICCA-ASIL’s Task Force on Damages in International Arbitration hosted a seminar at the IBA Annual Conference in Seoul, updating attendees on its work to develop an app to assist practitioners and arbitrators with issues related to damages; and the ICCA-NYC Bar-CPR Working Group on Cybersecurity in Arbitration released its Protocol for Cybersecurity at New York Arbitration Week. That protocol and the work of the other task forces mentioned will be presented at the ICCA 2020 Congress in Edinburgh.


Elsewhere, we were very proud to announce the publication of the fifth installment of ICCA’s Report Series- the ICCA-Tsingua University Working Group’s Compendium of Chinese Commercial Arbitration Laws. Since 2015, ICCA and Tsinghua University School of Law have worked together to produce the first bilingual collection of Chinese commercial arbitration laws, and we see this as an essential step towards increasing access to Chinese abitral practice.


In May 2020, we will award the first Guillermo Aguilar-Alvarez Memorial Prize. Following Guillermo’s untimely passing in 2017, the Prize allows ICCA to honour Guillermo’s memory by nurturing emerging talent in the arbitration field. The Prize will be awarded biennially by ICCA during its Congress to the individual under 40 who has written the best published work on international arbitration, conciliation or other forms of dispute settlement over the past two years. The first competition received a total of 56 entries, and the winner will be revealed at the Edinburgh Congress. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the Patrons of the Prize whose generosity ensures that Guillermo’s passion and dedication live on in the works of young practitioners. If you would like to make a contribution to the fund, you can access the relevant information here: https://www.arbitration-icca.org/projects/ICCA_Guillermo_Aguilar-Alvarez_Memorial_Prize.html


Young ICCA


Our Young ICCA membership base has grown significantly this year, and I am happy to report that the addition of 2,000 new members brought Young ICCA’s membership up to 7,000 strong. During 2019, with the assistance of the Bureau and many ICCA members, Young ICCA hosted 25 workshops around the world, facilitated the 6th cycle of the Young ICCA Mentoring Programme and prepared to launch the upcoming 7th cycle, the details of which have recently been announced. In addition, we have already shared our first entry of 2020 on the Young ICCA Blog, which you can follow here: https://www.arbitration-icca.org/YoungICCA/Blog.html.


ICCA Publications


ICCA’s publications remain a cornerstone of our work in promoting international arbitration worldwide and we continue to make every effort to ensure that they provide relevant high-quality content for the arbitration community. In 2018, we welcomed Prof. Stephan Schill as General Editor ICCA Publications and ICCA Executive Director Lise Bosman as General Editor of the ICCA Handbook.


With Stephan and Lise on board in 2019, the newly minted publications team produced the ICCA Yearbook Commercial Arbitration 2019 and the 20th edition of the ICCA Congress Series, as well as Supplements 104-108 of the ICCA International Handbook on Commercial Arbitration. You can find these publications, as well as their past editions and previous Supplements, on www.KluwerArbitration.com. In addition, ICCA’s Guide to the 1958 New York Convention was translated into Armenian and Thai in 2019. The Guide is now available in 23 languages: Arabic, Armenian, Burmese, Chinese, Croatian, English, Farsi, French, Georgian, Greek, Hebrew, Indonesian, Italian, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Thai, Turkish, and Vietnamese.


All ICCA publications are produced with the assistance of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. For more information about ICCA’s publications, visit: https://www.arbitration-icca.org/publications.html.


Conferences and Congresses


In March 2019, ICCA, ICC Mexico and ICC Court of Arbitration hosted a highly successful conference in Mexico City. The subject of the conference was the “Role of the Judiciary in Arbitration,” and attendees enjoyed listening to a slate of speakers who addressed critical issues such as the role of arbitral tribunals and courts according to different jurisdictions, the enforcement of court or abitrator-ordered interim measures, and causes for non-enforcement.


With over 200 practitioners in attendance, the conference programme included addresses from former ICCA Presidents Donald Donovan and Albert Jan van den Berg, as well as prominent Mexican specialists Claus von Wobeser and Eduardo Siqueiros. The keynote address was given by ICCA Judiciary Committee Co-Chair Judge Dominique Hascher. We thank those members who attended and those who were involved in organising the conference.


Furthermore, Donald Donovan, Albert Jan van den Berg and I represented ICCA at two conferences which ICCA co-hosted in Beijing: firstly, the ICCA-BAC (Beijing Arbitration Commission) conference entitled “Investor-State Dispute Settlement System: Uniformity and Diversity”, followed by the ICCA-CIETAC conference on Practical Aspects of Investment Arbitration involving China. 


We are very fortunate that the ICCA community is able to come together at more intimate gatherings as we did in Mexico City. On a larger scale, we look forward to hosting the 25th biennial ICCA Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland this May. The Congress will be a prime opportunity to connect practitioners from around the world and to showcase Scotland as a solid seat for arbitration. Focusing on arbitration’s ‘age of enlightenment,’ ICCA 2020’s 16 panels will explore new ideas to adapt international arbitration to a fast-changing environment and to shape its future.


I extend my gratitude to the ICCA Congress Committee and the Scottish Arbitration Centre for investing their time and effort into preparing this prestigious event. Over 500 members of the international arbitration community have already registered to attend and places are filling up fast. Please remember that ICCA Members receive a 10% discount upon registration. For more information and to secure your place at the Congress, visit https://icca2020.scot/.


The Congress will also be a point of change for our community, as we will welcome five new Governing Board Members, and I will pass on the baton of the ICCA presidency to Lucy Reed, while Judith Gill will take over as Vice-President. I am grateful to Lucy for having accepted to serve as President and know ICCA will be in good hands.


My thanks go to all ICCA Members, Young ICCA Members, Governing and Advisory Board Members, and last but not least to ICCA’s Bureau and staff, for your ongoing commitment to the continued development of ICCA as a dynamic and diverse organisation at the forefront of international arbitration.