Arbitration in a Changing World - Chapter 85 - Reflections on International Arbitration
The tale of Arbitration in a Changing World is a journey filled with innumerable, historical moments, each a critical antecedent to international arbitration as we know it today. Standing in time at the end of World War I, however, uncovers the critical role of international arbitration as an essential instrument of global peace. Viewed through this lens, these remarks rest on three acts. Act I is a story of innovation and foundation, of a world hungry for global peace that turned to arbitration to further that goal and that laid down the various building blocks to construct the legal framework of modern international arbitration. Act II tells a story of evolution and reaction. This is about international arbitration coming into its own, a time when arbitral practice developed and arbitral rules converged to a similar core in response to the world’s values and demands for certain features. Act III is a tale of inflection and hopefully redemption. We are in the thick of Act III, at a critical juncture faced with a changing world skeptical of global trade and international relations, and filled with populist movements pushing to make America, Brazil, Mexico, or any number of other countries great again. The current narrative of economic nationalism, protectionism, and fear of the other has had a tremendous impact on where we are today in international arbitration, on its legitimacy, and on its potential path forward. In what shape international arbitration will surface on the other side of this Act remains to be seen, but it is early enough in Act III that we can still hope to tell a story of redemption.