International trade has grown considerably in the past century leading to an increased interconnectedness of public and private entities across the world. Globalization, despite its recent pullback in response to the financial crisis, has resulted in the exponential growth of international business relationships. This advent of a more complex and interconnected global trading system has amplified the need for an effective and efficient mechanism to resolve private commercial disputes. International arbitration has replaced litigation as the preferred means to fulfill this role due to widespread participation in global enforcement treaties and supporting domestic legislation for the recognition of foreign arbitral awards.
The dual goals of arbitration (efficiency and low cost resolution) have been integral to its growth as a popular method to resolve international commercial conflicts. However, in the absence of effective enforcement treaties, arbitration panels would be rendered impotent and awards would be virtually useless. The focus of this article is the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitration awards in the United States. The analysis will begin with an overview of relevant U.S. treaty and statutory law. The overlap and interplay between these two main bodies will be discussed in the context of two landmark cases by the Supreme Court and Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Next, the New York Convention grounds for review, including prominent case law, will be examined in detail, followed by a summary of the grounds for review under the Federal Arbitration Act. Finally, the article will conclude with a prediction regarding the future direction of foreign arbitration enforcement in the United States.