Thomas Carbonneau is the Samuel P. Orlando Distinguished Professor of Law at Penn State's Dickinson School of Law. Professor Carbonneau is commonly regarded as one of the world's leading experts on domestic and international arbitration. He serves on the editorial board of La Revue de L'Arbitrage and is the author of ten highly acclaimed books and 75 scholarly and professional articles on arbitration. Professor Carbonneau was formerly the Moise S. Steeg Jr. Professor of International Law at Tulane University School of Law.
Now, whenever I write about arbitration, I have the impression that my endeavor has been circumscribed by the inexorable development of the institution itself. My task no longer is to arrest a locomotive proceeding down the tracks at full throttle. I can only try to convince the engineer to slow the train to a pace at which an accounting of its direction can take place. As reduced as my mission has become, it still smacks of the impossible. My legs can hardly propel me to the speed demanded by the chase. My cries are barely audible in the rush of air that follows in the train’s passage. My signals of caution are confused with errant sparks and extinguished as quickly.
The engine that drives the law of arbitration is indeed powerful. Its energy is born of the events that announce the next millennium’s social and political order and of the hope of contemporary societies, despairing of their withering financial resources and about to embark on a course of global commercial competition and cooperation. Nation-states must establish new, perhaps abbreviated domestic priorities for the 21st century. The demands of regional economic groupings1 will modify the established dictates of national agendas. The lure of commercial expediency and functional pragmatism has become irresistible. Plagued by need and hankering for solutions, national communities have "adjusted" their political autonomy and redefined the rule of law both inside and outside their borders.