The Provenance and Performance of Investment Treaty Arbitration - Chapter 1 - Investment Treaty Arbitration and International Law - Volume 2
Judge Stephen M. Schwebel was first elected to the International Court of Justice in January 1981. He was subsequently re-elected twice, and served as the President of the Court in the triennium 1997-2000. Judge Schwebel is at present an independent arbitrator and counsel in Washington, DC, and a door tenant of Essex Court Chambers in London.
Originally From: Investment Treaty Arbitration and International Law - Volume 2
Fifty-four years ago, fresh from Yale Law School, I joined White & Case in New York. White & Case in those days was only in New York; it is a sign of the globalization of the practice of law that it now has a score of offices spread round the world. As I was graduating from Yale, I asked Professor McDougal for his advice on how to pursue an international legal career. He replied that before I could be an international lawyer, I had to learn to be a lawyer. I had not learned that at Yale Law School; the best thing I could do would be to join a Wall Street law firm that would train me in how to think, write and talk like a lawyer—in McDougal’s words, “to make a noise like a lawyer.” In those distant days, students took their professor’s advice.
Sound advice it was, not only because White & Case did train me, but because hardly had I walked through the door than did there follow, as luck would have it, one of the most important international arbitrations of the twentieth century, that between Aramco and the Royal Government of Saudi Arabia. Aristotle Socrates Onassis had personally persuaded the King of Saudi Arabia to sign a contract that gave Onassis a monopoly on the shipment of all oil from Saudi Arabia, a contract worth untold billions. Aramco was appalled by the specter of Onassis controlling its lifeline.
Fortunately for the four major American oil companies that then owned Aramco, the Standard Oil Company of California had selected an astute lawyer from Pillsbury Madison & Sutro, Lloyd Hamilton, to negotiate its original concession contract of 1933. He was prescient enough to include an arbitration clause in the concession, which was to run to the end of the 20th century and cover virtually the whole of the territory of Saudi Arabia. British exploration had previously concluded that Saudi Arabia had no oil, but an unsung American geologist had advised Socal otherwise. Hamilton may have taken a leaf from the British book by including an arbitration clause similar to that found in the concession contract of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company.
I accordingly found myself at the bottom of a towering totem pole of international legal talent, at the top of which sat Lord McNair, recently retired as President of the International Court of Justice. I was taken with the process of international arbitration and have remained so ever since.