Among the many valuable achievements of George Bermann—both as a scholar and as a practitioner—the General Course he delivered at the Hague Academy of International Law undoubtedly constitutes one of his most remarkable. The lectures delivered as part of the Academy’s summer courses remain to this day one of the most popular ever witnessed in The Hague. The outstanding demonstration shared therein is certainly a key ingredient for this success. Bermann offers a comprehensive and personal way to depict, systematize and approach the multifaceted interaction between arbitration and private international law (hereinafter “PrIL”).
Bermann’s trick is powerfully simple: tackling (arguably) opposite perspectives by using each component of the couple as a prism for viewing the other one. It is well known that a prism, whose main function is to decompose or measure the refraction of light, ultimately offers a singularly distorted vision of the observed object. Among many factors, the final picture very much depends on the position of the prism in relation to the source of light. In this particular case, physics and law are not so divergent. That is, Bermann’s own assessment of the relationship between arbitration and PrIL is evidently informed by his own perception of each element of the couple.