The inclusion of new language in ICC model letters to parties, co-arbitrators, appointing authorities and ICC national committees is the latest measure taken by ICC to improve diversity in arbitration. The letters now feature language introduced on 1 January 2022 in the ICC Note to National Committees and Groups on the proposal of Arbitrators, encouraging diversity to be considered when proposing arbitrators. This includes but is not limited to racial, ethnic, cultural, generational and gender diversity.
Increasing diversity and inclusion has been a key priority for ICC Court President Claudia Salomon since she took over the leadership position in 2021. Ms Salomon said:
“Arbitrator diversity in all forms is essential to the legitimacy of international arbitration by ensuring that the arbitrators represented in cases reflect the diversity – and values – of the global business community.”
ICC statistics for 2021 show measured progress in recent years to improve the gender balance of arbitrators, with women making up close to 40% of appointments by the ICC Court in 2021 – either upon proposal of an ICC national committee or group, or directly – compared to just under 30% in 2017. But in 2021, only 25% of arbitrators were nominated by the ICC Court. Just 17,5% of the arbitrators nominated by parties were women (compared to 12% in 2017) and 26% of the arbitral tribunal chairs nominated by the co-arbitrators were women (compared to 14% in 2017).
“In house counsel, outside counsel and co-arbitrators all have a crucial role to play if we are to see a sizable increase in the diversity of arbitrators,” Ms Salomon said.
This latest step to promote diversity in arbitration follows several other measures taken by ICC to champion the benefits of diversity and inclusion. In 2021, ICC launched an ICC Court LGBTQIA+ network and received a Global Arbitration Review Award for Equal Representation in Arbitration Pledge, in recognition of the launch an ICC Task Force on Disability Inclusion and International Arbitration, formed under the ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR.