DRS Thought Leadership

ICC announces new Belt and Road Commission Co-Chairs

  • 20 March 2020

President of the ICC International Court of Arbitration Alexis Mourre, has announced the appointment of Susan L. Munro, Managing Partner of the Beijing and Hong Kong offices of Steptoe & Johnson and Robert S. Pe, ICC Court Member for Myanmar as Co-Chairs of the Court’s Belt and Road (BRI) Commission.

Ms Munro and Mr Pe assume co-leadership of the BRI Commission this month when current Chair Justin D’Agostino, ICC Court Alternate Member based in Hong Kong, steps down following his appointment as CEO of Herbert Smith Freehills.

Under Mr D’Agostino’s chairmanship, the Commission, established in 2017, has actively promoted ICC dispute resolution services as the “go-to” arbitral institution for Belt and Road disputes. In 2019, thanks to the efforts of Mr D’Agostino and his colleagues, the Court’s caseload involving Chinese parties increased by more than 50% compared with the Court’s average caseload involving Chinese parties over the past 10 years.

Commenting on Mr D’Agostino’s contributions to the establishment and achievements of the BRI Commission, Mr Mourre said:

“We are immensely in debt to Justin and his colleagues of the Commission for their contributions to make the Commission an important platform to actively promote ICC dispute resolution services and international arbitration at large. I am very happy that the Court has seen a record-high number of cases involving Chinese parties in 2019, due in large part to the Commission’s efforts under Justin’s chairmanship.”

Mr D’Agostino said: “It has been my pleasure to chair the ICC Belt and Road Commission and am sure it will thrive in the care of Ms Susan Munro and Mr Robert Pé. In just two years, we have achieved a great deal, working with disputes practitioners, regulators, companies and government representatives along the Belt and Road and beyond. The Commission’s work is even more important now as, hopefully soon, we focus on post-COVID-19 recovery in the communities and industries most heavily affected.”

Ms Munro brings decades of experience to furthering the achievements of the BRI Commission having started out in Hong Kong in 1997, moving to Shanghai in 2001 and then onto Beijing in 2010 where she manages Steptoe’s Beijing and Hong Kong offices.

“ICC’s many years of experience in administering international commercial and investment disputes renders it ideally suited to be the go-to forum for the resolution of disputes arising out of the Belt and Road Initiative. ICC’s thorough and comprehensive approach to the disputes process not only creates a reliable and trustworthy environment for the resolution of major controversies, it also ensures the efficiency and consistency that parties involved in disputes truly value.”

As a seasoned Independent Arbitrator and Mediator, serving as the Court Member for Myanmar, one of the key countries on the Belt and Road, Mr Pe also welcomed the opportunity to contribute to the mandates of the Court and join Ms Munro as Co-Chair of the Commission. He said:

“I am delighted to be appointed as Co-Chair of ICC’s Belt and Road Commission and I look forward to working with my China-based Co-Chair, the other members of the Commission and the ICC Court and Secretariat to develop ICC’s procedures and infrastructure to support Belt and Road disputes. As with the Belt and Road Initiative itself, this is a hugely exciting and important project, which has the potential to deliver substantial value. I will aim to ensure that the Commission is alert to the context in and perspectives of target countries on the Belt and Road and that it operates in a consultative, coordinated and effective manner.”

Alexander G. Fessas, Secretary General of the ICC Court also welcomed the appointment of the new co-chairs, saying he was confident that the BRI Commission will continue providing significant assistance to the work of the Secretariat in the region:

“I thank Justin’s generous contributions to the Commission and am sure the new Co-Chairs will continue the excellent leadership to guide the Commission, which has greatly benefited the Secretariat’s work.”

Mingchao Fan, ICC Director for North Asia, who leads the Court’s Shanghai Representative Office, will continue acting as Secretary of the Commission.