Simon Maynard, Senior Associate at King & Spalding in the United Kingdom and Todd Weiler, Independent arbitrator and academic, in Canada were named co-chairs of the Task Force during a special event to mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities, with further leadership additions to be announced in the coming weeks. In addition, Yas Banifatemi, a founding partner of Gaillard Banifatemi Shelbaya Disputes in France, and Albert Jan van den Berg, a partner at Hanotiau & van den Berg in Belgium, have been announced as the Task Force’s Awareness Ambassadors. José Feris, a partner at Squire Patton Boggs in France, will act as a liaison officer between the Commission’s Steering Committee and the Task Force.
Just one week into her term as President of the ICC International Court of Arbitration, Claudia Salomon issued a call for expressions of interest to lead a pioneering task force on disability inclusion and international arbitration. The creation of the task force marks the first such effort by an arbitral institution to make dispute resolution more inclusive for people with disabilities. With one-fifth of the estimated global population living with significant disabilities, this Task Force will work to ensure ICC’s Dispute Resolution Services work for everyone, everywhere.
Ms Salomon is driving ICC efforts to improve diversity and inclusion in international arbitration, signalling it as a top priority during her tenure as head of the world’s preferred arbitral institution.
Commenting on the importance of the new working group, Ms Salomon said: “Through the work of this Task Force, we will be able to provide pioneering services that address the needs of all our clients, while ultimately, legitimising international arbitration as a viable method of dispute resolution for the entire global business community.”
Chair of the ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR Melanie van Leeuwen said: “ICC has received many expressions of interest from the dispute resolution community and beyond demonstrating not only the broad appeal of our initiative, but also creating a tidal wave of support.”
“The members of this Task Force are affected by conditions including physical disabilities to temporary challenges, and they are joined by allies who want to help bring about needed change. Members include persons with a professional background in private practice, academia, policymaking and institutions, and span the age spectrum from students to the most well-established senior arbitrators. Together, they will work to take the ‘dis’ out of ‘disabled’ by enabling their peers who combine a career in international dispute resolution with a condition.”
The Task Force’s mission is to study and analyse the ways in which ICC can meet the needs of those in the international arbitration community who may need accommodations or changes for the way they work. It will also draw up a series of recommendations for increasing disability inclusion. The guidelines, which are expected to be launched in June 2022, will underscore the imperative to shift the burden from the person with a disability to ensure equal participation in conversations on how to advance inclusion, at all stages of the arbitration process as well as in other international arbitration activities and events.