The Key to Unlocking the Arbitrator Diversity Paradox?: Arbitrator Intelligence

A strange paradox marks the debate about international arbitrator diversity.

Public consensus increasingly reflects a pervasive concern about the lack of diversity among international arbitrators. ArbitralWomen can claim much credit for focusing attention on the lack of gender diversity, as evidenced by now more than 2500 signatures on The Pledge. Meanwhile, many corporate users now insist that firms include diverse candidates on lists of proposed arbitrators.

Concern about the lack of diversity is also reflected in the results of a survey on diversity by Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP). In that survey, 80% of respondents believe that tribunals contain too many white arbitrators, while 84% believe that they contain too many men, and 64% felt that there were too many arbitrators from Western Europe or North America.

The good news is that these efforts seem to have nudged arbitral institutions toward greater diversity in institutional appointments. In 2016, women constituted, on average, around 17% or institutionally appointed arbitrators, considerably up from 12% just a year earlier in 2015, and dramatically up from the mere 6% in 2012.

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