The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’s (AIIB) second Legal Conference and Law Lecture, held recently at the bank’s headquarters in Beijing, attracted more than 80 top-level counsel from the region and around the world. The theme of this year’s conference was one essential to large-scale infrastructure projects: International Organizations and the Promotion of Effective Dispute Resolution. The two-day conference explored a number of issues associated with dispute resolution at an international level, many of which were discussed within five panel sessions covering various themes. Here, the speakers from one panel, which explored Dispute Resolution and Procedural Innovation, have shared summaries of their speeches for the benefit of our readers.
GONZALO FLORES explores international investment law and modernizing the rules and regulations of the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes
THE INTERNATIONAL Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) is the world’s largest and most experienced international organization dedicated to investment dispute resolution. Established in 1965 by a multilateral treaty, the ICSID Convention, it now has 154 member states and eight further signatory States. The United Mexican States became ICSID’s latest full member on 26 August 2018.
In October 2016, ICSID launched a fourth process for the modernization of its rules and regulations. This is the first amendment effort since 2006, and the most comprehensive to date, seeking to update current rules for arbitration, conciliation and fact-finding, and introducing new mediation rules.
On 3 August, 2018, ICSID issued a working paper which proposed changes to its rules and regulations. States and the general public have been invited to comment by 28 December on the paper’s proposals.
Ultimately, a package of amendments will go to the ICSID member states, in 2019 or 2020. Amendments to the ICSID rules require the approval of two-thirds of its members, and amendment of the additional facility requires majority approval.
Main objectives of amendments
First, ICSID seeks to give states and investors a range of modern dispute settlement options to resolve their disputes, so in addition to amending the existing rules, the proposed amendments include a new set of investment mediation rules under the additional facility.
Second, there is a continued modernization of ICSID procedures. The Secretariat’s experience in the administration of cases and discussions on ISDS reform have suggested ways to further improve the investor-state dispute resolution process.
Third is a simplification of the rules, which have been fully redrafted in plain, modern, gender-neutral language. They have also been reorganized in a user-friendly manner, with each topic in one place and in a sequential format. A few inconsistencies found with the English, French and Spanish-language versions of the rules have been resolved, so that the rules read the same in all three languages.
Fourth, and likely the main objective, is reducing time and cost. Cost is a prominent concern, which is directly affected by the length of proceedings. Timelines have been specified for numerous procedures, and in many cases, reduced.
Finally, reducing the paper burden of proceedings will further reduce time and cost, and respect environmental concerns. As a rule, all filing will be done electronically unless otherwise agreed.
Scope of amendments
This is the most comprehensive set of amendments to the ICSID rules and regulations so far attempted by the centre. It extends to: arbitration and conciliation proceedings under the ICSID Convention; arbitration, conciliation and fact-finding proceedings under the ICSID additional facility rules; administrative and financial regulations applicable to each set of rules; and a new set of mediation rules.