Dispute Resolution Mechanisms in the Petroleum Sector

6. Diversity in Arbitration

There is also criticism of international arbitration for its lack of minority ethnic and ethnic/racial representation. Studies show that the majority of appointments are of experienced Caucasian men; younger and non-western professionals are manifestly under-represented.

In all ICSID arbitrations between 1972 and 2015 only 16 people from Sub-Saharan Africa have been appointed as arbitrators as opposed to by the parties as opposed to 565 from Western Europe and 304 from North America. Furthermore:

In 289 completed cases

In 45% of the cases all arbitrators were Anglo-European

In 84% of the cases

two or more of the tribunal members were Anglo–European

In 11 cases (4%)

Tribunals were entirely non-Anglo-European


There is also concern that arbitration practice is dominated by a number of “elite” arbitrators. However, there is growing awareness in the international legal community that greater diversity will bring greater efficiency and increase performance in tribunals and improve their management of the disputes. This is particularly important as the number of disputes that concern Africa is increasing and in these new challenges, the ability to draw from a representative group of arbitrators is essential. To date all African arbitrators in ICSID cases have been male professionals, this extreme gender and ethnic imbalance will need to be addressed by everyone involved to promote diversity in arbitration practice.