Robert Coulson 1924 - 2017

Robert Coulson, former head of the American Arbitration Association (AAA), died on 9 September 2017, at the age of 93. He was among the longest-serving AAA presidents, and played an important role in expanding the use of alternative dispute resolution in the United States and internationally.

AAA and the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (SCC) cooperated on many occasions in the field of international arbitration. Robert Coulson was instrumental in the creation, and indeed one of the signatories, of the USA-USSR Optional Clause Agreement in 1977, which provided for Sweden as the place of arbitration in disputes between Soviet, later Russian, and US commercial entities – with the SCC as appointing authority and administrative agency.

Several joint AAA/SCC conferences and seminars were held over the following years. One memorable such event was the conference held in Philadelphia in 1988 in connection with the 350th anniversary of the establishment of New Sweden, the permanent settlement by Swedes in North America. Robert Coulsen took the initiative to the conference and was particularly happy to welcome KingCarl XVI Gustafas the Guest of Honour at the event.

In 2016, Robert Coulson appeared in the documentary film Quiet Triumph, produced by the SCC to portray the role of arbitration in world affairs. The film premiered in January 2017, when the SCC celebrated its first 100 years of dispute resolution.

Robert Coulson wrote many books on alternative dispute resolution. A dedicated sailor, he also wrote several novels on the theme of sailing. His memoir, entitled “A Cheerful Skeptic, Sailing Through Life” was published in 2013.

Robert Coulson was an inspiring and encouraging member of the international arbitration community, and he will be greatly missed.

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