We are part of the solution
As the holiday season approaches, Secretary General Kristin Campbell-Wilson reflects on the hardships faced by businesses and individuals over the past year and how the SCC may contribute to continued well-functioning, safe and efficient international trade.
In Sweden, the month of July is synonym with the height of summer with long white nights, warm lakes and seas and showy greenery. As most businesses and arbitration practitioners are working up to some well earnt summer vacation, I reflect on all the hardships of the past year, including the still ongoing pandemic, the outbreak of war in Europe and financial uncertainty, and the consequences thereof for the administration of disputes in Stockholm.
International business and trade have been blossoming for decades and we have become used to an increasingly interconnected world in which cross-border business has become more complex than ever before. The evolving demands of the business community have been met with innovating tools and procedures, making international dispute resolution increasingly efficient and expeditious. As these tools and procedures are now taken for granted, the demands of the business and arbitration communities are becoming ever more sophisticated.
In times of a crisis, however, I find it useful to take a step back and strip the situation down to its very core - like peeling the layers off an onion - and look at what really matters. What is the role of the institution? What purpose does it serve in all of what is happening around us?
When removing all the layers of time and cost efficiency, flexible rules, a competent and service minded secretariat, experienced and skillful arbitrators, an innovative and forward leaning mindset, and digital tools to assist with the case management, the core consists of independence and impartiality and being able to serve also in challenging times.
The role of the arbitration institutions is to provide dispute resolution services in a neutral venue as part of a well-functioning, safe and efficient system for international trade. It is the solution for business relationships which have gone sour or otherwise are facing some obstacles and includes the responsibility of institutions to safeguard the rights of the parties and the procedure. This cannot be done unless the institution is independent and impartial. As an institution, we believe in the rule of law and that it is crucial for any sustainable society. Hence, we will continue to advocate for the peaceful resolution of disputes, aim to safeguard the rights of parties and work to ensure that the rule of law is upheld.
The geopolitical consequences of the war in Ukraine have led to a number of practical questions for arbitration proceedings in Europe that potentially affect the rights of parties – irrespective of origin - and undermine the rule of law. I am concerned by this development, and I am not alone. Therefore, the SCC has during the last few months joined forces with Vienna International Arbitration Center (VIAC), Arbitration Institute of Finland Chamber of Commerce (FAI), Milano Chamber of Arbitration (CAM), German Arbitration Institute (DIS) and the Swiss Arbitration Centre with the aim of ensuring that arbitration institutions remain part of the solution for international trade in accordance with existing commercial contracts and investment treaties, which include reference to arbitration in Europe.
Other than that, it is business as usual.
I wish you all a safe summer out of harm’s way, while you may rest assured that the SCC and our friends do everything in our power to ensure that your rights are safeguarded, too, and we continue to provide the international business community with time and cost-efficient dispute resolution based on universal legal principles such as the rule of law and access to justice.