The world is a messy place. Buckle up. And enjoy the ride.

During a recent panel discussion which I moderated, we were given a fascinating example of interconnected contractual relations in a complex construction project, and how this in the end came to influence the complexities that needed to be addressed in several disputes associated with the project.

The week before I had been engaged in a discussion on the future of disputes in the Nordics with inhouse counsels.  On the topic of major changes in the field of international disputes over the past ten years, complexity became a natural ingredient of the conversation as we shared views on how international arbitration can continue to deliver efficient dispute resolution in a complex world.

Many of the complexities we see are a natural consequence of a globalized, interconnected and fast-changing world. It should not come as a surprise. The writing has been on the wall for some time.

A report from IBM titled Capitalizing on Complexity ten years ago based on conversations with more than 1,500 CEOs worldwide was quite clear: the world’s private and public sector leaders believed that a rapid escalation of “complexity” would be the biggest challenge confronting them. And furthermore; they expected this to accelerate in the coming years.

In 2010 the CEOs said; “events, threats and opportunities aren’t just coming at us faster or with less predictability; they are converging and influencing each other to create entirely unique situations.”

Tell us about it.

Complexity not only increases the risk for disputes in the first place, but also tend to make them messier. In parallel, there is an accelerating development across the globe to address societal and geopolitical challenges by expanding the use of sanctions, rules on anti-corruption and an increasing focus on data protection.  This raises important issues of governance which must be managed in an environment characterized by change and instability.     

How to cope? Going back to the 1,500 CEOs in 2010, “creativity” was identified as the single most important leadership competency to find the path forward. Add to this the need for continuous learning, and a readiness to be challenged to change, and we have a shortlist for success in the 21st century – be if for individuals or organizations. 

At the SCC, we will continue to explore the opportunities offered by fast change, complexity and digitalization. Visioneering is embedded in everything we do as we plan the future.  

The way our core service will be delivered in ten years is probably not the same as today – but we will deliver. And the SCC will continue to find ways for international arbitration to be that oil in the machinery of international business and economic development that it has been for more than 100 years.


Annette Magnusson

Secretary General

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