RAI “Interview the Institution” Series: Ana Gerdau de Borja Mercereau in conversation with Martina Polasek (ICSID)

Published: 18/12/2020 10:21

by Gladwin Issac, Associate, S&R Associates, Mumbai, India

Ana Gerdau de Borja Mercereau, Co-Founder of Rising Arbitrators Initiative (RAI) and Associate at Derains & Gharavi in Paris, follows up on the opening session of RAI’s “Interview the Institution” Series with an engaging dialogue with Martina Polasek, a Deputy Secretary-General at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

In this talk with Ana, Martina emphasizes the importance of supporting new and diverse entrants to the highly competitive field of international arbitration. She also sheds light on recent appointment trends at ICSID and the key considerations that are taken into account by the Centre in the appointment process. Martina highlights a number of steps that ICSID has taken to encourage diversity in the appointments made to ICSID cases. This includes the Centre’s “ballot procedure” when it is called upon to appoint an arbitrator under the rules. She notes that each ballot comprises five to seven candidates who are not necessarily on the ICSID Panel of Arbitrators, for the parties’ choice. In proposing these candidates, the Centre considers gender balance, nationality and legal backgrounds. Further, she recalled that 15% of all the appointments made in ICSID proceedings in the last fiscal year (July 2019-June 2020) comprised first-time appointees to ICSID cases. This tends to be a more diverse group than ICSID arbitrators overall—so supporting new entrants is also fostering greater diversity amongst arbitrators. In her advice to up-and-coming arbitrators, she notes that a good starting point would be to establish oneself as an international arbitration lawyer and “gain the trust of the arbitration community”. Martina also encourages aspiring arbitrators to develop expertise in specific economic sectors and with various legal systems, in addition to acquiring a solid training in international arbitration.

Watch the full recording of the interview on the RAI website available here.

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