Arbitration has a greater role to play in climate change disputes, says IBA President

Today, David W Rivkin, President International Bar Association (IBA), will assert that arbitration and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms will play a critical role in encouraging business and government commitments on climate change and sustainability by providing an effective mechanism to resolve disputes.

At a forum being convened during COP 21 – the United Nations Conference on Climate Change where some world leaders are working to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement to keep global warming below 2°C – Mr Rivkin will tell delegates that: ‘international arbitration should play a critical role in developing the legal framework of the post COP 21 world.’

David W Rivkin with Roger Martella of Sidley & Austin and Annette Magnusson, Secretary General of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce Arbitration Institute.
From Left: Roger Martella of Sidley & Austin, David W Rivkin, President of the IBA and Annette Magnusson, Secretary General of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce Arbitration Institute.

Being held by the IBA, in association with the ICC International Court of Arbitration, the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, the forum is bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders – including, international arbitrators, environment and climate change experts, in-house counsel, government officials, and environmental compliance officers in corporations – to explore the role for arbitration and ADR in enforcing commitments made by the state parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations.

In his keynote address, Mr Rivkin will emphasise the importance of accessible and enforceable dispute resolution mechanism frameworks in the context of the ground-breaking report Achieving Justice and Human Rights in an Era of Climate Disruption issued last year by the IBA Task Force on Climate Change Justice and Human Rights. The report has advanced the debate on corporations’ responsibilities to mitigate and adapt to climate change, spotlighted linkages between human rights and climate change, and made more than 50 separate recommendations for business, governments and civil society. Mr Rivkin has encouraged the IBA’s committees to work on implementing these recommendations.

Mr Rivkin will conclude that: ‘[t]here is huge potential to consider how the existing use of international arbitration and ADR mechanisms in resolving climate change related disputes may be advanced and expanded, both in the context of contractual obligations and treaty mechanisms.’  He will address the forum ahead of other planned meetings including a UN Global Compact session with business leaders, and a breakfast on Thursday with Mary Robinson, the French Presidency of the COP and senior state negotiators.

The forum, Climate Change Related Disputes: A Role for International Arbitration and ADR, takes place on Monday 7 December 2015, 09h00–18h00 at ICC, 33 avenue du Président Wilson, 75116 Paris, France. It comprises four sessions:

  • Existing use of arbitration in resolving climate change-related disputes;
  • International arbitration and ADR in enforcing contractual environmental obligations;
  • International arbitration and ADR in enforcing treaty environmental obligations; and
  • Exploring new frontiers for international arbitration and ADR in enforcing sustainability objectives on individuals, corporations and states.

Besides serving as IBA President, Mr Rivkin is Co-chair of the International Disputes Resolution Group in the international law firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, based in its New York and London offices. Click here to read the full text of his remarks. 




Related links on climate change justice:

  1. To watch a short video message on climate change justice from David W Rivkin click here. In it he speaks of the legal and institutional reform needed to reduce the impacts of climate change, deal with its consequences, and to advance equity and justice to those communities most vulnerable and disproportionately affected by it.
  2. Click here for information on the IBA Presidential Task Force on Climate Change Justice and Human Rights:
  3. Click here to download the IBA report Achieving Justice and Human Rights in an Era of Climate Disruption.
  4. For IBA podcasts: Mary Robinson, United Nations Special Envoy on Climate Change, Al Gore, former US Vice-President and Mohamed Nasheed, former President of the Maldives, outline what climate justice means to them and their hopes for the Paris climate talks. Listen here: /Podcasts/Home.aspx
  5. The International Bar Association (IBA), established in 1947, is the world’s leading organisation of international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Through its global membership of individual lawyers, law firms, bar associations and law societies it influences the development of international law reform and shapes the future of the legal profession throughout the world.

    The IBA’s administrative office is in London. Regional offices are located in: São Paulo, Brazil; Seoul, South Korea; and Washington DC, US, while the International Bar Association’s International Criminal Court Programme (IBA ICC) is managed from an office in The Hague.
    The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) works to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.

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