Critical success factors for international commercial arbitration

We asked Professor Dr. Mohamed Abdel Wahab C.Arb FCIArb for his views on what is needed to sustain the success of international commercial arbitration.

The case for international arbitration is strong

International arbitration remains the most prominent out-of-court dispute resolution process. While it has recently come under scrutiny on account of concerns over legitimacy, time and costs, the system at large remains functional, appealing, and successful. There has been much effort dedicated to put in place responsive measures to address the broached concerns and adapt the system to the digital era and the needs of users in terms of efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and legitimacy.

That said, the common denominator between many of the concerns and challenges facing the international arbitration system relates to arbitrators (i.e. the decision-makers). As decision-makers, arbitrators are expected to conduct the proceedings efficiently, in a cost-effective manner, in accordance with the parties’ agreement and the applicable norms. So, the legitimacy and success of the process and the users’ perceptions thereof and trust therein are largely dependent on the actions of the decision-makers and the quality of their awards and decisions.

Effective training of arbitrators is crucial to the continued success of international arbitration

In light of the above, capacity building and training of arbitrators are indeed indispensable for the sustainability of the success and prominence of international arbitration. Investing in the human factor in arbitration and the training of arbitrators remains of paramount importance because the sustainability of the arbitration system in the future is dependent on:

a) the ability of the system to adapt to the evolving and changing needs of users;

b) improving the quality of the decision-making process;

c) maintaining the highest ethical standards to boost the legitimacy and trust and confidence in the process; and

d) embracing the values of diversity and inclusion to maintain a truly global system.

It is in this context that the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (Ciarb) (the “Institute”) remains the go-to global powerhouse for developing and supporting an inclusive global community of diverse dispute resolvers (with a membership base in excess of 17,000). The Institute’s golden standards in building capacity and training of dispute resolvers whether in arbitration, mediation or adjudication are matched by few. Ciarb’s flagship diploma in international commercial arbitration has always been (and indeed remains) a world-class programme that equips practitioners and arbitrators with the much-needed knowledge to efficiently and effectively manage arbitral proceedings in accordance with best international practices. The diploma enables arbitrators to deliver high-quality decisions and awards in accordance with the parties’ agreement, applicable norms and the highest standards of ethics and professionalism.

Ciarb’s track record in training the world’s best dispute resolvers

The Institute’s educational and training programmes are dedicated to training professionals to become the best dispute resolvers. Ever since its inception, the Institute’s flagship diploma has helped to increase the pool of qualified professionals and arbitrators from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and jurisdictions. The diploma has come to be world-renowned and much revered across the globe. Its focus is on developing the core competencies of arbitrators in terms of:

a) providing cutting-edge knowledge on the principles and practices of international commercial arbitration;

b) enhancing analytical abilities and problem-solving techniques;

c) appreciating the importance of communication skills and cultural sensitivity; and

d) boosting the competitive edge of dispute resolution professionals to ensure their readiness to take on arbitral appointments.

These are the defining strengths of this flagship diploma.

Over the years, Ciarb’s diploma has gone from strength to strength. It remains at the pinnacle of global training in international arbitration and is the crown jewel of the Institute’s education and training programmes.

The diploma has always had world-class directors, tutors and faculty.

Since 2019, and under the Directorship of Professor Dr. Mohamed Abdel Wahab C.Arb FCIArb, the diploma has offered a modern global outlook that is rich and diverse in content, where innovation and tradition blend to provide a truly rewarding experience for all participants from across the globe.

Between 2019 and 2022, the diploma was adapted to the intricacies and constraints of COVID-19. The first virtual diploma was offered in 2020, and owing to the success of the virtual editions and the high demand triggered by the excellent faculty, tutors and highly innovative and inclusive programme, the Institute decided to offer the diploma course twice a year.

A stellar line-up of leading lights in international arbitration

Since 2019, the updated and modernised course content has featured keynote speeches from leading lights in the world of international arbitration, including:

  • Meg Kinnear, ICSID’s Secretary General (September 2019)
  • Lucy Reed, President of the Court of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (September 2020)
  • Gary Born, chair of the international arbitration practice group at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP (March 2021)
  • Claudia Salomon, President of the ICC International Court of Arbitration (September 2021)
  • Michael Mcilwrath, Chair of ICC’s Governing Body for Dispute Resolution Services (May 2022)
  • Gabrielle Kaufmann-Kohler, the past President and now Honorary President of the International Council for Commercial Arbitration (September 2022).

It has featured institutional roundtable discussions with representatives from leading arbitral institutions across the globe. It has also included sector-specific lectures and case studies by stellar faculty and luminaries in the field of international arbitration on various topics, including, but not limited to, disputes arising in the specific context of construction, energy, investment, finance, climate change, intellectual property rights and online dispute resolution.

By 2020, the diploma achieved gender parity among tutors and faculty, who represent many legal traditions and ethnic backgrounds. A phenomenal number of 35 faculty members came together to offer participants the best learning experience in the theory and practice of international arbitration from truly global and comparative perspectives.

Two opportunities to participate in the Diploma in 2023

Ciarb's 'Diploma in International Commercial Arbitration' takes place:

  • In-person from 8 to 17 September 2023 at Worcester College, Oxford University (£9,000 – book by 20 April 2023).
  • Virtually from 5 to 28 May 2023 (£5,250 – book by 16 March 2023). The Virtual Diploma is delivered by highly-experienced and distinguished tutors and involves a combination of lectures, seminars and interactive sessions.

To express your interest in the diploma, please email your CV to as soon as possible.

To be considered for Ciarb’s Diploma, you must either be a lawyer or in another profession where you would be familiar with legal reasoning and you must be actively involved in arbitration (domestic or international).

Given the high demand for the diploma, entry is competitive and participants are carefully selected.

Assessments are based on coursework, dissertation, and award writing exams that are designed to test the candidates’ knowledge of the specificities and intricacies of international arbitration and its ever-changing landscape.

This is a not-to-be-missed programme, designed for those who aspire to develop a leading practice in international arbitration.

About the author

Professor Dr Mohamed Abdel Wahab C.Arb FCIArb is course director of Ciarb’s 'Diploma in International Commercial Arbitration'. Mohamed is the Founding Partner and Head of Arbitration Group, Zulficar and Partners, and Professor of International Arbitration, Private International Law and English Contract Law at Cairo University.