Dr Kabir Duggal C.Arb FCIArb gives advance insight into the subject of the 2023 Roebuck Lecture

International Arbitration Versus Human Rights, Armed Conflict, and the Environment: Why should I care? Ciarb’s 2023 Roebuck Lecture takes place on 21 June at 6pm - 8pm BST, delivered by Dr Kabir Duggal. 

Why have you chosen to speak on the subject of International Arbitration Versus Human Rights, Armed Conflict, and the Environment at this year’s Roebuck Lecture? 

Safeguarding human rights, mitigating the impact of armed conflict, protecting the rule of law, and preserving our planet from the threat of climate change are among the most serious challenges facing the international legal community today. Against this backdrop, international arbitration, and investor-state arbitration, in particular, has become the most globally prolific method of resolving international disputes. Consequentially, it represents our first, last, and sometimes only line of defense. The question that arises is therefore whether, and if so, to what extent international arbitration is acting as a good friend that helps support these related areas of international law. 

Why should we be talking about this subject? 

In one word, it is “timely” – super timely, significantly timely. The war in Ukraine, the war in the Caucus, the ongoing climate change crisis, the recent challenges (or perhaps threat) presented by artificial intelligence ... these are critical areas that are already having an impact on international arbitration. Some of these challenges are new, and the inescapable reality is that the law may not necessarily be fully equipped to address them. However, unless international arbitration can rise to the challenge, not only will it fail to address the needs of its constituents, but more generally it will fail to operate as an effective means of dispute resolution. The challenge for the entire international arbitration community is to see how we respond to these serious issues confronting us today. As Richard Rogers has stated: “The only way forward, if we are going to improve the quality of the environment, is to get everybody involved.” It is time to do just that. 

Why is this year’s lecture relevant to professionals working in other dispute resolution disciplines? 

This year’s Roebuck Lecture will be inter-disciplinary, looking at the interaction between different areas of international law and international dispute resolution. While the primary focus will be on international arbitration, areas like international mediation and international adjudication have a vital role to play. For example, the academic scholarship has shown how mediation may play a positive role in resolving environmental disputes between different stakeholders, particularly indigenous communities. There is a role to be played by numerous other methods of dispute resolution if we are to satisfactorily address the critical challenges confronting the international community. 

What will delegates take away from your lecture? 

Inspiration, motivation, and an incentive to find new ways of ensuring that international arbitration can tackle the slings and arrows presently being leveled at society head on! The lecture will provide an exposition of the current areas of tension between international arbitration and other critical areas of international law. It will explore ways in which we can enable international arbitration to better support and promote these other areas, before concluding by providing solutions in which we can work together to address macro problems. As the famous quote goes: “No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” 

The Roebuck Lecture will be delivered in-person at Ciarb Headquarters in London and streamed live for our global audience. Register here to join us virtually or in person.