Pro Bono


In February 2020, USCIB Counsel Nancy M. Thevenin and Dr. Katherine Simpson began a project to create a list of arbitration professionals of African descent whose international dispute resolution practices have or will have a connection to the United States.  "A New List:  Arbitrators of African Descent" was updated in August 2020 to include 124 individuals.

Since then, has created a Directory of Black Arbitrators, where the updated profiles of many of those who participated in the "List" project may be found.  

Reporting on "Arbitrators of African Descent"

ITA Oral History Interview with Judge Gabrielle Kirk McDonald

Eunice Shang-Simpson and Shayda Vance, The New List:  Arbitrators of African Descent with a U.S. Nexus

Africa Legal, "A New List of Arbitrators"

Global Arbitration Review, "New US List Promotes Arbitrators of African Descent"

Funke Adekoya SAN, A "New" List - Arbitrators of African Descent

See also Prof. Homer C. La Rue and Arbitrator Alan A. Symonette, The Ray Corollary Initiative:  How to Achieve Diversity and Inclusion in Arbitrator Selection, 63-2 Howard LJ 215 (Wint. 2020).  The article abstract is available HERE.

CETA List of Arbitrators - Where are the Women?

(Official Documents at End of Page - Scroll Down)

The European Commission has responded to Dr. Simpson's submissions:

"Your letter has received the full attention of the President and Commissioner Hogan, and reflections are currently ongoing on how to best promote gender balance both in the drawing of the list of arbitrators as well as in composing an arbitration panel in a specific case.  Under Article 29.8.1 the CETA Joint Committee may review the list of arbitrators at any time.  The said reflection will be completed shortly and you will be kept informed of developments in this regard."

This Project was shortlisted for the Equal Representation in Arbitration Pledge Award (GAR Award)

Where are the Women?

In January 2020, Dr. Katherine Simpson made submissions to Canada and the EU regarding the under-appointment of women to the List of Arbitrators (trade dispute settlement roster) under Article 29 of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada, the EU and its Member States. The CETA Article 29 roster includes no women among the proposed chairpersons and only one woman among five EU panelists.  Meanwhile, half of Canada's CETA panelists are women. 

Dr. Simpson's research revealed that this unbalance was not an isolated accident.  Only 12.9% of all EU designations to trade dispute settlement rosters since 2011 have been women (10.6% since 2015).  In two-thirds of the bilateral trade dispute settlement rosters established since 2011, the EU designated no women at all.

This unbalanced appointing undermines gender equality efforts.  Treaty-based rosters of arbitrators serve as public verification of the listed persons’ credentials, and these rosters are backed by public accountability.  The credence paid to these listings is enormous:  disputing parties, academic institutions, governments, and even the EU itself rely on these lists when making appointments.  Achieving gender parity in treaty-based lists of arbitrators could be the quickest and most effective step toward achieving gender parity in international dispute resolution.

The CETA Joint Committee can correct the gender imbalance by appointing women until parity is achieved.  They and the Council of the EU have received a list of 70 women with “specialized knowledge of international trade law”, and summaries of their skills and experience that make each an approximate match to one or more arbitrators on the List. 

Reporting on "CETA List of Arbitrators - Where are the Women?"

Dr. Simpson's work in response to the gender imbalance in the CETA List was citied by the International Council for Commercial Arbitration (ICCA) Report of the Cross-Institutional Task Force on Gender Diversity in International Appointments and Proceedings, The ICCA Reports No. 8 (2020).

"Simpson analyzed the credentials of the individuals nominated to the roster and prepared a list of 70 equally qualified women who were similarly eligible to be placed on the list.  She noted that 'there is no shortage of qualified women in international trade law, or in international dispute resolution, generally.' ... the CETA example nevertheless shows that there are occasions where women are failing to be given the same opportunities to obtain arbitral appointments as their male counterparts."

Response by the European Commission on "CETA Arbitrator Roster - Where Are the Women?" ArbitralWomen Newsletter, Issue 40, July 2020

Women Leaders in Arbitration, an Interview with Katherine Simpson, ArbitralWomen Newsletter, Issue 39, April 2020

Barry Leon, "Chairpersons for CETA state to state disputes:  Where are the women, Canada?", The Lawyer's Daily, 10 March 2020

Global Arbitration Review, GAR Awards 2020 - the Pledge Award (19 February 2020)

Dana MacGrath, "CETA List of Arbitrators - Where are the Women?", ArbitralWomen News, 28 January 2020

Official Documents:

24 April 2020, Letter from Rupert Schlegelmilch to Dr. Simpson, on behalf of Commission President von der Leyen and Commissioner Hogan

26 January 2020, Letter from Dr. Katherine Simpson to Commission President von der Leyen

20 January 2020, Letter from Dr. Katherine Simpson to Commissioner Sabine Weyand

17 January 2020, Letter from Dr. Katherine Simpson to Council of the EU

15 January 2020, Letter from Dr. Katherine Simpson to CETA Joint Committee