Pro Bono


In 2020, USCIB Counsel Nancy M. Thevenin and Dr. Katherine Simpson created a roster of arbitration professionals of African descent whose international dispute resolution practices have a connection to the United States.  The Project included African Americans, arbitrators residing in Africa, and members of the African Diaspora.  "A New List:  Arbitrators of African Descent" was updated in August 2020 and included 123 individuals.  It definitively disproved the "there aren't any"-myth.  

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

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

CETA List of Arbitrators - Where are the Women?

For copies of the original submissions, please contact us.

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 included no women among the proposed chairpersons and only one woman among five EU panelists.  Half of Canada's CETA panelists were 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.  In response to Dr. Simpson's January 2020 submissions, the European Commission signed the Equal Representation in Arbitration Pledge and overhauled its rostering process for trade and investment matters.  In particular, it created a new intra-EU committee tasked with treaty-based arbitration appointments.  In early 2021, the European Commission published a call for applicants.  Finally, in Summer 2022, the European Commission published its new roster of nearly 400 arbitrators, approximately one quarter of whom were women.  This was a nearly 9x increase over their prior internal roster, which contained less than 50 people (14 of whom were women).

"CETA - Where are the Women" is the subject of a new publication with University of Michigan Lecturer, Dr. Anthony Marcum.  The chapter is entitled "CETA - Where are the Women?  Diffusing the Thought-Terminating Cliches that Impeded Diversity" and it appears in DIVERSITY INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION - WHY IT MATTERS AND HOW TO SUSTAIN IT, edited by Shahla F. Ali, Filip Balcerzak, Giorgio Fabio Colombo, and Joshua Karton, published in 2022, Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd.  DOI: (contact us for free copy of chapter).   

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:

For copies of the original submissions, please contact us.