International arbitration with Affef Ben Mansour

Affef is a Member of the Paris Bar, an Attorney at law, and a Lecturer in several universities in Paris. Her practice focuses on International Arbitration and Public International Law, where she acts both as counsel and arbitrator.

She was recently appointed to become a member of the ICC International Court of Arbitration and elected to the Board Member of Arbitral Women in charge of, inter alia, the Moot Funding Committee. She also proudly holds the position of Coordinator of the Jus Mundi’s Wiki for Investment Law and Arbitration.

Recently you have been appointed as the Tunisian Member of the ICC International Court of Arbitration. First of all: congrats! Then, what does it represent for you?

Thank you. I am very thrilled to have been appointed by the ICC World Council to join its world leading institution established in 1923. I started working in arbitration ten years ago and I am really happy to already receive such recognition.

The new ICC Court comprises of a total of 176 members from 104 countries. I have been appointed as the Tunisian member. As a double national, working and living in France, I am very proud to “represent” Tunisia in this institution.

Being a court member means I participate in the supervision of arbitration proceedings administered by the ICC. The Court’s responsibilities include confirmation, appointment, replacement of arbitrators, decisions on any challenges made against them and the scrutinizing and approval of all arbitral awards in order to reinforce the quality and enforceability of these awards.

At a personal level, being a member of the ICC Court of Arbitration gives me the opportunity to analyze a large variety of issues that arise in international arbitration, enrich my experience in arbitration proceedings and work with very renowned practitioners from all over the world.

Another good news, you have also been elected to the Board of Arbitral Women. Could you tell us more about this new role?

I joined Arbitral Women a few years ago to meet other women from different legal culture, involved in the arbitration field through informal networking events. Arbitral Women members are not only counsels or arbitrators, they are also experts, mediators, surveyors and so on. The fact that the organization is only composed of women was one of the main reasons I decided to join. I believe there is still a need today for a specific organization dedicated to the promotion of women in dispute resolution.

We are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the organization this year and while a lot of improvements were made in the promotion of women as counsels, efforts are still to be made to promote women as arbitrator or quantum experts for example. Nonetheless, the Arbitral Women website provides a tool to find women practitioners from all around the world, with multi-criteria selection tool. This directory is often updated as new members are announced and each member can update her own profile. I use this directory as an additional tool to identify practitioners, anytime needed. While I generally use this tool to identify local counsels or arbitrators, I also use it every time I travel abroad to identify practitioners living in the city I am travelling to in order to organize a lunch or a coffee and develop my own network.

As a member of the Arbitral Women Board, I joined the Moot funding and the Parental Mentorship Programme Committees. The first one’s purpose is to support teams of students, composed of at least two women, to participate to arbitration moot competition around the world. Women still encounter more difficulties than men when participating in such rewarding experiences. That’s why Arbitral Women proposes to help diminish the number of hurdles women are facing in certain parts of the world. As a former moot competition coach, I remember the difficulties encountered, even with the help of universities, to gather the funds needed to allow a team of young students to participate in moot courts. This is why, I encourage law firms to contribute and donate to this program. The Parental Mentorship Programme’s purpose is to provide pregnant members or new mothers the possibility to share their experience with other members who have been through the same experience.

You are combining your practice as a lawyer and as a lecturer and researcher in international law. As a researcher, your PhD thesis was about The Implementation of International Judgments and Awards of International Tribunals (La mise en œuvre des arrêts et des sentences des juridictions internationales). The subject of your thesis appears to be very broad and to include a review of a large number of State’s domestic practice on the implementation of international obligations. How did you manage to gather such information in the beginning of 2000?

Yes, indeed. When I was refining the scope of my thesis, I explored the legal means by which States implement the international awards and judgments rendered against them and containing obligations to do, for example, pay damages, enact a new legislation or a regulation, revise a domestic judgment, evacuate a territory and many more. The first hurdle I encountered was the inaccessibility of information. While information was available when a State overtly rejected an international judgment or award, in the majority of cases where States comply with these judgments and awards, no report was made in literature, meaning no information was available on how States complied with such obligations. Specifically, I was researching whether a State enacted a specific regulation or law in order to comply with the obligation to pay damages and whether a domestic court rendered a judgment repealing or revising the domestic judgment that gave rise to the dispute. I needed to know if the State adopted a law with a budgetary provision to cover the damages or if there was a review of the problematical judgment. Ultimately, I was able to have access to this information and to include them in my thesis, thanks to an international network I developed during my years of research and through the documents (laws, regulations and domestic judgments) they sent me. From these years of research, I kept this habit of compiling foreign domestic laws and case laws relating to public international law whenever I have access to such data.

Thank you Affef, you perfectly made the transition with Jus Mundi!

When Jean-Rémi de Maistre presented me the project, I perceived the immediate relevance of such a tool for a lawyer and a researcher. In a way, it constitutes an answer to the difficulties I met while drafting my thesis, which was having limited access to legal documents from all over the world.

Jus Mundi is a very ambitious project, aiming to make international law accessible to the legal community around the world. I really like the fact that it aims to be multilingual. The establishment of this tremendous database is the result of a rewarding cooperation between legal researchers and talented IT professionals.

Jus Mundi contains many complex characteristics, which I will not describe in details, however, I take this opportunity to introduce the Arbitration Dictionary which I am putting together for Jus Mundi which will be made available soon. Jean-Remy invited me a year ago to coordinate a dictionary of legal concepts related to Investment Law and Arbitration. With the help of Patricia Mounayer and Luiza Riottot, we invited experienced contributors from all over the world to draft a note on a legal concept related to Investment Law and Arbitration. These notes contain a description of a legal concept with no more than 500 words. These notes are also linked to relevant case laws, treaty provisions and bibliographies. The aim of this database is to make Investment Law and Investment Arbitration accessible to beginners and to provide updated information to experienced practitioners. Once again the ambit of the database is to be multilingual. With time, these notes will be attached to the relevant treaties and cases. We are still looking for practitioners willing to cooperate with us by drafting notes.

We invite interested practitioners and researchers to contact us at: a.benmansour@jusmundi.com.

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