COVID-19 has caused not only an enormous global health crisis but massive social and economic ones as well. The UNCITRAL organized a Virtual Panel Series during 8 to 9 and 13 to 16 July 2020 titled: UNCITRAL Texts and COVID-19 Response and Recovery. The series meant to mitigate the effects of the pandemic and to develop the legislative tools of the UNCITRAL to assist States in their economic recovery efforts and to revitalize commercial activity and global trade.
Further, the COVID-19 crisis brought about a wave of new issues that affect the administration of arbitral proceedings. Dr. Ismail SELIM, Director of CRCICA, was a panelist on Day 5 of the webinar titled “COVID-19 Impact on International Dispute Resolution” of the virtual panel series held on July 15, 2020. His speech focused on the measures taken by CRCICA during the COVID-19 crisis explaining how CRCICA encouraged arbitrators, parties and their counsel to give preference to digital means for hearings and submissions. To ensure maximum use of remote hearings, the Centre has provided the option of using two videoconferencing platforms or one teleconferencing platform. In some cases, the excess attendees were seated in a separate hearing room that was connected to the main hearing room via video-conference, allowing the Centre to maintain social distancing measures.
Representatives of arbitration institutions around the world showed a strong interest in the use of new technologies in the organization of hearings and document submissions namely, the ICC International Court of Arbitration, the Korean Commercial Arbitration Board (KCAB), China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission, the Arbitration Centre of the Lima Chamber of Commerce, the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, and the Russian Arbitration Center. Participants agreed that policymakers need to understand and enable technology while ensuring that the principles of justice are always respected. The Webinar raised also the issue of the electronic signature of arbitral awards, an issue for which not all arbitral institutions have the same solution.
This Webinar demonstrated that the COVID-19 crisis has raised further issues that will have to be solved going forwards, particularly with regard to AI and cybersecurity.