Jerusalem, 18 November 2013
The JAC has had a long gestation period - elephants know shorter - but today, the significant milestone of the inauguration of the JAC has been achieved.
That that should be the case is due, not least to the effort and commitment of those who have worked so hard to develop, negotiate and finalise the framework documents, which provide the formal structure of this entity, among them, notably, Mazen Qupty, Daniel Reisner and their respective teams.
Although today is a significant milestone, it is only a start.
This remarkable initiative will stand or fall on the basis of user confidence. If users of the JAC's services can be confident that they will be heard by neutral and independent arbitral tribunals whose decisions, made under law and pursuant to fair and transparent rules of procedure, will be readily enforced, subject to the few exceptions enumerated in the New York Convention, then this arbitral institution has a future - and an important role to play.
So far as ICC, that is to say, ICC-Israel, ICC-Palestine, ICC and the ICC International Court of Arbitration, is concerned , it has ensured that the JAC has Rules based upon a well tried and tested model; its fee structure is reasonable; it has an experienced Secretary General in the person of Nadia Darwazeh and its nine initial Court Members Members under the Presidency of Yves Derains include men and women, who are arbitration specialists of the first rank.
News of the intention to set up the JAC has already created very considerable interest among the international arbitral community. Many arbitrators around the world have indicated a willingness to offer their services. They and the ICC International Court of Arbitration stand ready to provide their services and practical support to this institution.
As to the issue of enforcement, the JAC is dependent to a very considerable degree upon the support and goodwill of the courts in Israel and Palestine. The initial indications, in the form of legal opinions obtained by ICC-Palestine and ICC-Israel, are encouraging, but the acid test will be when the first awards come to be enforced in the jurisdictions of those courts.
A piece on the radio caught my attention a day or so ago. A senior BBC reporter with long experience of this part of the world was seeking to resolve in his own mind the many paradoxes that form part of daily life. He did so over a coffee in a cafe here in Jerusalem. At a neighbouring table two elderly Arabs played backgammon and puffed on their pipes: at another, a group of Jewish students were engaged in an animated debate: at a third some pilgrims to the city were planning their next visit. The reporter asked for his bill in Arabic and paid in Shekels. Calm, as he put it, at the eye of the storm. Everyday life at its most banal and ordinary. Remarkable as it is, for the time being, that very ordinariness is extraordinary and worthy of report internationally, but it is at that level that the JAC should be allowed to go about its business, such that it becomes an accepted and trusted part of the business landscape.
Today, then, marks a rare opportunity to launch an institution, the paramount purpose of which is to provide a reliable, independent and impartial forum for the determination of Israeli-Palestinian business disputes, whatever the background noise or 'mood music' - and from which, it is essential that the JAC stands apart and, moreover, is allowed to stand apart.
My colleagues and I at the ICC ICA wish it well.