Beyond International Commercial Arbitration?

The Promise of International Commercial Mediation

By S.I. Strong

International commercial arbitration has long been the preferred means of resolving complex business disputes in the cross-border context. However, the international corporate community has become somewhat disenchanted with that particular mechanism because of concerns about rising costs, delays, and procedural formality. As a result, parties are looking for other means of resolving international commercial disputes. One of the more popular alternatives is mediation.

Although the number of recent developments in the field may make international commercial mediation sound as if it is a novel concept, the idea of using consensus-based mechanisms to resolve transnational business disputes is not new.4 In fact, mediation and conciliation were often the preferred means of resolving international commercial conflicts in the first half of the twentieth century. It was only in the years following World War II that arbitration became the more popular method of addressing cross border business disputes. The reason for this shift in emphasis is unclear, since institutional support for consensus-based dispute resolution remained in effect throughout the twentieth and early twenty-first century.

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