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Cairo centre head takes helm at IFCAI   

By: Alison Ross  

16 January 2023

The director of the Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration Ismail Selim has taken over as president of the International Federation of Commercial Arbitration Institutions, which brings together representatives of over 50 institutions worldwide.

Selim, who was previously secretary treasurer of IFCAI, was unanimously elected as president late last year by members of its council. He will serve a four-year term, taking over from Stefano Azzali of the Milan Chamber of Arbitration, who has been president since 2017.

Selim will be assisted by four vice-presidents who were elected at the same time: the secretary general of the Center for Arbitration and Mediation of the Brazil-Canada Chamber of Commerce Patricia Kobayashi; the senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of the American Arbitration Association-International Centre for Dispute Resolution Eric Tuchmann; the secretary-general of the Vienna International Arbitration Centre Niamh Leinwather; and the secretary general and director of the Netherlands Arbitration Institute Camilla Perera-De Wit.

 The secretary general of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce Arbitration Institute, Kristin Campbell-Wilson, was elected as secretary treasurer but has since stepped down from her role at the SCC. IFCAI is expected to vote soon on a new secretary treasurer from among the senior officers of arbitration centres.

IFCAI was established in 1985 to promote good relations and information-sharing between arbitral institutions, as well as responsible use of dispute resolution techniques. It has held biennial conferences since 1992, the first of which took place in Cairo and the most recent of which was held in Helsinki in 2019, before the pandemic put live events on hold. Last year, it held a virtual conference organised by the Cairo centre.

The current IFCAI council members were elected in Rome in June and are the youngest the federation has ever had, as well as the most diverse in geographic, generational and gender terms. There are 14 new members from six continents.

At the time of the council election, IFCAI also approved a new constitution with more exacting requirements for arbitral institutions seeking full membership of the federation, including proof that they administer cases. This is so IFCAI can act as a quality label and guarantee for member institutions without risk of endorsing any sham centres.

The new requirements were applied to the most recent institution admitted as a member of IFCAI last year, the Saudi Centre for International Commercial Arbitration. Organisations that promote or support arbitration but do not administer cases can join IFCAI as supporting members.

Selim tells GAR he is "deeply grateful" to the colleagues who elected him as president of IFCAI and will "use my experience from my past mandate as secretary treasurer to work with all council members for the benefit of IFCAI and its member institutions for the purpose of promoting best practice in institutional arbitration."

He says the diverse new council will be "a breath of fresh air" and members of IFCAI should expect to see "new initiatives" and "a rejuvenated platform for discussion, exchange of ideas and promotion of arbitration at a regional and transnational level".

Among the topics focused on will be the effect of sanctions against Russia (the advocacy of six centres in Europe has led to the creation of an exception applying to arbitration) and potential improvements to soft law.

The next in-person conference will take place in the Americas, either in New York or Sao Paulo, organised by arbitral institutions in those cities, Selim reveals. There is also hope that IFCAI will increase its international visibility by partnering with events organisers worldwide. Last June, it was partner to the first Italian Arbitration Day, co-organised by the Italian Association for Arbitration and Milan Chamber of Arbitration.

Selim adds that he "profoundly regrets that the able Kristin Campbell-Wilson will have to resign from her office as secretary treasurer as a result of her resignation from the SCC."

"IFCAI was already starting to benefit from her ideas and work including putting the IFCAI council website on the SCC platform, which is very user friendly," he says.

Source: GAR Global Arbitration Review

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