The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) adopted a Code of Conduct for Arbitrators in International Investment Disputes during its 56th annual session in Vienna.

The Code has been under development since 2017 in the context of UNCITRAL Working Group III (ISDS reform) and the recently amended ICSID Rules and Regulations. The Secretariats of UNCITRAL and ICSID worked jointly on the Code during this period.

The Code reinforces the duty of independence and impartiality, regulates double-hatting (i.e. the practice of sitting as an arbitrator in one case and a party representative or expert in another), and lists specific disclosure requirements. Also addressed are obligations related to the confidentiality of proceedings, reasonable fees and expenses, and the role and duties of tribunal assistants.

The Code draws on an extensive review of standards found in codes of conduct in investment treaties, arbitration rules applicable to ISDS, and international courts. Multiple drafts were shared with State officials and the public, with comments received published on the ICSID and UNCITRAL websites.

“The Code of Conduct is a further example of governments and stakeholders working together on effective reforms to investor-State dispute settlement,” said Meg Kinnear, Secretary-General of ICSID. “As with the amended ICSID rules, the adoption of the Code demonstrates that a transparent and inclusive process is key to a successful outcome.”

The Code of Conduct for Arbitrators will apply to arbitration proceedings by consent of the parties or as required in the instrument of consent to arbitral proceedings. ICSID will also consult further with its membership on the Code’s application in ICSID proceedings.

UNCITRAL also adopted Guidelines on Mediation for International Investment Disputes. Noting the need for an agreed set of rules to govern the mediation process, the Guidelines reference the ICSID Mediation Rules, which are tailored to international investment disputes.

The final drafts of the Code and Mediation Guidelines will be published after UNCITRAL’s 56th annual session ends on 21 July 2023.