Omar Guerrero
Office Managing Partner
Hogan Lovells
Expert Contributor

Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the ICC

By Omar Guerrero | Thu, 07/14/2022 - 13:00

Remember to celebrate milestones as you prepare for the road ahead.” (Nelson Mandela)

Celebrations are important for human beings. Celebrations help you to remember where you come from, where you stand and where you are heading too. The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is commemorating its 100th anniversary. The ICC is widely known for its contributions to the expansion of international trade in the period of time just after World War I. For newer generations, it may be odd to speak about a 100-year history but the reality is that the ICC’s activism to promote trade and the best legal tools for ensuring legal certainty for international activity makes the ICC one of the most important front-runners in these area.

The ICC, a private organization based in Paris but with an international presence including in Mexico, has also been pivotal in promoting uniformity in international commerce, such as the enactment of the INCOTERMS (International Commerce Terms) that have become common in business and the legal language whenever executing international sale of goods or distribution contracts. Likewise, the ICC has promoted widely recognized terms and conditions suggested to be included in “Documentary Credits.” The presence of the ICC has expanded over the years and practically touches all topics and subjects that are of interest to business people, such as climate change, the impact of corruption, technology, competition and anti-competitive practices, ESG (environmental, sustainability and governance), consumer protection and others. The ICC’s documents are usually a must-read for those involved in international trade.

Notwithstanding, the ICC has been especially known for its promotion of arbitration and other ADRs (Alternative Dispute Resolution) means. The ICC recognized from its early years that business people needed options other than submitting to the other party’s courts in order to do business, especially when legal systems, traditions, principles and languages were so different. Arbitration and ADRs (such as mediation, expert determination, and dispute boards) have taken the greater role as the proper means to avoid going to court in favor of a private decision-making process that involves the possibility of choosing a specialized adjudicator who knows the industry, the technical issues and who speaks the language of the parties and who will be devoted to understanding and deciding the complex case at hand.

I cannot finish this celebratory note without making a reference to the role the ICC played as a great promoter and driver for the execution of the 1958 New York Convention on the recognition and enforcement of international commercial awards (the NY Convention). Approximately 170 countries have subscribed to the NY Convention, which has provided a worldwide framework for international commercial awards rendered in arbitration proceedings to be enforced by national courts in most of the countries engaged in foreign trade. And the NY Convention has been the keystone for international commercial arbitration to flourish as the preferred dispute mechanism to decide disputes among companies, state-owned companies, and all individuals involved in business transactions. The NY Convention provided legal certainty: the general rule would be that commercial awards through arbitration rendered in a foreign country would be generally recognized and enforced in a different country.

This is only a snapshot of an institution that the entire business and legal community celebrates. Arbitration has flourished under the ICC’s wing. And arbitration is the preferred tool to decide disputes between business people from different countries. We wish for many years of productive and successful achievements by the ICC.

Photo by:   Omar Guerrero