Dr Petra Butler, Co-Director of the Centre for Small States and Professor at Victoria University of Wellington, and Gary Born, Chair of the International Arbitration practice group at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, discussed the importance of an effective, efficient and expert dispute resolution mechanism for Pacific Island countries to foster and enhance cross border trade and commerce. The focus was in particular on the role international arbitration can play to achieve the Pacific Island countries’ aim to increased participation in global trade. Diplomatic representatives from a number of Pacific nations and delegates from other institutions with interests in the region attended.
The audience was treated to an overview and history of international arbitration by Mr Born. Professor Butler’s presentation concentrated on law reform and outlined the challenges of international arbitration law reform in the Pacific Island countries due to the Islands’ pluralistic legal systems and the role of custom. She discussed how those challenges could be overcome. The ensuing discussion centered on how to facilitate ongoing reform and capacity-building in the Pacific region regarding in particular the adoption of arbitration legislation by Pacific Island States. Ana Tuiketei, a Fijian barrister and currently Visiting Foreign Lawyer at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, chaired the discussion.