Dr. Katherine Simpson makes submission on under-appointment of women to the CETA List of Arbitrators

Dr. Katherine Simpson made “amicus” submissions to Canada and the EU regarding the under-appointment of women to the List of Arbitrators under Article 29 of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada, the EU and its Member States. 

Presently, 50% of the Canadian, 20% of the European, and 0% of the Chairperson appointees are female. Review of the EU's treaty practice revealed that only 12.9% of all EU appointments to EU sub-lists of arbitrators since 2011 (10.6% since 2015) have been women. In 66% of the treaty lists established since 2011, the EU appointed no women at all to its sub-list.

Every treaty-based list of arbitrators serves as public verification of the listed persons’ credentials and integrity, backed by public accountability. The credence paid to these listings is enormous: disputing parties, academic institutions, governments, and even the EU itself rely on these lists when making appointments. Dr Simpson makes the submission that achieving gender parity in treaty-based lists of arbitrators could be the quickest and most effective step toward achieving gender parity in international dispute resolution. 

Given the EU’s and the CETA Joint Committee’s express commitments to gender equality, the gender imbalance in the CETA List took many by surprise. Rather than “improve the capacity and conditions for women … to access and fully benefit from the opportunities created by the CETA” or “address the structural and implicit biases that reduce the equal participation of women in trade,” the CETA List preserves the status quo, including the same gender imbalances that the CETA Parties have publicly sought to eliminate.

Dr Simpson makes the point that the CETA Joint Committee can correct this by appointing women until parity is achieved. They and the Council of the EU have received a list of 68 women with “specialized knowledge of international trade law”, and summaries of their skills and experience that make each an approximate match to one or more arbitrators on the List. 

Below, please find the letters submitted to the CETA Joint Committee and the updated Annexes thereto:

17 January 2020, Letter from Dr. Katherine Simpson to Council of the EU

 15 January 2020, Letter from Dr. Katherine Simpson to CETA Joint Committee

The point Dr. Simpson makes is that every gender imbalance created in a treaty-based list of arbitrators can be corrected, and the CETA List is no exception. The Treaty Parties can rectify the CETA gender imbalance by appointing more women until parity is achieved, and they can do so without removing any current arbitrators!