Commercial and investment arbitration have gained increasing importance in Latin America. The last decade has seen, on the one hand, substantial amendments in the arbitration laws of the region and, on the other, an increase in the claims by investors under bilateral investment treaties and free trade agreements. But is there a Latin American arbitration? Is there a common approach to arbitration by the different countries in the region? Have the countries in the region simply adopted international standards and rules, or is there a Latin American contribution to the development of arbitration? Is there a Latin American way of conducting arbitration or rather an increasing adoption of practices and rules more akin to common law traditions? How can lawyers trained in the common-law tradition work in arbitrations subject to the laws of Latin American countries and located in Latin American venues? What have been the effects of the so-called “constitutionalization” of arbitration? Is there a uniform approach of Latin American countries to arbitration under investment treaties? Is there a trend to expand the relevance of local law in investment claims and to insist in the Calvo doctrine? Do human rights or rights of indigenous communities play a role in investment disputes? Where is the debate as to whether the existing investment treaties and the arbitration rules reflect the dominant interests of capital-exporting nations? What have been the defense strategies of Latin American states?
The mere definition of what is Latin America presents a challenge to both lawyers and historicists. This course will explore, with a brief introduction as to the historical differences and common grounds between the countries in the region, the responses to the different questions that arise in a region where the approach to arbitration swings from the magic solution to reduce work overload in courts to a public enemy that should be eliminated.