New book on arbitration by Professor Won Kidane, Georgia Law LLM alum

Pleased to announce the publication of a book by our alumnus, Won L. Kidane (left), an Associate Professor at Seattle University School of Law in Washington state.

The Culture of International Arbitration has just been released by Oxford University Press. It’s the 4th book by Kidane, who earned his Georgia Law LL.M. degree in 1997; in 2001, he earned a J.D. degree from the University of Illinois. He was a 2014 Fulbright Scholar in Ethiopia, where he’d completed his initial legal studies in 1993. Kidane practiced at two Washington, D.C., law firms and taught at Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law before joining the faculty at Seattle, where he teaches international arbitration and immigration law.

Here’s a description of his new book:

Although international arbitration has emerged as a credible means of resolution of transnational disputes involving parties from diverse cultures, the effects of culture on the accuracy, efficiency, fairness, and legitimacy of international arbitration is a surprisingly neglected topic within the existing literature. The Culture of International Arbitration fills that gap by providing an in-depth study of the role of culture in modern day arbitral proceedings. It contains a detailed analysis of how cultural miscommunication affects the accuracy, efficiency, fairness, and legitimacy in both commercial and investment arbitration when the arbitrators and the parties, their counsel and witnesses come from diverse legal traditions and cultures. The book provides a comprehensive definition of culture, and methodically documents and examines the epistemology of determining facts in various legal traditions and how the mixing of traditions influences the outcome. By so doing, the book demonstrates the acute need for increasing cultural diversity among arbitrators and counsel while securing appropriate levels of cultural competence. To provide an accurate picture, Kidane conducted interviews with leading international jurists from diverse legal traditions with first-hand experience of the complicating effects of culture in legal proceedings. Given the insights and information on the rules and expectations of the various legal traditions and their convergence in modern day international arbitration practice, this book challenges assumptions and can offer a unique and useful perspective to all practitioners, academics, policy makers, students of international arbitration.

Belgian Consul General de Baets featured at Global Atlanta luncheon

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Pictured at front, from right: Belgian Consul General William de Baets and Phil Bolton and Trevor Williams, respectively, publisher and managing editor of Global Atlanta.

For decades, we at the University of Georgia School of Law have welcomed collaboration with Belgium and its people and institutions. Even before 1978, when Belgium’s national airline became the 1st foreign carrier to fly nonstop to Atlanta, a Belgian attorney became the 1st foreign-trained lawyer to earn Georgia Law’s Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree. And thanks to the hard work and generosity of Georgia Law professors like Gabriel Wilner and our Center’s namesake, former U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk, we’ve partnered with leading Belgian universities to offer summer seminars on issues related to international  law and policy, often with a focus on European Union and transatlantic cooperation. That tradition will continue via this summer’s global governance school at the home of our partner, the Leuven Centre for Global Governance at the University of Leuven, one of Europe’s premier research institutions.

Thus it was a special pleasure to attend last Friday’s “Consular Conversations: Luncheon Interview With Belgium’s Consul General,” held at the Atlanta office of Miller & Martin, where Tom Harrold, Georgia Law alumnus and member of our Dean Rusk International Law Center Council, leads the International/World downloadLaw practice group. The event was part of a series of conversations sponsored by another Center partner, Global Atlanta.

Guest of honor was William de Baets, who’s served since last April as Belgium’s top diplomat in the Southeastern United States. In a wide-ranging conversation with Phil Bolton and Trevor Williams, Global Atlanta’s publisher and managing editor, de Baets explained he’d joined Belgium’s foreign service following 9 years as a Navy officer. Postings before his arrival at Atlanta included deputy head of mission in Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, and Venezuela, and political counselor at Belgium’s embassy in Washington, D.C.

De Baets said that his office provides consular services and also engages in public and economy diplomacy; Friday’s conversation fulfilled the latter role. He spoke to a full house – a testament to the fact that Belgium ranks among the top 10 foreign investors in Georgia, which is home to more than 70 Belgian companies and more than 5,000 Belgian nationals.

Asked about Belgium’s renown as the home of Tintin and the Smurfs, not to mention 20th C. surrealists like René Magritte, de Baets recalled an artistic tradition that reaches back to the 16th C. Flemish master, Peter Paul Rubens. Additionally, Belgium did not gain independence until 1830; before that “the territory kept changing hands and was ruled by other people,” he noted. “We couldn’t speak up too much. We were saying yes and thinking no, or saying yes and doing what we wanted to do. It was a source of our humor – we couldn’t take ourselves too seriously.”

Again answering a question, de Baets spoke of his father’s participation in the resistance during Germany’s occupation of Belgium during World War II.

Flags of the 28 NATO member countries

Conversation then turned to Belgium’s role in contemporary matters. Regarding Brussels-based NATO (right), the defense alliance established 68 years ago by the North Atlanta Treaty, de Baets noted apparent disagreement within the new U.S. administration. Indeed, earlier in the week the South Carolina Governor tapped to become U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, had called NATO “important.”

Although the United States can defend itself without NATO, Europe cannot, and so de Baets advocated strengthening the European Union’s security pillar to offset any weakening of NATO. Such alliances are essential for countries like Belgium and its neighbor, Luxembourg. Yet de Baets acknowledged difficulty in achieving the goal, given disagreement among EU member states – including Britain, even before its people voted in favor of Brexit.

Dubbing compromise a “Belgian export,” de Baets indicated that his country could a key role in aiding Europe’s efforts to resolve crises in financial and security sectors, as well as migration. The goal, he said, is to “strengthen our security without giving up our values.”