I was fortunate to be the first stand-alone Secretary-General of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), and so I had a lot of scope to define how to fulfil my role. My first months were spent learning how things were done within the ICSID Secretariat and talking to internal and external stakeholders to get their views on what our priorities ought to be. The next step was to ensure the Centre was properly organized, resourced and staffed to deliver the best service possible. This included a lot of work that likely was not visible from outside the Centre but which has had an immense impact on our operation. We did a significant amount of staffing, adding expert lawyers, paralegals, administrative legal assistants, dedicated hearings organizers, and financial administrators: indeed, we have doubled our staff from 34 people in 2009 to 70 staff today. We accompanied this increase in staff with internal training and development of best practices for every step in an ICSID case. We also adopted automated internal case tracking, financial and case management systems, and have upgraded the technology and rooms used for cases. These continue to have an enormous effect on our practice.
The next step was to ensure stakeholders knew the changes that had been made and understood what ICSID could do. For example, many counsel did not realize that we administer UNCITRAL cases as well as ICSID Convention and ICSID Additional Facility cases, or that we host hearings for cases under non-investment rules and between states under trade treaties such as the Canada-US Softwood Lumber Treaty. We also developed a number of knowledge projects, notably the new website which is now trilingual, the statistics report, a revamped ICSID Review, and a quarterly newsletter. Another example is the “ICSID 101” training program that we have now given across the world. Today I often hear back from arbitrators and counsel who see the positive impact of all these steps and are really impressed with the quality and variety of services ICSID can provide and the top caliber of our staff. That has been very rewarding – to see that our efforts are noticed and have a positive effect on the cases.