Historically, as a consequence of thriving cross-border trade, modern international arbitration was largely shaped by Western and in particular European parties. Large tracts of Asia, while considered faraway destinations for the trade of exotic spices and other goods in the 18th and early 19th century, simply did not have the same political and economic climate to sustain a coherent system of international dispute resolution. This Western-led development of international arbitration is reflected by the ethnicity and cultural background of the initial advocates of arbitration’s key conventions and instruments, such as the New York Convention.

Today, international arbitration has taken root in countries across the Asia-Pacific and is flourishing like never before. The region is said to consist of the highest concentration of countries which have adopted the UNCITRAL Model Law, while almost all countries are parties to the New York Convention. The prodigious adoption of the Model Law in the Asia-Pacific has led to it being described as “the principle Model law region of the world” and demonstrates both a regional and a national level commitment to developing a climate conducive for the efficient resolution of international disputes – in turn encouraging healthy cross-border trade.

Singapore and Hong Kong have emerged as the two leading international arbitration jurisdictions in the region, bolstered by factors ranging from geographical convenience, reputation as global financial centres and impartial and efficient judicial systems. Other countries in the region are hot on their heels, with Malaysia enacting bold legislative reforms to draw international disputes to its shores and new dispute resolution institutions commencing business in the last two years, including the highly anticipated Seoul International Dispute Resolution Centre and Cambodia’s first even arbitration venue – Phnom Penh’s National Arbitration Centre.

International Arbitration Asia aims to provide regular commentary on the developments in dispute resolution in the region. While some articles may have implications across jurisdictions, working with experts, country reporters and student editors based in institutions across the Asia-Pacific, we seek to provide in-depth analysis of statutory reforms and arbitral jurisprudence specific to jurisdictions in the Asia-Pacific.