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International arbitration skewed in favour of developed world: Prasad

Ravi Shankar Prasad20160827145443_l

New Delhi, Aug 27 (IANS) Advocating that India become a hub for dispute redressal, Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Saturday pointed to the skewed nature of international arbitration, saying currently only some developed countries occupy centre stage in this space.

"Why should only some countries become the centre of dispute redressals," Prasad asked, addressing a conference here on ‘International Arbitration in BRICS’ jointly organised by industry chamber FICCI and the Department of Economic Affairs.

The conference is organised as a lead-up to the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) leaders summit to be held in Goa in October, India being the chair of the grouping this year.

"Why is there this presumption that only Western legal system trained arbitrators should occupy the world dispute redressal mechanism. I am articulating this as the law minister of India," he said, noting that nearly 70 per cent of arbitrators in the international arbitration process belong to the "first world and developed nations."

"India has the finest judges, but only a small fraction are represented in the world arbitration process," the minister added.

Pointing to the current inadequacies of the international arbitration system, Prasad said India in this regard has had a "mixed experience" of the Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs).

"The international arbitration system is ad hoc and frequently unpredictable. It is very important to address this concern. The world will never be truly global, if it is delinked from the local," he said.

He said the new Indian model BIT has been designed to protect both the foreign investor as well as address Indian concerns.

"The right of investors needs to be balanced with the sovereign right of regulation of countries," Prasad said.

"Dispute redressal has also to make space for social considerations. It cannot only be restricted to the parties in an investment agreement, but also allow for the needs of the poor," the minister added.

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