I have been honoured to serve on the ICC Court in one capacity or another for 18 years and with five of its Chairmen (since 2012 called ‘Presidents'): the late Robert Briner, Pierre Tercier, the late Carl Salans, John Beechey and, most recently, Alexis Mourre. Each has been or is an exceptional personality and an outstanding lawyer.
When I first heard that Alexis, a French national, would become the next President of the Court, I was not sure that this would be an optimal appointment. As an international body, it is obviously important that ICC, and especially the ICC Court, is not associated excessively with any one country. ICC already has its headquarters in Paris and in recent memory, two Chairmen of the ICC Court had been French: Michel Gaudet (1977-1988) and Alain Plantey (1988-1996). Therefore, was appointing yet another Frenchman as President in 2015 a good idea? At first blush, I did not think so.
But that only goes to show that I did not then know Alexis Mourre well, as he is not a typical Frenchman—if one can be said to exist. While Alexis speaks excellent English (as well as Italian and Spanish), I find it impossible to identify his accent in English with any particular country. His absence of a French accent in English is revealing as it denotes a man who, as I have learned, is not particularly associated with, and hence perhaps limited by, the country of his nationality. Instead, he is someone who is—or so he appears—quite independent culturally of any one country and as having very much an international outlook. Similarly, while he has had his legal education in France, when commenting on arbitration cases at sessions of the ICC Court, he never appeared to speak from the perspective of just his own legal system—the civil law system—but, rather, to take a universalist approach.
His lack of any apparent nationality bias or identification with any one legal system, and, doubtless, following from this, his open-mindedne
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