COLUMBIA, Mo. – Recent research by MU faculty highlights the value of arbitration and non-governmental organizations as a means for solving challenging cross-border disputes.
Professor S. I. Strong, a MU Law Professor and Senior Fellow in the Center for Dispute Resolution in MU’s School of Law, recently convened an international symposium at the Hague in the Netherlands. The symposium, which was part of her duties as the Henry G. Schermers Fellow at the Hague Institute of the Internationalization of Law in association with the Netherlands Institute for the Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences, focused on “Collective Redress in the Cross-Border Context: Arbitration, Litigation, Settlement and Beyond.” The symposium was designed to explore the various means that can be used to resolve collective legal injuries that arise across national borders.
Professor Strong has found that “large-scale legal injuries are very difficult to handle within existing litigation models, particularly when the parties come from different countries.” According to Strong, the most common way to settle such disputes in the U.S. is through class action lawsuits, which have been subject to severe criticism in the international arena. Although other nations have means to address widespread cross-border legal problems, most of the dispute resolution mechanisms are only available at the domestic level. Professor Strong recommends arbitration, and perhaps through the Permanent Court of Arbitration, since arbitration eliminates problems associated with judicial jurisdiction.
Professor Strong’s workshop brought together practitioners, academics, and representatives of non-governmental organizations. Speakers included Jan Willem Bitter, Simmons & Simmons LLP; Garth Schofield, Permanent Court of Arbitration (The Netherlands);
MU Political Science Faculty have studied cross-border disputes as well and concluded that NGOs have the capacity to assist during cross-border struggles. In a recent interview, MU Political Science Professor Cooper Drury, editor of Foreign Policy Analysis and a widely respected international relations scholar, pointed out that “political science deals with cross border disputes when they are at a very acute stage.” Political scientists studying international disputes are concerned, for example, with the role of refugees, regime stability, and legitimacy of the regime in power. Professor Drury noted that, according to MU Political Science Professor Amanda Murdie, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and human rights organizations “have the ability to shame regimes into better behavior.” Additionally, MU Political Science Professor Simone Dietrich finds that foreign aid donors will sometimes use NGOs, so that the aid has more impact. International organizations, thus, have an effect on disputes, and the outcome and duration of peace.
The University of Missouri’s strengths in both law and political science have allowed MU to forge new ground in the area of international disputes.