Donald Francis Donovan, Co-Head of the International Disputes Group at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, has been elected President of the International Council for Commercial Arbitration (ICCA). Since its founding nearly 60 years ago, ICCA has played a leading role in the field of international commercial arbitration and, more recently, investor-state arbitration. Its publications are considered fundamental resources in the field, and its biennial congress is widely regarded as the most important gathering of international arbitrators and arbitration practitioners. Mr. Donovan will take office on April 1, 2016.
Mr. Donovan concentrates his practice in international disputes before courts in the United States, international arbitration tribunals and international courts. He has argued international law, arbitration law, commercial law and other issues before the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Second, Third, Fourth, Ninth and District of Columbia Circuits, and other federal and state courts throughout the United States; the International Court of Justice, the Arbitral Tribunal Established by the 1930 Hague Agreement and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia; and arbitration tribunals sitting around the world, constituted under the auspices of the world’s leading arbitration institutions, in a wide range of economic sectors, in disputes arising under both contracts and treaties. His practice includes the representation of states, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations and multinational companies. He regularly sits as arbitrator in both commercial and investor-state cases. He has long been regarded as one of the leading arbitrators and arbitration practitioners in the world.
Mr. Donovan’s practice also includes a strong component of public international law and international human rights. For example, he has long served as Chair of the Litigation Committee of Human Rights First, a New York-based NGO. He also represented Paraguay, Germany, and Mexico in successive proceedings in the International Court of Justice under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations involving foreign nationals on death row in the U.S.
Mr. Donovan is the immediate past President of the American Society of International Law, and he earlier served as Chair of the Institute for Transnational Arbitration. He serves as a Member of the U.S. Secretary of State’s Advisory Committee on International Law and of the Advisory Committees of the American Law Institute for the Restatement of U.S. Foreign Relations Law and for the Restatement of the U.S. Law of International Commercial Arbitration (ITA). He teaches International Arbitration and International Investment Law and Arbitration at the New York University School of Law, serves as a Visiting Professor at the School of International Arbitration at Queen Mary University of London, and in the Summer of 2015 taught the general course on investor-state arbitration at the International Academy for Arbitration Law in Paris.
Commenting on his election, Mr. Donovan said, “Since its beginnings nearly 60 years ago, ICCA has had an enormous impact on the world of international arbitration, both commercial and, more recently, investor-state. With its transformation under the leadership of Jan Paulsson and Albert Jan van den Berg to a broad-based membership organization, and the emergence of Young ICCA, it is poised to do even more. I’m grateful to my colleagues for having entrusted me with this position.”
Outgoing ICCA President Albert Jan van den Berg said that “It is with great confidence that I will hand over the ICCA Presidency to Donald Donovan in April 2016. Donald has been associated with ICCA since 1998 and he has served the organization with energy and creativity during that time. He has my congratulations and warmest support going forward.”
Mr. Donovan joined Debevoise after serving as law clerk to Associate Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the U.S. Supreme Court and as legal assistant to Judge Howard M. Holtzmann of the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal. He received his B.A. in 1977 from the University of Virginia and his J.D. in 1981 from Stanford Law School, where he was elected to the Order of the Coif and served on the Stanford Law Review. He is competent in Spanish.
The Debevoise International Dispute Resolution Group is a global leader with an extraordinary win record that has racked up some of the largest awards in the world for its clients. Global Arbitration Review recently remarked, “If any team has consistently brought home “the big results,” it seems to be Debevoise.” In 2014, the International Dispute Resolution Group advised on nearly 200 matters worldwide. These involved clients from six continents and 42 different countries. As well as significant matters in North America and Europe, nearly 60% of the Group’s matters involved disputes concerning emerging market jurisdictions in Latin America, Africa or Asia. Spanning Debevoise’s New York, London, Paris, Moscow and Hong Kong offices, the practice’s lawyers are fluent in more than 30 languages and trained and qualified under a host of common law and civil law systems. The Group participated in more than 20 hearings in 2014.
Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a premier law firm with market-leading practices, a global perspective and strong New York roots. We deliver effective solutions to our clients’ most important legal challenges, applying clear commercial judgment and a distinctively collaborative approach.