Date of Award

Fall 11-12-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Law (SJD)



First Advisor

Christian Okeke

Second Advisor

Jon Sylvester

Third Advisor

Arthur J. Gemmell


Party autonomy in international arbitration is the most compelling reason for the contracting parties to enter into arbitration agreement, rather than opting for litigation. However, arbitration functionalities may be hindered by several factors, one of which is 'arbitrability and public policy'. The 1958 United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards provides arbitrability and public policy as the grounds for refusing the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral award for signatory states, thus allowing national courts to use their own discretion when determining the scope of these two issues.

Public policy is a concept that is adapted periodically in order to meet the changing societal needs, including political, social, cultural, moral and economic dimensions. As my study focuses on how each state balances its justice system and determines the finality of arbitration award, this paper will describe how each state applies arbitrability and public policy as a safeguard for their national legal system. It appears that, in the United States, legal matters are referred to arbitration relatively often, while European countries (specifically England, France and Switzerland, which are referred to in this paper) apply arbitrability and public policy only when it is necessary. Moreover, public policy in Africa and Middle East is interpreted in a broader sense and the enforcement of foreign arbitral awards may be more difficult because of the inherent political risks and influence of Islamic law, while most Asian countries have attempted to model their public policy theory on the Western principles.

This dissertation will explore and assess each state's approach of arbitrability and public policy toward international arbitration in order to understand how public policy has changed and developed over time. iii

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