Friday, April 12, 2019

Arbitrators and "Reasoned Awards" - 
Smarter Tools, Inc. v. Chongqing SENCI Import & Export Trade Co

Commentary and analysis from Professor SI Strong, University of Missouri School of Law:

One of my students called the following case - Smarter Tools, Inc. v. Chongqing SENCI Import & Export Trade Co., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50633 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 26, 2019) – to my attention, and I thought some of you might be interested in it as well (I don’t believe I’ve seen it circulated here yet).  The issue involved whether the arbitral award was sufficiently reasoned. 

According to the court, reasoned awards are not required in arbitration, but if the parties contract for such an award, as they did here, they are entitled to receive such a document.  Upon review, the court found that the arbitrator in this case provided the parties a "barely colorable justification" for his decision, leading the court to hold that the award did not meet the necessary standard.

According to the court, Second Circuit precedent indicates “that a ‘reasoned award’ requires ‘something more than a line or two of unexplained conclusions, but something less than full findings of fact and conclusions of law on each issue raised before the panel.’ Leeward Const. Co., Ltd. v. Am. Univ. of Antigua-College of Medicine, 826 F.3d 634, 640 (2d Cir. 2016). In other words, ‘[a] reasoned award sets forth the basic reasoning of the arbitral panel on the central issue or issues raised before it,’ but ‘need not delve into every argument made by the parties. Id.”

The court also noted that while an arbitrator is not obliged to discuss each piece of evidence presented, s/he must at a minimum provide some rationale for the rejection of arguments for liability.  In this case, the arbitrator provided boilerplate language that was insufficient to meet the necessary standard.  Indeed, the court specifically noted that, “[i]n dismissing STI's arguments, the arbitrator conclusorily states that ‘[h]aving heard all of the testimony, reviewed all of the documentary proofs and exhibits, [he does] not find support for STI's claims ....’  There is no reason given for this finding other than the negative credibility determination as to STI's expert witness, Zukerman.  While this credibility determination does provide a rationale for rejecting STI's calculations of its lost profits and goodwill, it does not provide a basis for a dismissal of STI's claims in their totality.”

In terms of a remedy, the court did not vacate the award but instead remanded it to the arbitrator to supplement the award to the necessary standard.  Of course, this is problematic as a matter of arbitral law, since the arbitrator is functus officio, but that issue was likely not argued to the court.

For the full decision (only ten pages), see here.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Iran's Regional Ambitions

Iran's Islamic Revolution at 40
Regional Cooperation:
Prospects and Challenges

By Dr. Kamal Kharazi

Last night, I attended a lecture sponsored by the Al Jazeera Centre for Studies.  I have attended prior programs offered by the Centre and found them intellectually stimulating.  They always offer points of view I have seldom heard in the West. I have blogged about them in a series of posts beginning here

The invited guest, Dr. Kamal Kharazi, Chair of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations of Iran, gave a lecture followed by a brief question and answer period at the Sheraton Hotel in Doha, Qatar.  The moderator introduced Dr. Kharazi as an "insider" to the Iranian Revolution.  That revolution celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2019.  He spoke in English from prepare remarks.

Before I start, I want to note that I am working from my notes and apologize in advance if my summary contains any errors or misstatements.  I am happy to make any needed corrections.

Several themes emerged.  Dr. Kharazi began by calling for expanded relations between countries of the Muslim world that would result in increased security.  He asserted that a united Muslim world would repel foreign intervention in the region.  He argues that the region is in a critical political situation.  Countries must respect the sovereignty of other countries and build what he calls "self-confidence."  Later, he argued that leaders in the region need to reconstruct the "great Islamic civilization," which once dominated the region, in a way that allows them to deal with today's conditions.

Next, he cited the creation of Israel as an ongoing source of conflict in the region that invited foreign intervention.  These foreign powers and their "agents" created deep political splits among the countries of the Muslim world.

He lamented the waste that has come with the regional investment in armaments, wars, and bloodshed.  Governments that have spent millions of dollars on conflicts in Egypt, Syria, Yemen, and Bahrain could have spent that money instead on improving the lives of their citizens, as has Iran.  Saudi Arabia, especially, has bought into the "Iran-phobia," panicked, and sought security through the purchase of U.S. arms.  These conflicts have destroyed national assets needed by populations that increasingly are poorer and hungry.   Later, he asserted that the U.S. feeds the story that Iran is a big enemy of the Ummah.

In contrast, despite foreign pressure, sanctions, and other interventions, he asserts Iran has survived and thrived.  It is the most stable country in the region and has created an independent security structure.  It has used its resources to build a scientific community whose capability surprised the West.  It chose to invest in its people, education, and technology rather than dissipate resources on war.  Dr. Kharazi offered an invitation to create joint projects with Qatari scientists and educators to create new knowledge and technology.

He said that Iran entered Iraq and Syria at the request of the governments in aid of the war against terrorists.  Iran has never started a war in another country. 

He acknowledged the role Iran played in "rescuing" Qatar after neighboring countries imposed sanctions on June 5, 2017.  He said no country should need to deal with coercion or a threat to its sovereignty.  During the question and answer period, he seemed to tie this help to the requirements of the Iranian Constitution.

Finally, he suggested that leaders in the region can overcome contemporary challenges through "political insight" (which he did not explain) and independence and self-reliance. 

The moderator posed the first questions and then took six questions from the audience.  Her questions were:  Did Iran's foreign policy priorities change over the last 40 years since the revolution?  Are those priorities tied to who serves as President of Iran?

Dr. Kharazi used this opportunity to discuss basic principles of the Iranian Constitution.  It seeks social justice that requires attention to the basic needs of Iranians for education, housing, good roads, access to the internet, potable water, and other amenities.  He noted that 80 percent of rural communities have these amenities now.  Ninety-seven percent of Iranians are literate.  Iranian leaders have created 2,500 universities serving a student population of 4 million students, up from about 100,000 students before the revolution.  He acknowledged that women increasingly have more freedom and comprise sixty percent of university students.

He insisted that the Iranian Constitution requires Iran to fight against imperialism, including economic imperialism.  He noted that Trump administration policies have troubled many countries, including European countries.   At no time during the discussion did I hear direct reference to the U.S. withdrawal from the P5+1 nuclear deal brokered by the Obama administration. 

In response to a question about Iran's support of Afghanistan, he called the U.S. presence there "useless."  It intensified the killing.  He noted that even the U.S. now acknowledges the need to negotiate a peace with the Taliban. Taliban delegates have visited Iran, and Iran is hopeful for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

One audience member asked why the U.S. fostered a fear of Iran.  Dr. Kharazi explained it as a way to increase security dependence on the U.S. by countries in the region.  He quoted President Trump as saying: " You want security?  You must pay for it."

He again stated that in the long run, despite the "Iran-phobia," Iran can survive because it has become security independent. 

Other audience questions asked about Iran's role in Yemen, Lebanon, and Syria.  Dr. Kharazi admitted Iran has tried to help the people of Yemen survive the current war, and it has supported the Houthis.  He described Yemenis as poor people who want a share in the future government, which is a "natural right" of people.  He described the war there as "useless" and said Saudi Arabia was violating the rights of Yemenis.  He called it Iran's "duty" to support people under pressure.  He hopes for a Yemeni-Yemeni negotiation that resolves the conflict.

Similarly, Iran supports the Palestinians, even though they are not Shia Muslim.  

On Lebanon and the role of Hezbollah, Dr. Kharazi noted that Hezbollah had been the only regional actor successful in pushing the Israelis out of Lebanon.  Both Egypt and Syria failed to do it.  Hezbollah also fought Daesh in Syria.  "Otherwise, it would be in Lebanon."  Iran supports Hezbollah because of its opposition to Israel, its members belief in Islam, and their quest for a better life.  He acknowledged its increasing power in Lebanese politics.  But, he asserted Iran has had no direct intervention in Lebanon. 

On Syria, the moderator asked about two story lines related to the onset of the conflict.  In one story, the protesters were home-grown and grassroots.  In the other story, they were sponsored by Israel as part of a plot to destabilize the Syrian government.  Dr. Kharazi agreed to the second story line and also explained that the terrorist groups that had caused so much destruction in Syria could not have started without foreign support, arms, and funding. The foreign support came at the service of Israel with the goal of weakening Arab countries.  Dr. Kharazi expects that the revelation of communications and other documents at a later date will support his view of the conflict.

One audience member asked if the Iranian Constitution needed updating.  Dr. Kharazi rejected this suggestion saying that the Constitution is based on Islam.  Islam does not change, so the Constitution needs no updating.

One audience member asked about the role of increasing sectarianism in regional conflicts.  Dr. Kharazi explained that religious factors can be misread.  But, a religious state does not necessarily result in religious misuse. 

The same audience member accused Iran of occupying the capitals of four Arab countries.  Dr. Kharazi asked the questioner to support the allegation.  He admitted Iran has interests in a number of countries, both Arab and non-Arab.  But, it seeks to inspire these countries to create independent survivability despite pressure from outsiders.

The event came across as strongly constrained on both sides of the discussion.  Questions from the audience became more heated just as the moderator ended the session and referred people to the available refreshments.  Dr. Kharazi did not stay during this networking opportunity.

As I listened to the discussion, I kept in mind a new book written by a scholar originally from Iran, Dr. Mehran Kamrava.  His book, Troubled Waters: Insecurity in the Persian Gulf, provides valuable insight into the regional tensions and the role Iran and Saudi Arabia, the competing hegemons, have played in creating and escalating those tensions.  He agrees that Iran, of necessity, has created an independent security structure.  Dr. Kamrava also agrees that the region would experience more stability if Iran again became part of the regional security structure.   My review of his book will appear in the April 2019 issue of The Journal of Arabian Studies.

Missing from the discussion was the announcement this week-end that Iran now has a ballistic missile with a 2,000 kilometer reach. Discussion of the Iranian missile program appears here, here (including a map of Iranian missile facilities), and here.  Commentators say the missiles could reach Israel, as well as many Arab countries in the Levant and the Arab Gulf regions. 

I have described the role of Iran in Qatar's efforts to mitigate the effect of the sanctions imposed on it by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt on June 5, 2017.  See Paula Marie Young, "The Siege of Qatar: Creating a BATNA that Strengthened the Tiny Country’s Negotiating Power," Qatar: Political, Economic, and Social Issues (Nova Science Pubs. expected May 2019).

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Qatar University College of Law 
Wins Prestigious Award for its Legal Skills Program

The Qatar University College of Law won the Law School Award for furthering Global Legal Skills Education at the 13th Global Legal Skills Conference (GLSC) held in Melbourne, Australia, from December 10-12, 2018.

GLSC recognized the law school and its Legal Skills Department for its leading contributions to global legal skills, and in particular, the development of legal skills education in the Middle East and North Africa. 

Dr. Conrad Sturm and Dr. Melissa Deehring accepted the award on the law school’s behalf at the opening plenary of the conference that hosted over 120 participants from law schools around the world. 


Since the inception of its Lawyering Skills Program (LSP) in 2010, the Qatar University College of Law has incorporated legal skills courses and active learning into the curriculum in order to produce more competitive, skillful, and bilingual legal practitioners. 

When it unveiled its current program in 2011, the College established the first comprehensive program in the MENA region in legal writing, research, reasoning, and advocacy as part of its LL.B. degree studies. The program added legal skills courses in English and Arabic to complement the various Arabic-taught courses. 

In February 2018, the LSP program was merged with the Law Clinic and Externship program to become the Legal Skills Department.

Since LSP’s creation, the College of Law has provided extensive support to its faculty and students. It invested heavily in a leading legal skills faculty in the region and has been very supportive of travel for students to moot court and negotiation competitions.

Because of its support, LSP Moot Court students have won thirteen (13) awards since the program’s inception in 2011. Moreover, the College has supported regional and global legal skills gatherings. It has hosted international moot court competitions, such as the Vis Middle East International Commercial Arbitration Pre-Moot, and in 2013, it created an Arabic Moot Court Competition, now the leading regional moot court competition that rotates among law school hosts.

The skills program also includes Alternative Dispute Resolution courses taught by Dr. Francis Botchway, the Distinguished Sir William Chair in Alternative Dispute Resolution.

In addition, the College recently hosted the International Association of Law Schools Annual Meeting and Conference in November that focused on legal skills this year. 

LSD Department Head, Dr. Mohamed Mattar said: “The award speaks to the dedication that College of Law Dean, Mohammed Al Khulaifi, LSD faculty, and law faculty and administrators have shown to advancing legal skills education at QU and in the region.”

Former director of the LSP program from Aug. 2011 - Feb. 2018, Dr. Conrad Sturm, said: “I believe the law school is most deserving of the award. In the face of many challenges over the years, the College of Law stuck with its vision and maintained its unwavering support for legal skills education in Qatar and the region.”

Friday, January 4, 2019

Three Words for 2019

Goal Setting Words for 2019: 
"Expert" and "Support"

"The process of setting intentions and joyfully reflecting on them is how, over time, we transform extrinsic into intrinsic motivations, and thereby sustain the energy and purpose to live true to our best aspirations." 
Thupten Jinpa, Two Exercises for Turning Intention into Motivation.
Starting in 2014, I began picking three words to remind me of my goals for the year. Chris Brogan gave me the idea. Here are his words for 2019 with some tips on choosing the words.

Here he describes the word-choosing process as part of a broader planning process based on the following steps:

  • The Big Story
  • Vision
  • Goals
  • Plans and Milestones
  • Daily Calendar
Brogan says:
You could argue which goes first, a vision or a big story. I’d accept either. But to me, a vision is a story told in goals, so I put it below the big story. The big story is that which we want to believe about our life and our goals and our plan. The vision is how you lay that out into something you can do. Goals are a way of knowing that you’re headed in the direction of your vision and your story. Plans and milestones are what make up goals, and if this doesn’t land on the calendar, you don’t have anything.
The three words are a shorthand representation of your bigger story. It’s kind of like how an icon isn’t the software program. It’s just a way for you to mentally access all the work you’re doing. Make sense?
To my surprise, I started picking yearly words even before Brogan did. My coach, Christine Kane, had encouraged us to pick one word. Here is her tool for finding the right word.

In 2014, I picked: Robin, launch, and wealth. Click on the link for an explanation of why I chose those words.

In 2015, I picked: Well-being, manifestation, and love.

In 2016, I must have completely forgotten about the goal-setting exercise in the midst of my hectic transition to Qatar.

In 2017, it took me awhile to decide on the words that resonated that year. But, I settled on "not even afraid" after I heard it first in French. It recognized my desire to be politically active in a post-Trump world. Brogan would argue that I wasted one word (even) by picking a phrase.

In 2018, the words were very easy to find: "good to go." Again, Brogun would say I wasted two words. I have a bigger criticism. The words were not ambitious, even if still aspirational. I still had to keep doing what was working.

But, they did not reflect how the year unfolded. So, I recommend a six-month review. You may need to change or update the words.

In 2018, I ended up writing five book chapters that apply dispute resolution theory to the blockade of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt. The year-long project was exciting and exhausting. But, in the end, it will help establish me as an English-language expert on the topic.

In 2019, I am expecting to serve as editor for a book on the legal consequences of the blockade. It will give my colleagues a publication opportunity while enhancing my expertise. I can support them in their professional growth. It will be another long, demanding project, in which I will spend over a year herding my colleagues towards a published book.

At the same time, while I stayed in the gym and kept up with my swimming and weight lifting, my fitness level in January 2019 is not what I had expected it would be in January 2018. Too many hours sitting at my desk reading or writing. Accordingly, I recognize I need more support to reach my fitness and health goals.

So, I am picking two words: Expert and Support.

Expert tells me what I believe about my life. It also shows how I expect my work to change or improve the world in the coming year through my leadership. It will be about the books that manifest in 2019 and 2020, along with the related conference presentations and media coverage.

Support will remind me of two things. First, my support for friends, colleagues, and students. But, also the need to find support for my own well-being. I've already started that process when I felt overwhelmed in December. I hired a personal assistant. I also asked my housekeeper to come every week to reset my apartment. And, I once again got weekly massages.

Even so, I need more support from my exercise buddy, my doctors at Al Ahli hospital, and my menopause coach, Dr. Anna Garrett. I also need to think through my evening routine to find ways better ways to spend my evenings. Dinner at the vegetarian restaurant with a friend? Yoga at the nearby center? Walks in the neighborhood while the weather is nice? Grounding in the salt water at the beach?

In June, I will see if these words still work for me.

What words work for you in the coming year?

Sunday, November 18, 2018

My "Absolute Yes" List

Identifying Priorities and 
Giving me Firm Grounds to Say "No"

Several years ago, I read Cheryl Richardson's "Take Time for Your Life."  One big take-a-way was her use of an Absolute Yes list.  She encouraged me to list my top five priorities.  If someone asks me to do something, I will say "no" to the request if it does not relate to my Absolute Yes list.  You can say "no" gently, but you now have a good reason in your own mind for saying "no."  You are standing in your power.

Some of the many blog posts describing the use of this list are here, here, and here.

I recently updated my list.  I have posted it on a whiteboard in my office (not on a 3-by-5 index card as some suggest).

Here it is:

  • Scholarship: 
  • Teaching:
    • Stay open-hearted with my students.
    • Support their professional growth.
  • Community Service:
  • Other:
    • Nurture my expat friendships
    • Blog
    • Fitness and health
      • Swim 500 meters four times a week.
      • Lift weights for 45 to 60 minutes four times a week. 
This ambitious list of things I hope to accomplish over the next year requires time and focus.  I have learned that, especially at QU, faculty members are expected to attend meetings, events, and conferences, often with less than a week's notice.  By having my Absolute Yes list close at hand, I have found it easier to say "no" to these demands on my time.  I want to focus instead on what business coach, Christine Kane, calls my "genius work."

I am also bombarded with requests that I fill out forms, most of which ask for the same information.  I finally hired a personal assistant, at my own expense, to complete these time sinks.  She is also helping me with the book project.  In addition, I asked my housekeeper to come weekly so I feel that my home is "reset" for the coming week.  I also redecorated my office to make it more functional.   All of these changes provided more support for the projects on my list and reduced feelings of being overwhelmed by things I did not want to do.

By adhering to my list and building more support systems, I feel less resentful and more motivated.  It's time to update my goals for the year. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Call for Papers: “The Arab Gulf Conflict: Legal Consequences and Solutions”

Call for Papers

Dear colleagues,

Qatar University Press has asked me to move forward with a proposed book that addresses the legal consequences and solutions arising from the blockade imposed on Qatar by its neighboring countries.  The working title of the book is: “The Arab Gulf Conflict: Legal Consequences and Solutions.”

It is my pleasure to invite you to contribute a chapter to the book.  Please email me at for background information about the blockade.

Topics I expect to discuss in the book include:
  • A Dispute Resolution Analysis of the Causes of the Dispute.
  • Arab Conflict Resolution Strategies.
  • 2103 and 2014 Riyadh Agreements.
  • Thirteen Demands and Six Principles.
  • Do Gulf Countries have the Unilateral Legal Right to Impose Sanctions on Qatar?
  • Legal Concepts of National Sovereignty
  • Laws Governing Military Conflict.
  • Laws Governing Efforts to Force a Change in a Country’s Leadership.
  • Qatar’s Air Transport Rights under International Laws, Treaties, and Agreements.
  • Qatar’s Marine Rights under International Laws, Treaties, and Agreements.
  • Qatar’s Trade and Commercial Rights under International Laws, Treaties, and Agreements.
  • Legal Limitations on Economic Warfare and Sanctions.
  • Laws Protecting Debt Markets and Currency from Manipulation.
  • Legal Protections for the Human Rights of Qatari Citizens, including the right to pursue religious practices, family reunification, movement between countries, education, work, dispose of property, residency, health care, and access to justice and local tribunals
  • Cyberlaws Protecting Qatar and its Government Entities.
  • Legal Rights of Qatari Sports Teams, Athletes, and Broadcasters.
  • Qatari Laws Governing Terrorism Financing and Money Laundering.
  • Law and Tourism.
  • Freedom of Expression and the Press.
  • Criminalizing Expressions of Support for Qatar.
  • Dispute Resolution Capacity of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
  • Dispute Resolution Capacity in the Gulf Region.
  • Does the Research on Arab Conflict Resolution Styles Predict an End to the Blockade through Negotiation or Mediation?
  • Summary and Conclusion.

All submissions must be original and unpublished. The chapters will undergo a rigorous peer-review process.

If you are interested, please send an abstract on one of the listed topics or a related topic to: The abstract deadline is February 1, 2019. The chapter deadline is September 30, 2019.

You are also welcome to forward this invitation to your colleague(s) who may have expertise in one of the listed areas.

I look forward to the possibility of working together.

Yours sincerely, 

Paula Marie Young, J.D., LL.M.
Clinical Professor of Law
College of Law - Qatar University
Phone: +974-4403-7787
Fax: +974-4403-5253
Mobile: +974-3063-5603
P.O. Box: 2713, Doha-Qatar