Author: Mauro Rubino-Sammartano**
Published: December 2012
Description: It seems appropriate that the opening address of the International School of Arbitration and Mediation of the Mediterranean and the Middle East, which has been instituted by our European Court of Arbitration, be delivered in Venice, the unique aristocratic Republic with glorious trade and maritime traditions with Europe and the East. These traditions, thanks to Marco Polo, reached China, while two other great Italian explorers, Christopher Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci, respectively discovered the Americas and gave these new continents their name. These are traditions which, in this world dominated by materialism, may have been forgotten by many, but not by those who have done their classics and who wish that the Mediterranean would come back to discharge – on an intellectual level – the great role which has always characterized it.
Since the seventeenth century the center of business, and of military and political power, has moved away from “mare nostrum,” and the old civilizations of the Mediterranean and Middle East have been unable, separately, to remain top players in the new intellectual and spiritual set up of the world. However, united, they may find again their ancient intellectual strength and faith. This seems to me to be the goal in order to give to our new generation this opportunity and a greater intellectual drive.
This is not to oppose other civilizations, but to discuss and to participate with them in that intellectual movement, which is a great driver of human beings. The reflections which I propose that we share today concern arbitration and our territory. Much has been and is being written in this respect. It is frequently said that one does not see a tree because his/her attention is absorbed by the forest. Others do not see the forest because they concentrate too much on a single tree. I would propose another metaphor: We do not know a tree if we are unable to understand its roots. I suggest, then, that we try to dig in this direction in the ground of arbitration.
**President, European Court of Arbitration