Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Here we are at day sixteen in Europe! Only a few days left until we return home. Some of us are ready to go home while others are wishing we could stay forever. It is day four in Paris and the morning started off as usual with breakfast in the hotel. We met in the hotel lobby by 9AM and then ventured off to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) for a business presentation.
Upon arrival at the ICC, we were guided into a presentation room where we were provided with beverages including water, tea, or coffee. The introductory presentation was given to us by Mary Kelly, Director of Editorial and Internal Communications. Mary is an American who has been working in France for the past 14 years. She provided us with general information regarding the ICC.
Mary explained to us that the ICC was established in 1919 by a group of businessmen who wanted to standardize international trade as a means of increasing trade relations and maintaining an open market in hopes of keeping peace between countries. Its headquarters are based in Paris at the facility that we visited today. Mary detailed how the ICC functions with its 6.5 million business including Fortune 500 companies as well as small to medium sized businesses (SMEs).
The ICC writes guidelines and rules regarding international trade. These rules are voluntarily followed by businesses who want to develop, enhance, or promote standardization in their trade agreements. After Mary’s thorough presentation, her colleague Alma Fargo, who is a deputy counsel in the Court of Arbitration, provided us with an in-depth presentation on the ICC’s Court of Arbitration.
Alma explained to us that the Court of Arbitration is a place of dispute resolution. It was founded in 1923 just a few years after the ICC itself was established. Two parties are brought together to resolve their conflicts or disputes using the procedures of the Court of Arbitration which are revised and published every 10 years. Any business has the choice to use the ICC’s Court of Arbitration if they please. Businesses do not need to be members in order to comply with ICC’s guidelines.
Usage of the Court of Arbitration can be made legally binding by inserting a clause into the contract/agreement of any trade relationship between two businesses. Alma details that by doing so, businesses must use and adhere to the Court of Arbitration rulings for all disputes deriving from the relationship between the two businesses. Dispute resolution generates the ICC approximately $65,689,593 annually.
After the thorough presentation, Alma answered some questions from us regarding arbitrators’ workload, working at the ICC, and dispute scenarios. (To learn more about the ICC, visit their website: ICCWBO)
After our visit to the ICC, we hopped on a train and travelled to Versailles. Upon arrival, the group split up to find food. We met up an hour later and went to tour the Château de Versailles (Palace of Versailles) where King Louis XIV lived in the 17th century. The palace included grandiose paintings and furniture of brilliant colors. Walking through the palace felt like walking through a fairytale. Each room was decorated in breathtaking artwork and no two rooms looked the same. The walls were adorned in gold décor and expensive paintings. Chandeliers of different styles hung in many rooms and the ceilings depicted artistic masterpieces.
Once we completed our tour of the palace, some of us decided to leave Versailles while others explored the vast and breathtaking Garden of Versailles. The view of the garden was magnificent! Some of us decided to rent a one hour golf cart to ride around in the garden while others chose to walk. The garden contained pathways of lush forestry and shrubbery. Flowers climbed the walls of the garden as fountains reflected sunlight.
The trip to Versailles was definitely an amazing and memorable event. Tomorrow marks our last day in Europe before our departure back home. It surely will be bittersweet.