Howard Holtzmann.

Author:Rovine, Arthur

I first met Howard Holtzmann in May of 1981 at the new Iran/U.S. Claims Tribunal. Howard had just been named one of the three American arbitrators on the Tribunal, and I had just been named U.S. Agent to the Tribunal. After we met, he immediately took me to see Pieter Sanders, a leading expert in international arbitration. It was very clear from the outset that Howard also knew a lot about international arbitration. I knew he had been a labor arbitrator and, in fact, that's how he earned his great reputation. I knew nothing at that time about international arbitration but I certainly learned a lot from Howard at the outset, as so many people did. He was a great teacher.

Initially, we met as a group--the Iranian arbitrators, the Americans--and we selected three Europeans to serve as chairmen, and Howard was the de facto leader of the group. We turned to procedure, and Howard really shined. He loved procedure. It was his thing. If he were an academic, he'd be teaching a course in international arbitration procedure. It's what he loved most. And as we adapted the UNCITRAL Rules, which had been formally adopted in 1976, to the needs of this Tribunal in 1981, there was a lot of work to be done. It took us months, but Howard had the precision, the imagination, the sensitivity. He knew--really knew--what had to be done. And it was done. And the rules were successfully adapted to the needs of the Tribunal, and so we then went into the cases.

And there too, was Howard ... he might not have talked as much about the substance of the issues. Nevertheless, he wrote beautifully. He wrote persuasively, and to this day I have, when I serve as an arbitrator, cases from the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal cited to me in the written pleadings and in the oral argument. And some of it comes directly from Howard Holtzmann.

He went on to do much more for UNCITRAL. The contribution was enormous. The rules had to be brought up to date, and so they were in 2010. It took four years to do that, going back and forth between the UN in New York, and the UN in Vienna. But we did it. I was there, representing the New York City Bar Association, and it was a pleasure to watch Howard at work on these rules, because there was the same precision and accuracy, and the close attention to detail, and with the same imagination he had showed before. And so ultimately after four years those rules were done, but he didn't stop there.

The UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules, of course, are just one...

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