Dispute Resolution Experience

Since 2015, Ms Vicien Milburn has acted as an arbitrator in investment and commercial disputes, particularly those involving sovereign States. Representative matters include:

  • Co-arbitrator appointed by the State in Imeks Insaat Makina Elektrik Konstrüksiyon Sanayi Limited Sirketi v. Turkmenistan (ICSID Case No. ARB/21/23);
  • Co-arbitrator appointed by the State in Marko Mihaljevic v. Croatia (ICSID Case No. ARB/19/35);
  • Co-arbitrator appointed by a West African State in an ICC Arbitration brought by a European claimant concerning a commercial contract in the aviation sector;
  • Co-arbitrator appointed by a Middle Eastern State in an ICC Arbitration brought by a Middle Eastern claimant concerning a procurement contract;
  • Co-arbitrator appointed by a State of the former Yugoslavia in an UNCITRAL arbitration under the auspices of the PCA brought by a German claimant concerning an investment contract;
  • Sole arbitrator in an ICC arbitration between Middle Eastern parties in a dispute in the telecommunications sector;
  • Sole arbitrator in an ICC arbitration between a European company and a North African company arising out of a procurement contract.

Ms Vicien Milburn also currently serves as judge and adjudicator on multiple international tribunals:

  • Since 2022, a judge of the Administrative Tribunal of the International Monetary Fund (IMF);
  • Since 2020, a judge of the Administrative Tribunal of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB);
  • Since 2019, a member of the Sanctions Board of the World Bank and since 2021, appointed Chair of the Board;
  • Since 2018, a judge of the Administrative Tribunal of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD);
  • Since 2017, designated on the list of panelists of the Dispute Settlement Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

In her thirty-five year career within the United Nations System, Ms Vicien Milburn acted as in-house counsel in the context of dozens of disputes across the globe, including several major arbitrations involving UN organizations.

United Nations Career

Ms Vicien Milburn joined the United Nations in 1976, where she served as a Legal Officer, first at UNCITRAL (United Nations Commission on International Trade Law) and beginning in 1978 at the General Legal Division of the Office of Legal Affairs of the United Nations (UN) in New York.

In 1985, she joined the UN Administrative Tribunal (UNAT) as a Registrar. There she managed the Registry, was responsible for issuing more than 50 judgments per year and provided substantive, technical and administrative support to the UNAT judges in the adjudication of more than 500 cases.

Ms Vicien Milburn went on to serve as Deputy Director (1999) and Director (2005) of the General Legal Division of the Office of Legal Affairs of the UN where she managed and resolved a wide variety of commercial and construction disputes involving the UN through arbitration, conciliation and negotiation. She also negotiated major contracts between the UN and private contractors for the supply of goods and services to the UN; represented the UN in disputes related to the prosecution of fraud and the recovery of assets, which included supervising the conduct of internal investigations; and represented the UN in multiple jurisdictions to assert its privileges and immunities in the context of litigation instituted against the UN in national courts. In addition, she prepared the UN Secretary General’s proposal of 7 December 2007 to the Security Council for a dispute resolution mechanism to resolve mass claims resulting from the “Oil-for-Food Program”, a multi-billion dollar humanitarian program to ease the sanctions imposed on Iraq. Last but not least, as member of the UN Justice Council in 2008, Ms Vicien Milburn advised the General Assembly of the UN on the establishment of a two-tier UN Internal Justice system, which included arbitration.

From July 2009 until October 2014, Ms Vicien Milburn acted as UNESCO’s General Counsel in Paris. She provided legal advice to UNESCO, its Member States and its governing bodies on all issues arising from UNESCO’s activities, particularly with respect to the interpretation and implementation of international treaties relating to education, science, culture and sport. At the same time, she managed and resolved disputes involving UNESCO through negotiation, mediation and arbitration in the sales, supply of goods and services, construction, and employment fields. She also provided advice on the establishment and implementation of rules of procedure for the resolution of disputes by mediation and conciliation under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in Case of Illicit Appropriation.

In November 2014, Ms Vicien Milburn was one of the five individuals appointed by the UN Secretary General to the UN Board of Inquiry to investigate and report on specific incidents that occurred on UN property during the 2014 conflict in Gaza. The report was submitted to the UN Security Council in April 2015.

Since 2017, she has been a member of the Independent Advisory Oversight Committee of the World Intellectual Property Organization, and during 2019 its President. She has also acted as a consultant to the Office of the Registrar of the International Criminal Court.

Academic Pursuits

In 2003, Ms Vicien Milburn took a sabbatical from the UN to become a Visiting Fellow at Columbia University School of Law where she undertook research on the use of public international law in investment arbitration under the direction of Professors José Alvarez and Petros C. Mavroidis. She continues to work, publish and co-author articles in the field of commercial and investor-State arbitration.

In 2013, she received the Mayre Rasmussen Award for the Advancement of Women in International Law, granted by the International Law Section of the American Bar Association.