José Antonio Rivas is a Founding Partner of Xtrategy in Washington D.C. (2019) and Bogotá (2018), and Chair of the Arbitration and International Law practice at Xtrategy. Admitted to practice in the District of Columbia, United States, and the Republic of Colombia, he works as international counsel in investment and commercial disputes, serves as arbitrator, and provides advice in public international law and investment law to sovereign clients, state companies, and investors. He is Co-Founder of the World Arbitration Update and the Washington Arbitration Week.
With 18 years of experience in international investment and commercial arbitration, he has a sophisticated understanding from working in multiple capacities, including as counsel for sovereign clients and investors under the rules of arbitration of ICSID, UNCITRAL, ICC and the Japan Commercial Arbitration Association (JCAA), arbitrator in international and domestic arbitrations, former lead negotiator of investment treaties for the Republic of Colombia, and former ICSID Legal Counsel.
As partner of Xtrategy, in 2022, he won a JCAA arbitration— including damages and costs—on behalf of a client specialized in project finance, who provided services for a major solar renewable development project. Previously, he worked as a senior associate at Arnold & Porter LLP. There, he represented sovereign States in matters of public international law, international litigation and arbitration under the ICSID, ICC and UNCITRAL Rules. He has been counsel to clients from Latin America, North America, Asia and Europe in arbitrations related to infrastructure and highway concessions, the energy and hydrocarbon sectors, real estate and environmentally sensitive projects. He has advised Caribbean States and CARICOM member States on their investment treaty model, including the drafting of provisions aimed at enabling States to sue investors for breach of investment treaties.
Additionally, he successfully represented the Republic of Colombia, achieving dismissal of the San José Galleon case, a USD 17 billion lawsuit filed by Sea Search Armada (SSA) before US Federal Courts. Before joining private practice, José Antonio served as Director of Foreign Investment at the Colombian Ministry of Trade, where he led the negotiations of investment treaties with fifteen countries including those with Canada, China, India, Switzerland and the United Kingdom amongst others. In that position, he routinely led workshops for government officials to strengthen the prevention of disputes and worked with the business community resolving investment disputes. Early in his career he served as an ICSID Legal Counsel, analyzing cases submitted before that center, advising its Secretary General on the registration or rejection of those cases and working on issues related to challenges of arbitrators. He also served as Secretary of arbitration tribunals advising arbitrators on the applicable arbitration rules.
José Antonio is Professor of Investment Treaty Arbitration, Public International Law, and Landmark Judgments of the ICJ and Public International Law at Georgetown University Law Center, where he obtained his doctorate – Science Juris Doctor (SJD) with Distinction – and his Master of Laws (LL.M.). He is a lawyer and economist from the Universidad de Los Andes in Colombia. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a member of the ICSID Panel of Conciliators, and a member of the arbitration panels of the American Arbitration Association / International Center for Dispute Resolution (AAA / ICDR) and the Inter-American Commission on Commercial Arbitration (CIAC).
He is the author of more than 20 publications on investment treaty arbitration, public international law and international trade law, including the books International Treaties and Investment Arbitration: Experiences of Colombia and Comparative Law (Ibañez, 2019), Revolution in the International Rule of Law: Essays in Honor of Don Wallace (Juris, 2014), of which he is co-editor and co-author. He is a frequent lecturer on issues of international arbitration and public international law; and is fluent in English, Spanish and French.