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Matthew Parish

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Matthew Parish (born in Leeds in 1975[1]) is a British international lawyer and international relations expert, based in Switzerland.

Life and career

Parish was born in Leeds, in West Yorkshire, the son of a biochemist and of a social worker, both Oxford graduates.[2]


Parish attended Harrogate Grammar School before he moved to Cambridge University where he graduated from Christ's College, Cambridge in 1996. In 2004, he earned a Master of law degree from the University of Chicago Law School, and a Doctor of Juridical Science in 2007, with a thesis titled 'Reconstructing a divided society: learning from northeast Bosnia' [3]

From 2000, Parish is a non-practicing English barrister, a member of the Swiss bar and a New York attorney since 2005.[2][1]

Parish is the Chair of the International Law Association's New York Committee on the Accountability of International Organizations.[citation needed]

Career and publications

Before 2005 Parish worked in the legal department of the World Bank.[2]

Between 2005 and 2007 Parish worked as head of legal department for the Brcko Final Award Office of the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina (OHR).[1] Shortly after leaving Bosnia in 2007, Parish wrote "The Demise of the Dayton Protectorate",[4] which was later used to argue for closure of the OHR.[5][6] He then moved to Geneva, where he worked in different law firms and held positions as visiting lecturer and Honorary Professor in various universities.[1]

Parish still writes occasional columns for the Sarajevo-based newspaper Oslobodjenje and for the regional online outlet Balkan Insight.[2]

Parish's book on reconstruction in post-war Brcko, A Free City in the Balkans (2009),[7] has attracted domestic and international attention.[8][9] The book has been criticized for being too sceptical of the international community's statebuilding efforts in the country.[10][11]

In 2010 Parish wrote a commentary on the 22 July 2010 decision of the International Court of Justice declaring Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence to be lawful.[12] He expresses the view that while Kosovo's independence was inevitable, judicial determination of the issue was unsatisfactory as a matter of policy.

Parish's book Mirages of International Justice (2011) [13] advances a constructivist account of international law. He thinks sovereign states would never agree to create genuinely impartial and independent international courts that would enforce international law against themselves. Thus international courts are deliberately made powerless, and they occupy precarious roles in the balance of power in which they are liable to make decisions in accordance with Great Power interests. International tribunals proliferate not because states want to see international justice done but because they want to associate themselves with the ideals captured in discourse about international law without making any real commitments. The world of international relations remains an anarchy, but international courts (and indeed international organizations in general) are part of an illusion that the world is ordered in accordance with moral principles. Nevertheless, Parish is a defender of controversial investment treaty arbitration, a system of international law that allows investors to sue states.

Parish was elected as a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum in 2013[14] and has also been named as one of the 300 most influential people in Switzerland by Bilan Magazine.[15]

Parish spoke to the UN General Assembly in April 2013 in a meeting organized by its then President Vuk Jeremic.[16] He chaired a debate about the effectiveness of international criminal justice, and how it might be made more efficient and improved. Parish was a key supporter of and Chief International Political Advisor to Jeremic in his campaign to become elected UN Secretary General in 2016, and his firm, Gentium Law Group, was reported as a principal supporter Jeremic, who came in second behind António Guterres.[17]

Parish has given evidence to both the European Parliament and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs of the US Congress in 2016[18] on issues relating to international organizations and international law. He is an advocate of free trade and open-market economics, and says that international investment is a consequence of free trade.

Parish has published a series of articles[19][20][21] expressing sympathy for the 2017 Catalan independence movement and spent several months mandated to study the independence process in Catalonia.

Parish is a scholar of the jurisprudence of both the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and international criminal law in general.[22][23][24]

Private practice

Since 2014 Parish has been the managing partner of Gentium Law Group, a small international arbitration firm headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. He is reported as having represented a number of governments, including Turkey, Tajikistan and Gulf monarchies, as well as commodities-trading companies in their litigation interests.[2] Gentium was one of the first in a new breed of "boutique" arbitration law firms that involves teams of senior arbitration lawyers splitting away from large established law firms and forming their own smaller practices under new brands. Although the departure of Holman Fenwick's team was known to be extraordinarily acrimonious, Gentium seems to have thrived, while the Geneva office of the law firm from which it departed fared less well.[25] The group was the first firm to be nominated as a Global Arbitration Review Top 100 Law Firm worldwide within the first year of its operation.[26] The Gentium Law Group, has been named by Global Arbitration Review[27] in consecutive years as one of the top one hundred law firms worldwide in its field.

In 2013 and 2018 Parish was named as one of the three hundred most influential people in Switzerland.[28] Parish has also been named as Dispute Resolution Lawyer of the Year in Switzerland, 2018.

Parish was arrested on 29 May 2018 then released by order of the Geneva public prosecutor's office. He is being investigated for defamation, attempted extortion, attempted coercion, contempt of official orders and breach of professional secrecy.[29][30][31] He was detained for three weeks. The complaint was from two Russian oil traders. who said that he used false allegations to blackmail them into paying a grossly inflated legal bill.[32][33][29] The Swiss newspaper Le Temps reported in September 2016 that Parish and two unnamed lawyers in Geneva are being investigated on suspicion of forgery, along with one of Parish's clients. The lawyers are suspected of participating in a sham arbitration relating to alleged corruption. The sham award was allegedly submitted to the English courts for enforcement.[34][35]




  1. ^ a b c d "Dr Matthew Parish". 
  2. ^ a b c d e Biography,
  3. ^ "Holdings: Reconstructing a divided society :". 
  4. ^ Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding December 2007. Retrieved on 2012-06-14.
  5. ^ RS Government Report on the Situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. (PDF) . Retrieved on 2012-06-14.
  6. ^ Speech by Milorad Dodik to the RS National Assembly, 13 October 2008
  7. ^ Matthew Parish, "A Free City in the Balkans: Reconstructing a Divided Society in Bosnia" (London: I.B.Tauris 2009)
  8. ^ Muharem Bazdulj, Brcko kao Gdanjsk ili Trst, Oslobodjenje, 20 March 2010
  9. ^ Kenneth Morrison, Balkan Insight 15 June 2010 Archived 12 July 2012 at Retrieved on 2012-06-14.
  10. ^ Jelena Subotic, Nationalities Papers, 38(3):440 (May 2010)
  11. ^ Jasmin Mujanovic, "An Open Letter to Matthew Parish: Colonialist Clairvoyant?", Politics Re-Spun. Retrieved on 2012-06-14.
  12. ^ Balkan Insight, 28 July 2010 Archived 10 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved on 2012-06-14.
  13. ^ Matthew Parish, "Mirages of International Justice: The Elusive Pursuit of a Transnational Legal Order" (London: Edward Elgar 2011)
  14. ^ "List of 2013 Young Global Leaders Honourees" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-02-23. 
  15. ^ "Bilan | La référence suisse de l'économie, finance, immobilier, entreprises". Retrieved 2017-02-23. 
  16. ^ "Neither Justice Nor Reconciliation". 2013-04-17. Retrieved 2017-02-23. 
  17. ^ "Gentium Law founder supports UN leadership bid". 
  18. ^ Joint Subcommittee Hearing: Establishing Accountability at the World Intellectual Property Organization: Illicit Technology Transfers, Whistleblowing, and Reform, Foreign Affairs, 24 February 2016
  19. ^ "Reflection on the Catalan conundrum". 2017-10-09. 
  20. ^ "Sequestering Catalonia". 2017-10-27. 
  21. ^ "Catalan Independence". 2017-10-29. 
  22. ^ "Robust International Criminal Justice System Gives 'Much-Needed Voice to Victims' of Serious Crimes, Secretary-General Tells General Assembly | Meetings Coverage and Press Releases". 2013-04-10. Retrieved 2017-02-23. 
  23. ^ "International criminal law - justice or mirage?". 2013-05-02. Retrieved 2017-02-23. 
  24. ^ "International Justice: Progress or Mirage? – by Matthew Parish | Edward Elgar Publishing BLOG". 2012-08-10. Retrieved 2017-02-23. 
  25. ^ Harris, Joanne (2015-01-06). "Another arbitration boutique is born as HFW Geneva partner quits with team". thelawyer. 
  26. ^ "GAR 100 - 9th Edition". 
  27. ^ "GAR Arbitration Surveys". Retrieved 2017-02-23. 
  28. ^ "The Legal 500". 
  29. ^ a b "GAR Article: English lawyer arrested in Geneva after blackmail complaint". 
  30. ^ Miller, Hugo; Hoffman, Andy (2018-06-06). "Telling Tale About Russian Client Lands Swiss Lawyer in Jail". Retrieved 2018-06-08. 
  31. ^ Besson, Sylvain (31 May 2018). "Un avocat anglais arrêté à Genève pour chantage". Le Temps (in French). Retrieved 2018-06-08. 
  32. ^ "Telling Tale About Russian Client Lands Swiss Lawyer in Jail". 
  33. ^ "Swiss lawyer jailed for telling tales about Russian business clients to British & US agencies". 
  34. ^
  35. ^ "A Genève, trois avocats et un cheikh sont inculpés pour faux arbitrage". 

External links