Permanent court of arbitration

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Logo of the Permanent Court of Arbitration

The Permanent Court of Arbitration ( English Permanent Court of Arbitration , PCA , French Cour d'arbitrage permanent , CPA ) is based on the Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907 and has been furnished to the peaceful resolution of international conflicts. The Arbitration Panel, based in The Hague ( Netherlands ) since 1900 , is an administrative body without direct decision-making powers. The PCA is not an international court in the strict sense of the word. It only provides the parties to a dispute with the structures to resolve a dispute through arbitration.


Seat of the permanent court of arbitration: The Peace Palace (“Vredespaleis”), The Hague.

The international arbitration must distinguish between private and state arbitration. Private arbitration is mainly used in the economic sector. Parties to arbitration proceedings are, on the one hand, natural persons and, on the other hand, legal persons under private law, especially companies.

Parties to state arbitration, on the other hand, can be states , state sub-units and legal entities under public law (corporations, institutions, foundations), but also international government organizations such as the WTO or the WHO .

The majority of arbitration proceedings, however, are contested by private parties. In contrast to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) or the International Court of Justice for the Sea (ISGH), the parties determine the composition of the bench in arbitration proceedings. Arbitration also offers the parties to the dispute a high degree of flexibility. In addition to the person and number of arbitrators, the parties can also determine the time frame and procedural rules.

These possibilities lower the hurdles for states to submit to such a procedure. A court with only a few judges, especially judges appointed by the parties, seems to instill more trust in the states in dispute resolution than a court like the ICJ, which is made up of fifteen judges who may represent all of the world's legal systems.

But the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea also offer the states these possibilities of influencing the choice of judges to a limited extent through ad hoc judges or the formation of chambers. In some cases, this is seen as a convergence of the two forms of international dispute resolution. Indeed, in some of the existing arbitration tribunals, it is very difficult to distinguish between arbitration and international jurisdiction. Especially since there is a clear trend towards permanent arbitration courts in international arbitration.

The instrument of the ad hoc tribunal is hardly used at all for dispute settlement between states. Instead, the permanent arbitration tribunals enjoy strong demand. This applies above all to the commercial arbitration courts; the arbitration elements at the IGH and the ISGH, however, are used very little. Since there was the possibility of ad hoc chambers at the ICJ, only four cases have been heard before an ad hoc chamber, all of them in the 1980s. Presumably, states assume a lack of authority and public opinion in ad hoc chambers and therefore prefer normal proceedings before an international court.


Court of Arbitration for the Fisheries Dispute between Great Britain and the USA in The Hague, 1910

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) was established by the Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes (English for agreement of July 29, 1899 for the peaceful settlement of international disputes ), which was signed by 24 nations, as part of the Hague Peace Conferences on July 29 Created 1899 and October 18, 1907. The PCA was founded in order to "facilitate the direct appeal to arbitration for international disputes that could not be settled through diplomatic channels." The establishment of compulsory arbitration at the second Hague Peace Conference failed due to resistance from the German Reich , "[ ...] which the time for a general compulsory arbitration has not yet come due to a lack of sufficient experience and mankind for the time being did not [consider] ripe. "

The PCA was established in 1900 and started work two years later. It is not an international court in the narrower sense and is not an arbitration tribunal capable of acting directly, but merely an institution that facilitates the referral of arbitration in international disputes. In addition to a list of judges, there is an office with information and mediation functions. a. Provides assistance to states that seek to resolve a conflict through an arbitration tribunal. The first case dealt with by the Court of Arbitration was the California church property dispute between Mexico and the United States of America . It was settled by an arbitration award on October 14, 1902.

The PCA was most frequently used between its founding and the outbreak of the First World War . After the end of the Second World War , the invocation of the PCA fell very sharply. It was only after the end of the Cold War that the PCA saw increased use again.

So far (as of July 2019) a total of 122 states have joined the Court of Arbitration.


Parties to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (2019)
  • according to the 1907 Convention
  • according to the 1899 Convention
  • no party
  • Selection of treated cases:


    The organs of the Permanent Court of Arbitration are the International Bureau , led by the Secretary General, and the Permanent Administrative Council . The Board of Directors oversees the activities of the International Office and is composed of diplomatic representatives from the signatory states . The costs of the office are borne by the contracting powers of the Hague Conventions . It takes care of the ongoing administrative business of the court of arbitration, acts as a court clerk and archives the documents relating to the arbitration negotiations conducted within the scope of the court of arbitration.

    The office of the PCA maintains an official list with a total of 285 arbitrators, from which the parties to the dispute can choose the judges in proceedings under the PCA. Each state can nominate up to four people of their own or foreign citizenship. The entry in the list takes place over a period of six years and reappointment is permitted. The persons to be named must have recognized expertise in questions of international law and enjoy the highest moral respect. To form an arbitration tribunal, the parties to the dispute select judges from the list kept by the PCA's office and agree on the further procedure in an arbitration settlement (compromis).

    The premises of the Permanent Court of Arbitration can also be used for an ad hoc arbitration tribunal that does not take place within the framework of the PCA, i.e. through the selection of judges from the list. Appeal of the members of the Tribunal must be made in accordance with the arbitration rules of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Legislation ( UNCITRAL ). Thereafter, the parties to the dispute can agree on any number of judges divisible by three. Usually there are between three and nine judges. One third of the judges is determined directly by the disputing parties. The last third is appointed by the judges already selected. In the event that an agreement cannot be reached, the remaining judges will be appointed by the Appointing Authority .


    Web links

    Individual evidence

    1. The arbitration award on the Newfoundland Fisheries Question . In: The Peace Watch . tape 12 , no. October 10 , 1910, p. 184 , JSTOR : 23796643 .
    2. List of member states. Permanent Court of Arbitration, accessed July 29, 2019 .
    3. ^ Arbitration Between the Italian Republic and the Republic of India. (PDF; 149 kB) Permanent Court of Arbitration, November 6, 2015, accessed on July 17, 2016 (English).
    4. ^ The Republic of Philippines v. The People's Republic of China. Permanent Court of Arbitration, July 12, 2016, accessed July 12, 2016 .