Permanent Court of Arbitration

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Permanent Court of Arbitration
Cour permanente d'arbitrage
Permanent Court of Arbitration - Cour permanente d'arbitrage.svg
Seal of PCA
Established 1899
Country Worldwide, 119 parties
Location The Hague, Netherlands
Coordinates 52°05′12″N 4°17′44″E / 52.0866°N 4.2955°E / 52.0866; 4.2955
Authorized by Hague Peace Conference
Seat of the PCA: The Peace Palace ("Vredespaleis"), The Hague.
Parties of the Permanent Court of Arbitration
  according to the convention of 1907
  according to the convention of 1899
  not a party
PCA courtroom.
Prinsegracht 71, The Hague, a building dating from about 1728, which was the seat of the PCA between 1901 and 1913, when the construction of the Peace Palace was completed.
North Atlantic Fisheries Arbitration at the Permanent Court of Arbitration, Prinsegracht 71, The Hague, 1910.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) is an intergovernmental organization located at The Hague in the Netherlands. The PCA is not a court, but rather a bureaucracy that provide services of arbitral tribunal to resolve disputes between member states, international organizations, or private parties arising out of international agreements.[1][2] The cases span a range of legal issues involving territorial and maritime boundaries, sovereignty, human rights, international investment, and international and regional trade. It should not be confused with the International Court of Justice which is the primary judicial branch of the United Nations, while the PCA is not a UN agency.[3][4][5]

The PCA was established in 1899 by the first Hague Peace Conference. The Peace Palace was built for PCA in The Hague in 1913. The building also houses the separate International Court of Justice.


The PCA is not a “court" in the conventional understanding of that term but an administrative organization with the object of having permanent and readily available means to serve as the registry for purposes of international arbitration and other related procedures, including commissions of enquiry and conciliation.[6] The judges or arbitrators that hear cases are officially called "Members" of the Court.

The public at large is usually more familiar with the International Court of Justice than with the Permanent Court of Arbitration, partly because of the closed nature of cases handled by the PCA and also the small number of cases dealt with between 1946 and 1990. Sometimes even the decision itself is kept confidential at the request of the parties. Many decisions and related documents are available on the PCA's website. The court's caseload has increased since then.[7] Some media have incorrectly described the tribunal as "UN tribunal" or "UN-backed tribunal", the UN does not back the tribunal and the incorrect UN or UN-backed attribute confuses the PCA with the UN's ICJ. [8][9]

Income and expenses[edit]

The income of the PCA relies on the arbitration services it provides to its clients.[2] Unlike the judges from the International Court of Justice who are paid by the UN,[10] members of the PCA are paid from that same income the PCA earns.[11]

Fees and Costs[edit]

The Permanent Court of Arbitration is not a Non-governmental organization. The arbitrators charge and get paid by the case. It is not clear how to divide the money between the arbitrators and the court. There are fixed costs for certain procedures such as a non-refundable processing fee of €2000. For arbitration cases, there are no fixed costs, the costs can vary from case to case and the costs are negotiable.[12]


As of March 2016, 119 countries are parties to one or both of the founding Conventions of the PCA.[13]


The court is one of the oldest institutions for international dispute resolutions. The court was established in 1899 by the first Hague Peace Conference under Articles 20 to 29 of the 1899 Hague Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes. At the second Hague Peace Conference, the earlier Convention was revised by the 1907 Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes. The Conference was convened at the initiative of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia "with the object of seeking the most objective means of ensuring to all peoples the benefits of a real and lasting peace, and above all, of limiting the progressive development of existing armaments."[14]

There have been only 16 arbitration requests accepted (the outcome was accepted by the parties involved) in the PCA's 117 year history.[15]


The partial list:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About us | PCA-CPA". Retrieved 2016-05-23. 
  2. ^ a b "Services - PCA-CPA". 
  3. ^ "Arbitral court not a UN agency". The United Nations said on Wednesday it has nothing to do with the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), which set up a tribunal that handled the South China Sea arbitration case the Philippines filed unilaterally in 2013. 
  4. ^ "United Nations stresses separation from Hague tribunal". The United Nations clarified on its Chinese microblog yesterday that the tribunal that ruled against China’s historic claims over the disputed South China Sea was not a UN agency. 
  5. ^ "International Court of Justice". Retrieved 14 July 2016. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) wishes to draw the attention of the media and the public to the fact that the Award in the South China Sea Arbitration (The Republic of the Philippines v. The People’s Republic of China) was issued by an Arbitral Tribunal acting with the secretarial assistance of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA). The relevant information can be found on the PCA’s website ( The ICJ, which is a totally distinct institution, has had no involvement in the above mentioned case 
  6. ^ Shabtai Rosenne, "The Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907 and International Arbitration: Reports and Documents", T.M.C. Asser Press (2001), page xxi.
  7. ^ Sir Kenneth Keith ONZ QBE QC, "Member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration" in Timothy L.H. McCormack & Cheryl Saunders, ed., Sir Ninian Stephen: A Tribute, Miegunnyah Press (2007), p. 174. See also Permanent Court of Arbitration 106th Annual Report, p.1, available at
  8. ^ "Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General". Retrieved 20 July 2016. the UN doesn't have a position on the legal and procedural merits of the case or on the disputed claims. 
  9. ^ "Arbitral court not a UN agency". Retrieved 20 July 2016. the use of terms such “UN tribunal” or “UN-backed tribunal” - frequently reported by Western media - is incorrect, as they confuse the PCA with the UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ). 
  10. ^ "Issue 85 - November 12 - Five Judges Elected to International Court of Justice -". 
  11. ^ Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang's Regular Press Conference on July 13, 2016
  12. ^ "FAQ, PCA-CPA". Retrieved 2016-07-14. The costs of arbitration vary from case to case. To promote maximum flexibility in each case, the PCA has no fixed fee schedule. The PCA assists the parties and tribunal in finding a fee arrangement that is most appropriate for the case. 
  13. ^ "PCA-CPA". 
  14. ^ Loukas A. Mistelis (1 May 2010). Arbitration Rules-International Institutions-3rd Edition. Juris Publishing, Inc. p. 300. ISBN 978-1-933833-56-9. 
  15. ^ "UN and ICJ reaffirms non-relation to South China Sea Arbitral Tribunal". Manila Bulletin. July 16, 2016. 
  16. ^ Judge George H. Aldrich, "The Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal" in P. Hamilton et al., ed., The Permanent Court of Arbitration: International Arbitration and Dispute Resolution, Kluwer Law International (1999), p. 208.
  17. ^ "PCA-CPA". 
  18. ^ "PCA-CPA". 
  19. ^ "PCA-CPA". 

Further reading[edit]

  • Hudson, Manley O. (June 1943). "Chapter 1. The Permanent Court of Arbitration". The Permanent Court of International Justice 1920-1942 (A Treatise). New York: The Macmillan Company. pp. 3–36 Sections 1–32.  - The relevant chapter includes information about a number of cases referred to the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

External links[edit]