PH envoy urges fuller use of PCA’s dispute settlement facilities

June 17, 2024, 6:22 pm Updated on June 17, 2024, 8:22 pm

<p><strong>SIGNIFICANT.</strong> Philippine Ambassador to the Netherlands J. Eduardo Malaya delivers remarks at the opening session of the Congress of the Members of the Court of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) held at the Peace Palade in the Hague on June 12-14, 2024. The historic three-day session commemorated the PCA’s 125th anniversary.<strong><em> (Contributed photo)</em></strong></p>

SIGNIFICANT. Philippine Ambassador to the Netherlands J. Eduardo Malaya delivers remarks at the opening session of the Congress of the Members of the Court of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) held at the Peace Palade in the Hague on June 12-14, 2024. The historic three-day session commemorated the PCA’s 125th anniversary. (Contributed photo)

MANILA – The unprecedented growth in the number of cases being heard under the auspices of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) has been highlighted as its Congress of the Members of the Court concluded its historic three-day session commemorating the organization’s 125th anniversary at the Peace Palace in the Hague on June 12 to 14.

“The PCA can be proud of its significant contributions to the peaceful settlement of disputes, as cited by the UN General Assembly in a unanimous resolution in August last year, as well as in the development of international law,” Philippine Ambassador to the Netherlands J. Eduardo Malaya said in remarks at the opening session of the Congress.

Malaya, acting president of the PCA’s Administrative Council, urged the Member States “to more proactively support the PCA and its activities, and fully utilize its dispute settlement facilities in the interest of the maintenance and preservation of peace and the promotion of justice.”

He underscored the need for the PCA to remain dynamic, relevant, and responsive to the evolving dispute resolution needs of the international community.

“Diplomatic efforts to obtain and maintain peace must be supported by international law and facilitated by dispute resolution mechanisms like the PCA and the International Court of Justice,” Malaya said.

“With the resurgence of grave armed conflicts around the world, including in the doorsteps of Europe, it is our generation’s turn to carry on this solemn trust and collective duty to do our utmost for the cause of peace and justice and the rule of law, with the PCA – ‘accessible to all’ and ‘at all times, -- at the heart of this endeavor,” he added.

With the theme “A Court Fit for Its Time: Pursuing the Evolution of the Permanent Court of Arbitration for the Fulfilment of its Promise,” the event was attended by some 163 members of the Court and legal advisers representing 110 of the 123 Contracting Parties of the organization.

The four Members of the Court from the Philippines attended the Congress, namely former ICC Judge Raul Pangalangan, former Ateneo Law Dean Sedfrey Candelaria, former Ateneo School of Government Dean Antonio Gabriel La Vina, and Ambassador Malaya.

Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra was also present as the Philippines’ Legal Adviser, accompanied by Assistant Solicitor General George Ortha and Senior State Solicitor Joel Villaceran.

The Congress is only the third time that the Members of the Court gathered for a meeting in the PCA’s 125-year history. The last time such a meeting took place was 25 years ago, in 1999 during the Centennial of the PCA.

In 2023 the PCA experienced an unprecedented growth: with a record-breaking 82 new cases registered during the year, the PCA handled 246 proceedings. It has one of the biggest caseloads among international courts and tribunals.

At the opening session, PCA Secretary-General Marcin Czepelak noted the significance of the anniversary:

“The PCA is a history of cases, a history of international law, a history of international courts and organization, a history of The Hague and the Peace Palace... The 1899 Hague Peace Conference was the first truly international assembly of states for the promotion of peace, a precursor of the League of Nations, and has witnessed the growth of the United Nations and has shaped the current international law landscape,” he said.

Sir Daniel Bethlehem KC, a barrister, arbitrator and former legal adviser to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth, delivered the keynote address: “The PCA has been an unqualified success, but it can do more.”

Ambassador Francois Alabrune also spoke as the chairperson of the Special Working Group for the 125th Anniversary of the PCA.

A highlight of the Congress was the adoption by the Members of the Court of a resolution containing their recommendations for the growth, development and continuing relevance of the organization, including further developing relations with the United Nations.

A series of presentations and discussions on the theory and practice of arbitration and conciliation, as well as side events were conducted before and during the three-day Congress, including a well-applauded performance by the University of the Philippines Concert Chorus held on June 6 at The Hague’s Diligentia Theatre, upon arrangement by the Embassy of the Philippines (

The Members of the Court are “potential arbitrators appointed by each Contracting Party who have known competency in questions of international law, of the highest moral reputation and disposed to accept the duties of arbitrators.” It also constitutes a “national group” which is entitled to nominate candidates for the election to the International Court of Justice and other international tribunals, and the Nobel Peace Prize.

The PCA is the only intergovernmental organization with the mandate to facilitate arbitration, conciliation, fact-finding and other dispute settlement resolution proceedings among various combinations of State, State entities, intergovernmental organizations and other private parties.

Established by the 1899 Convention on the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, it has 123 Contracting Parties, including the Philippines which joined the PCA in 2010.

The PCA International Bureau is currently administering six inter-state arbitrations, one other inter-state proceeding, 102 arbitrations arising under bilateral or multilateral investment treaties or national investment laws, 97 arbitrations arising under contracts involving a state or other public entity, and five other proceedings ( (PR)