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Speech on the Role of the PCA Today

On February 12, 2013, PCA Secretary-General Hugo Siblesz addressed the American Society of International Law on the occasion of the launch of the Howard M. Holtzmann Research Center for the Study of International Arbitration and Conciliation. This event was held at the headquarters of the American Society at Tillar House in Washington, DC. The Secretary-General’s remarks were followed by comments from Judge Stephen M. Schwebel.

The Secretary-General recounted Howard Holtzmann’s long involvement with the PCA and his efforts to breathe new life into the organization. Recalling the dormancy of the PCA in 1981, when Judge Holtzmann first arrived in The Hague, the Secretary-General gave an account of recent growth at the PCA and declared that “the long, patient efforts of Holtzmann and others have borne fruit.”

The Secretary-General then proceeded to examine the unique nature of the PCA as an organization active in inter-State arbitration, in investment arbitrations under bilateral and multilateral treaties, and in commercial arbitrations involving States, State entities, and international organizations. Although specialized institutions exist in several of these fields, the Secretary-General observed that “choice has a value of its own” and that the existence of multiple fora encourages innovation. The Secretary-General further noted the benefits the PCA derives from working in multiple areas of dispute resolution, recalling that “international disputes are not easily separated into watertight containers, and neither are the means to address them.”

In closing, the Secretary-General submitted that

“The PCA is as viable, and as needed, today when it was conceived more than 100 years ago – thanks in no small part to the contribution of Howard Holtzmann. It provides, together with the other institutions now active in the field of international dispute settlement, a potent contribution to the range of diplomatic, institutional, and legal tools available to practically address international disputes. And in a world in which international interactions and disputes continue to evolve at a ferocious pace, the flexible mandate given to the PCA in 1899 is one of its greatest advantages.”

The full text of the Secretary-General’s speech is available here.

A video recording of the full event is available on the ASIL website here.

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