Host Country Agreements
To make its dispute resolution services more widely accessible, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (“PCA”) has adopted a policy of concluding “Host Country Agreements” with states that are contracting parties to either the 1899 or 1907 Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes.
Dispute resolution administered by the PCA includes arbitration, mediation, conciliation, and fact-finding commissions of inquiry. Through a Host Country Agreement, the host country and the PCA establish a legal framework under which future PCA-administered proceedings can be conducted in the territory of the host country on an ad hoc basis, without the need for a permanent physical PCA presence in that territory. Dispute resolution proceedings may be administered by the PCA, whether or not they are conducted pursuant to the 1899 or 1907 Conventions for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, or any of the PCA’s optional rules of procedure, thus guaranteeing to the parties in dispute the maximum degree of procedural autonomy.
The PCA and the host country cooperate to ensure that adjudicators, PCA staff, and participants in proceedings (such as counsel, agents, and witnesses) are able to perform their functions under similar conditions to those guaranteed under the PCA’s Headquarters Agreement with the Kingdom of The Netherlands. Importantly, the Host Country Agreement secures the provision by the host country of the facilities and services required for PCA-administered proceedings (such as office and meeting space and secretarial services) and regulates the privileges and immunities that are afforded by the host country to adjudicators and participants in PCA-administered proceedings (such as certain fiscal exemptions and immunity, under certain conditions, from legal process in respect of words spoken or written). The PCA and the host country may also establish a PCA facility in the territory of the host country.
Thus, the Host Country Agreement allows parties in dispute who are located in or near the host country to take full advantage of the flexibility and efficiency of PCA-administered proceedings in the territory of the host country.
The wider benefits of the Host Country Agreement to the host country, neighboring states, and parties in dispute include:
- Attracting arbitrations to the host country that would otherwise be conducted elsewhere
- Raising the international profile of the host country as an arbitral forum
- Increasing domestic and regional awareness of arbitration and other methods of dispute settlement offered by the PCA
- Promoting use of arbitral institutions located in the host country
- Strengthening cooperation between the PCA and national or regional arbitral institutions and facilitating the exchange of expertise
- Increasing the accessibility of PCA-administered dispute resolution
The PCA has signed Host Country Agreements with the Argentine Republic, the Republic of Costa Rica, the Lebanese Republic, the Republic of Mauritius, the Republic of Singapore, the Republic of South Africa, the Republic of India, and Chile.