To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
Thursday morning’s panel focused on the appropriate role of dispute resolution in promoting peace. The appropriate role for the settlement for pacific disputes is currently a hot topic in international law, as Steven Hill, of NATO’s office of legal affairs acknowledged. The discussion of the pacific settlement of disputes necessarily begins with Article 33 of the United Nations Charter, which empowers the UN Security Council to call upon parties to resolve disputes through “negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.”
Judge Stephen Schwebel of the International Court of Justice and Permanent Court of Arbitration argued that Article 33 is underused, but has led to important successes in the UN system and in international arbitration. Judge Schwebel pointed to Japan’s acceptance of the recent PCA decision against it in the Japan-Australia whaling case, compared to its responses to decisions under the League of Nations as an example of how far the system has come. Judge Schwebel also discussed the border cases that have been decided through international arbitration, such as the Libya/Chad, Ethiopia/Eritrea, and Sudan/South Sudan disputes. While not all of the awards have been accepted by both sides and successfully implemented, Judge Schwebel noted that parties have followed the majority of decisions.
Professor Won Kidane distinguished between dispute resolution towards internal armed conflict and international armed conflict. Professor Kindane argued that the current UN system is unable to mitigate internal armed conflict because the system is inaccessible to the people on the ground engaged in the conflict. Conversely, Professor Kindane maintained that the UN system is better equipped to handle international armed conflict because it was specially designed to do so. Furthermore, Professor Kindane argued that the existence of the UN system might cause some states to hesitate and consider the consequences before engaging with another state.
Moderator Anna Spain asked the important question of whether there should be a standardized system for settling disputes. In response, Mr. Hill raised one of the most critical challenges facing a standardized system: the lack of political will. States will not support putting a losing case in the hands of a third party when it can bear the costs of remaining in the conflict.
Jolynn Shoemaker brought balance to the panel by highlighting the human aspect of international dispute resolution as a peacebuilding tool. Ms. Shoemaker presented a series of stark statistics about the affect of ongoing conflict and noted a disconnect between formal and informal processes of dispute resolution. Ms. Shoemaker argued that we are entering an age in participation with new focus on including civil society organizations, women, and new stakeholders in dispute resolution to promote more sustainable peace.
Brittany Hilbert is a Law Fellow at the Public International Law and Policy Group where she advises clients in Burma and South Sudan on peace negotiations, constitutional reform, and transitional justice. Follow her on Twitter at @HilbertBrittany.