The Permanent Court of Arbitration was established by the Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, concluded at The Hague in 1899 during the first Hague Peace Conference. The Conference had been convened at the initiative of Czar Nicolas 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”.

Among the aims of the Conference had been the strengthening of systems of international dispute resolution—especially international arbitration. The 1899 Convention was revised at the second Hague Peace Conference in 1907. Both Conventions serve as the PCA’s founding conventions.

Today, the PCA provides services for the resolution of disputes involving various combinations of states, state entities, intergovernmental organizations, and private parties. These services are provided through the PCA’s Secretariat, the International Bureau, which is headed by its Secretary-General, and is composed of an experienced team of legal and administrative staff of various nationalities. The primary function of the International Bureau is to provide administrative support in respect of arbitration, conciliation, mediation, fact-finding, expert determination, and other dispute resolution proceedings. The PCA’s caseload reflects the breadth of its involvement in international dispute resolution, encompassing territorial, treaty, and human rights disputes between states, as well as commercial and investment disputes.

The PCA has 122 Contracting Parties which have acceded to one or both of the PCA’s founding conventions.  

The Permanent Court of Arbitration works on the following Sustainable Development Goals of the UN