European Treaty Series - No. 23
European Convention for the Peaceful Settlement of Disputes
The governments signatory hereto, being members of the Council of Europe,
Considering that the aim of the Council of Europe is to achieve a greater unity between its members;
Convinced that the pursuit of peace based upon justice is vital for the preservation of human society and civilisation;
Resolved to settle by peaceful means any disputes which may arise between them,
Have agreed as follows:
Chapter I – Judicial settlement
The High Contracting Parties shall submit to the judgement of the International Court of Justice all international legal disputes which may arise between them including, in particular, those concerning:
athe interpretation of a treaty;
bany question of international law;
cthe existence of any fact which, if established, would constitute a breach of an international obligation;
dthe nature or extent of the reparation to be made for the breach of an international obligation.
1The provisions of Article 1 shall not affect undertakings by which the High Contracting Parties have accepted or may accept the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice for the settlement of disputes other than those mentioned in Article 1.
2The parties to a dispute may agree to resort to the procedure of conciliation before that of judicial settlement.
The High Contracting Parties which are not parties to the Statute of the International Court of Justice shall carry out the measures necessary to enable them to have access thereto.
Chapter II – Conciliation
1The High Contracting Parties shall submit to conciliation all disputes which may arise between them, other than disputes falling within the scope of Article 1.
2Nevertheless, the parties to a dispute falling within the scope of this article may agree to submit it to an arbitral tribunal without prior recourse to the procedure of conciliation.
When a dispute arises which falls within the scope of Article 4, it shall be referred to a Permanent Conciliation Commission competent in the matter, previously set up by the parties concerned. If the parties agree not to have recourse to that Commission, or if there is no such Commission, the dispute shall be referred to a special Conciliation Commission, which shall be set up by the parties within a period of three months from the date on which a request to that effect is made by one of the parties to the other party.
In the absence of agreement to the contrary between the parties concerned, the Special Conciliation Commission shall be constituted as follows:
The Commission shall be composed of five members. The parties shall each nominate one Commissioner, who may be chosen from among their respective nationals. The three other Commissioners, including the President, shall be chosen by agreement from among the nationals of third States. These three Commissioners shall be of different nationalities and shall not be habitually resident in the territory nor be in the service of the parties.
If the nomination of the Commissioners to be designated jointly is not made within the period provided for in Article 5, the task of making the necessary nominations shall be entrusted to the government of a third State, chosen by agreement between the parties, or, failing such agreement being reached within three months, to the President of the International Court of Justice. Should the latter be a national of one of the parties to the dispute, this task shall be entrusted to the Vice-President of the Court or to the next senior judge of the Court who is not a national of the parties.
Vacancies which may occur as a result of death, resignation or any other cause shall be filled within the shortest possible time in the manner fixed for the nominations.
1Disputes shall be brought before the Special Conciliation Commission by means of an application addressed to the President by the two parties acting in agreement or, in default thereof, by one or other of the parties.
2The application, after giving a summary account of the subject of the dispute, shall contain the invitation to the Commission to take all necessary measures with a view to arriving at an amicable solution.
3If the application emanates from only one of the parties, the other party shall, without delay, be notified of it by that party.
1In the absence of agreement to the contrary between the parties, the Special Conciliation Commission shall meet at the seat of the Council of Europe or at some other place selected by its President.
2The Commission may at all times request the Secretary General of the Council of Europe to afford it his assistance.
The work of the Special Conciliation Commission shall not be conducted in public unless the Commission with the consent of the parties so decides.
1In the absence of agreement to the contrary between the parties, the Special Conciliation Commission shall lay down its own procedure, which in any case must provide for both parties being heard. In regard to enquiries, subject to the provisions of this Convention, the Commission, unless it decides unanimously to the contrary, shall act in accordance with the provisions of Part III of The Hague Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes of 18th October 1907.
2The parties shall be represented before the Conciliation Commission by agents whose duty shall be to act as intermediaries between them and the Commission; they may be assisted by counsels and experts appointed by them for that purpose and may request that all persons whose evidence appears to them desirable shall be heard.
3The Commission shall be entitled to request oral explanations from the agents, counsels and experts of both parties, as well as from all persons it may think desirable to summon with the consent of their governments.
In the absence of agreement to the contrary between the parties, the decisions of the Special Conciliation Commission shall be taken by a majority vote and, except in relation to questions of procedure, decisions of the Commission shall be valid only if all its members are present.
The parties shall facilitate the work of the Special Conciliation Commission and, in particular, shall supply it to the greatest possible extent with all relevant documents and information. They shall use the means at their disposal to allow it to proceed in their territory, and in accordance with their law, to the summoning and hearing of witnesses or experts and to visit the localities in question.
1The task of the Special Conciliation Commission shall be to elucidate the questions in dispute, to collect with that object all necessary information by means of enquiry or otherwise, and to endeavour to bring the parties to an agreement. It may, after the case has been examined, inform the parties of the terms of settlement which seem suitable to it and lay down the period within which they are to make their decision.
2At the close of its proceedings, the Commission shall draw up a procès-verbal stating, as the case may be, either that the parties have come to an agreement and, if need arises, the terms of the agreement, or that it has been impossible to effect a settlement. No mention shall be made in the procès-verbal of whether the Commission's decisions were taken unanimously or by a majority vote.
3The proceedings of the Commission shall, unless the parties otherwise agree, be terminated within six months from the date on which the Commission shall have been given cognisance of the dispute.
The Commission's procès-verbal shall be communicated without delay to the parties. It shall only be published with their consent.
1During the proceedings of the Commission, each of the Commissioners shall receive emoluments, the amount of which shall be fixed by agreement between the parties, each of which shall contribute an equal share.
2The general expenses arising out of the working of the Commission shall be divided in the same manner.
In the case of a mixed dispute involving both questions for which conciliation is appropriate and other questions for which judicial settlement is appropriate, any party to the dispute shall have the right to insist that the judicial settlement of the legal questions shall precede conciliation.
Chapter III – Arbitration
The High Contracting Parties shall submit to arbitration all disputes which may arise between them other than those mentioned in Article 1 and which have not been settled by conciliation, either because the parties have agreed not to have prior recourse to it or because conciliation has failed.
1The party requesting arbitration shall inform the other party of the claim which it intends to submit to arbitration, of the grounds on which such claim is based and of the name of the arbitrator whom it has nominated.
2In the absence of agreement to the contrary between the parties concerned, the Arbitral Tribunal shall be constituted as follows:
The Arbitral Tribunal shall consist of five members. The parties shall each nominate one member, who may be chosen from among their respective nationals. The other three arbitrators, including the President, shall be chosen by agreement from among the nationals of third States. They shall be of different nationalities and shall not be habitually resident in the territory nor be in the service of the parties.
If the nomination of the members of the Arbitral Tribunal is not made within a period of three months from the date on which one of the parties requested the other party to constitute an Arbitral Tribunal, the task of making the necessary nominations shall be entrusted to the government of a third State, chosen by agreement between the parties, or, failing agreement within three months, to the President of the International Court of Justice. Should the latter be a national of one of the parties to the dispute, this task shall be entrusted to the Vice-President of the Court, or to the next senior judge of the Court who is not a national of the parties.
Vacancies which may occur as a result of death, resignation or any other cause shall be filled within the shortest possible time in the manner fixed for the nomination.
The parties shall draw up a special agreement determining the subject of the dispute and the details of procedure.
In the absence of sufficient particulars in the special agreement regarding the matters referred to in Article 23, the provisions of Part IV of The Hague Convention of 18th October 1907 for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes shall apply so far as possible.
Failing the conclusion of a special agreement within a period of three months from the date on which the Arbitral Tribunal was constituted, the dispute may be brought before the Tribunal upon application by one or other party.
If nothing is laid down in the special agreement or no special agreement has been made, the Tribunal shall decide ex aequo et bono, having regard to the general principles of international law, while respecting the contractual obligations and the final decisions of international tribunals which are binding on the parties.
Chapter IV – General provisions
The provisions of this Convention shall not apply to:
adisputes relating to facts or situations prior to the entry into force of this Convention as between the parties to the dispute;
bdisputes concerning questions which by international law are solely within the domestic jurisdiction of States.
1The provisions of this Convention shall not apply to disputes which the parties have agreed or may agree to submit to another procedure of peaceful settlement. Nevertheless, in respect of disputes falling within the scope of Article 1, the High Contracting Parties shall refrain from invoking as between themselves agreements which do not provide for a procedure entailing binding decisions.
2This Convention shall in no way affect the application of the provisions of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms signed on 4th November 1950, or of the Protocol thereto signed on 20th March 1952.
1In the case of a dispute the subject of which, according to the municipal law of one of the parties, falls within the competence of its judicial or administrative authorities, the party in question may object to the dispute being submitted for settlement by any of the procedures laid down in this Convention until a decision with final effect has been pronounced, within a reasonable time, by the competent authority.
2If a decision with final effect has been pronounced in the State concerned, it will no longer be possible to resort to any of the procedures laid down in this Convention after the expiration of a period of five years from the date of the aforementioned decision.
If the execution of a judicial sentence or arbitral award would conflict with a judgement or measure enjoined by a court of law or other authority of one of the parties to the dispute, and if the municipal law of that party does not permit or only partially permits the consequences of the judgement or measure in question to be annulled, the Court or the Arbitral Tribunal shall, if necessary, grant the injured party equitable satisfaction.
1In all cases where a dispute forms the subject of arbitration or judicial proceedings, and particularly if the question on which the parties differ arises out of acts already committed or on the point of being committed, the International Court of Justice, acting in accordance with Article 41 of its Statute, or the Arbitral Tribunal, shall lay down within the shortest possible time the provisional measures to be adopted. The parties to the dispute shall be bound to accept such measures.
2If the dispute is brought before a Conciliation Commission the latter may recommend to the parties the adoption of such provisional measures as it considers suitable.
3The parties shall abstain from all measures likely to react prejudicially upon the execution of the judicial or arbitral decision or upon the arrangements proposed by the Conciliation Commission and, in general, shall abstain from any sort of action whatsoever which may aggravate or extend the dispute.
1This Convention shall remain applicable as between the Parties thereto, even though a third State, whether a Party to the Convention or not, has an interest in the dispute.
2In the procedure of conciliation the parties may agree to invite such a third State to intervene.
1In judicial or arbitral procedure, if a third State should consider that its legitimate interests are involved, it may submit to the International Court of Justice or to the Arbitral Tribunal a request to intervene as a third party.
2It will be for the Court or the Tribunal to decide upon this request.
1On depositing its instrument of ratification, any one of the High Contracting Parties may declare that it will not be bound by:
aChapter III relating to arbitration; or
bChapters II and III relating to conciliation and arbitration.
2A High Contracting Party may only benefit from those provisions of this Convention by which it is itself bound.
1The High Contracting Parties may only make reservations which exclude from the application of this Convention disputes concerning particular cases or clearly specified subject matters, such as territorial status, or disputes falling within clearly defined categories. If one of the High Contracting Parties has made a reservation, the other Parties may enforce the same reservation in regard to that Party.
2Any reservation made shall, unless otherwise expressly stated, be deemed not to apply to the procedure of conciliation.
3Except as provided in paragraph 4 of this article, any reservations must be made at the time of depositing instruments of ratification of the Convention.
4If a High Contracting Party accepts the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice under paragraph 2 of Article 36 of the Statute of the said Court, subject to reservations, or amends any such reservations, that High Contracting Party may by a simple declaration, and subject to the provisions of paragraphs 1 and 2 of this article, make the same reservations to this Convention. Such reservations shall not release the High Contracting Party concerned from its obligations under this Convention in respect of disputes relating to facts or situations prior to the date of the declaration by which they are made. Such disputes shall, however, be submitted to the appropriate procedure under the terms of this Convention within a period of one year from the said date.
A Party which is bound by only part of this Convention, or which has made reservations, may at any time, by a simple declaration, either extend the scope of its obligations or abandon all or part of its reservations.
The declarations provided for in paragraph 4 of Article 35 and in Article 36 shall be addressed to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, who shall transmit copies to each of the other High Contracting Parties.
1Disputes relating to the interpretation or application of this Convention, including those concerning the classification of disputes and the scope of reservations, shall be submitted to the International Court of Justice. However, an objection concerning the obligation of a High Contracting Party to submit a particular dispute to arbitration can only be submitted to the Court within a period of three months after the notification by one party to the other of its intention to resort to arbitration. Any such objection made after that period shall be decided upon by the arbitral tribunal. The decision of the Court shall be binding on the body dealing with the dispute.
2Recourse to the International Court of Justice in accordance with the above provisions shall have the effect of suspending the conciliation or arbitration proceedings concerned until the decision of the Court is known.
1Each of the High Contracting Parties shall comply with the decision of the International Court of Justice or the award of the Arbitral Tribunal in any dispute to which it is a party.
2If one of the parties to a dispute fails to carry out its obligations under a decision of the International Court of Justice or an award of the Arbitral Tribunal, the other party to the dispute may appeal to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. Should it deem necessary, the latter, acting by a two-thirds majority of the representatives entitled to sit on the Committee, may make recommendations with a view to ensuring compliance with the said decision or award.
1This Convention may be denounced by a High Contracting Party only after the conclusion of a period of five years from the date of its entry into force for the Party in question. Such denunciation shall be subject to six months' notice, which shall be communicated to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, who shall inform the other Contracting Parties.
2Denunciation shall not release the High Contracting Party concerned from its obligations under this Convention in respect of disputes relating to facts or situations prior to the date of the notice referred to in the preceding paragraph. Such dispute shall, however, be submitted to the appropriate procedure under the terms of this Convention within a period of one year from the said date.
3Subject to the same conditions, any High Contracting Party which ceases to be a member of the Council of Europe shall cease to be a party to this Convention within a period of one year from the said date.
1This Convention shall be open for signature by the members of the Council of Europe. It shall be ratified. Instruments of ratification shall be deposited with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.
2This Convention shall enter into force on the date of the deposit of the second instrument of ratification.
3As regards any signatory ratifying subsequently, the Convention shall enter into force on the date of the deposit of its instrument of ratification.
4The Secretary General of the Council of Europe shall notify all the members of the Council of Europe of the entry into force of the Convention, the names of the High Contracting Parties who have ratified it and the deposit of all instruments of ratification which may be effected subsequently.
In witness whereof the undersigned, being duly authorised thereto, have signed the present Convention.
Done at Strasbourg, this 29th day of April 1957, in English and French, both texts being equally authoritative, in a single copy which shall remain deposited in the archives of the Council of Europe. The Secretary General shall transmit certified copies to each of the signatories.