National Groups: Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)

by Remy Jorritsma

This paper was first published as ‘MPILux Working Paper 8 (2017)’. The full and final text is now available online as an entry of the Max Planck Encyclopedia of International Procedural Law, published by OUP at

Introduction: A National Group is a group of up to four persons appointed by a Member State of the Permanent Court of Arbitration. The sum of all individuals in National Groups constitute a list of qualified persons available to act as arbitrators when appointed by States in arbitration procedures under the auspices of the PCA. Moreover, each National Group has the exclusive right to nominate candidates for the election of judges to the International Court of Justice (Art 4 Statute International Court of Justice). Finally, National Groups from States party to the Rome Statute may be tasked with the nomination of candidates for election as judge to the International Criminal Court (Art 36 (4) (a) (ii) Rome Statute)).

This entry examines in detail the special roles given to National Groups, or the individuals belonging to them, within the realm of the legal settlement of international disputes. Whereas National Groups at the beginning of the twentieth century had only one prerogative (ie to form a list of potential arbitrators), their subsequent complementary role in the selection of international judges has taken on such importance that the primary function of National Groups nowadays is that of a nominating body. This entry also analyses various factors grounded in institutional-procedural law and practice that give rise to (the potential for) governmental control or interference over the nomination process. Depending on the attitude of the State concerned, these factors may render nominations for the international judiciary more politicized than was originally foreseen when this system was introduced.