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  Arbitration refers to dispute-settlement by a third party who attempts to negotiate a compromise or settlement between two or more antagonists. The concept of arbitration is normally contrasted with mediation. Arbitration implies that the arbiter has the capacity to impose a solution, and this capacity has normally been acknowledged by the antagonists in advance of the final settlement. Mediators, by contrast, normally lack the right and ability to impose a settlement. Because arbitration may involve flexible principles partially agreed in advance by the participants, it must be distinguished from adjudication, which follows firmly established procedures set by legal precedent.

Arbitration as a conflict-resolution mechanism in international relations began with the Jay Treaty between the USA and Britain in 1794. In 1899, the Permanent Court of Arbitration was established in The Hague, providing a pool of arbiters for international conflicts. While the Court has contributed to the resolution of several conflicts, the role of arbitration in international conflicts has been less prominent than originally envisaged, partly because of the transformation of the Court into a more strictly legal body. As a result, the Court of Arbitration competes (unfavourably) with other regional and international bodies, most notably the International Court of Justice and regional juridicial bodies such as the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice. However, the practice of placing arbitration clauses in treaties between and among states and corporate bodies is still common.

Arbitration more generally is increasingly used as a desirable dispute-settlement device in technical matters, because the parties to the dispute can nominate technical specialists as arbiters rather than rely on (expensive) lawyers. BO\'L

Further reading J.G. Merrills, International Dispute Settlement; , A.H.A. Soons, International Arbitration: Past and Prospects.



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