1/ Permanent Court of Arbitration to open an office in Viet Nam  

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam and the Permanent Court of Arbitration (“PCA”) announced their agreement on 27 October 2021 that the PCA will set up a staffed office in Hanoi to administer PCA hearings and meetings. The Hanoi office will be the PCA’s fifth office outside its Hague headquarters. 

Both Parties expressed their mutual appreciation for the cooperation between Viet Nam and the PCA over the past decade. This cooperation has included Viet Nam’s appointment of PCA Members of the Court, the appointment of Ambassadors of Viet Nam to the Netherlands accredited to represent Viet Nam at the PCA Administrative Council, and the PCA’s role in training Viet Nam’s experts in various legal professions. The Parties believe that the establishment of a PCA representative office will demonstrate Viet Nam’s strong commitment to the peaceful settlement of international disputes and assist in making the PCA’s services more accessible in Viet Nam and the region. 

The establishment of a PCA office in Hanoi represents a step toward further cooperation in the implementation of the goals outlined in the Host Country Agreement signed by the PCA and Viet Nam in 2014.  

Vietnam has participated in many bilateral and multilateral trade agreements in the world. Vietnam is a member of CPTPP, EVFTA, RCEP. These multilateral trade agreements will have the potential for disputes among member states, and the PCA will be an important institution to be able to resolve disputes between the parties. 

It also comes at a time when investor-state dispute mechanisms (“ISDM”) are becoming part and parcel with almost all next-generation free trade agreements. In this light, moving forward, an office in Vietnam’s backyard may offer unique advantages in building, not only its international reputation but also its legal capacity in accessing the services of the court.

2/ Background

The PCA is an intergovernmental organization that provides dispute resolution services for disputes involving states, state entities, international organizations, and private parties. It administers arbitration, mediation, conciliation, and fact-finding commissions of inquiry. There are presently 122 Contracting Parties. 

 Viet Nam became a Contracting Party to the 1907 Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International disputes on 27 February 2012. As a Contracting Party to this founding Convention of the PCA, Viet Nam is represented on the PCA’s panel of independent arbitrators known as Members of the Court. These Members may be called upon to serve as arbitrators in PCA-administered disputes. Viet Nam’s current Members of the Court are Mr. Nguyen Khanh Ngoc, Dr. Nguyen Dang Thang, Dr. Nguyen Thi Hoang Anh, and Dr. Dang Xuan Hop.

3/ Some well-known and Vietnam-related lawsuit cases handled by the PCA, such as:

– The South China Sea arbitration dispute over the interpretation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) between the Philippines and China, rejecting China’s unreasonable claim to the “cow’s tongue line” (PCA Case 2013-19) 

– Investment dispute under the Agreement on Reciprocal Protection of Investments between Vietnam and Netherlands by Mr. Trinh Vinh Binh (PCA Case 2015 -23) 

– The investment dispute related to the Metropolitan Building in Ho Chi Minh City by Mr. Bryan Cockrell (PCA Case 2015-03) 

– In the field of conciliation, the PCA handled the dispute over the maritime demarcation line between Timor-Leste and Australia. 

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