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Trends and challenges in international dispute resolution

Support for peaceful resolution for international disputes is progressively growing and given that we are living in an interconnected, in fact an interdependent world, a multilateral cooperation is the most suitable way forward. Effective International Dispute Resolution (IDR) can play a vital role in fostering diplomatic relations, maintaining global stability, and facilitating economic growth. International dispute arises when two or more international parties find themselves in some kind of disagreement or conflict. These parties can be states, non-state actors or international organizations.
Article 2(3) OF UN Charter requires that its members settle their international dispute by peaceful means and Article 33(1) requires that: “The parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.”
Through ‘negotiation’ parties try to resolve their dispute by direct communication, without involving any third party. In ‘mediation’ a neutral third party is involved as a ‘mediator’ that facilitates communication, and assists parties in reaching an agreement. While terms mediation and conciliation are often used interchangeable, a ‘conciliator’ has a more active role as compared to mediator. A conciliator can offer advice, suggestions and solutions to reach a settlement. ‘Arbitration’ and ‘judicial settlement’ are both methods of resolving disputes of a legal nature. In arbitration a private thirds party makes a binding decision on a formal dispute submitted by parties. Judicial settlement involves adjudication by court or tribunal that renders decision based on legal principles and laws.
Enquiry (or inquiry) can be done independently or as a part of previously mentioned dispute resolution mechanisms for fact-finding. Pakistan since its inception has often found itself entangled in disputes. It has approached these disputes through various peaceful resolution mechanisms, including arbitration and adjudication, particularly when legal implications are involved. In the famous RekoDiq case, Pakistan resorted to international arbitration to resolve a commercial dispute. Another notable example is when Pakistan approached the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav on charges of espionage and terrorism.
Pakistan can widely benefit from IDR by undertaking necessary legal and administrative reforms, like aligning its domestic dispute resolution framework with international standards. Political instability can impede the credibility and efficacy of IDR mechanisms, while Pakistan’s relationships with neighboring countries and geopolitical tensions can further complicate the resolution of international disputes. It’s imperative to address these and other challenges hindering effective IDR mechanisms.
Like other aspects of international affairs, international dispute resolution mechanisms are also influenced by emerging trends. Pakistan can adapt to these trends to enhance its effectiveness in resolving disputes. Important trends to look for in development of IDR include AI technology, which can be utilized for analyzing documents, identifying relevant case laws and advanced legal research. It can facilitate cross-border negotiation providing real-time translation services.
Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) is another cost effective and convenient method to facilitate dispute resolution. It offers several benefits for e-commerce and trade as it is a faster, economical and efficient method as compare to traditional courts or arbitration proceedings. There is an ongoing debate on alternative methods that could be adopted for enhanced transparency and accountability, and Pakistan can benefit from these modern trends if it eventually keeps pace with them.
Peaceful dispute resolution mechanisms are keys to ensuring global stability and facilitating economic growth. In recent years, Pakistan has increasingly opted for peaceful dispute resolution practices. To harness its full potential, Pakistan must address issues that hinder effective peaceful resolution and adapt to modern trends.

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