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Parties to the dispute have complete freedom in respect of the structure of the commission. Parties normally determine the structure of the commission through the provisions of the Inquiry Convention. Otherwise, conventions provide a recommended structure that can be used by the parties. Article 13 of the 1907 Convention seems nevertheless to introduce a provision that must be followed if one of the commissioners was not able to perform his functions. In effect, this article does not allow the parties to change the procedure for filling the vacancy for a substitute commissioner, as it has to be the same as for the original commissioners. At the same time, in practice, it is doubtful that this provision can create any potential limitation to the freedom of the parties to change procedures by mutual consent. This provision did not exist in the 1899 Convention, and was introduced only in the 1907 Convention. In addition, Article 16 appears to require appointment of a Secretary-General (whose office serves as a registry) of the Commissions that are sitting outside of The Hague. It appears that since this provision touches on the issues related to the institution as a whole, and not simply a particular dispute (as Article 13 does), it would be more difficult to change this provision by mutual consent of the parties, especially taking into account the ‘public’ role of the registry. Article 16 of the 1907 Convention provides that if the Commission is sitting at The Hague the International Bureau of the PCA acts as a registry.

There is yet considerable difference between the 1899 and 1907 Conventions in respect of the regulation of the election of the members of the commission in those cases where the parties chose not to select their own procedure. Namely, the 1899 Convention allows parties to chose the commissioners at will OR from the list of members of the PCA (Art.32). In contrast, the 1907 Convention does not allow this degree of flexibility, instead it provides that commissioners “must be chosen from the general list of Members of the Court.” (Art. 45). In addition, while both provisions provide that each party chooses one commissioner, the latter provision requires that commissioners have to be of different nationalities or from different national groups of the PCA. Both provisions hold that commissioners together choose an Umpire. Yet, the 1907 Convention provides further rules for dealing with grid-lock situations, as well as specifies that the Umpire becomes the “President of the Tribunal ex officio” and that “when the Tribunal does not include an Umpire, it appoints its own President.”

See 'documents' for general comments on the 1997 Optional Rules.
The recommended number of commissioners is one, three or five, and if parties do not select the number of commissioners, one commissioner should proceed with the inquiry. Reviving provisions under the 1899 Convention (Art. 32), the new Optional Rules no longer requires appointment of the commissioners from the list of the members of the PCA.

   
         
   
   
         
   

   
         
   

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