Chapter 1: A short history of the arbitral settlement of interstate disputes until the establishment of the PCIJ
Time and again in the centuries-old history of interstate relations there have emerged ideas arguing that states have to submit their disputes for third party settlement, especially to adjudication as an alternative to war. Such conceptions can be traced to old legends, according to which disputes between states or sovereigns were settled by arbitration. The records that have come down to us suggest that in more than one case bitter disputes were submitted to arbitration and the majority of arbitral awards were executed by the parties. In other words, it seems that recourse to arbitration was for centuries a rare but successful means of settling interstate disputes. Arbitration between ancient Greeks was rather widespread. Relying on cases treated by various authors, Taube estimates that over five hundred years, from the 7th to the middle of the 2nd century B.C., the number of cases settled by arbitration between the city-states (polis) ran to about 110. Some sort of arbitration was practised in theory by the Senate between allies (socii) in the Roman Empire, but one cannot speak of genuine arbitration at the time of the Roman Empire as Rome sought to have even the institution of arbitration serve its own expansionist aspirations. As Nicolas Politis rightly points out ‘Rome considered itself as the arbitrator of the world, accepted to be judge, but not to be justiciable’.