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Peaceful settlement of disputes, Valletta, 15 January - 8 February 1991

The Conference of Valletta


1. The participating States reaffirm their commitment to abide by international law and their determination to respect and fully implement all CSCE principles and provisions.

2. In conformity with international law, including the Charter of the United Nations, and in accordance with the relevant CSCE principles and provisions, the participating States will refrain from resorting to the threat or use of force to settle their disputes, and will seek a peaceful settlement thereof.

3. The participating States recognize that recourse to, or acceptance of, a settlement procedure freely agreed to by States with regard to existing or future disputes to which they are parties is not incompatible with the sovereign equality of States. A request to have recourse to a settlement procedure does not constitute an unfriendly act.

Dispute prevention 

4. The participating States will seek to prevent disputes and to develop, utilize, and improve mechanisms designed to prevent disputes from occurring, including, as appropriate, arrangements and procedures for prior notification and consultation regarding actions by one State likely to affect significantly the interests of another State.

Dispute management 

5. Should disputes nevertheless occur, the participating States will take particular care not to let any dispute among them develop in such a way that it will endanger international peace and security, and justice. They will take appropriate steps to manage their disputes pending their settlement. To that end, the participating States will:

(a) address disputes at an early stage;

(b) refrain throughout the course of a dispute from any action which may aggravate the situation and make more difficult or impede the peaceful settlement of the dispute;

(c) seek by all appropriate means to make arrangements enabling the maintenance of good relations
between them, including, where appropriate, the adoption of interim measures which are without prejudice to their legal positions in the dispute.

Dispute solution

6. As laid down in the Helsinki Final Act and subsequent relevant documents, the participating States will endeavour in good faith and in a spirit of co-operation to reach a rapid and equitable solution of their disputes on the basis of international law, and will for this purpose use such means as negotiation, enquiry, good offices, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement or other peaceful means of their own choice, including any settlement procedure agreed to in advance of disputes to which they are parties. To that end, the participating States concerned will in particular:

(a) consult with each other at as early a stage as possible;

(b) in case they cannot settle the dispute among themselves, endeavour to agree upon a settlement procedure suited to the nature and characteristics of the particular dispute;

 (c) where a dispute is subject to a dispute settlement procedure agreed upon between the parties, settle the dispute through such procedure, unless they agree otherwise;

(d) accept, in the context of the CSCE Procedure for Peaceful Settlement of Disputes and its scope of applicability, the mandatory involvement of a third party when a dispute cannot be settled by other peaceful means.

Information from participating States 

7. The participating States will, upon request from a participating State involved in a dispute, make best efforts to provide information regarding appropriate methods for the settlement of such dispute.

Continued efforts 

8. In the event of failure to reach a solution within a reasonable time through the method agreed upon, the participating States parties to the dispute will continue to seek a way to settle the dispute peacefully.

Strengthening of commitments 

9. The participating States will strengthen their commitments relating to the peaceful settlement of disputes. To that end, they will in particular:

(a) endeavour to include, in their future treaties, clauses providing for the settlement of disputes arising from the interpretation or application of those treaties, and to consider whether or not there is an appropriate role for a third party, be it mandatory or non-mandatory;

(b) refrain to the extent possible from making reservations to dispute settlement procedures;

(c) consider withdrawing reservations they may have made regarding dispute settlement procedures embodied in multilateral treaties;

(d) consider accepting the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice, either by treaty or by unilateral declaration under Article 36, paragraph 2, of the Statute of the Court, and minimizing, where possible, any reservations attached to such a declaration;

(e) if they have made such a declaration accompanied by one or more reservations or if they do so in the future, consider withdrawing such reservations;

(f) consider submitting by special agreement to the International Court of Justice or to arbitration, using
the Permanent Court of Arbitration, as appropriate, those disputes which lend themselves to such procedures;

(g) to the extent feasible, become party to other appropriate treaties, and other international agreements on dispute settlement;

(h) make wider use of international dispute settlement institutions;

(i) consider accepting the jurisdiction of international bodies for the peaceful settlement of disputes or
control mechanisms, established by multilateral treaties pertaining, inter alia, to the protection of human rights, or, as the case may be, withdrawing existing reservations in respect of such mechanisms;

(j) examine means of establishing and strengthening mechanisms for securing compliance with binding decisions taken in the framework of the peaceful settlement of disputes;

(k) work actively within the international community for the advancement of methods for the peaceful settlement of disputes.

Information to natural or legal persons 

10. In relation to disputes between them that are of special relevance to particular natural or legal persons, the participating States will, as they deem appropriate, provide information to those persons and hear their views.