The arbitration process exists to impose binding solutions to Wikipedia conduct disputes that neither community discussion nor administrators have successfully resolved. Arbitration on the English Wikipedia is conducted by a panel of experienced users named the Arbitration Committee (ArbCom), which is elected annually by the community and governed by the arbitration policy (ARBPOL). In addition to adjudicating serious disputes, this committee also resolves issues by private hearings if factors such as privacy may preclude public consideration. The Committee has significant autonomy to address unresolvable issues among the community, but at the same time does not exist to subvert community consensus, to adjudicate matters of article content (Wikipedia has no "content committee"), or to decide matters of editorial or site policy. This Arbitration Committee's jurisdiction extends only to the English Wikipedia, although some other Wikimedia projects have their own committees.
Elections are conducted annually, in December. Nominations usually open about a month beforehand, in November. The successful candidates are typically long-term, experienced editors of Wikipedia. No candidate has ever been appointed who is not an administrator (usually with years of experience), although there is no prohibition against appointments of non-administrators. However, candidates must be adults in their country of residence in order to be appointed.
The Committee accepts cases related to editors' conduct (including improper editing) where all other routes to resolve the conduct issues have failed, and will make rulings to address problems in the editorial community. However it will not make editorial statements or decisions about how articles should read ("content decisions"), so users should not ask the Committee to make these kinds of decisions.
Arbitration is the last step in the dispute resolution process; it is a last resort, only to be employed when all else has failed or there is very good cause to believe they will not help. Try other steps first, including discussion between disputants and, where appropriate, mediation. The Arbitration Committee only deals with the most serious, entrenched, or persistent disputes and cases of rule-breaking, where all other reasonable means have failed.
To request that a dispute be arbitrated, see Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests, which contains all open requests for arbitration. But please read Wikipedia:Arbitration/Guide to arbitration before doing so.
Requests for arbitration can also be used to present questions and requests related to previous closed cases. These include clarification of the intent and scope of a decision, appeals of past sanctions, and requests to amend remedies and enforcement measures. It can also be used to request enforcement of a previous case or motion.
The Arbitration Committee may impose sanctions, either as a result of remedies accepted during cases, or during requests for clarification or amendment, or as a result of motions. These sanctions may be imposed on particular topic areas of Wikipedia, or they may be imposed on particular editors. Some sanctions may be indefinite, but these can be rescinded at a later date.
A list of active sanctions imposed by the Arbitration Committee is at Wikipedia:Arbitration/Active sanctions. It partially transcludes from the following pages:
General sanctions to topic areas may include discretionary sanctions, which are listed at Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Discretionary sanctions. Discretionary sanctions are a list of sanctions that are applied to the most contentious and strife-torn areas of Wikipedia. There is a log of enforcement at Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Discretionary sanctions/Log. Other general sanctions include article probation and revert restrictions.
The Committee will generally accept cases without any previous formal dispute resolution measures being followed if, and only if, the case would:
For information about requesting Arbitration, and how cases are accepted and dealt with, please see Wikipedia:Arbitration/Guide to arbitration, which contains important information. You may also wish to review the following:
The current members of the Arbitration Committee, and more information on the Committee itself, is at Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee. Contact details are at User:Arbitration Committee. Information on the panel of clerks appointed by the committee to administrate the arbitration process is at Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Clerks. History of the Arbitration Committee is at Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/History.
The Arbitration Policy is at Wikipedia:Arbitration/Policy. Procedures based on this policy are listed at Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Procedures. The internal procedures of the Arbitration Clerks are at Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Clerks/Procedures.