Universiteit Leiden

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Governance of International Courts and Tribunals: Ensuring Judicial Independence and Accountability Inaugural Conference

Friday 20 September 2019 - Saturday 21 September 2019
Kamerlingh Onnes Gebouw
Steenschuur 25
2311 ES Leiden

The rapidly growing number of international judicial institutions and the increased resort to international adjudication over the past few decades have led to a boom in scholarship on international courts and tribunals. The theoretical and practical dimensions of their operation have been comprehensively studied. One important gap in the burgeoning literature has been the aspect of governance of the international courts and tribunals by states and international organizations. The research on the legal nature, practices, and workings of the bodies exercising governance functions vis-à-vis these courts and tribunals remains limited and fragmented. The scarce attention these bodies have received is not commensurate to the critical importance of competent, effective and accountable governance to the orderly functioning of the international judiciaries.

In the present era of nationalist and populist pushback against multilateralism and withdrawal from international institutions by states, various international courts find themselves in a vulnerable position. As their effectiveness and legitimacy come under attack, courts are often left to perform their mandates on shoestring budgets, inadequately staffed, and lacking essential state support. An ongoing failure to appoint members of the World Trade Organization’s Appellate Body and the budgetary constraints and non-enforcement of arrest warrants crippling the International Criminal Court’s operations are more than isolated examples.

This conference inaugurates the International Judicial Governance project devoted to the study of normative and legal policy questions concerning the status, organization, functions, and accountability of international judicial governance bodies. It brings together international legal scholars and practitioners, including international judges, members of the courts’ registries, and diplomats with experience in judicial governance matters. It aims to provide a forum for critical reflection and constructive dialogue between the key actors, and to delineate this new field of research, mapping out the salient theoretical issues and practical challenges.


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