Universiteit Leiden

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Conference on Governance of International Courts and Tribunals

On September 20 and 21, a conference on the governance of international courts and tribunals took place at Leiden Law School.

The conference brought together high-level authorities, scholars, practitioners and students. It was organized by Niels Blokker, Armin Cuyvers, Rick Lawson and our former colleague Sergey Vasiliev (now at the UvA). Keynote speeches were delivered - amongst others – by President Abdulqawi Yusuf of the International Court of Justice and by President O-Gon Kwon of the ICC Assembly of States Parties. Rector magnificus Carel Stolker opened the conference and offered presents to Presidents Yusuf and Kwon. President Yusuf received an 18th century map of his home country Somalia. President Kwon was given a chairman’s hammer. Almost 100 years ago the then Rector Magnificus of Leiden University offered a chairman's hammer to the first President of the ICJ, with the inscription 'saevis tranquillus in undis' (calm in stormy waters). In light of the theme of the conference, another hammer with the same inscription was now given to the president of the governance institution of the ICC.

President Yusuf received an 18th century map of his home country Somalia

The conference inaugurated the International Judicial Governance project, devoted to the study of governance institutions of international courts and tribunals such as the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court, the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization, the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights. Many new international courts have been established since the 1990s. They have 'judicialized' international law and international relations. Their functioning has been studied extensively. However there has hardly been any legal research into their governance, despite the fundamental importance of competent, effective and accountable governance to the orderly functioning of international courts and tribunals. The objective of the conference was to delineate this new field of research and to map out the core theoretical issues and practical challenges in this domain.

During the conference, a number of panels and roundtable discussions took place which were centered on several topics, including the governance of regional integration courts, human rights courts and international criminal courts, the practical challenges of effective governance and judicial independence, financial governance of international courts and judicial nominations and elections. Three external PhDs of Leiden Law School gave presentations or chaired Panels: Huw Llewellyn (defended his PhD on 18 September), Maria Manolescu and Kritika Sharma.

The conference has been essential for the project's research plan and will serve as a starting point for more in-depth research the coming years.

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