The Contribution of International and Supranational Courts to the Rule of Law

The Contribution of International and Supranational Courts to the Rule of Law

Leuven Global Governance series

Edited by Geert De Baere and Jan Wouters

International and supranational courts are increasingly central to the development of a transnational rule of law. Except for insiders, the functioning and impact of these courts remain largely unknown. Addressing this gap, this innovative book examines the manner in which and the extent to which international courts and tribunals contribute to the rule of law at the national, regional, and international levels.

Chapter 12: Epilogue: Curb, channel and coordinate: The constitutionalisation of international courts and tribunals

Andreas Follesdal

Subjects: law - academic, constitutional and administrative law, public international law, regulation and governance


The growth in number and caseload of international courts and tribunals (ICs) over the last 35 years is striking. Consider: in 1980, only three of the nine ICs presented in this volume existed. Some scholars link the surge to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the hopes of that event for a new international legal order. The contributions in this volume elaborate in fascinating ways both the potential and the pitfalls of this cascade of ICs. They were set up to promote multifarious objectives, without much attention to the risks of fragmentation within and among them, their potential for ‘hollowing out’ the sovereignty of their creators, or the new risks they created. No surprise that concerns have blossomed about the legitimacy of these ICs, singly and as a ‘global judiciary’ as they multiply, come of age and gain institutional interests and momentum. Jointly, they have become so powerful and autonomous that they cannot be reined in – nor explained nor assessed – simply as the creators of their masters. Yet many of them still appear unable to meet the – possibly unrealistic – aspirations of their creators and other ‘compliance communities’. From the vantage point of normative political philosophy the preceding chapters offer several lessons and further research questions of how to assess and promote the legitimacy of these ICs.

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