Research Handbooks on Globalisation and the Law series
Edited by Sabino Cassese
Chapter 13: Judicial globalization: the proliferation of international courts
One of the most profound developments in contemporary law and society is the new importance attached to international law. A particularly striking trend in this regard is the increased juridification of international relations, performed by a growing number of international courts (ICs). Whereas only a handful of ICs existed in the mid-1980s, there are now at least 24 in operation, and there are indications of further growth; most recently, the institution of an International Piracy Court has been discussed. ICs are also becoming more prolific: almost 90 per cent of the total IC output (of approximately 37,000 decisions) have been issued over the last two decades. Moreover, ICs are changing qualitatively: most have compulsory jurisdiction, many allow agents other than states to initiate litigation before them, and several have the authority to review state compliance with international rules. This evolution of ICs illustrates a key trend towards a new form of judicialized international law, which is not only changing the role of international law in society but also the nature of international law itself, from a contractual relation between sovereign states to a more dynamic and self-sustaining rule structure. While this development overlaps with the emergence of Global Administrative Law (GAL), it is also different in important qualitative and quantitative ways. ICs are often central to many areas of GAL, but they also perform other functions with respect to those usually understood as part of GAL.
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