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Yvonne McDermott and Wedad Elmaalul

The perceived legitimacy of international courts and tribunals is crucial for their success, in terms of acceptance of, and compliance with, their judgments and engagement with their processes. At various points in their history, most international courts have been accused of lacking legitimacy, either because their procedures are seen as unfair, or because they have been established through irregular means, or because they are too far removed from the reality of the disputes that they adjudicate upon. This chapter analyses two overarching conceptions of the notion of legitimacy – constitutive legitimacy and process legitimacy – in the context of international courts and tribunals. It then discusses the impact of legitimacy for the administration of international justice, and highlights how some of the ways in which international tribunals appear to be lacking in legitimacy can be overcome. KEYWORDS: legitimacy, fairness, international courts, international justice