Research Handbook on International Courts and Tribunals
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Research Handbook on International Courts and Tribunals

Edited by William A. Schabas and Shannonbrooke Murphy

This collection takes a thematic and interpretive, system-wide and inter-jurisdictional comparative approach to the debates and controversies related to the growth of international courts and tribunals. By providing a synthetic overview and critical analysis of these developments from a variety of perspectives, it both contextualizes and stimulates future research and practice in this rapidly developing field.
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Chapter 8: Legitimacy

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

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