Judicial Dialogue in Action: International Judges Reflect
The Center’s Brandeis Institute for International Judges (BIIJ) is the only regular meeting of international judges in the world. Since 2002, judges from around the world have come together every 18 months to exchange ideas about the practical challenges and the philosophical aspects of their work. A report is published based on each Institute.
Key sections are now available as PDFs, summarized and linked below.
The international rule of law and global justice
- "Relationships Between International and Domestic Legal Orders in a Globalizing World" (BIIJ 2015). What are the challenges that arise when the requirements of the international legal order do not correspond with those of the domestic legal order? How is international law both incorporated and implemented at the domestic level? How can coherence between international and domestic legal orders be improved?
- "The Expanding Impact of Human Rights Law on International Courts and Tribunals" (BIIJ 2013) - How does the "humanization" of international law affect the work of courts whose mandate is not specific to human rights, such as interstate dispute resolution bodies and international criminal courts and tribunals? Might the increased inclusion of human rights issues across all categories of international courts result in a fragmentation of norms?
- "Issues of Concurrent Jurisdiction" (BIIJ 2012) - An exploration of the issues that emerge from increasing jurisdictional overlap found among international, regional, and domestic courts.
- "The Appropriate Role of International Courts and Tribunals in Enhancing Global Justice" (BIIJ 2012) - What are the various ways in which international courts and their judges can and should build the overall capacity of national justice systems, and how might they assist developing countries to participate in international justice procedures?
- “What is the International Rule of Law?” (BIIJ 2010) – What does it mean to extend the notion of the rule of law beyond the national level?
- “Fairness in International Judicial Institutions” (BIIJ 2010) – To what degree should international judicial institutions make the content and application of international law more fair, by revising procedural rules and promoting transparency and public understanding of their work?
- “The Accessibility of International Courts and Tribunals” (BIIJ 2010) – Participants discuss the various patterns of access to international courts and tribunals – e.g. making an application either directly or via one’s state, through participating as a victim, or through submission of an amicus brief – and whether increased access can serve as one of the indices of a robust international rule of law.
- “The Impact of International Justice” (BIIJ 2010) – How might the impact of the work of international judges be measured? What are the rates of compliance with the decisions of these courts and tribunals? What are the “alternative” impacts, such as increasing legal awareness among the general public and changes in legal education?
Politics and international justice
- "Political Aspects of the Relationships Between International and Domestic Legal Actors" (BIIJ 2015). International courts and tribunals are affected in varying ways by domestic political realities, which in turn are affected by the work of these international judicial bodies. Judges identify and discuss the many political realities that arise in their work and consider strategies for managing them.
- "International Courts in the World of Power Politics: Facing the Critics" (BIIJ 2012) - Two pervasive critiques of international courts and tribunals are examined: 1) the idea that strong states have a disproportionate impact on international judicial institutions, thereby distorting their work, and 2) the belief that international courts and tribunals are self-perpetuating bureaucratic institutions that seek to apply a legal solution to all problems and expand their own power and influence.
- “Harmonizing International Politics with Fundamental Human Rights and the Rule of Law: The Kadi Judgment” (BIIJ 2009) – An analysis of the complex interplay between politics and justice in the international sphere, focused on this 2008 judgment of the European Court of Justice.
- “The Interplay Between Politics and Justice” (BIIJ 2009) – What is the impact of politics on the creation and use of international courts and tribunals? What is the connection between international criminal justice and efforts to bring out peace in regions affected by conflict?
Judicial ethics in the international sphere
- "International Justice: In Whose Name?" (BIIJ 2013) - International judges explore the basis of the legitimacy of their courts and tribunals by examining their institutional raisons d'être and on whose behalf they can be considered to speak.
- "Pre- and Post-Judicial Service Considerations for International Judges" (BIIJ 2012) - A discussion of the potential impact of past professional activities on international judicial service and, in turn, how this service may affect future employment after judges leave an international court or tribunal.
- “Challenges to Judicial Independence” (BIIJ 2010) – What are the challenges of working under the gaze of a public that holds judges to the highest standards of behavior and criticizes any deviation – real or perceived – from the ideal?
- “Professional Conduct in the International Justice System” (BIIJ 2009) – Two areas of professional conduct are addressed by participants: 1) the professional conduct of counsel and advisers who appear in proceedings before international courts and tribunals; and 2) the ethical considerations inherent in the exercise of freedom of expression and association by international judges.
- “Integrity and Independence – the Shaping of the Judicial Persona” (BIIJ 2007) – An examination of the need for judicial independence and integrity on international courts and tribunals, and a discussion of the impact of these concerns on members of the international judiciary.
- “Toward the Development of Ethics Guidelines for International Courts” (BIIJ 2003) – Ethics guidelines for international courts and tribunals in two areas, developed through a one-day workshop: 1) impartiality and outside activities, and 2) accountability and disciplinary procedures.
- “Ethical Dimensions of International Jurisprudence and Adjudication” (BIIJ 2002) – A keynote address by Hans Corell, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, The Legal Counsel of the United Nations.
The impact of diversity – cultural, linguistic, gender, etc. – on the work of international judges
- "Making a Place for Indigenous Rights in Global Justice" (BIIJ 2012) - Participants consider the potential impacts of the body of law emerging around the concept of indigenous rights, and how it might influence the work of international courts and tribunals as well as the future development of international law.
- “What Does Diversity Imply for an International Rule of Law?” (BIIJ 2010) – How do different experiences with the rule of law across the globe, as well as imbalanced representation in decision-making bodies in the international arena, influence the establishment of an international rule of law?
- “Language and International Courts” (BIIJ 2009) – Judges discuss the multilingual challenges they face in their diverse institutions, including the perils of translation and interpretation, the challenge of communicating about their work to a diverse public, and the role of individual language skills in judicial selection processes.
- “The Impact of Legal and Cultural Diversity on International Justice” (BIIJ 2006) – Participants examine several dimensions of diversity in the legal domain, the familiar one of common vs. civil law practices as well as the more fundamental and problematic diversity that is encountered when international law meets local cultures.
- “Gender, Culture, and Human Rights” (BIIJ 2004) – Conflicts between international norms and local beliefs and practices are particularly salient in issues surrounding gender. International judges discuss how courts can address these conflicts, along with the obvious gender inequity found on their own benches.
Challenges to the development of international justice and its institutions
- "Civil Society and International Justice: Help or Hindrance?" (2015). What role does and should civil society play in the sphere of international justice? In what ways do NGOs contribute to, or detract from, the pursuit of international justice?
- "The Pace of Justice" (2015). Judges consider how to define and how to achieve the right pace of justice in their respective institutions.
- "The Future of International Courts and Tribunals: What Developments and Models Will We See in 20 Years?" (BIIJ 2013) - Read international judges' reflections on the direction the international justice system is currently taking and should be taking as it seeks to create a more just world, including their ideas on the new kinds of international courts that might emerge in the 21st century.
- “International Justice in a Human Rights Era” (BIIJ 2009) – Three issues related to the increasing presence of human rights law in the international sphere are examined by judges: the applicability of international human rights law within their respective institutions; conflicting interpretations of human rights law in different jurisdictions and the need to avoid diverging jurisprudence; and the need for international courts and tribunals, and international organizations generally, to recognize and resolve their own alleged human rights violations.
- “The Influence of Precedent in International Courts” (BIIJ 2007) – What is, or should be, the relevance of jurisprudence from other international courts and tribunals on the decision-making of international judges?
- “International Courts and Tribunals: Interfacing with the Public” (BIIJ 2007) – In the context of an omnipresent media environment, participants consider the role they play in communicating their work and decisions to the public.
- “The Role of Complementarity and Cooperation in the Global Legal System” (BIIJ 2006) – Judges discuss the need for coherence, deferral, and order among international courts and tribunals in order to mitigate the fragmentation of international law.
- “Complementarity and Cooperation in the International Legal Order” (BIIJ 2004) – How can the vast international justice system – comprising not only courts and tribunals but also trade agreement bodies and arbitration panels – be coordinated, if at all, to function most efficiently and consistently?
- “Autonomy in the International Judicial Sphere” (BIIJ 2003) – How do international courts and tribunals carry out their work with autonomy while remaining aware of how they are viewed from the outside so as to achieve maximum credibility?