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Brandeis Institute for International Judges homepage

Read the Oslo Recommendations for Enhancing the Legitimacy of International Courts, drafted by BIIJ participants during the 2018 institute and finalized on 26 July 2018.

Read a blog post about the Oslo Recommendations, by Leigh Swigart, in collaboration with Andreas Føllesdal and Geir Ulfstein of PluriCourts.

Thoughts from the undergraduate interns
Two Brandeis undergraduates attended the BIIJ in Oslo and helped both to document the event and ensure its smooth running: Santiago Montoya Palacios '19 and Ravi Simon '19. Read their reflections on the experience.Montoya and Simon

Brandeis Institute for International Judges (BIIJ) 2018

BIIJ Judges 2018

BIIJ Judges 2018

The Legitimacy of International Courts: Challenges and Responses

30 May to 2 June 2018 


Judges serving on the benches of 13 international courts and tribunals recently gathered in Oslo to discuss contemporary challenges to the legitimacy of their respective institutions. This was the 12th session of the Brandeis Institute for International Judges, a small and confidential event inaugurated by the International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life in 2002. The 15 judges in attendance represented courts and tribunals from across the globe with criminal, human rights, and interstate dispute resolution jurisdictions. BIIJ 2018 was co-hosted with the PluriCourts Center for the Study of the Legitimate Roles of the Judiciary in the Global Order, a center of excellence of the University of Oslo Law Faculty.

The aim of the institute was to examine carefully the various ways in which some international courts are currently experiencing “pushback,” be it from member states, civil society groups, or even their own parent bodies. The World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body, for example, finds itself at a critical juncture as the United States blocks all new appointments to its 7-member bench, thereby threatening to bring its important trade dispute resolution work to a standstill. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has seen a move toward withdrawal by several member states in response to action by its Prosecutor to examine crimes upon their territories.  More generally, international courts and tribunals feel a waning of the late 20th century enthusiasm and support for international justice institutions and realize that a proactive response may assist them in negotiating current conditions.

Judges discussed various strategies for countering their current difficulties and enhancing their institutions’ legitimacy in the eyes of diverse stakeholders. These strategies include establishing and conforming to codes of judicial ethics, ensuring the efficiency of their proceedings, and devising effective methods for communicating with the public. Attendees drafted a list of recommended strategies which they plan to share with the international justice field upon finalization.

BIIJ 2018 offered a setting in which difficult issues could be discussed among colleagues in a frank and productive manner. WTO Appellate Body Chair Ujal Bhatia commented, “I thought the discussions provided very useful insights into the challenges we all face in providing justice to the world. The key learning I came back with is that despite the diversity in our situations, there is enormous value in the work we do, and we all benefit by learning from each other.” Maureen Rajnauth-Lee of the Caribbean Court of Justice concurred, stating, “I believe that we are all better placed to understand, appreciate and respect the role of each international court in ensuring that justice is delivered to the world.”  East African Court of Justice President Emmanuel Ugirashebuja characterized the discussions as “enriching,” while Marc Perrin de Brichambaut, Second Vice-President of the ICC, noted, “Your work fills a serious gap and this meeting has been very valuable to me.”

The Institute included a presentation by PluriCourts scholars who work on an array of topics relevant to international courts and tribunals, as well as a public event around the theme “International Courts in the face of Increasing National Criticism: Experiences and Strategies from the European Court of Human Rights, the International Criminal Court, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, and the WTO Appellate Body.”

It was a pleasure for Brandeis University to partner with its Norwegian colleagues from PluriCourts and to benefit from both their broad expertise in the field of international justice and their dedication to understanding the complexities of the institutions that carry out this important work.

The 2018 Brandeis Institute for International Judges was supported by the Rice Family Foundation, the Louis D. Brandeis Legacy Fund for Social Justice and the Research Council of Norway.

Reports on all BIIJ conferences can be accessed from the BIIJ homepage. A full report of BIIJ 2018 is forthcoming.

L to R: Marc Perrin de Brichambaut, Emmanuel ugirashebuja, ekaterina trendafilova, alphonsus orie

BIIJ 2018 Participants

International Judges

  • Olivier Beauvallet (France), Extraordinary Chamber in the Courts of Cambodia
  • Ujal Bhatia (India), World Trade Organization Appellate Body
  • Micheline Braidy (Lebanon, Special Tribunal for Lebanon
  • Tujilane Rose Chizumila (Malawi), African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights
  • James Crawford (Australia), International Court of Justice
  • Emmanuelle Ducos (France), Special Criminal Court for the Central African Republic
  • Liesbeth Lijnzaad (Netherlands), International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea
  • Erik Møse (Norway), European Court of Human Rights
  • Alphons Orie (Netherlands), Residual Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals
  • Marc Perrin de Brichambaut (France), International Criminal Court
  • Maureen Rajnauth-Lee (Trinidad and Tobago), Caribbean Court of Justice
  • Shree Baboo Chekitan Servansing (Mauritius), World Trade Organization Appellate Body
  • Peter Tomka (Slovakia), International Court of Justice
  • Ekaterina Trendafilova (Bulgaria), Kosovo Specialist Chambers
  • Emmanuel Ugirashebuja (Rwanda), East African Court of Justice


  • Andreas Følledal (Norway), PluriCourts
  • Richard Goldstone (South Africa), 1st Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, retired Justice of the South African Constitutional Court
  • Geir Ulfstein (Norway), PluriCourts 

BIIJ Conveners

  • Leigh Swigart (USA), Brandeis University
  • Daniel Terris (USA), Brandeis University

BIIJ Rapporteurs

  • Jeffrey Kahn (USA), Southern Methodist University and PluriCourts
  • Joanna Nicholson (UK), PluriCourts

Brandeis Interns

  • Santiago Montoya ’19 (Colombia)
  • Ravi Simon ’19 (USA)

PluriCourts Scholars

  • Freya Baetens (Belgium)
  • Ole Christian Fauchald (Norway)
  • Daniel Naurin (Sweden)

Special Guest

  • Aurélie Roche-Mair (France), International Bar Association