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International Courts & Tribunals, International Regime Complexity, Cold War, Historical Institutionalism

Subject Categories

Comparative and Foreign Law | Courts | Criminal Law | Human Rights Law | International Law | Law | Law and Society | Organizations Law


This article explains the rapid proliferation in international courts first in the post WWII and then the post Cold War era. It examines the larger international judicial complex, showing how developments in one region and domain affect developments in similar and distant regimes. Situating individual developments into their larger context, and showing how change occurs incrementally and slowly over time, allows one to see developments in economic, human rights and war crimes systems as part of a longer term evolutionary process of the creation of international judicial authority. Evolution is not the same as teleology; we see that some international courts develop and change while others stay at in their same role and with the same low level of activity for long periods of time. The evolutionary approach of this article suggests that building judicial authority evolves through practice and takes time, and that the overall international judicial context and developments in parallel institutions shape the development of individual ICs.