Political Science and International Courts
Oxford Handbook of International Adjudication, Cesare Romano, Karen Alter and Yuval Shany, eds., Oxford University Press, 2014
57 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2013
Date Written: April 17, 2013
The aim of this paper is to examine the essential features of political science theories and methods as applied to international courts and tribunals, and to identify the value-added insights as well as the weaknesses of this research. The paper proceeds in five parts. Following a brief introduction, the second part of the paper considers a fundamental, epistemological distinction between law and political science as disciplines, with the former taking a largely – but not exclusively – doctrinal and “internalist” approach to international law, while the latter generally adopts a positivist and “externalist” approach. Next, in the third section, I briefly explore the range of political science theories about international politics, and the ways in which these theories have been adapted to the study of international law and courts. Building on this epistemological and theoretical basis, part four identifies five substantive, value-added contributions of political science to the study of international adjudication, which I organize under the rubrics of institutional design, judicial behavior, the behavior of litigants, judgment compliance, and the dynamic evolution of international adjudication systems over time. The fifth and final section identifies weaknesses, lacunae and blind spots of the extant political science literature, which I argue has drawn too heavily on off-the-shelf IR approaches and not enough on the insights of international legal scholarship, and concludes with a call for a more truly interdisciplinary law-and-politics approach to the study of international courts.
Keywords: International courts, adjudication, litigation, realism, institutionalism, liberalism, constructivism, International Court of Justice, European Court of Justice, World Trade Organization
JEL Classification: K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation