The World Court's Role in the International Law-Making Process

25 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2014

See all articles by Christian J. Tams

Christian J. Tams

University of Glasgow, School of Law

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Date Written: March 8, 2014


Should courts make law, or at least develop and shape it? Do they? And if so, how? These are major questions that arise, in one way or the other, in many legal systems.

The paper looks at one particular legal system (international law), and one particular court’s role in the process of its development (the International Court of Justice – ‘ICJ’, or ‘Court’). It draws on a large amount of prior writing on the topic, but it raises what is believed to be an under-researched question: how much of present-day international law has been shaped, made or developed by the ICJ and its predecessor, the Permanent Court of International Justice (‘PCIJ’)? What, in other words, has been the Court’s role in the international law-making process.

Keywords: international law, law making, international courts, world court, PCIJ, ICJ, judicial law-making, precedent,

JEL Classification: K33, K41, K40

Suggested Citation

Tams, Christian J., The World Court's Role in the International Law-Making Process (March 8, 2014). Available at SSRN: or

Christian J. Tams (Contact Author)

University of Glasgow, School of Law ( email )

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