Functions and Access
William Schabas and Shannonbrooke Murphy, Research Handbook on International Courts and Tribunals (Edward Elgar, 2017)
17 Pages Posted: 5 May 2015 Last revised: 25 May 2017
Date Written: April 27, 2015
Despite the variance among international courts and tribunals in terms of functions and modalities of access, there are fundamental challenges that are common to most, if not all, international courts and tribunals. This chapter offers an overview of these challenges and the manner in which access informs the ability of international courts and tribunals to address them. It focuses on the international courts and tribunals which produce the largest volume of jurisprudence and which are most prominent globally, and whose practice may therefore be regarded as the most significant for identifying current trends. Following a brief review of the principal functions that are common to international courts and tribunals, this chapter considers various trends in the availability of access to courts and examines their effect on the performance of the various functions. It distinguishes between the access of direct parties to disputes, and access of non-parties. It also addresses the relevance of the type of actors, specifically the proliferation of non-state actors, to questions of access. The final section offers some observations on the role of access to international courts and tribunals in the broader debate over the legitimacy of these institutions.
Keywords: International courts and tribunals, third parties, public authority, non-state actors, legitimacy
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