World Peace Through International Adjudication?

26 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2016

See all articles by Christian J. Tams

Christian J. Tams

University of Glasgow, School of Law

Date Written: February 16, 2016


The paper (written for a collection of essays commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of John XIII's encyclical PACEM IN TERRIS) assesses the changing role of international courts and tribunals in the international legal system over the past 150 years. It does so by identifying four stages of development: (i) the gradual re-emergence of arbitration as a common method of dispute settlement from the end of the 18th century; (ii) the consolidation of this practice, coupled with efforts to make it compulsory, from the late 19th century onwards in what might is described as an 'idealistic turn' in dispute resolution; (iii) the 'pragmatic turn' from the inter-War period, which envisioned a much more circumscribed role for international courts and which continues to dominate debates; and (iv) the more recent re-vitalisation, characterised by the establishment of dozens of new courts and tribunals, but firmly wedded to the pragmatist understanding of their role. With respect to each of these stages, the paper outlines the general development of international courts and tribunals, and highlights the evolution of Catholic thinking.

Keywords: international courts, world court, peace through law, Papacy, dispute settlement, compulsory jurisdiction

JEL Classification: K33, K39

Suggested Citation

Tams, Christian J., World Peace Through International Adjudication? (February 16, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

Christian J. Tams (Contact Author)

University of Glasgow, School of Law ( email )

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