The Growing Complexity of the International Court of Justice's Self-Citation Network: Institutional Achievement or Access-to-Justice Concern?
European Journal of International Law (Forthcoming)
43 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2016 Last revised: 24 Aug 2017
Date Written: November 1, 2016
Using state-of-the-art information extraction, this article identifies 1865 references of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to its own decisions or that of its predecessor between 1948 and 2013. We find that the ICJ self-citation network becomes increasingly complex. Citations are used more frequently and precedents grow more diverse. Two drivers fuel this development. First, jurisprudential specialization clusters citations in “classic” international law areas as the ICJ places increased emphasis on the continuity, expertise and predictability of its “settled jurisprudence” asserting its role among competing adjudicatory venues. Second, issue diversification expands citations as disputants increasingly craft their arguments around precedent making ICJ litigation more common-law like. The growth of citations adds complexity as precedent is predominantly used argumentatively to affect outcomes rather than ritualistically to pay tribute to past decisions. Although the growth of citations is an institutional achievement underscoring the Court’s continued relevance, it also creates new access-to-justice barriers.
Keywords: ICJ, International Court of Justice, Citation Network, Precedent, Text as data, Computational Analysis of Law, Network Analysis
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