In Nobody's Name: A Checks and Balances Approach to International Judicial Independence

27 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2017

Date Written: February 27, 2017


In "In Whose Name?", Armin von Bogdandy and Ingo Venzke have singled out one of the most pressing challenges in current debates regarding international courts: the source of their legitimacy. Given the current structure and limits of international law, instead of expecting international courts to speak in the name of peoples and citizens, this paper contends that international courts should speak in nobody’s name and shifts the focus to judicial independence as a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for the legitimacy of international adjudication. It is argued that judicial independence cannot be understood in terms of the courts’ insularity and appropriate constraining mechanisms ought to be put in place. At first, we reflect upon the differences between domestic and international courts in framing a notion of judicial independence adequate for the international sphere. Thereafter, we flesh out the notion of judicial interdependence and map the actors that might provide appropriate constraints following a checks and balance approach to the institutional design of international courts.

Keywords: legitimacy, international courts, judicial independence, checks and balances

Suggested Citation

Torres Perez, Aida, In Nobody's Name: A Checks and Balances Approach to International Judicial Independence (February 27, 2017). Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law & International Law (MPIL) Research Paper No. 2017-03, Available at SSRN: or

Aida Torres Perez (Contact Author)

Universitat Pompeu Fabra ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27
Barcelona, E-08005

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