International Courts Improve Public Deliberation
iCourts Working Paper Series No. 94
33 Pages Posted: 16 May 2017
Date Written: May 16, 2017
Public deliberation is essential for democracy to flourish. Taking decisions away from elected bodies and transferring them to courts seems to diminish deliberation. The damage appears even greater when decisions are taken away from domestic bodies and given to international courts — organizations considered to be completely independent from the public. But this view is mistaken. It stems from perceiving courts as saying the last word on the issues on their agenda. International courts are in fact engaging in a dialogue with the public, with governments, and with an elite of professional lawyers. International courts can spark a debate instead of silencing it. This paper explains how international courts shape public discourse by supplying legal arguments to the public and by building networks of activists, how these courts interact with governments, and how they form an international community of lawyers. Considering all this, the paper concludes that international courts improve public deliberation.
Keywords: International Courts, Judicial Review, Democracy
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