The Politics of Invisibility: Why Are International Judicial Bureaucrats Obscured from View?
Book Project, Conference on the Legitimacy of Unseen Actors in International Adjudication (The Hague, 26 and 27 October 2017)
18 Pages Posted: 30 May 2018
Date Written: October 26, 2017
Despite their pervasive role in international dispute settlement, the legal bureaucracies assisting international courts and tribunals (registries, secretariats, clerks, arbitral tribunal secretaries, etc.) are surrounded by a deafening silence. Judicial institutions remain reluctant to acknowledge their functions, while scholars acquiesce to the fiction that judges handle every aspect of proceedings.
This Chapter investigates the socio-political determinants of the silence surrounding international judicial bureaucrats. First, it reviews the techniques by which such actors have been made invisible in international law discourse. Second, it addresses two narratives most commonly deployed to justify this state of affairs, namely:
(a) concerns about the perceived legitimacy of international adjudication; and
(b) accusations of bad faith on the part of judicial bureaucracies themselves.
As neither narrative seems fully convincing, the Chapter identifies the deep roots of silence in the professional reflexes and the self-constructed image of the international law community.
Keywords: international law; international courts and tribunals; legal sociology; legal discourse; registries; secretariats
JEL Classification: K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation