Popularizing the Rule of Law: A 'Mission Educatrice' of the International Bench?

30 Pages Posted: 30 Dec 2019

Date Written: December 20, 2019


By adopting a practice-based methodology, this paper contends that international courts need to operationalize their “mission educatrice” beyond the confines of the courtroom and to engage with various stakeholders in order to reinforce their positive role in and contribution towards the global rule of law. The aim of such “mission” covers engagement through public discourse, dissemination and familiarization of the benefits of an international court’s work by members of its bench. This engagement is teamed with extrajudicial network formation in the form of support groups, e.g., in academia and university student associations, or interactions with judicial or legal professionals as well as other interest groups. Interactions in these sub-contexts represent significant non-legal factors in contributing indirectly to acceptance of or identification with the international rule of law. This study examines the strategies used by three international courts: the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court and the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea. While at various stages of evolution and maturity, the three tribunals – although possessing differing jurisdictions – nevertheless employ similar strategies in public outreach, constructing network communities and operating through the digital sphere in order to reach their stakeholders as well as the general public.

Keywords: International courts, rule of law, mission educatrice, familiarization strategies, network communities, out-of-court activities

Suggested Citation

Tatham, Allan F., Popularizing the Rule of Law: A 'Mission Educatrice' of the International Bench? (December 20, 2019). 2019 ESIL Annual Research Forum, Goettingen, 4-5 April 2019, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3510850 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3510850

Allan F. Tatham (Contact Author)

Universidad CEU San Pablo

Calle Julián Romea, 18
Madrid, 28003

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