Introduction to the Book
The Performance of Africa's International Courts: Using International Litigation for Political, Legal, and Social Change (ISBN 9780198868477), James Gathii (ed) Oxford University Press, 2020
28 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2020
Date Written: June 1, 2020
This Introduction summarizes the book’s major arguments. The central claim made in the book is that Africa’s international courts have important impacts that have so far been underemphasized or entirely ignored. The chapters show that litigation in Africa’s international courts is part of a broader strategy to pursue the agenda of interest groups, litigants and opposition political parties and politicians. The book shows that by bringing a domestic political dispute to an international court, litigants achieve another significant goal – they internationalize their dispute. In so doing, they mobilize law and capitalize on the litigation process to advance and promote their commitment to their ideals and immediate goals – such as the defense of and promotion of political freedom in one additional venue outside the control of their home governments. In so doing, these actors use the opportunity to enforce treaty commitments relating to human rights, the rule or law and democracy, to mobilize against those in control of dominant and authoritarian party regimes and to seek public support in doing so. The chapters therefore put the users of Africa’s international courts and their broader strategies at the center of analysis. In addition, this book takes scholarship on Africa’s international courts a step further through in-depth case studies of how litigation in these international courts creates impacts in political, legal and social mobilization. In so doing, delves into the messy world of legal and political mobilization and the organizational choices made by activists, litigants and opposition parties who bring litigation before these international courts. In doing so, the book complements the attention to the legal and doctrinal questions as well as the challenges of compliance with decisions of these courts that the first generation of scholarship on Africa’s international courts emphasized.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation