Is the International Court of Justice Biased?

43 Pages Posted: 4 Jan 2005  

Eric A. Posner

University of Chicago - Law School

Miguel de Figueiredo

University of Connecticut - School of Law; University of California, Berkeley; Yale University - Law School

Date Written: December 2004

Abstract

The International Court of Justice has jurisdiction over disputes between nations, and has decided dozens of cases since it began operations in 1946. Its defenders argue that the ICJ decides cases impartially and confers legitimacy on the international legal system. Its critics argue that the members of the ICJ vote the interests of the states that appoint them. Prior empirical scholarship is ambiguous. We test the charge of bias using statistical methods. We find strong evidence that (1) judges favor the states that appoint them, and (2) judges favor states whose wealth level is close to that of the judges' own state; and weaker evidence that (3) judges favor states whose political system is similar to that of the judges' own state, and (4) (more weakly) judges favor states whose culture (language and religion) is similar to that of the judges' own state. We find weak or no evidence that judges are influenced by regional and military alignments.

Keywords: international court of justice, ICJ, international law

Suggested Citation

Posner, Eric A. and de Figueiredo, Miguel, Is the International Court of Justice Biased? (December 2004). U Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 234. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=642581 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.642581

Eric A. Posner (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-0425 (Phone)
773-702-0730 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.uchicago.edu/faculty/posner-e/

Miguel De Figueiredo

University of Connecticut - School of Law ( email )

65 Elizabeth Street
Hartford, CT 06105
United States

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

Department of Political Science
210 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Yale University - Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States

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