International Court Authority. New book by Madsen, Alter and Helfer – University of Copenhagen

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05 September 2018

International Court Authority. New book by Madsen, Alter and Helfer

Oxford University Press has just published the final results of the large-scale inquiry into the authority of international courts, which has been directed by iCourts director Mikael Rask Madsen and iCourts Permanent Visiting Professors Karen Alter and Larry Helfer.

The volume provides an innovative, interdisciplinary and far-reaching examination of the actual reality of international courts’ authority. It challenges fundamental preconceptions about when, why, and how international courts become important and authoritative actors in national, regional, and international politics. A stellar group of scholars who have been involved in the project all investigate the challenges that international courts face in transforming the formal legal authority conferred by states into an actual authority in fact that is respected by potential litigants, national actors, legal communities, and publics. Alter, Helfer, and Madsen provide a novel framework for conceptualizing international court authority that focuses on the reactions and practices of these key audiences. Eighteen scholars from the disciplines of law, political science and sociology apply this framework to study thirteen international courts operating in Africa, Latin America, and Europe, as well as on a global level. Together the contributors document and explore important and interesting variations in whether the audiences that interact with international courts around the world embrace or reject the rulings of these judicial institutions. 

The book has already received significant attention and raving reviews:

"A sweeping exploration of the authority of international courts across different audiences. Broad in its empirical scope and unique in its focus on de facto authority, this is the most important account to date of the role of international courts in world politics. Employing a common framework across 13 different judicial institutions, International Court Authority is a masterwork." - David A. Lake, Gerri-Ann and Gary E. Jacobs Professor of Social Sciences, University of California, San Diego

"Adopting an historical and comparative perspective, this extremely valuable investigation of the authority of international courts and tribunals offers an insightful tour of the debates surrounding this delicate and cross-cutting issue. Rich and multilayered, thought provoking and convincing, eighteen extremely accomplished scholars restore historical nuance to the question of how contextual factors beyond the control of international judges affect international court authority. International Court Authority raises important questions that deserve to attract more attention in contemporary scholarship." - Hélène Ruiz Fabri, Director of the Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for Procedural Law

"International Court Authority is a first-of-its-kind account of the factors that shape the de facto authority of international courts. Path-breaking and comprehensive, the authors offer a general theory that grapples with the legal, political, and social challenges international judges face. A group of scholars then examines a rich array of judicial bodies, demonstrating the strength of a truly interdisciplinary approach. A must read for the designers of future international courts, for every international judge, and of course for scholars of international adjudication." - Eyal Benvenisti, Whewell Professor of International Law, University of Cambridge

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