International Courts and Tribunals
Article 38 – Sources of Law
international conventions, whether general
or particular, establishing rules expressly
recognized by the contesting states;
international custom, as evidence of a
general practice accepted as law;
the general principles of law recognized by
civilized nations;
subject to the provisions of Article 59,
judicial decisions and the teachings of the
most highly qualified publicists of the
various nations, as subsidiary means for the
determination of rules of law.
Introduction to Int’l Courts
There is no good index or digest to
international legal jurisprudence
• There is no concept of stare decisis in
international law; therefore courts do not
heavily rely on precedent (although they can
consult their previous decisions under Article
38 of the ICJ statute on the sources of
international law)
• The body of case law is substantially smaller
than domestic jurisdictions and is therefore
more easily located
• Best place to locate a citation is through a
secondary source
– Law journals, ILM, books, etc
– Max Planck Encyclopedia
Research guides for int’l courts
ICJ Research Guide
SMU guide to International Criminal Courts
ASIL guide to International Criminal Law
UN Documentation Guide for Courts and
Where to find cases generally
Max Planck World Courts Digest (for ICJ
 Human Rights Case Digest (for ECHR
cases): in print and HeinOnline
 Annotated Leading Cases of
International Criminal Tribunals (print)
 International Legal Materials
International Court of Justice (ICJ)
Established June 1945 by Chapter XIV of the
Charter of the United Nations
• preceded by the Permanent Court of
International Justice (PCJI), which operated
under the League of Nations
Governed by
Chapter XIV of the Charter of the UN,
the Statute of the International Court of Justice,
Rules of Practice, and
useful Practice Directions adopted since 2001
• All 192 UN members, plus any non-UN
members who desire a permanent association
with the court and become parties to the ICJ
Two types of cases
• Contentious cases
– Legal disputes arising between states involving
questions of international law
• Advisory opinions
– Under Article 65 of the ICJ Statute, the Court may
give an advisory opinion on any legal questions at
the request of any body authorized to do so by the
• 15 judges elected by the UN General
Assembly for 9-year terms; election for 5
judges held every 3 years
• In practice, all members of the UN Security
Council have a judge on the court
representing their country
• The Hague, Netherlands
ICJ publications
Official Reporter:
• Reports of Judgments, Advisory Opinions and
– Available in print and on Lexis and Westlaw
The documentation for each case includes
the document instituting proceedings, written
pleadings, oral arguments, correspondence
and other relevant documents. These
materials are made public, after the Court
has given its final decision, in the series
Pleadings, Oral Arguments, Documents in
the language of submission (English or
French) only
Citing ICJ decisions
Rule 21.5.1 on page 191 of your
Bluebook will provide guidance
• Pay particular attention to the citation of
online materials, Rule 21.5.1(g)
In-class exercise
How does a party terminate a treaty?
Has there been any case law on this
Start with a secondary source—i.e., World Court Digest
Best way to
search is by
browsing the
table of contents
Locate relevant
Locate a relevant digest entry and note the ICJ case it
comes from
If you don’t like this
case, you can browse
other cases on the topic
by clicking “next”
Retrieve relevant case from the ICJ website
If you have a judgment
year, change the list to
reflect the date of
Be sure you know whether
you are looking for a
contentious case or an
advisory proceeding
Locate relevant
case—in this
example, I found
it by judgment
date. You could
always do a
CTRL+F for the
country involved
as well
Click on whichever type of document you are trying to find—i.e.,
in our example, we are looking for page 37 of the Judgment, so
we would click on “Judgments” and then select the first PDF
This is an exact copy of what was printed in the official reporter,
with the same pagination. It can (and, in my opinion, should) be
considered an authentic full-text source.
International Tribunal for the
Law of the Sea (ITLOS)
 Established in 1982 by the UN
Convention on the Law of the Sea
• Did not become operational until August
Governed by:
• the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea
• The ITLOS Statute
• “other rules of international law not
incompatible with the Convention”
• Disputes between UNCLOS member states
that have selected it under Art. 287 of
• May also receive cases on the basis of other
international agreements
• Hamburg, Germany
• 21 judges elected by the members of
ITLOS publications
Official Reporter:
• Reports of Judgments, Advisory Opinions and
– Hardly any libraries actually carry this in print, so
use the website to locate case law and other
ITLOS Yearbook (print)
• contains information about the organization,
functioning, competence, procedure, judicial
work, finances and members of the Tribunal in
a given year. Included is also a bibliography
listing publications on the Tribunal which have
come to the attention of the Registry during
the reporting period. Full-text source materials
are reprinted in annexes
Citing ITLOS decisions
Rule 21.5.6 on page 196 of the
Bluebook gives guidance on citing to
ITLOS decisions and materials
• Note that it does give permission explicitly
in this case to cite to the Tribunal’s official
website when print reports are unavailable
International Criminal Tribunals
Special criminal tribunals created by the
UN Security Council acting under Chapter
VII of the UN Charter
• International Criminal Tribunal for the former
Yugoslavia (ICTY)
• International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
• Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL)
• Serious Crimes Unit of Timor Leste
• Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of
• Special Court for Lebanon
Citing to Criminal Tribunals
Follow rule 21.5.7 on page 197 of the
• Citation format is slightly different than
traditional cites, as it relies on the case
number and the relevant paragraph as
opposed to the volume and page number
of a particular case
 Established May 23, 1993 by UN
Security Resolution 827/1993
 Jurisdiction:
• Crimes committed since 1991 in the territory
of the former Yugoslovia
– Grave breaches of Geneva Conventions of 1949
– violations of the laws of war;
– genocide;
– crimes against humanity
• 16 permanent judges and up to 9 ad litem
• The Hague, Netherlands
Official Languages:
• English
• French
• (unofficial) Serb-Croat
ICTY publications
Official Reporter;
• Judicial Reports (print)
– reprint all public indictments as well as the
decisions and judgments rendered as of 1994
ICTY website is the best place to find
cases and related documents
Westlaw: INT-ICTY database
ICTY Yearbook (print)
• provides information about the work, members
(with biographies), jurisdiction, organization,
functioning and activities of the Tribunal in a
given year. Included is a bibliography which
lists publications relating to the Tribunal
released during the reporting period
 Established November 8, 1994 by UN
Security Resolution 955/1994
 Jurisdiction:
• Crimes committed between January 1 and
December 1994 in the territory of Rwanda
–Crimes against humanity;
–Serious violations of the Geneva
Convention of 1949
• 16 permanent and 18 ad litem judges
• Arusha, Tanzania
Official Languages:
• English
• French
• (unofficial) Kinyarwanda
ICTR publications
No official reporter; use website
• Unofficial reporter: International Criminal
Tribunal for Rwanda Reports of Orders,
Decisions and Judgements, 1995-1997
Cases available on Westlaw in the INTICTR database
 Global War Crimes Tribunal Collection
• includes trial transcripts, selected full-text
judgments, and other materials.
 Established on August 14, 2000 by UN
Security Resolution 1315/2000, and
subsequently verified by the Special
Court Agreement, signed January 16,
 Jurisdiction:
• Crimes committed since Nov. 30, 1996 in
the territory of Sierra Leone
• At least 8, and no more than 11 judges
• Freetown, Sierra Leone
Official Languages:
• English
• (unofficial) Krio
SCSL publications
No official reporter; use website
Digest of Jurisprudence of the Special
Court for Sierra Leone 2003 – 2005
 Consolidated Legal Texts for the
Special Court for Sierra Leone
 A print source for case law is volume 9,
“The Special Court for Sierra Leone
2003-2004” from the series Annotated
Leading Cases of International Criminal
In-class exercise 2
5 February 2010 – The leader of the Serb
Radical Party was today charged with
contempt of court by the United Nations
war crimes tribunal for the Balkans over
allegedly revealing details about protected
witnesses in his own trial.
• Find this case—who is the accused? [Hint:
He’s just been accused of the same thing
again today]
• What rule of procedure was this motion
issued under?
• When was this rule last amended?
Easiest way to access document is follow the link to the news
This link will
bring you to the
full text of the
contempt of
court order
Or, if you want to access not just this document but ALL the
documents related to the trial of Šešelj, click on “The Cases” to
locate his trial and the related documents
You can search for cases in a variety of ways, indicated below
Case Number
Status of Trial
Click on “Legal
Documents” to
access all
orders, and
To find out which rule this motion was filed under, pull up the Trial
Decision (linked from the News page or found in Legal Documents)
To locate Rules of Procedure, return to homepage and select
Legal Library
Click on link for “Rules of Procedure and Evidence”
Always be sure you know which version of the Rules you need—
i.e., if your case refers to an earlier revision of the Rules, you will
need to consult that version, not the most current version. In our
case, Rule 77 is current, so we can select the current Revision
Here we see the history of this Rule
International Criminal Court (ICC)
Established in 1998 by the Rome Statute,
entered into force on July 1, 2002
Governed by:
• The Rome Statute of the International Criminal
• Rules of Procedure and Evidence, adopted by
the UN General Assembly
• Elements of Crimes
– specifying the interpretation and application to be
given to the crimes that fall under the court’s
• Permanent and independent court with
criminal jurisdiction over persons accused of
committing one or more of the four categories
of crimes enumerated in the statute:
– Genocide
– Crimes against humanity
– War crimes
– aggression
• Activities of the court are “complementary” to
domestic courts; the ICC exercises its
jurisdiction only when national courts are
unable or unwilling to bring to justice a person
accused of the crimes defined under the
• 18 judges elected by the member state
parties for 9-year terms
• The Hague, Netherlands
• There are 108 parties that have agreed to
be bound by the ICC’s jurisdiction; the US
ICC publications
Official Reporter:
• Official Journal of the International Criminal
– Electronic version only at the present; no cases
have yet been decided on, so further publications
may develop as the body of case law develops
U.N. Conference of Plenipotentiaries on
the Establishment of an International
Criminal Court
• conference documents including agenda, final
document, drafts, letters, and related materials
ICC – Legal Tools database
 Aims to provide a comprehensive
research database for all matters
related to international criminal law,
including international organizations,
tribunals, courts, as well as national
courts and legislation
Excerise # 3
Using the ICC’s Legal Tools database,
can you locate a copy of Armenia’s
Criminal Procedure Code?
• Are they in fact a party to the ICC?
Human Rights courts
European Court of Human Rights
• NOTE: this is NOT a European Union
court—it is run by the Council of Europe and
governed by the European Convention on
Human Rights (213 U.N.T.S. 222)
Inter-American Court of Human Rights
• Run by the Organization of American States,
governed by the American Convention on
Human Rights (1144 U.N.T.S. 123)
Best way to search is by
limiting to country and then
doing full text for a distinctive
term—i.e. “abortion”
Use HUDOC to search for case law
Like the other sites mentioned here, the
ECHR website contains a wealth of
documents, both procedural and
 ECHR website also contains a yearly
subject matter index to cases tried there
during that year:
Exercise #4
How many cases were tried in the
ECHR in 2009 dealing with applicability
of Article 8 of the European Convention
of Human Rights?
• What right does Article 8 protect?