A. von Bogdandy
- In whose name? An investigation of international courts' public authority and its democratic justification
- European Journal of International Law
- Volume | Issue number
- 23 | 1
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Law (FdR)
- Amsterdam Center for International Law (ACIL)
Court judgments are epitomes of sovereign rule in many grand theoretical sketches. How may such judicial power be justified nowadays? Many domestic courts decide in the name of the people and thus invoke the authority of the democratic sovereign literally at the very beginning of their decisions. International courts, to the contrary, do not say in whose name they speak the law. This void sparks our driving question: how does the power of international courts relate to the principle of democracy? How can it be justified in accordance with basic premises of democratic theory? Our contribution develops an understanding of international adjudication as an exercise of public authority. It places emphasis on the asymmetry between international adjudication and parliamentary politics, unfolds legitimacy problems in the practice of international courts, and sketches how to interpret and develop international law in response. Procedural adjustments and politicization could react to power vested in decisions, elections might respond to the exercise of public authority, and systemic interpretation as well as a dialogue between courts may perhaps ease problems of fragmentation. We ultimately suggest that domestic constitutional organs will retain a critical role in relieving the international level from shouldering the whole legitimatory burden, contesting and accommodating authority in a normative pluriverse. We finally contend that the idea of transnational and possibly cosmopolitan citizenship should further guide the democratic justification of international courts’ public authority.
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