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International Justice

Guide from the International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life at Brandeis.

Social Sciences Librarian

Aimee Slater's picture
Aimee Slater
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U.S. Involvement

The United States, a democracy and the hyper-power of this age, has an ambivalent attitude towards international judicial bodies. In general, it tends to conceive international courts more as a constraint than a tool through which it can achieve its foreign policy goals. It tends to favor judicialization in certain areas, like trade, where power alone will not be enough to hold sway, as it is vulnerable to retaliation, but it tends to oppose international criminal courts because of the possibility – albeit often only theoretical - that its use of military power might come under foreign judicial scrutiny.

—Excerpted from The International Judge, by Daniel Terris, Cesare P.R. Romano, and Leigh Swigart (Brandeis University Press, 2007).

Despite the ambivalence of the U.S. government toward international judicial bodies, many U.S. citizens have played key roles in these bodies. A selected list of U.S. participants, with links to their biographies, follows:

Thomas Buergenthal, judge, International Court of Justice, former judge, Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Judge Buergenthal gave a talk in 2008 commemorating the 10th anniversary of the International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life, a transcript of which can be accessed here.

David Crane, former chief prosecutor, Special Court for Sierra Leone

Jennifer Hillman, member, World Trade Organization Appellate Body

Merit Janow former member, World Trade Organization Appellate Body

Theodor Meron, judge and former president, International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

Stephen Schwebel, former judge and president, International Court of Justice

Patricia Wald, former judge, International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia