Legitimacy and International Courts: Between Perception and Reality
Inaugural lecture for Professor Freya Baetens
Professor Freya Baetens
In his inaugural address, US President Trump declared that ‘[w]e must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs; protection will lead to great prosperity and strength’. The apparent simplicity of this statement belies a certain political ideology, with increasing support across the Western world, which is deeply suspicious of international norms and institutions. International courts and tribunals, particularly those dealing with trade and investment issues, are prime suspects in this new quest to restore national autonomy and prosperity.
The backlash against international courts and tribunals derives not only from concern with how decisions are made but also why they are made by the institutions in question. Whether or not this questioning of the judicial raison d’être is justified, the discourse has undeniably shifted and scholars need to engage accordingly in order to stay relevant. In practical terms, this means looking not just at how international adjudicatory bodies operate within their defined normative framework, but also investigating the legitimacy of the framework itself, through the development of good judicial governance principles.
The lecture will proceed from 11:30 until 12:15, followed by a reception where lunch will be served.