PluriCourts Lunch Seminar: Judicial Deference and the Strategic Space of International Courts

Wednesday lunch seminar with Theresa Squatrito

At this seminar, Theresa Squatrito will present on the topic "Judicial Deference and the Strategic Space of International Courts".


While judicial deference varies extensively across international courts (ICs), the factors that explain why some courts defer more than others have yet to be fully understood. This chapter advances an account of deference by international courts. This account focuses on the strategic space of courts to explain judicial deference. It presents a theoretical argument about the factors that structure a court’s strategic space and distinguishes itself from prominent alternative accounts of performance in existing research. I lay out this approach in three steps. First, I conceptualize judicial deference in terms of whether a court leaves discretion to the state to decide. I suggest that deference can be observed in three features of judicial decisions: judicial outcomes, legal interpretation and remedies. Deference as observed through these three features of judicial decision-making are complementary in analytical terms and allow for a comprehensive examination of judicial deference. Second, I develop a theoretical account for explaining the variation in judicial deference. My argument focuses on the strategic setting in which ICs operate. The key factors shaping this strategic setting are states and the institutional rules governing an IC. I suggest that rules that ensure formal judicial independence and heterogenous states preferences enable greater deference. However, ICs can also exercise agency over the strategic setting by adopting practices that shape states’ incentives and the legitimacy of a court. I outline the logic behind this argument and identify testable hypotheses.               Third, I discuss alternative approaches, which offer different expectations for if and when ICs would be inclined to defer to states. The most prominent of these alternatives looks to the support networks of a court. This approach expects that courts which have strong support networks will demonstrate deference, irrespective of states and institutional rules.


For more information about the lunch, please contact Even Espelid


PluriCourts Lunch Seminars are a forum for pluridisciplinary discussion of core issues relating to international courts and tribunals. PluriCourts scholars or invited speakers present new and ongoing research or comment on current questions

Published May 9, 2022 8:36 AM - Last modified May 12, 2022 5:16 PM