International Criminal Tribunals in the Shadow of Strasbourg and Politics of Cross-fertilisation

In: Nordic Journal of International Law
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  • 1 Faculty of Law and Center for International Criminal Justice, vu Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands,

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This article takes a critical view on the debates around the phenomenon of jurisprudential cross-fertilisation between international criminal tribunals and human rights courts, in particular the European Court of Human Rights. Asymmetries of cross-citation and influence along this axis of cross-judicial communication can be explained by distinct judicial styles and uneven mutual relevance, rather than by any sort of hierarchy. However, the discourse surrounding the tribunal-oriented ‘cross-fertilisation’ has a normative pull that introduces an informal hierarchy, which is a means to ensure the tribunals’ conformity with human rights law. However valid its agenda may be, this approach is legally groundless and incompatible with the terms of transjudicial communication and it underestimates the pluralist nature of international human rights, among other discontents. Ultimately, it is also ineffective in serving its main ideological purpose.

  • 7

    Cassese, supra note 1, pp. 25–26 and 49; Møse, supra note 1, pp. 207–208; T. Meron, ‘Human Rights Standards in the Jurisprudence of International Criminal Courts and Tribunals’, speech delivered on 25 January 2013 at the Opening of the Judicial Year, European Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg, France,>, visited on 6 June 2015, p. 7 ("the leading authority and invaluable guidance of this Court’s extensive jurisprudence addressing fair-trial guarantees").

  • 9

    Ebobrah, supra note 3, p. 246.

  • 12

    Ebobrah, supra note 3, p. 232.

  • 14

    Romano, supra note 4, p. 783.

  • 15

    Ebobrah, supra note 3, p. 246.

  • 17

    Romano, supra note 4, p. 759 ("the emerging ‘international judicial system’ is not symmetrical and decentralised"); Voeten, supra note 13, p. 549 (noting "large asymmetries" in this regard, "contrary to the hypothesis that transjudicial communication is driven by reciprocity principles").

  • 18

    Voeten, supra note 13, p. 550.

  • 23

    Ebobrah, supra note 3, p. 245; Voeten, supra note 13, pp. 555–556.

  • 25

    Romano, supra note 4, p. 759 ("dialogue dynamics both reveal and shape hierarchies" and "the emerging international judicial network is hierarchically structured").

  • 27

    Slaughter, supra note 4, pp. 192–194; Romano, supra note 4, pp. 756–757.

  • 29

    Romano, supra note 4, pp. 756–757 (speaking of courts’ "strategic cooperation and mutual assistance to extend their own power and authority"); Y. Shany, ‘No Longer a Weaker Department of Power? Reflections on the Emergence of a New International Judiciary’, 20:1 European Journal of International Law (2009) pp. 73, 76 and 81 (on ‘norm-advancement’ and regime maintenance as functions of international judiciary over and above dispute-settlement).

  • 30

    Shany, supra note 29, p. 83. Cf. R. Teitel and R. Howse, ‘Cross-Judging: Tribunalization in a Fragmented but Interconnected Global Order’, 41:4 nyu Journal of International Law and Politics (2009) pp. 959–961 ("de-politicization hypothesis … much too simplistic").

  • 32

    Voeten, supra note 13, p. 548; C. Pitea, ‘Interpreting the echr in the Light of "Other" International Instruments: Systemic Integration or Fragmentation of Rules on Treaty Interpretation?’, in N. Boschiero et al. (eds.), International Courts and the Development of International Law (T.M.C. Asser, The Hague, 2013) p. 557: "The extensive cross-fertilization among different human rights regimes testifies to the support given by the Court to the relevance of systemic integration in treaty interpretation’’.

  • 34

    Cançado Trindade, supra note 33, p. 312.

  • 39

    Voeten, supra note 13, pp. 549 and 557 (giving an estimate of 10,000 judgments rendered over a 50-year period); Ebobrah, supra note 3, p. 247 (compliance with ecthr judgments can also be explained by political stability in member states).

  • 52

    Cassese, supra note 1, pp. 21–24 and 50 (critical of the ad hoc tribunals’ ‘wild approach’ to external precedent).

  • 62

    Cassese, supra note 1, pp. 21–22 and 38–43.

  • 66

    Bennouna, supra note 63, p. 288.

  • 67

    Slaughter, ‘A Typology’, supra note 26, p. 102.

  • 68

    Shany, supra note 29, p. 87.

  • 73

    Ebobrah, supra note 3, p. 246.

  • 74

    Voeten, supra note 13, p. 550.

  • 77

    Mégret, supra note 75, pp. 70–72 (describing ihrl as "a decentralized, disorderly, and internally diverse process" and "a branch of law deeply dependent on legally plural forms that sit in uneasy tension with international human rights unifying thrust").

  • 81

    Mégret, supra note 75, p. 79.

  • 83

    Ebobrah, supra note 3, p. 231.

  • 90

    Mégret, supra note 75, p. 72: "over-broad, excessively functionalizing and potentially hegemonic claims made on behalf of international human rights".

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