“A Just yet Unequal European Union”

  • “A Just yet Unequal European Union: A Defense of Moderate Economic Inequality.” Review of Social Economy. What does justice require concerning socio-economic distribution among citizens of the European Union? The EU should reduce cross-national economic inequalities among inhabitants of different member states, but full economic distributive equality or a European ‘Difference Principle,’ may not be required. Individuals’ claim to more political influence over matters controlled by their own state in the quasi-federal EU may permit some economic inequality. Section 1 orients this contribution relative to arguments for a European universal income. Section 2 provides relevant features of the EU. Section 3 considers contractualist arguments against certain forms of economic inequality, while section 4 identifies a further argument in favour of equal shares of benefits of social cooperation, based on an interpretation of ‘social primary goods’ consistent with Rawls’ theory. Section 5 argues that these reasons for economic distributive equality must be weighed against more political influence over matters controlled by the individual’s sub-unit. [D0I/LINK]

International Human Rights Courts and the (International) Rule of Law: Part of the Solution, Part of the Problem, or Both?

Global Constitutionalism 10 (1): 118-138. This article seeks to shed some light on the central relationships between international rule of law norms and international human rights courts, whilst identifying some of the central normative concerns. The aim is partly theoretical, to lay out aspects of how to ‘extend’ or ‘extrapolate’ normative standards such as the rule of law from the domestic setting to international law and organizations; and to explore some modes of interaction between rule of law standards and international courts. The article also draws together relevant empirical findings to shed light on how some of these courts actually work to challenge and bolster rule of law standards. Section 1 sketches one way to ‘transpose’ domestic rule of law norms to international law and institutions – in particular, international human rights courts (IHRCs). We then move to consider two relationships between such standards and IHRCs – in particular, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). Section 2 considers whether IHRCs themselves live up to such standards, in particular as regard selection of judges to secure both independence and accountability. Do IHRCs promote the rule of law among states as judicial organs in multilevel structures, or are they instruments of domination by strong states? I also consider other forms of bias important for ICs, in particular professional bias of the judges. Section 3 explores whether and how IHRCs may promote the rule of law within states: how they may help reduce domination, without themselves becoming new sources of unchecked discretion. The answers hold at best for the ECtHR, but may vary among IHRCs and among the states over which they have jurisdiction. [D0I/LINK] [SSRN]

How Many Women Judges Are Enough on International Courts?

Journal of Social Philosophy (2021) A legitimate international court need not secure numerical sex equality on the bench – complete parity. The article argues that a commitment that institutions should treat all with equal concern requires not only token representation of both prevalent sexes, or a ‘critical mass’ of 15 -25%, but a ‘parity zone’ of 40% of each. Arguments of compassion , epistemic competence; and expressions of status equality favour a high threshold of both the prevalent sexes, and further requirements to ensure a broad range of backgrounds and perspectives among the international judges . The aim is to explore what these arguments require regarding the proportion of men and women on the international bench. The strongest of these arguments withstand criticisms that they ‘essentialize’ gender, or assume that elitist female international judges can represent all other women, or lead to a slippery slope where ICs must also ‘mirror’ a myriad of characteristics of the affected populations and constituencies. The many reasons to lament various unjust forms and levels of inequalities counsel different, only partly overlapping objectives. The composition and workings of ICs must satisfy the norms of impartiality independence and procedural fairness, especially because the ICs are tasked to uphold these very norms. The arguments support a parity zone, and several of the arguments entail that more judges – regardless of their own sex and gender – should be ‘gender sensitive,’ and that there should be further requirements to ensure more diversity of perspectives among the international judges. But there are no strong arguments for complete equal proportions of men and women – ‘sex parity’ – on the international bench. [D0I/LINK]

The Legitimacy of International Courts – J Political Philosophy

Journal of Political Philosophy 2020. States are free, yet everywhere live under international courts and tribunals (ICs). As they proliferate and gain power across ever more domains, ICs become targets of resistance and criticism that they are illegitimate authorities. What reasons might a state have to defer to an IC’s judgment or interpretation, even when the state regards it as mistaken, and even when it conflicts with the interests and objectives of government? Section I sketches the multiple tasks of ICs, in complex interdependence with other actors. Their core task is to adjudicate disputes through interpretation and application of international law by legal methods. This may also contribute indirectly to a range of further tasks. Section II addresses some aspects of the relation between normative legitimacy of ICs and descriptive legitimacy – actors’ beliefs therein. Section III shows how a wide range of legitimacy challenges concern ways ICs fail to carry out their tasks. This account does not seek to provide substantive arguments or seek to show that all such criticisms are correct. The aims are rather to make many such criticisms comprehensible as legitimacy concerns, to provide a rationale for popular taxonomies of legitimacy criticisms, and to indicate which premises and arguments are required for such criticisms to be sound.[D0I/LINK] [SSRN]

Legitimacy Criticisms of International Courts: Not Only Fuzzy Rhetoric?

in Legitimacy: The State and Beyond, ed. W. Sadurski, M. Sevel & K. Walton. Oxford, Oxford University Press 2019: 223-237. Many claims that international courts (ICs) are illegitimate are related in complex ways – differently in fields ranging from human rights to trade. This is not to deny that some talk of the illegitimacy of ICs is inaccurate or wrong. But it is possible and indeed valuable to develop a coherent account that connects several various usages, so as to specify better, worse and downright mistaken claims concerning the legitimacy of ICs. normative legitimacy provides helpful unity to many of the canvassed forms of legitimacy. The particular substantive normative conception of global justice to be respected and promoted by these institutions is not central to this task. I develop the outline of a theory by drawing on Joseph Raz’ ‘service conception’ of normatively legitimate authority, David Easton’s ‘systems analysis,’ and a cosmopolitan normative theory. Section 1 sketches relevant aspects of Raz’ account of legitimate authority: the service conception. Section 2 lays out some normative standards relevant for the ICs. The next sections then elaborate why, on the service conception, various legitimacy conceptions matter for normative legitimacy: why legality matters (section 3) including some reasons for the (limited) significance of state consent – even by rogue states. Section 4 starts to explore why and when actual compliance is important but not always decisive. Section 5 considers why the performance or effects of an IC matters. [WEB].

Review of Hathaway and Shapiro The Internationalists

-“More Than Meets the Eye – and Less: On the Internationalists.” Global Constitutionalism 7 (3): 330-341. These comments explore further some game theoretical themes of O Hathaway and S Shapiro The Internationalists (2017) of how outlawing of war led to profound changes in international relations even when the norm was breached. The Peace Pact arguably contributed to avoid war by creating institutions – such as international courts – that helped stabilize an assurance game among states by providing trustworthy information and commitments, in turn influencing practices and beliefs concerning mutual non-aggression.
Second, the authors at times claim that the Peace Pact was not only a cause of, but the cause of the massive shift in reduced warfare. Further arguments would be required to substantiate that this treaty not only was a necessary condition, but the trigger that ‘began a cascade’ (xv). Other factors might also have been necessary, and equally deserving of the label ‘triggers,’ – such as increased global interdependence, or democratization. The authors might best modify their claim.
Third, the authors claim not only to present a historical account, but also to draw lessons for the future. At a time when international norms and institutions are under severe pressure, such lessons are very welcome. However, there are reasons to be less optimistic than the authors about the extent of lessons we can draw from The Internationalists about how to preserve and improve on the New World Order of the Pact, rather than backsliding into the Old World Order.[D0I/LINK] [WEB]

“Power or Authority; Actions or Beliefs”

in International Court Authority. K. Alter, L. Helfer & M. R. Madsen. New York, Oxford University Press: 412-421. Institutional, political and social circumstances affect the impact of international courts (‘ICs’). The valuable and intellectually intriguing aim of the project in this volume, ‘The Variable Authority of International Courts’ is to develop and apply a metric to assess the effects of some of these contexts.
The chapter discusses two questions concerning the project. What do they seek to measure with their metric – and are the findings actually about authority? Furthermore, AHM go to great lengths to proclaim methodological agnosticism about actors’ beliefs and motives, and argue for the irrelevance of normative legitimacy for this research project. Yet the former claim seems incorrect and the second is both unnecessary and ill defended. [D0I/LINK] [SSRN] [WEB].