World Courts as Guardians of Peace?

Christian J. Tams

Global Cooperation Research Papers 15, Duisburg 2016

Keywords: International courts, international law, collective security, legalisation of international relations, dispute settlement, arbitration

DOI: 10.14282/2198-0411-GCRP-15


Over the past few decades, international courts and tribunals have once more risen to prominence: their number has grown and their case-load increased significantly, to the point where we are said to live in an ‘era of adjudication’. At the same time, the functions and mandates of courts have changed. Whilst 19th and early 20th century thinkers thought of them as guardians of world peace, contemporary designs of world order seek to ensure peace through varied forms of international organisation. International courts play important roles, but are no longer expected to prevent war and military conflict. In charting this evolution, this Research Paper offers a panorama on two centuries of debate on international arbitration and adjudication.

The Author

Christian J. Tams is Professor of International Law at the University of Glasgow, where he directs the Law School's programme in international law. In addition to academic work on dispute settlement, State responsibility and investment law, he frequently advises States and non-State actors in cases before international courts and tribunals. He holds an LL.M. and a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge and is a member of the Young Academy of Scotland. During 2015-16, he was a senior fellow at the Centre for Global Cooperation Research.

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