ILA Committee on the Procedure of International Courts and Tribunals

On 13 December 2020, the Final Report and the accompanying Draft Resolution of the Committee on the Procedure of International Courts and Tribunals of the International Law Association (ILA) were both adopted by the ILA during the closing session of its 79th Biennial Conference (Kyoto, online), after four years of intensive work by the Committee.

On 7 May 2016, the Executive Council of the International Law Association (ILA) has established a new International Committee entitled “Procedure of International Courts and Tribunals” upon the proposal of Prof. Hélène Ruiz Fabri, who will co-chair it together with Professor Philippe Sands (University College London, UK) and Professor Shotaro Hamamoto (Kyoto University, Japan). The Co-Rapporteurs within this new Committee are Dr Arman Savarian (University of Surrey, UK) and Dr. Fillipo Fontanelli (University of Edinburgh, UK).

The Committee was created in a period of considerable growth of the reach and importance of international courts and tribunals and arbitration mechanisms. This growth was accompanied by a reduction in the time and opportunity enjoyed by such the institutions to examine procedural reform in a holistic fashion, with the exception of the EU’s recent effort to establish a permanent investment court that would replace ad hoc investment arbitral tribunals. Whereas individual panels devise ad hoc solutions to immediate problems, these do not necessarily provide structural answers for the long term.

The mission was to put forward pragmatic solutions to selected practice-related procedural problems to aid in the improvement of the courts’ effectiveness, efficiency and procedural fairness, as well as to promote the long-term development of the international judicial system. The Committee examined the status of principles of procedural fairness, encompassing each mechanisms’ procedural law and questions of reform of these procedures. Although certain questions of theory (e.g. – the role of the sovereignty of States in the realm of procedure) arose in the course of its mandate, the Committee focused on practicalities influencing the management of proceedings in international courts and tribunals, combining empirical, doctrinal and normative methods to collate material on procedural issues, identify general principles of law common to international courts and tribunals in the field of procedure and examine the case for procedural reform.

The Committee gathered seven times, once in London (19-20 January 2017), once in Sydney (21 August 2018) and five times in Luxembourg (22-23 September 2017, 16-17 March 2018, 25-26 January 2019, 6-7 September 2019, 31 January-1 February 2020). It sent its Final Report and the accompanying Draft Resolution at the end of August 2020. The Final Report contained a package of reform proposals, mindful of the overarching theoretical assumptions but tailored to the individual circumstances of each international court and tribunal. Both were adopted by the ILA during its 79th Biennial Conference (Kyoto, online). Alongside the specific needs of each jurisdiction, identified with the support of empirical evidence and expert analysis, the Committee will continue to be mindful of the institutional context and the practical viability of any reform considered for proposal. Thus, this output benefited adjudicatory institutions and provided material for academic use.

More information about the ILA International Committee is available on the ILA's website.