"International Law and Litigation"

Launch conference of the Department of International Law and Dispute Resolution

directed by Prof. Hélène Ruiz Fabri


09:30 / 16 October 2015

Max Planck Institute Luxemburg

4 rue Alphonse Weicker
L-2721 Luxembourg

On the occasion of this conference the launch of the Department of International Law and Dispute Resolution directed by Prof. Hélène Ruiz Fabri will be celebrated. The main purpose of the new Department is to establish a forum for scholars and professionals for the study and discussion on the procedures of international courts and tribunals and the dispute settlement mechanisms available in all branches of international law. The high-level audience will include international law scholars, practitioners, arbitrators and international judges as well as students at the masters and PhD levels.

The event will be composed of three panels, each of which covering a specific topic of research dealt with by the Department:

  • Panel 1 on “How Much Does Procedure Matter in International Litigation?”
  • Panel 2 on “International Litigation: Foreground and Background of an International Judicial Decision”
  • Panel 3 on “International Litigation: Internal versus External Perspectives”

Please note that the registration for this event has been closed. If you are interested in participating in this event, you may be placed on the waiting list. Please contact:
Martina Winkel
Tel. (+352) 26 94 88 923

To download the programme, please click here.

Panel 1

“How Much Does Procedure Matter in International Litigation?”

In this panel, speakers are invited to consider the relevance of procedural rules in disputes before international judicial and arbitral jurisdictions. International law scholars have usually focused the attention on the role substantive rules play in international proceedings, considering procedural norms as only 'secondary' or 'formal' means to achieve the final decision. However, more and more in practice, procedure often holds the balance of power capable of affecting the final result. To what extent is this statement applicable to all international courts and tribunals? Is there a difference in how procedural rules are perceived by the distinct actors involved in an international dispute (i.e. judges and arbitrators versus parties and parties' counsels)? What are the on-field experiences of the speakers on this matter? Procedural reforms are often referred to as efficient instruments to address the issue of 'legitimacy' of international law. Transparency of the proceedings, openness of the hearings to the public, submissions of amicus curiae briefs, independence and impartiality of the adjudicators, as well as the role of experts and the rules on evidence are only a few examples showing how procedure in international law matters. Is this 'corrective' role of procedure a general feature of all international jurisdictions? Do standing courts and ad hoc tribunals look at and apply procedural rules alike?

Chair: Judge Bruno Simma


Panel 2

“International Litigation: Foreground and Background of an International Judicial Decision”

In this panel, speakers are invited to consider the different elements that motivate the decisions of international courts and tribunals. This includes of course the very element of ‘motivation’ in law of a decision. But the motivation itself often refers to broader policy reasons, sometimes obiter, sometimes as an element of legal analysis (e.g. object and purpose). Even when explicit reference is avoided, anecdotal evidence suggests that decision-makers are mindful of the broader implications of their decisions. To what extent do these broader elements influence decision-making? Additionally, the extensive rules regarding the composition of courts demonstrate that no less important than the law to be applied is the identity of the adjudicators, in terms of expertise, national origin, and acceptability to the disputing parties. How do the backgrounds and assumptions of those making the decision, as well as their individual or shared sense of purpose, impact decisions? What is the role of other actors – the secretariat, states, civil society – in constraining judicial decision-making? To what extent, and under which procedural rules, do all these different elements interact with written legal rules to help determine key decisions, possibly shaping the very core of entire legal fields?

Chair: Prof. Andrea Gattini


Panel 3

“International Litigation: Internal versus External Perspectives”

In this panel, speakers are invited to engage with and to consider the internal (“insider”) and the external (“outsider”) perspectives, and their relevance to understanding the making of international law. Is this distinction a useful one to understand the normative and institutional dynamics of legal decision-making? Do the two perspectives complement or contradict each other? It goes without saying that each perspective is multi-dimensional, in the sense that the internal perspective may include that of the judge, the lawyer, the plaintiff, the witness, etc., whereas the external perspective can be that of the media, the scholar, the “international community” at large, etc. How should we understand the position of actors, such as an expert intervening in decision-making or third parties having a keen interest in the ongoing procedure? Where do they fall? Is there an in-between the two categories

Chair: Prof. Lorenzo Gradoni