International Courts and the (Re)Making of the Rule(s) of Law

Mikael Rask Madsen (University of Copenhagen)

December 11, 2021, 11h30

Room 3.3, Faculty of Economics of the University of Coimbra

Comentator: Daniela Nascimento (CES/FEUC) | Moderator: João Paulo Dias (CES)


International courts have come to play an increasingly prominent role in both international and national governance. The period after the end of the Cold War, in particular, has seen a significant growth in the number of operational international courts in Europe, Africa and Latin America. The most consequential development in this regard is the growing authority and power of international courts. From being ad hoc tribunals adjudicating conflicts between states, most contemporary ICs have compulsory jurisdiction, give standing to non-state entities and persons and are in a position to review state compliance with international treaties and norms. All of this has changed not only the role and nature of international courts but also their place in both national and international law. This is however a highly differentiated process, where some ICs have become prominent institutions casting a wide rule of law shadow while other remain little consequential. In this presentation, we look at the socio-legal processes that help explain when and where ICs gain authority, turning to the sociology of international law and institutions.

Bio note

Mikael Rask Madsen has written extensively on international law and institutions, the evolution of the legal profession, human rights, and the transformation of the state since the Second World War. He is the founder of two research centres, most recently iCourts, the Danish National Research Foundation’s on International Courts. Recent publications include International Court Authority, Oxford University Press, co-edited with KJ Alter & LR Helfer and 'Between Universalism and Regional Law and Politics: A Comparative History of the American, European and African Human Rights Systems' in International Journal of’ Constitutional Law, co-authored with A Huneeus.

Activity within Doctoral Programmes Sociology of the State, Law, and Justice & International Politics and Conflict Resolution and Observatório Permanente da Justiça