International court

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International courts are formed by treaties between nations, or under the authority of an international organization such as the United Nations — this includes ad hoc tribunals and permanent institutions, but excludes any courts arising purely under national authority.

Early examples of international courts include the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals established in the aftermath of World War II. Three such courts are presently located at The Hague in the Netherlands: The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and the International Criminal Court (ICC). Further international courts exist elsewhere, usually with their jurisdiction restricted to a particular country or issue, such as the one dealing with the genocide in Rwanda. In addition to international tribunals created to address crimes committed during genocides and civil war, ad-hoc courts combining international and domestic strategies have also been established on a situational basis. Examples of these “hybrid tribunals” are found in Sierra Leone, Lebanon, East Timor, and Cambodia.

Judges and high-level staff of such courts may be afforded diplomatic immunity if their governing authority so allows. International courts should be distinguished from international arbitration forums.

List of international courts

Defendants in the dock at the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg
Name Scope Years active Subject matter
International Court of Justice Global 1945–present General disputes
International Criminal Court Global 2002–present Criminal prosecutions
Permanent Court of Arbitration Global 1899–present General disputes
Permanent Court of International Justice Global 1922–1946 General disputes
Dispute Settlement Body Global 1995–present Trade disputes within the WTO
International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea Global 1994–present Maritime disputes
African Court of Justice Africa 2009–present Interpretation of AU treaties
African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights Africa 2006–present Human rights
COMESA Court of Justice Africa 1998–present Trade disputes within COMESA
ECOWAS Community Court of Justice Africa 1996–present Interpretation of ECOWAS treaties
East African Court of Justice Africa 2001–present Interpretation of EAC treaties
SADC Tribunal Africa 2005–2012 Interpretation of SADC treaties
Caribbean Court of Justice Caribbean 2005–present General disputes
Court of Justice of the Andean Community South America 1983–present Trade disputes within CAN
Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Caribbean 1967–present General disputes
Inter-American Court of Human Rights Americas 1979–present Human rights
Benelux Court of Justice Benelux 1975–present Trade disputes within Benelux
Economic Court of the Commonwealth of Independent States Former USSR 1994–present Trade disputes within the CIS
European Court of Human Rights Europe 1959–present Human rights
European Court of Justice Europe 1952–present Interpretation of EU law
European Commission of Human Rights Europe 1954–1998 Human rights
European Free Trade Association Court Europe 1994–present Interpretation of EFTA law
European Nuclear Energy Tribunal Europe 1960–present Nuclear energy disputes
European Union Civil Service Tribunal Europe 2005–present Civil disputes
Human Rights Chamber for Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia 1996–2003 Human rights
Beagle Channel Court of Arbitration South America 1971–1977 Beagle border dispute
Iran–United States Claims Tribunal Iran/US 1981–present Civil disputes
International Military Tribunal Europe 1945–1946 Criminal prosecutions
International Military Tribunal for the Far East Pacific 1946−1948 Criminal prosecutions
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia Former Yugoslavia 1993−present Criminal prosecutions
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda Rwanda 1994−present Criminal prosecutions
Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals Global 2012−present Criminal prosecutions
Special Court for Sierra Leone Sierra Leone 2002−present Criminal prosecutions
Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia Cambodia 2003−present Criminal prosecutions
Special Tribunal for Lebanon Lebanon 2009−present Criminal prosecutions

Lectures

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