Beyond Formal Representation: Decolonizing International Courts and Tribunals

The progressive consolidation of an international judiciary is often perceived as a cornerstone in the process of building an institutional architecture to bolster a global rule of law, yet its authority and legitimacy are increasingly contested. This piece explores the limitations of a formal account of representation that places state constituencies at the centre, thus engaging with diversity only marginally. The paper explores alternative conceptions embedded in difference-based models of democracy that might be more suitable to capture the pluralistic (cultural and legal) make-up of a global society composed by diverse (heterogenous and unequal) groups. The reference to ‘decolonization’ is mostly used as a metaphor to critically engage with the appropriation of institutional and legal discourses by dominant groups that ultimately suppress alternative understandings by non-dominant groups that hold less material or symbolic power.