Marginal Adjustment or Structural Reform? Improving Nomination and Election Procedures to the International Bench

Diversity on the international bench is important but progress is marginal. There is a rough correlation between treaty requirements and diversity, best reflected in the composition of the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights’ bench. Initiatives have been undertaken by panels of independent experts and professional pledges in the arbitration community. The Council of Europe has introduced a gender quota for national nominations to the ECtHR, whereas the OAS has simply urged members to account for gender, geographical, and legal-system representation. Turning toward more structural reforms, the mandate of appointing authorities to consider diversity should be formalised. Treaty texts should be amended to mandate diversity considerations. Less direct and longer-term interventions include ensuring adequate opportunities at every stage along the path to the bench; increasing transparency and accountability; and reducing material and logistical disincentives.