The Central American and the Caribbean Courts of Justice (CACJ and CCJ) are hybrid judicial institutions. While their Member States envisioned them as "EU-style" regional economic courts, they have explored the whole extension of their formally delegated functions and have developed peculiar expertise in matters relating to freedom of movement, human and fundamental rights, and other politically fraught issues. The article explains how two International Courts (ICs) seemingly established to build common markets have come to adjudicate high-stakes political disputes, which, ostensibly, have little to do with regional economic integration. The article posits that the scholarship on delegation to ICs is only partially able to provide an answer to this question. It, hence, suggests an alternative theoretical framework by relying on transnational field theory and reflexive sociology. The article demonstrates that, despite the rhetoric of their founding documents, both the CACJ and the CCJ were only partially established to pursue regional economic integration. Instead, both Courts were fashioned at the crossroads of several—and at times even conflicting-forms of legality, power battles, professional interests, and visions of the world that shaped the Central American and Caribbean legal fields over time. Seen through the diachronic lens of the interests, ideologies, professional practices, and visions of the world of the actors inhabiting the Central American and Caribbean legal fields, the involvement of the two Courts in politically sensitive issues becomes less surprising, and-the article argues-it constitutes part of a strategy of the judges to legitimize the two Courts vis-à-vis their peculiar institutional, political, and social environments.
Regional International Courts in Search of Relevance: Adjudicating Politically Sensitive Disputes in Central America and the Caribbean,
28 Duke Journal of Comparative & International Law
Available at: https://scholarship.law.duke.edu/djcil/vol28/iss1/2