Document Type

Chapter of Book

Publication Date



international courts, international tribunals, international litigation, effectiveness, compliance, interpretation


This chapter, in the Oxford Handbook of International Adjudication, provides an overview of the burgeoning literature on the effectiveness of international courts and tribunals (ICs). It considers four dimensions of effectiveness that have engendered debates among scholars or received insufficient scrutiny. The first dimension, case-specific effectiveness, evaluates whether the litigants to a specific dispute change their behavior following an IC ruling, an issue closely linked to compliance with IC judgments. The second variant, erga omnes effectiveness, assesses whether IC decisions have systemic precedential effects that influence the behavior of all states subject to a tribunal’s jurisdiction. The third approach, embeddedness effectiveness, evaluates the extent to which ICs anchor their judgments in domestic legal orders, enabling national actors to remedy potential treaty violations at home and avoid the need for international litigation. The fourth type, norm-development effectiveness, considers how IC decisions contribute to building a coherent body of international jurisprudence. For each type of effectiveness, the chapter reviews recent studies, identifies contested or under-analyzed issues, and suggests paths for future research.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Law--Interpretation and construction, Effectiveness and validity of law, International courts