International and Comparative Law Quarterly

Articles

THE ROLE OF THE INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE IN A CONTEXT OF FRAGMENTATION

Andrew Lang

Reader in Law, London School of Economics, a.lang@lse.ac.uk.

Abstract

Over a decade ago, an important debate began concerning the proper role of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in an international legal universe characterized by a large and rapidly increasing number of specialized courts and tribunals. What functions can and should the Court perform in response to the fragmentation of international law, and the proliferation of international tribunals? Initial proposals, especially those emerging in the late 1990s, were hierarchical and centralist in their orientation, and have justifiably fallen out of favour. This article uses the current international legal disputes about Australia's plain packaging tobacco legislation as the basis for an exploration of the possibilities for an alternative, non-centralist vision for the ICJ, which is sensitive both to the institutional limits of the international judiciary, and to the benefits of a fundamentally pluralist international legal order.

Keywords

  • advisory opinions;
  • fragmentation;
  • International Court of Justice;
  • international courts and tribunals;
  • plain packaging;
  • public international law;
  • tobacco control