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Is the International Court of Justice Biased?

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  • Eric A. Posner
  • Miguel F. P. de Figueiredo

Abstract

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has jurisdiction over disputes between nations and has decided dozens of cases since it began operations in 1946. Its defenders argue that the ICJ decides cases impartially. Its critics argue that the members of the ICJ vote the interests of the states that appoint them. Prior empirical scholarship is ambiguous. We test the charge of bias using statistical methods. We find strong evidence that (1) judges favor the states that appoint them and that (2) judges favor states whose wealth level is close to that of the their own states, and weaker evidence that (3) judges favor states whose political system is similar to that of their own states and that (4) (more weakly) judges favor states whose culture (language and religion) is similar to that of their own states. We find weak or no evidence that judges are influenced by regional and military alignments.

Suggested Citation

  • Eric A. Posner & Miguel F. P. de Figueiredo, 2005. "Is the International Court of Justice Biased?," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(2), pages 599-630, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:34:y:2005:p:599-630
    DOI: 10.1086/430765
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hausman, Jerry A & Wise, David A, 1978. "A Conditional Probit Model for Qualitative Choice: Discrete Decisions Recognizing Interdependence and Heterogeneous Preferences," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(2), pages 403-426, March.
    2. Voeten, Erik, 2000. "Clashes in the Assembly," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(02), pages 185-215, March.
    3. Alter, Karen J., 1998. "Who Are the “Masters of the Treaty”?: European Governments and the European Court of Justice," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(01), pages 121-147, December.
    4. Gary Chamberlain, 1980. "Analysis of Covariance with Qualitative Data," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(1), pages 225-238.
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    Cited by:

    1. Barbara Koremenos, 2007. "If Only Half of International Agreements Have Dispute Resolution Provisions, Which Half Needs Explaining?," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(1), pages 189-212, January.
    2. Donaubauer, Julian & Neumayer, Eric & Nunnenkamp, Peter, 2017. "Winning or losing in investor-to-state dispute resolution: The role of arbitrator bias and experience," Kiel Working Papers 2074, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).

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