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How International is the International Court of Justice?

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Duration: 0:27:33 | Added: 30 Mar 2021
Professor James T. Gathii, Wing-Tat Lee Chair in International Law and Professor of Law at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, gives a talk for the Oxford Public International Law seminar series.

This talk will present the findings of an empirical study that sought to establish two primary data points. First, the nationalities of the lawyers who argued cases before the International Court of Justice between 1998 and 2019. Second, the share of time lawyers from different countries had audience before the Court. The assumption underlying this study was that the more diverse the set of nationals who appear before the Court, the more international it is and vice versa. To find out the share of time lawyers from different countries had audience before the Court, the lawyers were divided into two groups. Those with the nationality of member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, (OECD), were categorized as originating in or based in Western States. Those with non-OECD nationality were designated as originating or based in non-Western States. After presenting the findings of the empirical study, the talk will advance several hypothesis to account for the results.

James T. Gathii is the Wing-Tat Lee Chair in International Law and Professor of Law at Loyola University Chicago School of Law since July 2012. He is a graduate of the University of Nairobi, Kenya, and Harvard Law School. He sits on the board of editors of the American Journal of International Law, the Journal of African Law and the Journal of International Trade Law and Policy, among others. He is co-editor in Chief of the African Journal of International Economic Law. He was the Grotius Lecturer at the 2020 American Society of International Law Virtual Annual Meeting. His research and teaching interests are in Public International Law, International Trade Law, Third World Approaches to International Law, (TWAIL), Comparative Constitutional Law and Human Rights. Professor Gathii served an Independent Expert of the Working Group on Extractive Industries, Environment, and Human Rights Violations in Africa formed by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights between 2012 to 2020. He is also an expert member of the Working Group on Agricultural Land Investment Contracts of the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law, (UNIDRIOT), the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for Agriculture (IFAD). He has sat as an arbitrator in two international commercial arbitrations hosted by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague. He is a founding member of the TWAIL network. He is an elected member of the International Academy of International Law. He has consulted for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, (OHCHR), and the Economic Commission for Africa, (ECA), among others. Professor Gathii is a founding Editor of Afronomicslaw.org, the blog on international economic law issues relating to Africa and Global South. His books include African Regional Trade Agreements as Legal Regimes (Cambridge University Press, 2011, Paperback 2013); War, Commerce and International Law (Oxford University Press, 2010); and The Contested Empowerment of Kenya’s Judiciary, 2010-2015: A Historical Institutional Analysis, (Sheria Publishing House, 2016). His latest edited book is The Performance of Africa’s International Courts: Using Litigation for Political, Legal, and Social Change, (Oxford University Press in 2020). In addition to his books, Professor Gathii has authored over 90 articles and book chapters.


The PIL Discussion Group hosts a weekly speaker event and is a key focal point for PIL@Oxford. Due to the current public health emergency, the PIL Discussion Group series will be held remotely for Hilary 2021. Speakers include distinguished international law practitioners, academics, and legal advisers from around the world. Topics involve contemporary and challenging issues in international law.

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