in: Review of international studies: RIS, Volume 47, Issue 1, p. 64-84
Observers of international courts (ICs) note that several ICs carry out a broad range of non-judicial activities, ranging from legal training workshops and public seminars to visits with public officials. Despite the growing prominence of these activities, they have received little attention from scholars. Seeking to fill this gap, this article examines these activities as a form of 'judicial diplomacy', asking how and why ICs employ judicial diplomacy. The article argues that ICs use judicial diplomacy as a means of legitimation. They seek to boost institutional legitimacy through their judicial diplomacy by targeting the public and communicating norm-referential narratives about their processes and outcomes. This argument bears out in case studies on the judicial diplomacy of the African Court of Human and Peoples' Rights and the Caribbean Court of Justice. Both courts are shown to have judicial diplomacy that is public-oriented and people-centred. This argument has important implications for literature on international courts and the legitimacy of international institutions.