Chicago Journal of International Law


This Article evaluates what we know about the politics of international judicial appointments and identifies some areas for future research. Although the conclusion offers some discussion of the normative implications of this research, this is deliberately not an attempt to identify how the appointment process should work, but rather an exploration of if and how governments do use the appointment process to shape the international judiciary. Theoretically, the Article draws from the broad framework of principal-agent theory, in which governments are the multiple principals and judges the multiple agents. This framework does not assume that the agents always do what the principals want them to do. In fact, the incentives that governments have for delegating a task to agents typically imply that the agents should have at least some leeway in how they will execute this task. The precise manner in which governments do affect judicial behavior through the appointment process depends on the motivations of judges and governments, as well as on the institutions that govern the appointment and retention process.