Annual meeting 2020 – Programme


Biases and International Adjudication

ESIL IGICT Annual Meeting 2020

Online sessions

Thursday 10 September 2020

10.00-12.00 and 14.00-16.00 Central European Time (CET)

Seminar theme

In the context of ESIL’s annual meeting to take place in Stockholm in September 2020, the Interest Group onInternational Courts and Tribunals will organize a seminar focusing on biases and international adjudication.

Studies of biases are not a novelty in international law, including in the field of international adjudication.The institutional decisions of international courts and tribunals cannot be immune from some of the biases ofindividuals who shape the outcomes of international adjudication. It is ‘common knowledge’, as Thomas Franckacknowledged in 1966, that we all have biases and that ‘subjective’ and ‘socially conditioned’ attitudes of thedecision maker play a role (T. M. Franck, (1966) 19 Stanford Law Review 1217 at 1247). According to MartinKuijer’s analysis published in 1997, national bias among the judges of the International Court of Justice wasproved to be ‘more than a hypothesis’ (M. Kuijer, (1997) 10 LJIL 49 at 66). More recently, a growingnumber of (experimental) findings shed light on the role of adjudicators’ intuitive and automatic thinking. Theanalyses of biases have also led us to critically consider the question of transparency in decision- makingprocesses (including the selection of judges and the issues of recusal to the openness of the procedure to thirdparties). Other studies have challenged, for example, the assumption about decision-making that groupsusually enhance the quality of the outcomes of deliberative processes, by investigating groupthink behaviour.

Against this background, the seminar will explore the implications of (broadly defined) biases in the practices of, and analysis about, international courts and tribunals.

The event is sponsored by the Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for Procedural Law.


Session 1 (10.00-12.00 CET)

10.00-10.10: Opening

10.10-10.40 (15 minutes presentation, followed by Q&A)

10.40-11.00: Networking breakout rooms



Session 2 (14.00-16.00 CET)

14.00-14.05: (Re)opening


14.35-14.50: Networking breakout rooms



15.50-16.00: Closing