Our research in this area explores the role of international courts and tribunals in contemporary international law and addresses the significant challenges that the future of dispute settlement in international law faces.



Highlights from our work in this area:

EU Sanctions on Russia and the International Rule of Law

In September 2023, Dr James Devaney was awarded a re:constitution fellowship for a project entitled “Using EU Sanctions on Russia to Compensate Ukraine: Norm Collision and the Protection of the International Rule of Law in Europe”. This will see Dr Devaney undertake two mobility periods, the first with the Berlin-Potsdam Research Group (KFG) “International Law: Rise or Decline?” at the Freie Universität Berlin, and the second with the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The first Fellows Meeting took place at the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin from 19-21 October. 



Using EU Sanctions on Russia to Compensate Ukraine: Norm Collision and the Protection of the International Rule of Law in Europe


In February 2023 the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union announced the setting up of a Working Group to examine the possibility of using frozen Russian assets to compensate Ukraine. Swedish Prime Minister Kristersson stated at the time, “Russia must pay for the reconstruction of Ukraine. At the same time, this poses difficult questions. This must be done in accordance with EU and international law, and there is currently no direct model for this.” The current research project asks: can such a model be developed, and crucially, can it be implemented without jeopardising the international rule of law in Europe?


The implementation of EU sanctions runs up against legal protections afforded by the law of state immunity, the human right to property, or the protection of foreign investments. In certain situations, it may well be that the law does not provide a clear answer as to which norms should apply – leading to decisions based on moral and political rather than legal justifications. This highlights the pressing need for the humanity-focussed framework developed in this project, which provides a principled legal justification for choosing certain norms while at the same time safeguarding the international rule of law.

Prosecutorial Discretion at the International Criminal Court

This timely book, by Dr Anni Pues, provides a comprehensive guide to, and rigorous analysis of, prosecutorial discretion at the International Criminal Court. This is the first ever study that takes the reader through all the key stages of the Proscecutor’s decision-making process. Starting from preliminary examinations and the decision to investigate, the book also explores case selection processes, plea agreements, culminating in the question of how to end engagement in specific country situations.


The book serves as a guide to the Rome Statute through the lens of the Prosecutor’s activities. With its unique combination of legal theory and specific policy analysis, it addresses broader questions that will be relevant to other international and hybrid criminal courts and tribunals. The book will be of interest to students, practitioners of law, academics, and the wider public concerned with international law, criminal justice and international relations.


Publisher: Hart Publishing


Publication Date: 2022


ISBN: 9781509928705

International Criminal Tribunal Backlash

This article is a project output of Dr Henry Lovat’s research project as Lord Kelvin Adam Smith Fellow, which focused on international tribunal backlash, seeking to better define and understand political reactions against international courts and the drivers of such backlash in different institutional and political contexts. Furthermore, the work seeks to identify and assess measures available to international and domestic actors to address (and avoid) backlash. With a background in international law and international relations, Dr Lovat compares and contrasts tribunal backlash in different fields, including that against the International Criminal Court and the WTO Appellate Body. 


Publisher: Oxfor University Press


Publication Date: 2020


ISBN: 9780198825203

The Statute of the International Court of Justice: A Commentary

Featuring Professor Christian Tams as co-editor and contributor, and Dr James Devaney as contributor, this landmark publication in the field of international law brings together a team of renowned commentators and delivers expert assessment of new developments coming from the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The ICJ is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations and plays a central role in both the peaceful settlement of international disputes and the development of international law.


This comprehensive Commentary on the Statute of the International Court of Justice, now in its third edition, analyses in detail not only the Statute of the Court itself but also the related provisions of the United Nations Charter as well as the relevant provisions of the Court’s Rules of Procedure.


Publisher: Oxford University Press


Publication Date: 2019


ISBN: 9780198814894

Fact-finding before the International Court of Justice

This book examines a number of significant criticisms of the way in which the ICJ deals with facts. The book takes the position that such criticisms are warranted and that the ICJ’s current approach to fact-finding falls short of adequacy, both in cases involving abundant, particularly complex or technical facts, and in those involving a scarcity of facts.


Dr Devaney examines how other courts such as the WTO and inter-State arbitrations conduct fact-finding and makes a number of select proposals for reform, enabling the ICJ to address some of the current weaknesses in its approach. The proposals include, but are not limited to, the development of a power to compel the disclosure of information, greater use of provisional measures, and a clear strategy for the use of expert evidence.


Publisher: Cambridge University Press


Publication Date: 2016


ISBN: 9781107142213