International court

International courts are formed by treaties between nations or under the authority of an international organization such as the United Nations and include ad hoc tribunals and permanent institutions but exclude any courts arising purely under national authority.

Criminal and civil matters

Early examples of international courts include the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals established in the aftermath of World War II. Two such courts are presently located at The Hague in the Netherlands: the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and the International Criminal Court (ICC). Further international courts exist elsewhere, usually with their jurisdiction restricted to a particular country or issue, such as the one dealing with the genocide in Rwanda. In addition to international tribunals created to address crimes committed during genocides and civil war, ad hoc courts combining international and domestic strategies have also been established on a situational basis. Examples of these “hybrid tribunals” are found in Sierra Leone, Lebanon, East Timor, and Cambodia.

International Courts are permanent tribunals judging by International laws and treaties, also when these norms are on civil and commercial matters.[1] International courts should be distinguished from international arbitration forums.

Privileges and immunities

Judges and high-level staff of such courts may be afforded diplomatic immunity if their governing authority allows.

List of international courts

Name Scope Years active Subject matter
International Court of Justice Global 1945–present General disputes
International Criminal Court Global 2002–present Criminal prosecutions
Permanent Court of International Justice Global 1922–1946 General disputes
Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization Global 1995–present Trade disputes within the WTO
International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea Global 1994–present Maritime disputes
African Court of Justice Africa 2009–present Interpretation of AU treaties
African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights Africa 2006–present Human rights
COMESA Court of Justice Africa 1998–present Trade disputes within COMESA
ECOWAS Community Court of Justice Africa 1996–present Interpretation of ECOWAS treaties
East African Court of Justice Africa 2001–present Interpretation of EAC treaties
SADC Tribunal Africa 2005–2012 Interpretation of SADC treaties
Common Court of Justice and Arbitration of the OHADA Africa 1998–present Interpretation of OHADA treaties and uniform laws
Caribbean Court of Justice Caribbean 2005–present General disputes
Court of Justice of the Andean Community South America 1983–present Trade disputes within CAN
Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Caribbean 1967–present General disputes
Inter-American Court of Human Rights Americas 1979–present Human rights
Benelux Court of Justice Benelux 1975–present Trade disputes within Benelux
Economic Court of the Commonwealth of Independent States Former USSR 1994–present Economic disputes and interpretation of treaties within the CIS
Court of the Eurasian Economic Union Former USSR 2015–present Ensuring uniform application by the Member States and bodies of the Union of the Treaty, international treaties within the Union, international treaties of the Union with a third party and decisions of the organs of the Union.]
European Court of Human Rights Europe 1959–present Human rights
European Court of Justice Europe 1952–present Interpretation of EU law
European Free Trade Association Court Europe 1994–present Interpretation of EFTA law
European Nuclear Energy Tribunal Europe 1960–present Nuclear energy disputes
International Military Tribunal Europe 1945–1946 Criminal prosecutions
International Military Tribunal for the Far East Pacific 1946−1948 Criminal prosecutions
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia Former Yugoslavia 1993−2017 Criminal prosecutions
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda Rwanda 1994−2015 Criminal prosecutions
International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals Global 2012−present Criminal prosecutions
Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone Sierra Leone 2013−present Criminal prosecutions
Special Court for Sierra Leone Sierra Leone 2002−2013 Criminal prosecutions
Special Tribunal for Lebanon Lebanon 2009−present Criminal prosecutions

List of hybrid tribunals

Name Scope Years active Subject matter
Extraordinary African Chambers Chad 2013–present Criminal prosecutions
Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia Cambodia 2006–present Criminal prosecutions
Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone Sierra Leone 2013−present Criminal prosecutions
Special Court for Sierra Leone Sierra Leone 2002–2013 Criminal prosecutions
Special Panels of the Dili District Court East Timor 2000–2006 Criminal prosecutions
Special Tribunal for Lebanon Lebanon 2009−present Criminal prosecutions



  1. There are questions about virtual contradictions from overlapping between the international courts and between them and the Italian Courts: Buonomo, Giampiero (2011). "Diritti umani: in Europa l'Italia è una voce fuori dal coro". Golem informazione.   via Questia (subscription required)
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