The Law of International Institutions

By D. W. Bowett | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9
REGIONAL COURTS

THE creation of permanent judicial institutions, on a regional basis, is prima facie an easier task than on a universal basis, not least because it facilitates the problem of selecting the judges. Hence, as we have already mentioned1, the Central American Court of Justice was established by the Washington Convention of December 20, 1907,2 before the advent of the League made the P.C.I.J. possible. This Central American Court, which functioned between 1908 and 1918, was really the first instance of States accepting the principle of compulsory judicial settlement in advance of the existence of any dispute, and establishing a permanent institution for that purpose. No reservations were admitted to this acceptance of compulsory jurisdiction, a feature all the more significant because that jurisdiction comprised not only disputes between States, but also cases brought against States by individuals (arising out of a violation of treaties or having an international character), even if the State of the nationality of the individual did not support the claim. The only restrictions on this right of the individual to claim were that the must have been a national of one of the States members of the Court and he must have fist exhausted all local remedies. Five such claims were made before the Court, though none were successful; one was disallowed and four were declared in admissible. The constitution of the Court itself provided little difficulty, for each Member State had a judge of its nationality on the Court, Five in all, and these were paid regular salaries from the Treasury of the Court.3 Judicial independence was marginal; in one instance a judge was dismissed from office during the tenure of this five-year term by the State appointing him.

Having received its quietus in 1918, due largely to the influence of the United States in the Nicaraguan affair, no regional court has yet been instituted to replace it. Proposals to do so in 1923 proved abortive and, whilst the Bogota Conference of 1948 recommended in Reso-

____________________
1
Ante, p. 218. Space does not permit discussion of national courts of international composition, such as the Mixed courts of Egypt, Tangiers and Shanghai
2
For text of Convention see ( 1908) A.J.I.L. Suppl., 231.
3
But semble, the Treasury acted as intermediary and each State virtually paid its own judge, sometimes in arrears.

-234-

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