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The Job Market for Justice: Screening and Selecting Candidates for the International Court of Justice


Over the past few decades, states have granted greater independence and authority to international courts, yet still retain their ability to control who sits on the bench. This article examines how governments use their power of judicial nomination and appointment in the context of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and assesses the relative influence of three factors on states’ vote choices for ICJ candidates: the candidates’ probability of (in)sensitivity to political considerations; their qualifications; and the role of interstate politics. Drawing on a new dataset of candidates nominated for election to the ICJ between 1949 and 2010, we demonstrate that electing states base their initial vote choices largely on the same set of factors within both bodies that elect ICJ judges: the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council. In particular, professional experiences signaling a probability of insensitivity to political considerations reduce a candidate's expected vote share. A candidate's qualifications, on the other hand, do not appear to make a considerable difference in winning more votes. Finally, the amount of support during the nomination stage is highly correlated with vote share, suggesting that considerable screening occurs prior to nomination and that the number of nominations received facilitates co-ordination of vote choice across states.

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Leiden Journal of International Law
  • ISSN: 0922-1565
  • EISSN: 1478-9698
  • URL: /core/journals/leiden-journal-of-international-law
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