Project on International
Courts and Tribunal

What is PICT?

The Project on International Courts and Tribunals (PICT) was established in 1997. Initially, it operated as a framework of collaboration between academic institutions in New York and London (the Center on International Cooperation (CIC), New York University, and the London-based Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD) and subsequently, the Centre for International Courts and Tribunals, University College London). However, over time, PICT has evolved into a network of researchers and practitioners sharing a common interest in the study of international courts and tribunals and the implications of their operation for the broader field of international law. Members of the network regularly cooperate with one another, and with other interested individuals and institutions to generate innovative research activities and to disseminate basic knowledge about international courts and tribunals among students, state officials and other professionals.

What does PICT research explore?

PICT's research focuses primarily on the systemic issues associated with the sharp rise in the number of international courts and tribunals since the early 1990s and the parallel increase in their powers. PICT researchers embrace in their work a broad perspective to international adjudication, trying to identify across-the-board problems and solutions. They ask questions, such as what makes international courts effective? What are the functions of international judges? What mechanisms are in place to allow access to international courts by non-state actors and other disempowered constituencies? How are international courts funded? What are the relations between national and international courts? How are jurisdictional conflicts between international courts resolved? How are judges selected? What ethical standards should guide international judges and lawyers appearing before them? What renders some international courts more legitimate than others?

Who is involved in PICT?

PICT is directed by five academics: Philippe Sands (UCL), Thordis Ingadottir (Reykjavik University), Ruth Mackenzie (University of Westminster), Cesare Romano (Loyola, CA) and Yuval Shany (Hebrew University). They are assisted by a steering committee headed by Prof. Georges Abi-Saab (Graduate Institute, Geneva), and including former ICJ Judge Bruno Simma (University of Michigan), Judge Nina Vajic (ECHR), Judge Allan Rosas (ECJ), Judge Tullio Treves (ITLOS), Laurence Boisson de Chazournes (University of Geneva), Dr. Eduardo Valencia Ospina (International Law Commission Special Rapparteur on the Protection of Persons in the Event of Disasters) and Prof. Monica Pinto (University of Buenos Aires). A large number of other individuals and institutions participate in PICT-sponsored activities.


Recent PICT activities

Upcoming conference in Jerusalem/Tell Aviv

International Courts and their Quest for Legitimacy, an International Conference, 3-4 June 2012, Jerusalem/Tel Aviv

Conference Programme

The Hague Principles on Ethical Standards for Counsel Appearing before International Courts and Tribunals

The Hague Principles were developed by the International Law Association Study Group on the Practice and Procedure of International Tribunals, with the support of the Centre for International Courts and Tribunals at UCL. They were finalized after discussions at the ILA Conference in The Hague in September 2010. The Principles are intended as a complement to the Burgh House Principles on the Independence of the International Judiciary, produced by the Study Group in 2005. A copy of the Hague Principles will be published shortly in the journal Law and Practice of International Courts and Tribunals, with an introductory note. The text of the Principles is also available at:

Manual on International Courts and Tribunals, Second Edition

The second edition of the Manual was published in the Oxford University Press International Courts and Tribunals Series in 2010. (R. Mackenzie, C. Romano and Y. Shany, with P. Sands, Manual on International Courts and Tribunals)

New Titles in the Oxford University Press International Courts and Tribunals (ICTs) Series

R. Mackenzie, K. Malleson, P. Martin and P. Sands, Selecting International Judges: Principle, Process and Politics (2010)

M. Forowicz, The Reception of International Law by the European Court of Human Rights (2010)

Amsterdam Conference on the International Judicial Functions

An international conference co-sponsored by PICT and other academic institutions was held in Amsterdam on March 18-19, 2011. The conference brought together some of the world's most senior international judges and scholars to discuss the various functions of international courts. Press here for a program of the event.