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Treaties and Tribunals

The continuous interchange of goods, information and services among different states created a sequence of regulatory problems for governments that required versatile multiparty solutions. Thus, the supranational courts were established in order to create a unified legislative framework. Nevertheless, many men, many minds, and while some people hold the idea that international tribunals are an effective mechanism in dealing with international conflicts, others suggested the negative sides of the existence of tribunals.

One of the most important and positive features of tribunals is their responsibility of maintaining international piece and safety. Tribunals are usually ad hoc courts that are created in response to sequence of serious violations in specific area and time. The examples of such tribunals are the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). These tribunals work under the resolution of United Nations Security Council and are time-limited projects working in frames of United Nations. ICTY’s main goal is the prosecution of the serious crimes (as crimes against humanity, neglecting of Geneva Convention, violation the laws of war, genocide) committed during the wars in former Yugoslavia. ICTR judge genocide and international law violations committed during internal conflicts in Rwanda.

Another significant function of international tribunals is the establishment of the law in the areas where intersection of international interests may occur. For instance, in 1982, a body called The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea was created. The main goal of the tribunal is to judge the cases of law violation occurring at the seabed and ocean floor outside the jurisdiction of the states. Usually, this tribunal deals with disputes concerning deep-sea mining activities in the areas beyond the national limits. Thus, the implementation of such tribunal could provide a consistent and uniform jurisprudence that would assist states and maritime operators in establishing comprehensive law and reducing the possibilities of disputes on international level.

The constant development of the tribunals makes them less and less dependent on states.  On the one hand, tribunals became not simply the bodies that assist the meeting interests of the states; they also act as third party decision makers. On the other hand, the states are losing their right to control the outcome of the disagreements. In general, the ability to act as a third party may be of an extreme use in the cases where there are no treaties, or where the meaning of the treaties could be explained in different ways. Posner & Yoo give the example of the USA and Netherlands, where the international tribunal successfully solved the question of the territorial ownership for the Island of Palmas. Another illustration of international tribunal importance is the case of definition of the border between the U.S. and Mexico after the river Rio Grande had changed the watercourse. Therefore, international tribunals become the bodies of highest juridical power when the states cannot regulate disputes within appropriate treaties.

Nonetheless, aside from all the positive functions of international tribunals, the limitations still exist. Among the negative sides are the high costs for maintenance these courts, the limited scope of tribunals’ jurisdiction and mild sentences in some cases. For instance, many people incriminate racial bias to the ICTY, as 68% of accused were Serbs, whereas the defenders of tribunal explain the percentage as an actual indicator of committed crimes by Serbian offenders. This example shows how the racial aspect could challenge the validity of the tribunal’s actions. The same problems may occur due to political, cultural or even religion basis, but everything is relative, and here it is essential that tribunals take a neutral position.   

In conclusion, it is important to add that no single body of legislative power can act in accordance with all parties’ interests. The disputable practices of judgment will always exist, nevertheless, international tribunals are effective mechanisms in establishment the supranational laws and solving disputable intercultural questions. 

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