First Advisor

Gary L. Scott

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Political Science


Political Science




International Court of Justice, Judicial process



Physical Description

1 online resource (221 p.)


International legal scholars and lawyers have dedicated much thought and energy to enhancing their understanding of how judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) come to decide cases the way they do. Although these studies of judicial behavior at the ICJ have provided insight into international judicial decision-making, still little is known about how international judges reach decisions. This project was an attempt to improve upon the explanations, given thus far, for the decisions made by ICJ judges in the cases brought before the Court. In this study I tried to ascertain whether and to what extent the legal tradition under which an ICJ justice has been educated and trained to practice law determines how she or he finds and applies the law in an international dispute. I also sought to answer the following question: Do the civil law and common law traditions differ in enough ways or to such a great extent as to render them distinct from one another? I began by examining the world's three principal legal traditions, civil law, common law, and socialist law, according to three criteria common to macrocomparative surveys on legal tradition: history, the conception of law, and the institutional elements of a legal system. The decisions of three ICJ cases were analyzed with a view to determining whether the justices voted along lines of legal tradition and/or discovered and applied the law in a manner typical of the legal tradition under which they were educated. From the analysis I concluded that legal tradition was not a significant variable in the judicial decision-making at the ICJ. The examination of the cases also indicated that the common law and civil law traditions appear to converging in so far as they have adopted the methods of the other tradition yet still diverging as they continue to reveal traditional differences.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).


If you are the rightful copyright holder of this dissertation or thesis and wish to have it removed from the Open Access Collection, please submit a request to and include clear identification of the work, preferably with URL

Persistent Identifier