Africa’s Regional Courts

Africa has more young international courts than any other region. It is an excellent laboratory in which to examine when, why, and how international courts build legal and political authority.

This body of research is undertaken in collaboration with Laurence Helfer.  We examine the human rights and economic law politics of the ECOWAS Community Court, and political backlash in response to international judicial intervention. Fieldwork continued in the summer of 2013 with a trip to Southern Africa, Kenya and Tanzania to explore the East African Court of Justice and Southern African Court of Justice.

Publications include:

Legitimacy and Lawmaking: A Tale of Three International Courts Theoretical Inquiries in Law, Vol. 14 (2013) With Laurence Helfer. Download the PDF here.

A New International Human Rights Court for West Africa: The Court of Justice for the Economic Community of West African States. With Laurence Helfer and Jacqueline McAllister. 107 American Journal of International Law. 107 (4) 737-779 (2014). Download the PDF here. The article was the focus of an online symposium hosted by Opinio Juris.

Backlash against International Courts in West, East and Southern Africa. European Journal of International Law 27 (2): 293–328. 2016. With Laurence Helfer and James Gathii. Download the PDF here.  The article was the focus of an online symposium hosted by EJIL Talk!

Joseph Weiler also interviewed Karen Alter about the article, and her interest in backlash.  The interview is available here.