1st Edition

Public Interest Litigation in International Law

Edited By Justine Bendel, Yusra Suedi Copyright 2024
    368 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    In a world of growing public interest in global matters and criticisms of multilateralism to adequately address them, the role of international courts and tribunals in the resolution of disputes is shifting. A central aspect of this shift is whether and how international courts and tribunals can be used to resolve such disputes in the public interest. This practice, referred to as public interest litigation, is the object of this collection, which identifies some recent developments, trends and prospects in this growing practice. Its aim is to assess the degree to which the bilateral design of international courts and tribunals can adapt to the shift towards a public approach to international litigation. Engaging with various fields where public interest litigation exists – such as human rights, climate change, global health and criminal law – it identifies recent developments, trends and prospects in this practice. The selected pieces provide a flavour of the types of issues that have arisen before international judicial bodies – for instance, the International Court of Justice, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, international arbitral tribunals, regional human rights bodies or criminal courts – and explores issues that may arise in the future

    Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. PART 1: The meaning and purpose of public interest litigation

    3. Marion Esnault, On the pertinence of ‘public interest’ for international litigation
    4. Yusra Suedi & Justine Bendel, Public interest litigation: a pipe dream or the future of international litigation?
    5. PART 2: Public interest litigation before the International Court of Justice

    6. Craig Eggett & Sarah Thin, Third party intervention before the International Court of Justice: A tool for litigation in the public interest?
    7. Paula Wojcikiewicz Almeida & Miriam Cohen, Mapping the ‘public’ in public interest litigation: an empirical analysis of ‘participants’ before the International Court of Justice
    8. PART 3: Procedural developments in public interest litigation

    9. Brian McGarry & Nasim Zargarinejad, All That Glitters is Not Monetary Gold: Indispensable Parties and Public Interest Litigation before International Tribunals
    10. Carlos Antonio Cruz Carrillo, The role of advisory opinions in addressing public interest issues

    PART 4: Public interest litigation and non-state actors

    1. Kristina Hellwig, Third-party investigation in international criminal law: public interest litigation in a broader sense?
    2. Wasiq Abass Dar & Gautam Mohanty, NGOs as amicus in investor-state arbitration: Addressing public interest and human rights issues
    3. PART 5: Public interest litigation and human rights

    4. Maria-Louiza Deftou, Balancing public interest with health-related rights: current dilemmas and future prospects
    5. Dinah Shelton, Reparations for Human Rights Violations: A Major Objective of Public Interest Litigation
    6. PART 6: Public interest litigation and climate change

    7. Vonintsoa Rafaly, Ocean-climate Litigation: Enforcing Public Interest Against all Odds
    8. Corina Heri, Climate Cases as Public Interest Litigation before the European Court of Human Rights


    Justine Bendel is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Her work focuses broadly on enforcement issues in international environmental and climate change law, with a particular emphasis on the impacts of international law on forests. Her monograph is entitled Litigating the Environment: Process and Procedure before International Courts and Tribunals (2023).

    Yusra Suedi is a Lecturer in International Law at the University of Manchester, UK. Prior to this, she was Fellow in Law at London School of Economics (LSE) Law School, UK. She holds a doctorate in Public International Law from the University of Geneva, Switzerland for her manuscript entitled The Individual in the Law and Practice of the International Court of Justice. She has worked for the United Nations Office in Geneva, the International Law Commission, the Institut Du Droit International, the International Labour Organization Administrative Tribunal and the International Court of Justice.

    "A diverse range of voices on a concept far too often relegated to ‘mere’ politics, this innovative edited collection contributes important insights in the enduring debate of how to conceive the ‘public’ in public international law."

    Gleider Hernández, Professor of Public International Law, Catholic University of Leuven


    "The catastrophes of the 20th century including the many incidents of systematic violations of human rights, the quest for climate justice and the need to continually reaffirm the inalienable rights of peoples to self-determination have all contributed to renewed interest in community obligations. In this impressive and highly topical study, Dr Bendel and Dr Suedi, unpack the central importance of public interest litigation in international adjudication. The book is a fascinating catalyst for a much needed debate on an important subject."

    Phoebe Okowa, Professor of Public International Law, Queen Mary University of London, Member, United Nations International Law Commission