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Science before International Tribunals

The relationship between international law and science has significantly increased in recent times.  The dramatic situation deriving from the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic on the one hand and environmental disasters due to climate changes on the other, made once again clear that an effective response to environmental and health challenges cannot disregard scientific knowledge. 

The application of science-based rules in the courtroom however give raise to some problems due to the judges’ lack of scientific expertise. The question of how and to what extent international adjudicators should address scientific problems is particularly crucial in disputes concerning the application of international rules that make explicit reference to science or that imply scientific knowledge for their correct implementation. In this context, the conference means to examine the approach of international courts (e.g. the International Court of Justice, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and the DSB of the WTO, of the Permanent Court of Arbitration and investment arbitration) to scientific issues in general, with the use of expertise being one of its elements. The main question for examination is whether international courts and tribunals adopt an approach that trusts and encourages scientifically-based solutions, or do elements of mistrust and distrust prevail? What are the solutions that reflect the fair balance between the two opposing trends? The proposed reflection will be the object of two distinct conferences; while the first one addresses problems arising in state-to-state disputes, the second will focus on the case-law of the practice of courts and tribunals having jurisdiction on cases involving individuals (e.g. Human rights courts, ECJ, International criminal tribunals).


09 September 2021
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