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College of Law

Florida State University


2004 Press Releases

Simon Distinguished Lecturer to discuss international tribunals

Mar 01, 2004

TALLAHASSEE—Eric Posner, the Kirkland and Ellis Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School will deliver the Simon Distinguished Lecture at the Florida State University College of Law. The title of his lecture is “Theory of International Adjudication.” The lecture takes place at noon on March 18.

“Despite his youth, Professor Posner has already made important contributions to the law and economics of contracts, and to the theory of international law,” says Fernando Tesón, the Tobias Simon Eminent Scholar at the Florida State University law school. “We’re delighted to have him as our Simon Distinguished Lecturer.”

The focus of Posner’s talk is on international tribunals. He explains that some international tribunals, such as the Iran-U.S. claims tribunal and the trade dispute panels set up under GATT, are “dependent” in the sense that the judges are appointed by the state parties for the purpose of resolving a particular dispute. If the judges do not please the state parties, they will not be used again.

Other international tribunals, such as the International Court of Justice, the InterAmerican Court of Human Rights, and the new International Criminal Court, are “independent” in the sense that the judges are appointed in advance of any particular dispute and serve for fixed terms. Independent tribunals are designed to resemble domestic courts.

Posner says that the conventional wisdom, which is based mainly on the European experience, is that independent tribunals are more effective at resolving disputes than dependent tribunals are.

Posner argues the opposite: The most successful tribunals are dependent. He supports his argument through an examination of qualitative and quantitative evidence, and argues that the European Court of Justice is not a good model for international tribunals because it owes its success to the high level of political and economic unification among European states.

Posner graduated from Yale University in 1988 and from Harvard Law School in 1991. He clerked for Judge Stephen F. Williams, U.S. Court of Appears, D.C. Circuit, and served as an attorney advisor in the Office of Legal Counsel, U.S. Department of Justice. He was on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania Law School from 1993- 1998. His primary research interests include contract law, bankruptcy law, international law, and the relationship between law and social norms. He is the author of Law and Social Norms (Harvard 2000) and editor of Chicago Lectures in Law and Economics (Foundation 2000). He also edits the Journal of Legal Studies. He teaches classes in bankruptcy, secured transactions and contracts. 

March 2004