Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy
04 February 2021


A public lecture series on gender representation, democracy, and legitimacy in international courts and tribunals.

The SNF-funded project “Diversity on the International Bench: Building Legitimacy for International Courts and Tribunals”, led by Professors Neus Torbisco-Casals and Andrew Clapham, is launching a monthly public lecture series on “Women’s Voices in the International Judiciary”. The series aims to provide reflections on the lack of diversity in the international judiciary –– especially gender diversity ––,  which raises concerns not just in terms of descriptive representation and symbolic self-identification, but also regarding unconscious bias and systemic privileging of certain ideologies or positions in the process of adjudication. In face of mounting criticism in relation to the undemocratic character of international judicial systems, issues of systemic privileging are particularly acute if the international judiciary is to foster a shared sense of ownership among the diverse peoples they adjudicate on. Moreover, the potential of international courts and tribunals to serve as sites of counter-majoritarian safeguard of vulnerable minorities remains largely underexplored. Diversity on the international bench can thus carry a much more meaningful relevance to issues of democracy, representation, legitimacy, and justice in the international judiciary.

Our public lecture series seeks to engage with all these topics by bringing directly to a public audience the experiences and perspectives of prominent international women judges, members in quasi-judicial bodies and UN special procedures, as well as prosecutors, arbitrators, and national judges with a direct role in applying international law. Our goal is to engage the local academic community, practitioners, and a broader international audience in discussing issues of gender and other intersecting forms of discrimination in the path for constructing more inclusive, democratic, and legitimate international judicial institutions.

The lectures will run from March 2021 until Spring 2022, with the inaugural lecture being delivered by Lady Françoise Tulkens (former ECtHR), on the 1st of March, at 18h30, via webinar. In the line-up of confirmed speakers for 2021, we also have Ms. Irene Khan (UN), Prof. Gabrielle Kaufmann-Kohler (Lévy-Kaufmann-Kohler), Ms. Catherine Marchi-Uhel (IIIM-Syria), and Dr. Navi Pillay (former UN, ICC, and ICTR). Registration is required for attendance, but the lectures are free and open to the broader public. Regular updates on the lecture series and other upcoming events organized by our project are available on


This lecture series is dedicated to the memory of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose commitment to women’s equality, diversity, and justice inspired the concept of these events.