The Role of the Presiding Judge in Garnering Respect for Decisions of International Courts

The following study considers the role that should be assumed by a presiding judge to ensure full respect for the rule of law internationally. The foundation for this study lies in an examination of the dispute settlement provisions of the Law of the Sea Convention as well as its mechanism for the settlement of disputes-the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. The Tribunal was called upon to deliver judgment in the MIV Saiga case. The judgment, along with the primary dissenting opinion, are considered, compared, and analyzed in order to demonstrate the extent to which the judgment is, as one commentator put it, “disappointing in quality and marred by serious error.”‘ Following this assessment, the role of the President of the ITLOS is examined so as to establish that the holder of this position is primus super pares, and, as such, has the ability to influence the process of deliberation. Finally, the proposition is made that the President of the ITLOS had a responsibility to attempt to forge both a strong majority and a well-reasoned judgment, but failed to do so by not leading ITLOS through the most crucial stage of deliberations.