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Courting the Public? The Use of Social Media by International Courts

International Relations
Courts
International
Social Media
Juan Antonio Mayoral
University of Copenhagen
Pablo Barberá
University of Southern California
Zuzanna Godzimirska
University of Copenhagen
Juan Antonio Mayoral
University of Copenhagen

Abstract

The gradual delegation of authority to international organizations and by extension to ICs has brought about increasing contestation by political actors and civil society more generally. International courts are trying to reverse this pattern and increase their legitimacy, and by extension its effectiveness, by engaging more frequently in public discussions and increasing the transparency and publicity of their sentences. ICs are attempting to offer more open and transparent proceedings. In this sense, the goal is not only to provide justice, but also to illustrate the deliberation process that lead to each decision. And the results (the judgments) are instantly made available online to the public and their constituencies fresh from the ‘fabric of law’. In this regard, social media might be understood as a way for ICs to ensure that their activities are advertised, thereby increasing their impact through the online network and beyond. In this paper we examine how ICs use social media and its implications for social legitimacy. We focus on one of the most popular social networking sites, Twitter, where most ICs have active accounts, often updated every day. Using data collected through this website, we investigate how citizens discuss topics related to the activity of ICs to assess the impact of twitter communication strategies in the legitimacy of ICs.