Working Paper No. 66

Supranational Courts as Engines for Regional Integration? A Comparative Study of the Southern African Development Community Tribunal, the European Union Court of Justice, and the Andean Court of Justice

Christina Fanenbruck and Lenya Meißner - November 2015 Download

Abstract

This paper investigates the role of regional supranational courts in advancing integration within regional organizations by analyzing three courts. Over the course of the last decades the design of the European Court of Justice has been emulated by several other supranational courts, two of which are studied in this paper. The court of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the SADC Tribunal (SADCT), as well as the court of the Andean Community (CAN), the Andean Court of Justice (ACJ), both share the design features of the ECJ. Knowing that the ECJ has significantly contributed to integration within the European Coal and Steel Community and later the European Communities, it could be assumed that an emulated design may engender a similar effect on integration in other regional settings. Empirically, this has been the case neither in SADC nor in CAN. This paper considers several explanatory factors extracted from theory and literature in order to establish reasons for this failure of the organizations to integrate. The analysis shows that legitimacy and problem pressure are the two main variables that indicate the effective advancement of integration. The paper argues that while the SADCT failed to foster regional integration due to its suspension on grounds of it lacking legitimacy before having the opportunity to fully unfold its strengths, the ACJ failed to advance integration because it remained passive due to lacking problem pressure.