The Diamond

Annual James Muiruri International Law Lecture

The Role of International Courts in Today’s World

A lecture by Sir Michael Wood

Friday 28 April 2017
18:00 to 19:30
The Diamond, Lecture Theatre 4 - The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, S3 7RD

You can access the lecture audio here.

What role(s) do international courts and tribunals play in contemporary international relations? The last year has seen increasing recourse to such institutions, including cases against all five Permanent Members of the Security Council concerning such vital matters as nuclear disarmament, the South China Sea, and the Crimea. To what end?

International courts and tribunals play a range of different roles in international relations, beyond the settlement of particular disputes. Sir Michael will draw on his experience of advising the UK and other Governments, in order to assess the potential contribution of international courts and tribunals in the world of 2017.

The Sheffield Centre for International and European Law named their Annual Lecture in honour of James Muiruri a PhD student in the Centre. James Muiruri was tragically killed in Kenya in January 2009 only a couple of months after successfully defending his thesis.


Sir Michael is a member of the UN International Law Commission. He was the principal Legal Adviser to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office between 1999 and 2006. During 35 years as a lawyer in the FCO, he attended many international conferences, including the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea.

He spent three years at the United Kingdom Mission to the United Nations in New York, dealing chiefly with Security Council matters. He was Agent for the United Kingdom for a number of years before the European Commission and Court of Human Rights, and UK Agent in cases before the ICJ, as well as in proceedings before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and arbitral tribunals.

Sir Michael is a member of the International Law Commission of the United Nations and is a senior fellow of the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law, University of Cambridge.

Michael Wood