Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science

First Advisor

Amy Steigerwalt

Second Advisor

Robert Howard

Third Advisor

Susanne Schorpp


In 2015, South Africa withdrew from the International Criminal Court asserting United Nation’s Security Council bias in referring only African cases (Strydom October 15, 2015; Duggard 2013) and the United Kingdom reiterated a pledge to withdraw from the European Court of Human Rights, asserting that the court impinges on British sovereignty (Watt 2015). Both are examples of extraterritorial courts which are an important part of regional and global jurisprudence. To contribute to our understanding of the relationship between states and extraterritorial courts, I examine arguably the first and best example of an extraterritorial court, namely the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC). Drawing on 50 British Commonwealth states, this dissertation explores the factors influencing the decision to accede to an extraterritorial court and why some states subsequently opt to sever ties. I build on Dahl’s theory (1957) that the nation’s highest court interacts with the governing coalition and, for the most part, serves as an ally and uphold its policies. I argue that that governing coalition wants the final appellate court that they most expect to be an ally and extend this expectation to extraterritorial courts. As a result, the governing coalition looks at the court more critically. States may change or abolish the jurisdiction of the court if it undermines or seems likely to undermine state policy. Examining this phenomenon across the British Commonwealth provides comparative insights into how governing coalitions may view extraterritorial courts.