The Judicial Diplomacy of the Supreme Court of Canada and its Impact: An Empirical Overview


  • Klodian Rado



Courts and judges across the globe, including the Supreme Court of Canada, are actively engaged in a metaphorical “dialogue” through the exchange of their judicial decisions. Is it the only type of communication happening among courts and judges? This empirical study, centred on interviews with ten current and former justices of the Supreme Court and nonpublic archival documents, shows that courts have established regular bilateral relationships with foreign counterparts, participate in multilateral transnational judicial associations and organizations, and have occasional contacts with other foreign courts, which I call “judicial diplomacy.”


In addition to these institutional court-to-court relationships, the transnational judicial conversation occurs also between individual justices. Judges play a key role in such transnational conversations and exchanges. This article reveals that former and current justices of the Supreme Court interact with foreign and international judges not only within official meetings of the Supreme Court, or as part of the Supreme Court’s delegation, but also individually through several mechanisms.


The bilateral or multilateral foreign relationships of the Supreme Court, whether as an institution or through individual justices, should not be considered informal or unimportant as they have demonstrable effects. It is through these meetings that they exchange views on their decisions and generate substantive, procedural, and court management ideas, often turning these ideas into action, such as establishing global and regional judicial networks, judicial training institutions, or electronic networks. Ultimately, the data of this research demonstrates that this dialogue with foreign counterparts also have a broader impact on Canada’s global reputation and foreign policy.