During the last twenty years, the world has experienced a sharp rise in the number of international courts and tribunals, and a correlative expansion of their jurisdictions. These occurrences have dramatically affected and will continue to affect the fields of international law and international relations. The creation and operation of international judicial bodies that are capable of enforcing international commitments, interpreting international treaties, and settling international conflicts have facilitated the growth of international legal norms and cooperative regimes governing important areas of international law and politics, such as economic relations, human rights, and armed conflicts. International courts — understood in this article as independent judicial bodies created by international instruments and invested with the authority to apply international law to specific cases brought before them — have thus become important actors as well as policy instruments in the hands of international lawmakers. Such courts serve, in some respects, as the lynchpin of a new, rule-based international order, which increasingly displaces or purports to displace the previous power-based international order.