The traditional perspective on international judicial institutions frames them as instruments for the settlement of disputes in a state-centred world order. It presents but one function for international courts and tribunals: settling disputes. This view alone can no longer, if it ever could, plausibly capture the practice and the breadth of international judicial institutions. It simply does not fi t specifi cally with younger institutions such as the International Criminal Court (ICC), whose prosecutor can act on his or her own initiative to prosecute individuals for international crimes. Having just celebrated its tenth anniversary, the ICC made prominent appearances by issuing arrest warrants for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir as well as former Liberian leader Muammar Gadaffi , and it sentenced Thomas Lubanga, a warlord of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to 14 years’ imprisonment for recruiting child soldiers in his rebel army. A one-dimensional understanding of international judicial institutions as dispute settlers is defi cient as it eclipses other important functions that many international courts do perform today. Little would be understood about the ICC’s practice if it were viewed from the perspective of dispute settlement.