In 2011 the heads of state of the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) disbanded the SADC Tribunal after the regional court held
that the Zimbabwean government’s land seizures violated the rule of law.
The disbandment reflects SADC’s hierarchy of values, in terms of which
the organization’s formal commitment to human rights and a regional legal
order is subordinate to the political imperatives of regime solidarity and
respect for sovereignty. The Tribunal saga demonstrates that the jurisdiction
of regional courts derives not simply from their official mandates but from
an interplay between domestic and regional law and politics.