The SADC Tribunal ensures adherence to, and proper interpretation of the provisions of, the SADC Treaty and subsidiary instruments, and adjudicates upon disputes referred to it. It was established by the Protocol on the Tribunal, which was signed in Windhoek, Namibia during the 2000 Ordinary Summit, and was officially established on 18 August, 2005 in Gaborone, Botswana. The inauguration of the tribunal and the swearing in of members took place on 18 November, 2005 in Windhoek, Namibia where it is based. It consists of appointed judges from Member States.
After several judgements ruling against the Zimbabwean government, the Tribunal was de facto suspended at the 2010 SADC Summit. On 17 August 2012 in Maputo, Mozambique, the SADC Summit addressed the issue of the suspended SADC Tribunal. The SADC Summit resolved that a new Tribunal should be negotiated and that its mandate should be confined to interpretation of the SADC Treaty and Protocols relating to disputes between Member States.