Conference: Alternative Approaches to International Organizations Law

On 14 and 15 October we are hosting a great conference on ‘Alternative Approaches to International Organizations Law’, which tries to take a step back from typical accounts of that area of law, draws in insights from international relations, history, sociology, anthropology and critical studies and to think about how to reorient our inquiries. Thanks to the organizers, Negar Mansouri and Daniel Quiroga Villamarin, we have a great group of speakers from different disciplines, and the conference takes place both in person at the Graduate Institute and online. Registration and more information is here. More on the conference theme below.

The conference theme: As International Organizations (IOs) tend to work in practice, few international lawyers have paid much thought to how they work in theory. As Klabbers and Sinclair noted recently, international organization law “is one of those fields of international law where the theorization by lawyers has been kept to a minimum”. As an example, functionalism -the main theoretical approach produced by international lawyers- which unsurprisingly “has been developed by practitioners, responding to practical challenges, often in piecemeal fashion and through mimicry or comparison”. Our neighboring disciplines, however, have been much more attentive to the theorization of these institutions. In the last three decades, scholars have increasingly applied the tools of international relations (IR), history, or ethnography -inter alia- to rethink the role of IOs in global governance. With the generous support of the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Global Governance Centre & International Law Department at the Graduate Institute, Geneva (IHEID), our international conference aims to open up the space for multidisciplinary discussions on potentials of non-doctrinal approaches to the study of IOs in international law. The main premise of the event is that ‘alternative’ approaches could not only shed light on the unexplored nature and functioning of international organizations in international law but are also integral to a thorough understanding of rules and legal regimes in international law. The term ‘alternative approaches’ includes both interdisciplinary methods and the application of critical approaches developed within international law to international organizations.  We aim to capture both diverse ‘subjects of enquiry,’ as well as how different disciplines study the same subject differently.