CfP ICON-S: Identity, Security, Democracy: Challenges for Public Law

The International Society of Public Law (ICON-S) will hold its 2018 Annual Conference in Hong Kong on June 25-27, 2018, under the auspices of the University of Hong Kong’s Faculty of Law and its Centre for Comparative and Public Law . This will be the fifth Annual Conference of ICON-S, following the four Annual Conferences (Florence 2014, New York 2015, Berlin 2016, Copenhagen 2017) which have been great successes and a fantastic opportunity for exchanges across the different fields of public law. ICON-S now invites paper and panel submissions for the 2018 Annual Conference. The overarching theme of the Conference will be “Identity, Security, Democracy: Challenges for Public Law.” The deadline is 31 January 2018. The call, as well as more information on the conference, can be found here. Please don’t hesitate to submit your ideas!

The Spanish Constitutional Crisis

Today I have a blog post out at Verfassungsblog on ‘The Spanish Constitutional Crisis: Law, Legitimacy and Popular Sovereignty in Question’. In it, I try to disentangle the current debate on how to approach the Catalan quest for independence. In particular I question the frequent turn to Spanish constitutional law as the yardstick for assessing questions around the independence referendum on 1 October. The Spanish constitutional order is only one of different legal orders at play in the conflict, and it also faces serious legitimacy challenges, due to its history and its lack of responsiveness to democratic claims from regions and minorities within Spain. Instead of merely insisting on constitutionality, we need to demand a politics of recognition in which the different parties conduct a meaningful dialogue on their future relation. If the Spanish government keeps refusing to enter such a dialogue, it will lose its claim that Catalans should channel their grievances inside the Spanish constitutional order – and a declaration of independence would appear increasingly justified.

The Work of International Law

The Harvard International Law Journal has an interesting online symposium out on Monica Hakimi’s recent article on ‘The Work of International Law’, which includes comments from Dan Bodansky, Jean d’Aspremont, Tim Meyer and myself. Monica pushes the argument that we should not understand international law to be only about promoting cooperation (and judge it on those grounds), but that it often pursues other goals which have much more to do with conflict – especially by enabling conflict, by creating the stage on which conflicts are staged – and that this function is also valuable. As I argue in my comment, this is a fruitful direction, but one that Monica doesn’t pursue as radically as one might have hoped. International law is not only about the relatively benign conflicts she mentions. It is conflictual in a much deeper way – in many instances it is a tool in struggles for power and domination, and it favours some actors over others in deep-seated disputes. Think only of the maintenance of different forms of hierarchy in international politics over the last few centuries, or of the institutionalization of a neoliberal economic order. If we direct our attention to such instances of conflict, international law might be less defensible than Monica would hope and make it seem, but we would begin to draw a more accurate picture of the ‘work’ it does.

Postdoc Position in the ERC PATHS Project

As part of my new ERC project on “The Paths of International Law: Stability and Change in the International Legal Order”, I am looking for a postdoctoral researcher with a background in either international relations or international law (and knowledge of the respectively other field). The position will be for two years in the first instance, with a possibility of extension up to five years; the envisaged start date is 1 October 2017. Queries should be directed to me at nico.krisch@graduateinstitute.ch. Details on the post and on how to apply can be found here. A project outline is below. I look very much forward to working with an enthusiastic young colleague on this project!

 

The Paths of International Law: Stability and Change in the International Legal Order
Abstract

International law erects high hurdles for change – typically unanimity or a uniformity of practice of states – and this high threshold has provoked much criticism for hindering the pursuit of justice, the provision of public goods, and the democratic revision of political choices. Yet in different areas, such as international criminal law or the law of international organizations, international law has in recent times undergone more rapid change than the traditional picture would allow, and often in informal ways that do not fit classical categories. However, this greater dynamism has found little sustained attention in scholarship so far.

The PATHS project seeks to fill this gap and understand when and how international law changes, how this change is registered among participants in legal discourses and how the pathways of change differ across issue areas and sites of international legal practice. Drawing on scholarship in international law and international relations, it aims to trace attempts at informal change in international law in six issue areas, identify relevant factors behind the developments in those cases, and understand how they relate to the formal categories of international legal change. The project expects significant variation in the ‘paths’ of change in different contexts and issue areas, with an important role for global institutions – international organizations, courts, and expert bodies – in many of them. PATHS also seeks to assess these paths normatively: it explores what mechanisms for change would be legitimate in an international legal order that has increasingly turned from a quasi-contractual institution into a structure of governance with a far more limited role for state consent than in the past.

With this focus on change, PATHS aims to make a major contribution to our understanding of international law, its political dynamics, as well as its normative grounding in a globalised world.

 

Liquid Authority in Global Governance – Symposium Out!

Our symposium on Liquid Authority in Global Governance has just come out in International Theory! With contributions by a stellar cast, including Michael Zuern, Julia Black, Ole Jacob Sending and Kate & Terry Macdonald, we hope to cast light on how authority in the global sphere is created, maintained and used, and how it differs from the ways in which we typically imagine “authority”, especially in the domestic sphere. An outline of my framing paper is below. The whole symposium can be found here.

 

Nico Krisch, Liquid Authority in Global Governance
International Theory 9 (2017), 237-260, here
Abstract

Authority is a key concept in politics and law, and it has found greater attention in the global context in recent years. Most accounts, however, employ a model of ‘solid’ authority borrowed from the domestic realm and focus primarily on commands issued by single institutions. This framing paper argues that such approaches tend to underestimate the extent of authority in global governance and misunderstand its nature, leading to skewed accounts of the emergence of authority and the challenges it poses. Building on an alternative conception – the deference model – the paper calls for including in analyses of global authority also liquid forms, characterized by a higher level of dynamism and typically driven by informality and institutional multiplicity. Such a broader account can help us to redirect empirical inquiries and reframe central questions about authority, relating in particular to the way in which it is produced, the mechanisms through which it might be made accountable and legitimate, and its relation to law.

Access and Exclusion in Global Governance: Call for Papers

On 11 & 12 January 2018, IBEI and EsadeGeo will hold the fifth Barcelona Workshop on Global Governance on the topic of “Access and Exclusion in Global Governance”. The Call for Papers is below – and here with a bit more detail. We have a great lineup of invited speakers and are very much looking forward to interesting responses to the CfP, from all disciplinary perspectives. The deadline is 30 June 2017.

Access and Exclusion in Global Governance (Barcelona, 11 & 12 January 2018): Call for Papers

Global governance today involves a wide range of actors, ranging from governments to civil society organizations and multinational corporations, both in formal international organizations as well as in novel, transnational settings. The ‘opening up’ of global governance has been widely hailed for ushering in broader participation and closer links with the public sphere, while it has also drawn critique from those who fear capture by special interests the marginalization of states, governments and the public interest. However, we still know little about which actors enjoy what kind of access, and with what consequences. On the flipside, we know little about who is excluded, formally and informally, and the problems this creates. With this conference, we seek to place access and exclusion into the centre of attention and gain greater clarity as regards the variety of questions that surround them.

The Barcelona Workshop on Global Governance is a venue for the study of global governance – its structure, effects, and problems – from an interdisciplinary perspective, bringing together scholarship from international relations, law, sociology, anthropology, political theory, public administration and history. Its 5th edition will be held on 11 and 12 January 2018 in Barcelona.

Confirmed speakers include Deborah Avant (University of Denver), B. S. Chimni (Jawaharlal Nehru University), Anna Leander (Copenhagen Business School and the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro), and Joost Pauwelyn (Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva).

The workshop is organized by ESADEgeo (ESADE Business School’s Center for Global Economy and Geopolitics) and IBEI (Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals). It is financially supported by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation.

We invite abstract proposals from interested scholars from all disciplines. Proposals should not exceed 500 words in length. Preferred format for all submissions is PDF. Please send your proposals an attachment to info@bcnwgg.net and insert “Submission: Barcelona Workshop on Global Governance” as the subject line of the message. The deadline for abstracts is 30 June 2017. All proposals will undergo peer review and notifications of acceptance will be sent out by 31 July 2017. Full papers are expected to be delivered by 31 December 2017 for circulation among participants.

We expect to be able to provide support as regards participants’ travel expenses where this is necessary.

 

The Paths of International Law

I have recently been awarded ERC funding for a new project on “The Paths of International Law” in which I will try to understand how when international law changes or remains stable. I describe the project in a short interview here; an outline is below. The project will start on 1 October, and I look forward to fruitful collaborations on this topic!

The Paths of International Law: Stability and Change in the International Legal Order

International law erects high hurdles for change – typically unanimity or a uniformity of practice of states – and this high threshold has provoked much criticism for hindering the pursuit of justice, the provision of public goods, and the democratic revision of political choices. Yet in different areas, such as international criminal law or the law of international organizations, international law has in recent times undergone more rapid change than the traditional picture would allow, and often in informal ways that do not fit classical categories. However, this greater dynamism has found little sustained attention in scholarship so far.

The PATHS project seeks to fill this gap and understand when and how international law changes, how this change is registered among participants in legal discourses and how the pathways of change differ across issue areas and sites of international legal practice. Drawing on scholarship in international law and international relations, it aims to trace attempts at informal change in international law in six issue areas, identify relevant factors behind the developments in those cases, and understand how they relate to the formal categories of international legal change. The project expects significant variation in the ‘paths’ of change in different contexts and issue areas, with an important role for global institutions – international organizations, courts, and expert bodies – in many of them. PATHS also seeks to assess these paths normatively: it explores what mechanisms for change would be legitimate in an international legal order that has increasingly turned from a quasi-contractual institution into a structure of governance with a far more limited role for state consent than in the past.

With this focus on change, PATHS aims to make a major contribution to our understanding of international law, its political dynamics, as well as its normative grounding in a globalised world.