From its origins, and the interwoven debates and developments emerging from notions of jus gentium and the law of nature, international law has been viewed as a tool for justice. This conference sets out to explore whether it has achieved the aims of its early advocates, posing a number of broad, crosscutting themes:
Conceptual and Theoretical Frameworks of Justice
It might be asked whether justice is conceived as a central objective of international law, and how it might be balanced against other objectives. We can consider, for instance, how existing frameworks balance states’ accountability against conceptions of national interest and state sovereignty. Furthermore, how might foundational principles such as the exhaustion of domestic remedies, sovereign immunities, and the doctrine of act of state contribute to the denial of justice? At a further order of critique, is the justice of international law Eurocentric or cosmopolitan? And does justice ever give way to, or serve as an expression of, power?
Substantive and Practical Challenges for Justice in International Law
Today’s global society sees numerous challenges presented to the substantive workings of public international law. We might reflect on justice in the economy, considering, for instance, whether international law can support an equitable international order, and whether it succeeds in protecting nations against economic sanctions and unilateral coercive measures. The legal regulation of war also raises exigent questions about the dynamics of justice in humanitarian law, regime change, and our legal conceptions of states’ aggression. There is scope to consider the pursuit of justice through human rights, including the feasibility of universal jurisdiction and the accountability of non-state actors for human rights violations. Further, it is important to ask how particular demands of justice are raised by the global commons. For instance, do we have a satisfactory framework for promoting environmental justice, and can international law advance inter-generational equity?
Actor-oriented Perspectives on Justice
We invite discussion on whether current legal frameworks succeed in allowing individuals access to justice against states and international organisations, and how international law can protect individuals against non-state actors, particularly armed groups and commercial companies. To pick out some more specific issues, can diplomatic protection become an effective instrument for states to protect individuals in foreign countries? What is the impact of states’ extra-territorial obligations on the quest for justice under international law? More broadly, we can also ask to what extent international prosecution has strengthened respect for international law.
Justice and Institutions
International judicial and arbitration mechanisms inevitably hold a crucial responsibility in the promotion of justice, the effectiveness of which should be explored. How successful are judicial processes, such as the ICC, in securing domestic justice—including where there is no domestic forum for redress? Do regional and international courts undermine democratic institutions, and can over-legalization ultimately undermine justice? Similarly, we might ask if there are trade-offs between the independence and effectiveness of international courts.
We welcome papers from both academics and practitioners, and we encourage the participation of early career researchers.
Please send abstracts of around 300 words to firstname.lastname@example.org by 28th February 2015. If you have any queries please direct these to the same address.