- The needs of an increasingly interconnected and functionally diversified society have radically transformed the international legal order. Early 20th-century accounts conceived of the international system as a hierarchical pyramid structure comprising relatively few norms, in which states, perceived as opaque and unitary actors (‘billiard balls'), interacted in a largely unconstrained manner. Contemporary international law, by contrast, resembles a dense web of overlapping and detailed prescriptions in subject areas as diverse as environmental protection, human rights and international trade. In light of such transformations, political and legal theorists have introduced the concept of the network as a competing structural paradigm of the legal order; they describe international law as a network of government officials, legislators and judges; as a deterritorialized ‘system of rule’ that has transformed the state; or as a flexible, horizontal structure of production of legitimacy spread throughout world space. And yet, while the network model accounts for the diversification of legal regimes and the multiplication of actors in the international legal process, many central building blocks of the traditional international legal system, such as the rules on diplomatic protection or state responsibility, have remained remarkably stable…. A central, and increasingly difficult task of the jurist consists in allocating authority in a system composed of both elements of hierarchical unity and multiple network structures in diverse issue areas.
Bruno Simma & Dirk Pulkowski, “Of Planets and the Universe: Self-Contained Regimes in International Law” (2006) 17 Eur. J. Int'l L. 483.
International law operates today in a network of subject- and region-specific agreements and forums, with differing levels of efficacy and enforceability. Undoubtedly, specialized fields, such as the law of the sea, international humanitarian law, international criminal law, international trade law, and international investment law, have developed into fully-functioning regimes. However, these self-contained regimes operate within the broader context of public international law. Amidst a proliferation of treaties, customary international law, and soft law norms, what are the applicable rules of international law? How can the rules be interpreted in a manner that ensures coherence within and between regimes? Some commentators maintain that specialization results in insulation and potential conflicts between regimes. Conversely, others argue that specialization leads to increased efficiency and protection of the rule of law.
What is the role of international courts and tribunals? Are they the guardians of coherence and maintaining the rule of law in the face of the rapidly increasing number of treaties and cases? Is coherence of international norms across regimes necessary or to be desired? Within regimes, how much fragmentation or coherence is tolerable? Or does it matter? Are international courts and tribunals different in this respect from domestic courts and tribunals? Contradictions abound in contemporary international law jurisprudence. On the one hand, the growing body of decisions in some regimes demonstrates increased coherence. Conversely, the lack of appellate review mechanisms and the non-binding nature of decisions in many regimes may lead to conflicts and chaos.
Is the complex, international legal system today becoming more coherent and cohesive or heading toward fragmentation and chaos? The 44th Annual Conference of the Canadian Council on International Law will examine these important issues and more!
II. Submission and Selection of Proposals
We encourage all international law scholars, practitioners, and graduate students to submit proposals for panels or papers. Proposals must be received no later than March 20, 2015. All proposals should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Panel proposals should be organized around a theme and should include a brief description of the theme. They should contain a list of the proposed participants with their anticipated contributions (topics or titles), indicating whether the participants have expressed a willingness to participate in the conference should the proposal be accepted. Short biographies of the proposed chair and speakers should be included. Proposals should be a maximum of 500 words and biographies a maximum of 200 words.
Paper proposals should include a working title of the paper and an abstract (400 words maximum) describing the paper’s main thesis, methods, and contribution. Applicants should also include a short biography (200 words maximum).
Any time-sensitive questions should be addressed to the conference co-chairs at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. We anticipate communicating acceptance decisions by May 4, 2015. Authors of accepted proposals will prepare a draft paper on their proposed topic, and submit the draft paper to email@example.com by no later than November 1, 2015.
III. Panel and Paper Proposals Welcome in All Fields of International Law
Panel and paper proposals on topics consistent with the conference theme are welcome in all areas of international law, including:
- Public international law
- Dispute resolution
- International courts and tribunals
- International organizations
- International criminal law
- International environmental law
- International humanitarian law
- International intellectual property law
- International investment law
- International legal theory
- International migration law
- International law and technology
- International refugee law
- International security law
- International trade law
- Law of the sea
- Nonproliferation, arms control and disarmament law
The Conference will take place at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada in Ottawa, Canada from November 5 - 7, 2015.
Please understand that budget constraints prevent us from providing travel or other financial assistance to conference participants.