Call for Papers: Law's Violence



Event Date: 

09/23/15 to 09/26/15

Location name: 

Sicily, Italy


Pan-European Conference on International Relations

International law is traditionally understood as a juridical means for restraining violence, which disciplines the excesses of state sovereignty. As such, it is imagined as the “other” of power politics which — as human rights activists assert — speaks truth (or justice) to power. International law is both a symptom and cause of the evolution of international society as it has moved beyond power politics as the sole driving force of international affairs. Justifying political decisions in legal terms has become an integral part of foreign policy, and even a ‘key aspect of modern war’. However, this realization at the same time reveals another relationship between law and violence. Indeed, recent decades and practices reveal that international law is not immune to the evolving nature of international politics, and that its relationship to power, wealth and violence is more nuanced and complex than traditional perspectives on the normative thickening of international society envisage. Closer scrutiny suggests there is a more subversive relationship between violence and law. This section will explore the various ways in which law not merely enables violence but even represents an instrument of violence itself. This runs from debates about the legal justification of military humanitarian intervention, Guantanamo Bay as a distinct juridical space, the role of lawyers in contemporary war rooms, the increasing “private” power of Foreign Investment and Trade Treaties, the colonial foundations of modern international law, to a reconceptualization of rights as governmental technologies, and more theoretical debates on the force of law.

From International Law Reporter