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? Should they be 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 desired? 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 consistency and coherence. Conversely, the lack of appellate review mechanisms and the non-binding nature of decisions in other 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.
Friday, October 16, 2015
Conference: Canadian Council on International Law 2015 Annual Conference
The 44th Annual Conference of the Canadian Council on International Law will take place November 5-7, 2015, in Ottawa. The theme is "International Law: Coherence or Chaos?" The program is here. Here's the idea: