Thursday, April 23, 2009

Call for Papers: The Nature and Future of International Legal Theory

The Interest Groups on International Legal Theory of the European Society of International Law and the American Society of International Law have issued a call for papers for a joint workshop on "The Nature and Future of International Legal Theory." The workshop will take place during the Third Research Forum of the European Society of International Law, October 2-3, 2009, in Helsinki. Here's the call:

In October 2009, the European Society of International Law will convene its Third Research Forum, co-organised with the American Society of International Law. The Interest Groups on International Legal Theory of the two societies will host a special workshop in Helsinki on occasion of the conference. Accordingly, we invite the submission of abstracts from scholars interested in participating in this workshop.

1. The Workshop

Prospective participants have a wide remit to present papers which reflect on the scholarly enterprise of international legal theory. We hope to bring together people from a range of theoretical orientations to engage in a conversation about what it means, and could mean to ‘do’ theory in the context of international law. Examples of the sort of questions participants might wish to reflect upon include:

  • In your experience, which methods have proved helpful, can or ought to be used in constructing theories of international law?
  • What is the relationship between politics and international legal theory (ILT)?
  • Is ILT a national(ist) enterprise? Do divergent (legal-)cultural backgrounds influence theories? Can or should we trace ‘lineages’ of theoretical approaches to certain countries or groups of countries?
  • Is ILT always influenced by national concepts of legal theory or is there a truly ‘international’ theory?
  • Whose inheritance do contemporary international legal theorists claim; what might that mean?
  • Is ILT capable of generating an international ‘prudence’ or ethics?
  • Is there such a thing as (necessary or dialectic) progress in theory? Are earlier theories obsolete? Are theoretical arguments a-temporal?
  • Can we find a common language in which to talk about ILT? Should we be trying to?
  • In light of the many divergent approaches is it still possible to speak of a unified ILT?
  • What is (are) the future(s) of ILT or international legal theorising?
  • What is the point of ILT? Why do we do it?

The workshop panel will consist of four participants and a chairperson. It will be held in connection with the main programme of the conference, with a time and venue to be announced, but most likely before the main conference opens.

2. The Application Process

We invite submissions of abstracts of no more than 400 words from all international law scholars (only one per person) with an overt interest in theory.

Selection will be based on scholarly merit, and with regard to producing an engaging workshop, but without prejudice to gender, seniority, language or geographical location. Speakers at the main conference will generally not be selected for the special workshop.

Each submission should include the following:

  • the author’s name, institutional affiliation, contact information and e-mail address;
  • an abstract of no more than 400 words;
  • the intended language of presentation.

All applications should be submitted to

The deadline for submission of proposals is Monday, 25 May 2009.

The outcome of the selection process results will be notified to all applicants by Tuesday, 2 June 2009.

Presenters will be expected to produce by Sunday, 13 September 2009 a draft paper of 3000–5000 words for circulation among the workshop participants.

Please note that the conference registration fee as well as transport and accommodation costs for selected participants can unfortunately not be covered by the conference organisers.

Further information about the ESIL Interest Group can be accessed here.

We would like to warmly invite each and every one of you to participate.

The ASIL and ESIL Interest Groups on International Legal Theory