Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Call for Papers: Africa and International Law: Taking Stock and Moving Forward

Albany Law School and the Africa Interest Group of the American Society of International Law have issued a call for papers for a conference on "Africa and International Law: Taking Stock and Moving Forward." Here's the call:

Over the last several years, a dense network of treaties, conventions, protocols have been generated by a growing number of African international organizations. The growing number of international organizations include regional judiciaries, regional and continental wide organizations such as the African Union and the variety of regional economic communities. They cover a broad range of concerns including trade, security, common resources such as rivers and lakes, the environment and human rights. The jurisprudence of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights has influenced civil society challenges of human rights and rule of law violations at the national level resulting in what some have referred to as ‘modest harvests.’ An entirely new generation of practitioners and scholars of international law has also emerged and international law has provided these experts, practitioners and scholars important normative guidance that has formed the basis of their interactions with African states at the national, regional and continental levels. In this sense, international law has gained increasing salience as a way of framing and responding to the challenges facing the African peoples and governments.

Even though international legal, institutional and professional growth has increased, many African governments have remained committed to their sovereignty and African leaders have largely escaped accountability under national and regional legal regimes. Accountability functions by international mechanisms such as the International Criminal Court (ICC) have not fared better. Africa’s relationship with these international legal regimes is complex – instead of confronting the culture of impunity through good faith investigations and prosecutions of those bearing the greatest responsibility for international crimes in Africa’s numerous post-Cold War conflicts, the African Union has more or less branded the ICC as nothing more than a new form of imperialism masquerading as international rule of law.

Further, there are already conflicts of obligations arising from the multiplicity of regional and international treaties. Thus, although only 31 of the 50 members of the African Union are concurrent Rome Statute and African Union members, the entire membership of the African Union has decided not to cooperate with the ICC. In the area of regional trade agreements, the problems arising from conflicting and overlapping memberships and treaty obligations are a well known problem.

A major objective of the conference will be to engage in a broad ranging conversation among scholars, practitioners and policy-makers to examine and evaluate how these international and regional regimes and institutions in Africa are producing new narratives of justice and how best they can make a real difference in responding to the challenges facing African peoples and governments.

Abstracts and papers are invited on a broad range of themes including the French intervention in Cote D’Ivoire, the NATO/US allied action in Libya, the fledgling jurisprudence of regional integration tribunals as well as piracy trials being conducted under universal jurisdiction, the race for African resources by China and other countries. Thus, a broad range of themes from public to private international law, as well as international and regional economic and trade legal systems and policies will be explored at the conference and abstracts and papers are invited.

In addition, papers and abstracts are invited to examine one of the reigning paradigms of African international legal scholarship that has argued that Africa has been and continues to be an innovator and generator of institutions and rules of international law, rather than its passive recipient. Papers and abstracts examining the tenability of claims that Africa is wholly disadvantaged and ineffectual in regimes such as international arbitration and trade as well as the extent to which such regimes have reinforced Africa’s peripheral location in the international political economy are invited.

Selected papers presented at the conference will be published in the inaugural issue of a new international law journal which will serve as an authoritative mouthpiece of the African international law experience.

Abstract Submission

Abstracts are due by September 30, 2011. Final Papers will be due on or before March 15, 2012.

All abstracts and final papers should be sent to:

Prof. James Gathii

Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship

Governor George E. Pataki Professor of International Commercial Law

Albany Law School

80 New Scotland Avenue

Albany, New York 12208-3494