Monday, September 17, 2012

Call for Papers: ESIL 5th Research Forum

The European Society of International Law has issued a call for papers for its 5th Research Forum, which will take place May 23-25, 2013, in Amsterdam. The conference will be hosted by the Amsterdam Center for International Law of the University of Amsterdam and the Department of Transnational Legal Studies of the VU University Amsterdam. The conference theme is "International Law as a Profession." Here's the call (English/French):

ESIL 5th Research Forum

International Law as a Profession

The Theme

International law is a normative order created by and guiding (the behavior of) its legal subjects. However it also is a professional activity geared towards the fulfillment of a wide range of different functions. Depending on their respective roles, international lawyers perform a variety of tasks, including making, interpreting, applying, enforcing, or systematizing international rights and obligations.

The nature of these functions differs between the various professional capacities within the profession. For instance, international judges chiefly seek to settle international disputes by applying and interpreting the law. Legal advisers principally advise governments and international organizations on the making, the enforcement, and the use of international law. Academics commonly strive to contribute to the systematization of international law. In that sense, the type of engagement that international lawyers have with international law is determined by their respective roles. This is true even if the professional capacities of international lawyers continuously change, or if they simultaneously assume several professional and institutional functions, or if they switch from one to another.

These different professional capacities may come with different discourses and conceptions about how the making, the application, the interpretation, the enforcement, and the systematization of international law is carried out. Significant differences exist, particularly regarding the way in which international lawyers construe and use international law. Some understand international law as a defined and specific diplomatic vocabulary, while others systematize it as a body of rules that is formally identified and enforceable. For instance, an attorney engaged in public interest litigation will shape and use international law differently from a government lawyer who must largely speak the language of diplomacy. Likewise, the conception of international law as a complex legal system, as classically defended by academics, contrasts with the way in which international law is understood and used by domestic lawyers dealing with the application of international law in domestic legal orders.

As an epistemic community, each role within the profession is affected by institutional and social constraints. These biases inevitably impinge on the manner in which the various roles of international lawyers are understood and carried out, as well as the concept of law which they embrace.

Understanding international law as a profession thus calls for a two-fold evaluation. First, it requires evaluating the different functions which international lawyers fulfill in their various capacities, as well as the challenges faced when conducting them in the 21st century. Second, it calls for an appraisal of the diverging discourses to which they resort when exercising these various functions. Such an appraisal necessitates delving into the multiple underlying concepts of law used by scholars, as well as examining the institutional and social biases of each function within the profession.

The Research Forum will explore four particular roles exercised by international lawyers: the international lawyer as a judge or arbitrator; as a legal adviser, counsel or diplomat; as an academic, researcher, or teacher; and as a domestic lawyer.

Submission of papers or panel proposals

The Organising Committee of the Research Forum now invites proposals for papers to be presented at the Research Forum, as well as proposals for full panels of speakers. Proposals for papers or panels can relate (but need not be limited) to one of the following topics:

  • The adjudicatory, diplomatic, and administrative functions of international dispute
  • settlement bodies, including the development of international law
  • The interpretation of history by international judges
  • Competing loyalties within different professional practices
  • Individual accountability of judges, counsel, and legal advisors
  • Academics as activists versus activists as academics
  • Relations between international lawyers and academics from other disciplines
  • The role and influence of scholars in devising, clarifying, systematizing, interpreting, and/or developing international law
  • Models of the legal profession used in teaching international law
  • (Notions of) independence and impartiality of international and/or national judges
  • The (judicial) role of members of accountability mechanisms (non-compliance mechanisms, etc.)
  • The role of domestic lawyers
  • The impact of new technologies on professional practices

A limited number of papers will be selected for possible inclusion in an edited volume on the theme of the conference and/or in the ESIL Conference Papers Series. The conference fee will be waived for selected panelists that are members of ESIL at the moment of registration.

Application procedure

Panel speakers will be selected on the basis of abstracts submitted in response to this Call for papers and panel proposals. Both senior and junior scholars (PhD students included), from any part of the world, of any nationality, and of any disciplines are encouraged to apply.

Selection criteria

All papers and panel proposals will be selected through a peer-review process from abstracts received in response to this Call.

The following criteria will be used to aid the selection of papers and panels:

  • The scientific quality of the research and proposed paper
  • The originality of the proposed paper
  • In the case of a panel proposal, the overall coherence of the panel
  • Links to the conference and panel theme
  • The geographical representation of the speakers

Only one abstract per author will be considered.

Papers delivered at the conference must be unpublished.

Submission of an abstract (paper)

Abstracts must be submitted online through the appropriate form.

Abstracts must not exceed 600 words, in English or French.

Abstracts must sufficiently set out the author’s argument and its implications for the general theme of the conference.

In addition, the following information must be provided:

  • A short biography including relevant publications;
  • The context in which the research is being conducted (e.g. for a forthcoming book, thesis, or article);
  • The proposed language to be used (English or French);
  • Indication whether the author is an ESIL member and, if so, the date of affiliation.

Submission of a panel proposal

The following information must be provided:

  • A description of the overall theme of the panel and of the insights expected from the discussion;
  • For each paper, the information required for the submission of an abstract (set out above).

All selected authors must deliver a draft paper of at least 3.000 words to be shared with other panelists.


  • Deadline for submission of abstracts and panel proposals: 15 November 2012
  • Applicants will be informed of the selection decision by: 20 December 2012
  • Deadline for submission of draft papers: 1 May 2013

The page for submission of proposals will be made available on 15 October 2012.