Friday, November 16, 2012

Call for Papers: Transnational Judicial Dialogue: Concept, Method, Extent and Effects

The International Law through the National Prism Project at the Amsterdam Center for International Law and the MultiRights - The Legitimacy of Multi-Level Human Rights Judiciary Project at the University of Oslo Faculty of Law have issued a call for papers for a conference on "Transnational Judicial Dialogue: Concept, Method, Extent and Effects," to take place June 21-22, 2013, in Oslo. Here's the call:


The Conference will explore the practice of transnational judicial dialogue on issues of international law by and between domestic and international courts (and tribunals). It seeks to examine whether, how, when and why courts engage in such dialogues; and what the effects are of this practice. In particular, the Conference aims to clarify the concept and extent of court-to-court dialogue, the process itself, its limits and possibilities, as well as any influence it may have on the international legal order further down the line. The Conference seeks to address how transnational judicial dialogues occur in different regions of the world and in various fields of law, including, but not limited to, human rights.

The organizers of the Conference now invite paper proposals from scholars, adjudicators and practitioners in law and related disciplines.


Domestic and international courts and tribunals across the world play an important and increasing role in giving effect to international law. One method that can be used by judges when interpreting and applying international norms is to look at how their colleagues in other states and/or in (quasi-) judicial bodies at the international level have construed a particular norm or issue of international law. There is evidence that such a transnational judicial dialogue takes place in and between various jurisdictions.

This practice raises questions of both a practical and theoretical nature which form the background for the project ‘International Law through the National Prism: the Impact of Judicial Dialogue.’ This project is funded by the European Science Foundation (ESF) as a European Collaborative Research project in the Social Sciences (ECRP). The main cooperating partners are the universities of Amsterdam, Berlin (Humboldt), Lodz, Oslo and Vienna. The universities of Salamanca, Siena and Tel Aviv are associated partners.

The Oslo Conference follows a conference hosted by the University of Vienna in April 2012 on ‘Transnational Judicial Dialogue of Domestic Courts on International Organizations’. A workshop in Berlin is planned for the autumn of 2013, and a final conference will be organized in Amsterdam in the summer of 2014. The Oslo Conference will be part of the third annual ‘MultiRights’ conference, which starts on 20 June 2013 with sessions concerning the effects of the international and regional human rights judiciary on human rights situations ‘on the ground’. The ‘MultiRights’ project, which is financed by the European Research Council (ERC), is based at the Law Faculty of the University of Oslo, and analyses claims of legitimacy deficits with respect to supervisory human rights organs (e.g. regional courts).

It is noted that the ECRP project builds on earlier work analysing the application of international law by domestic and international courts, including the volume ‘The Practice of International and National Courts and the (De-) Fragmentation of International Law’ edited by Ole Kristian Fauchald and André Nollkaemper. Hence, the focus of the Oslo Conference lies on effects of judicial dialogue different from and beyond (de-) fragmentation.

Themes and queries

The themes and queries that conference papers could address include, but are not limited to, the following:

1. The Concept and Extent of Judicial Dialogue

When may we speak of transnational judicial dialogue? In addition to dialogues between domestic courts inter se (horizontal dialogue), does the concept cover dialogues between domestic courts and international judicial bodies (vertical dialogue)? Can we speak about ‘dialogue’ when courts oppose each other or only when domestic courts unconditionally take on interpretations by other courts? Next to dialogues between courts (through their judgments), does the concept cover dialogues between judges in other formal as well as informal ways (e.g. judges’ meetings)? Is it limited to the borrowing of substantive law issues or does it have broader application? Are the decisions of certain courts more prone to be considered/used in judicial dialogue; and if so, why? Do courts show a preference for court decisions belonging to the same region or legal system? Does the prevalence of judicial dialogue differ with respect to subject matter; and if so, what are the reasons? Are there any regional differences with respect to judicial dialogue; and if so, how can these be explained?

2. The Method and Process of Judicial Dialogue

How do courts go about when engaging in a transnational judicial dialogue, for instance in terms of the selection of the courts with whom they engage in a dialogue? Is it possible to discern any criteria that domestic and international courts employ when deciding whether and when to engage in judicial dialogue; what makes one decision or reasoning more influential than others?

To what extent does transnational judicial dialogue depend on the arguments presented by the disputing parties/legal counsel (jura (non) novit curia)?

Next to possible legal barriers or requirements concerning judicial dialogue, what are the practical barriers to dialogue, such as access to judgments, translations and commentaries, which may prevent judges (and arbitrators) from learning how courts elsewhere treat comparable questions?

Which methods may be used to explore how often and in what situations courts engage in dialogues with judicial bodies of a different legal system? How can changes in the practice of such dialogues be detected? How can dialogues and their influence be traced where there are no explicit references to foreign or international decisions in the respective judgments? How can one best make the practice of domestic courts available to courts elsewhere?

3. The Aims and Effects of Judicial Dialogue

What aims does transnational judicial dialogue seek to fulfil, for instance as a catalyst in developing international law, or justifying the avoidance of the application of international law? How may (selective or the lack of) transnational judicial dialogue affect the interpretation and determination of particular rules of international law?

In the context of the effects judicial dialogue may have on the development of international law, what role do and can domestic court cases play in decisions by international courts and tribunals?

Papers are invited to explore these and other pertinent queries from normative and empirical standpoints in a variety of international law sub-disciplines, including but not limited to human rights. We also encourage submissions from neighbouring disciplines with an interest in international law (such as international relations, philosophy and sociology). The themes are interrelated, and multiple angles can be addressed within one paper.

It is hoped that answers to the queries will help establish best practices, allowing domestic and international courts to arrive at sound responses to shared problems, as well as helping us articulate normative perspectives for assessing judicial dialogues.

Submission of paper proposals

Paper proposals should be no longer than 500 words and include the applicant’s curriculum vitae.

Papers to be presented at the Conference should not have been published elsewhere previously.

At the time of the Conference, the invited authors should present a paper of 7,000-8,000 words, excluding references.

It is the intention of the organisers to publish the papers in an edited volume. Paper proposals should be sent by e-mail to: Dr. Amrei Müller (

Time line

The deadline is 15 February 2013.

Selected participants will be informed by 22 March 2013.

Each participant must submit a paper by 31 May 2013 for distribution to the other participants.

The Conference takes place on 21-22 June 2013 in Oslo, Norway.

The sponsoring organizations will cover the speakers’ travelling and accommodation expenses.


For substantive questions, please contact Dr. Amrei Müller at:

For questions about the MultiRights project, please contact Leiry Cornejo Chavez at: