Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Conference: The Return of the "S" Word: Sovereignty in Contemporary International Law

On May 16, 2018, the British Institute of International and Comparative Law will host the 27th Annual SLS/BIICL Workshop on Theory & International Law. The theme is: "The Return of the 'S' Word: Sovereignty in Contemporary International Law." The program is here. Here's the idea:

It was not too long ago, in the days, months and years following the collapse of the Berlin Wall, that many prominent "internationalists" (lawyers and international relations theorists alike) were relishing the end, or death, of state sovereignty - or at the very least ushering in the concept's twilight years. Fast forward to the present, however, and the geo-political climate at the start of 2018 seems only to highlight the naivety of this assumption and the continuing longevity of the idea of sovereignty and the importance of states' political independence. Under a rising tide of populist nationalism in the West and a resurgence of authoritarianism among existing and emerging superpowers in the East, sovereigntist rhetoric continues to play out in self-determination struggles, as well as mooted withdrawals from international institutions like the European Union and the International Criminal Court - institutions championed very much in opposition to the worst excesses of state sovereignty.

With this background in mind, the 2018 Workshop on Theory and International Law aims to re-engage the concept of sovereignty in contemporary international law, inviting contributions which relate to the (contested) nature or evolving meaning of state sovereignty, as well as how the concept manifests in relation to specific areas of international law and institutional practice, including e.g. statehood and self-determination struggles, membership and withdrawal of international organisations, etc.