Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Johns: International Law and the Provocations of the Digital: The 2021 Annual Kirby Lecture in International Law

Fleur Johns (Univ. of New South Wales - Law) has posted International Law and the Provocations of the Digital: The 2021 Annual Kirby Lecture in International Law (Australian Year Book of International Law, forthcoming). Here's the abstract:
Based in Montevideo, and recently valued at US$5 billion, the payments platform DLocal enables companies such as, Amazon and Uber to transact in local currencies in 29 countries. It specializes in the “emerging economies” of Latin America, the Asia Pacific, the Middle East and North Africa. Among international lawyers, however, Montevideo is best known for another form of international infrastructure. That is the 1933 Montevideo Convention, or at least its first article, standardizing the template of modern statehood. At the time, as scholars of international legal history have shown, this amounted to a radical reformatting of the fundaments of international law, driven by semi-peripheral states, as part of a widespread effort of reconstructive codification after the Great War. Today, DLocal’s Montevideo is emblematic of a very different kind of international legal reformatting now underway. A digital logic, and associated circuits of value and aggregations of power, are becoming embedded – even predominant – in many of international law’s most routine operations. To shed light on this phenomenon, this address – delivered as the 2021 Annual Kirby Lecture in International Law at the ANU in Canberra, Australia – will revisit each component of the Montevideo Convention’s well-known formula for statehood: permanent population; defined territory; government; and the conduct of international relations. Taking efforts of so-called digital humanitarianism as illustrative, it will examine how each of these Montevideo properties is being rerouted and recomposed digitally, often in tension with an analogue logic characteristic of international law. And in the ensuing dislocations sometimes in evidence between analogue and digital aspects of international legal work, it will identify some possibilities for collective reworking.