magnify
Home Articles posted by John Louth

How Much Public International Law Scholarship is There?

Published on January 10, 2017        Author: 

Two years ago I started to try and keep track of and categorize all of the PIL books published in a year. That yielded a figure of about 400 in English, French, and German. I wanted to count journal articles too but soon realized it was too big a job and one I couldn’t justify spending time on. Add to that the increasing number of well-researched blog posts and even for professional scholars just keeping up with all that is published must be daunting.

untitled1In the hope of providing a solution we have been developing a web-based tool to help scholars spend less time finding out what has been published on a topic and more time analysing and assessing it. The fruit of our labour is called ResearchTrack which provides information about newly published scholarship with links to the originals where access to the full content may be available, and will cover outputs from all publishers. We are opening it up to the public from today. The current version is a free “beta” version i.e. it is being used for a pilot study (running to the end of February 2017) during which we will hope to get lots of feedback about the overall usefulness of the idea and how we can improve it for a permanent version (should there prove to be sufficient interest). The pilot phase has two disciplines: Public International Law and International Relations.

Coverage

In terms of coverage we track books, journal articles, and substantive blog pieces. During this pilot phase it only covers English language materials systematically but I would like to hear from any teams who might be interested in helping us to broaden out. Our team of external editors decide whether something merits inclusion based purely on whether it is potentially of interest to a PIL researcher; inclusion does not reflect an assessment of quality.

Antecedents

I should acknowledge the existence of other projects which have also attempted to fill this need. One is the now defunct Weekly International Law Digest produced by Don Anton which listed in a weekly PDF everything that had come out in PIL, and the other of course is the still active International Law Reporter run by the indefatigable Jacob Katz Cogan.

untitled2ResearchTrack differs from the latter in that our team of editors tags everything with subjects from our taxonomy of 300+ items and adds filters for geography. Users register and then personalize their data feed by choosing which topics they wish to track. You can choose as many topics as you want and easily add or remove new ones. Whenever you log in you will see a number showing you how many new items have been published in your areas of interest. Our hope is that in addition to being useful for tracking the latest scholarship it will over time become a way of building up a literature review on any given topic.

Pilot Phase

During the pilot phase which will run until the end of February 2017 we invite all PIL researchers to register, try it out, and tell us what you think. We are particularly keen on feedback about coverage (are we missing anything), types of content (what, besides books, blogs, and journals would you like to see tracked), usability of the site, and of course bugs. There is a feedback page (accessed by clicking on the arrow at the bottom of the page which opens up a small panel of options) or feel free to email me directly at john.louth {at} oup(.)com.

 

Announcing the OPIL World Cup Challenge

Published on June 11, 2014        Author: 

In nearly 20 years of legal publishing nobody has ever sent me a proposal for a book on football and international law. It’s not like there is any lack of international legal issues to be addressed – dispute settlement, IP, workers’ rights, corruption – the list goes on.  Perhaps many of the issues are more matters of private than public law but with the ongoing blurring of that distinction it could equally be the case that the time is ripe for a thorough scholarly investigation.

In an effort to marry up interest in public international law and football, and also to provide a bit of a distraction from all the sports coverage, we have devised the Oxford Public International Law World Cup Challenge. The concept is straightforward; hopefully the questions are less so. The questions are all about international law, and the answer to each question is the name of a country, or two countries, contesting the World Cup in Brazil. There are 27 questions relating to the 32 countries. You can try to work out the answers using your existing knowledge and deductive logic and then when you get stuck do a bit of research to find the rest.

The answers to the questions, along with brief explanations as necessary, will be posted on the site upon the conclusion of the group stages, on Friday 27th June. Please feel free to contact me if you have any queries.

We sincerely hope you find the quiz stimulating and enjoyable. Who knows, I might finally get a book proposal that combines the world’s greatest pastime and…football.

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
Comments Off on Announcing the OPIL World Cup Challenge

Mapping the Debates about Syria

Published on September 10, 2013        Author: 

John LouthJohn Louth is Editor-in-Chief of Academic Law at Oxford University Press

International lawyers are fortunate to be well-served by a number of very well informed and thoughtful blogs. Whether just throwing out an idea for discussion or undertaking a detailed survey of a topic it seems to me that we need to start taking seriously the idea that they are making a lasting contribution to scholarship. This seems especially true in the case of Syria.

The sharp increase in scholarly commentary that has appeared online since the chemical attack on 21 August has added much needed nuance and authority to more general press coverage of the issues. At the same time such a sudden torrent carries the risk of overwhelming our abilities to keep track of what has been said.

To counter this I have created a “Debate Map” on a freely available page within the Oxford Public International Law site which indexes discussions by scholars of the public international law aspects of the debates over military intervention in Syria that have appeared in blogs and newspaper articles (plus two forthcoming journal articles and one recently published article).

It is organized by topic and within each topic I give the date, the author, where it was posted or published, and a brief description of what arguments are being discussed or put forward. It only covers English language materials, focuses on public international law questions (not domestic constitutional law questions). Not every single post that has appeared is included – if two posts are on the same topic but one merely flags up the questions whilst the other one attempts to solve them I have only included the latter post.

Intended users include scholars who want to see what has been written about so far (either just to keep track or to plan their own writing), and lecturers and librarians preparing guides for student discussion. It also might help scholars who want to write a blog post to see where there are gaps in what has been written on.

The aim is to keep this up to date and in due course it will reference published articles and even books. I would be very happy to receive feedback on whether such a  resource is useful, if you feel I have missed something (I cannot guarantee that I will include it of course), or if you have suggestions about the structure of the Map. That can be done by emailing me at john.louth {at} oup(.)com .

If the concept is considered useful I would also be keen on hearing any suggestions for further Maps that people would like to see.

 

Isaiah’s Echo: Progress, Prophecy, and the UN Charter

Published on March 27, 2013        Author: 

John LouthJohn Louth is Editor-in-Chief of Academic Law at Oxford University Press

The phrase “swords into plowshares” has been adopted by countless organizations campaigning for peace and is also frequently associated with the UN’s mission and international law more broadly. The full quote comes from the book of the Prophet Isaiah:

“He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

By a wonderful co-incidence this is chapter 2 verse 4 (2:4) of Isaiah and corresponds very closely to the prohibition on the use of force in Article 2(4) of the UN Charter (UNC):

“All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

With the similarity in the numbering (the original Dumbarton Oaks draft called this “Chapter” 2 giving an even closer resemblance) it is tempting to think that the connection between the UNC and Isaiah was there from the UN’s inception. Swords into Plowshares statueThere is also a statue in the UN garden named “Let Us Beat Our Swords into Plowshares”.  Wikipedia even finds it necessary to inform us that, contrary to popular belief, these words from Isaiah are not in fact inscribed on the UN building’s foundation stone. Those words are actually engraved on a wall across the road.

Read the rest of this entry…