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Home Archive for category "EJIL Book Discussion"

Favourite Readings 2019 – Recommendations for Vacation Reading

Published on December 17, 2019        Author: 

 

As in previous years, EJIL’s Review Editor, Christian J. Tams, has invited EJIL board members and (associate) editors to offer short reflections on their favourite books of the year 2019. No strict rules apply — the posts are meant to introduce books that left an impression, irrespective of their genre. Today we have selections from Sarah Nouwen. You can read all the posts in this series here.

 

The timing of this series of book recommendations reveals the idea behind it: books for the holidays. In a time of year when part of the professional world temporarily slows down, as though taking a deep breath for the year that is to come, the meaning of vacation can correspond with its etymological roots –vacare, ‘being unoccupied’, thus leaving time and headspace to nourish the brain and soul with the words of others. In this period of reflection on what was, and anticipation of what is to come, I crave books about how life is given meaning, in whatever form or way. In practice, however, the ‘vacation’ is often pretty filled: with chopping vegetables, wrapping gifts, seeing friends and family, and unpacking the dishwasher, leaving little time for the pile of books that I have been longing to take up. Under these circumstances, I need a list of recommendations not for what to read myself, but for what to give to others, or, even better, what to share with others. Thus, here follows a rather mixed bag, a bag for friends and family. As always, the first presents are for the younger generations (whether budding lawyers or not).

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Favourite Readings 2019 – Couch Vacation

Published on December 16, 2019        Author: 

 

As in previous years, EJIL’s Review Editor, Christian J. Tams, has invited EJIL board members and (associate) editors to offer short reflections on their favourite books of the year 2019. No strict rules apply — the posts are meant to introduce books that left an impression, irrespective of their genre. Today we have selections from Johann Justus VaselYou can read all the posts in this series here.

 

When reflecting towards the end of the year on the piles of essays and books one has waded through, my limited powers of recollection force me to think that many works are ephemeral or at least fungible. So what was actually a “good read”? It’s hard to spell out the criteria, and maybe the term is also misleading. In my understanding a work qualifies to be a “good read” if I deem it to have a larger and lasting impact, if it changes or enriches my perspective. This year I selected three books from the political science arena, but they all elucidate important legal aspects. I hope that you will find them as meaningful as I do.

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Favourite Readings 2019 – What IS the Real Price of Development?

Published on December 13, 2019        Author: 

 

 

As in previous years, EJIL’s Review Editor, Christian J. Tams, has invited EJIL board members and (associate) editors to offer short reflections on their favourite books of the year 2019. No strict rules apply — the posts are meant to introduce books that left an impression, irrespective of their genre. Today we have selections from Diane Desierto. You can read all the posts in this series here.

 

Do communities and populations have any means of knowing what the real price is of the development decisions made on their behalf by their respective States? Are they always just doomed to reckon with seeking redress after-the-fact for any negative externalities that result from these development decisions (e.g. environmental, health, climate change, labor, alongside a whole host of human rights impacts from these development decisions), resorting to a variably asymmetric (and quite imperfect) spectrum of local, regional, or international dispute settlement processes?  These questions were foremost in my mind throughout 2019, especially given the responsibility of working with fellow Experts for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Open-Ended Intergovernmental Working Group on the Right to Development with respect to the consultation process and drafting of the legally binding instrument on the Right to Development. Likewise, in a year when the Nobel Prize (technically the Bank of Sweden Prize) for Economics was awarded to development economists Esther Duflo, Abhijit Banerjee, and Michael Kremer (who pioneered the export of Randomized Control Trials (RCT) methods in medical research into experiments on human subjects (mostly the poor) to determine the efficacy of development-funded interventions, but generally without such RCTs being conducted using any universal or global code of ethics), what has been argued by Duflo et al. as the relative end of poverty visibly exemplified by the Chinese model of development (an amalgam of ‘authoritarian capitalism’,“market authoritarianism”, or “capitalism with Chinese characteristics”) certainly provokes much rethinking into what development is under international law, and what costs States can legally and legitimately incur to realize that development. 

Most importantly, at a time when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued various reports pointing to the rapid escalation of environmental risks for the entire planet (see 2019 reports on increased risks given climate change impacts on the oceans and cryosphere, land, and global warming of 1.5 degree Celsius) alongside magnified (and often more open) violations (if not dismissals) of human rights around the world (see human rights global reports here, here, and here), can States’ decision-makers still afford to craft development plans without putting the question of negative externalities from development projects at the forefront of policymaking?

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Favourite Readings 2019 – Industry? What Industry?

Published on December 12, 2019        Author: 

 

As in previous years, EJIL’s Review Editor, Christian J. Tams, has invited EJIL board members and (associate) editors to offer short reflections on their favourite books of the year 2019. No strict rules apply — the posts are meant to introduce books that left an impression, irrespective of their genre. Today we have selections from Jan Klabbers. You can read all the posts in this series here.

 

Looking back, I notice I have read a surprisingly large number of really good books this year, and from a variety of disciplines too. Still, it is a rather damning indictment of the current state of the academic industry that the most memorable works I have read this year have had no relationship whatsoever to formal notions of research projects”, funding schemes”, grant applications”, principal investigators”, or any other manifestation of the competitive bureaucratization of academic work in recent decades.

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Favourite Readings 2019 – Closing an Uneasy Decade with Rhythm and Blues

Published on December 11, 2019        Author: 

 

As in previous years, EJIL’s Review Editor, Christian J. Tams, has invited EJIL board members and (associate) editors to offer short reflections on their favourite books of the year 2019. No strict rules apply — the posts are meant to introduce books that left an impression, irrespective of their genre. Today we have selections from Michal Saliternik. You can read all the posts in this series here.

 

We are closing the second decade of the twenty-first century without seeing much progress in addressing this century’s most daunting problems, including violent conflicts, social inequality, environmental degradation, and the decline of democracy. My good reads for the past year deal with these problems from different perspectives and methodological approaches within several genres. Together, they take the reader to a journey between the small details and the big picture; between the past and the future; between the heart and the mind; between despair and hope.

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Favourite Readings 2019 – 10 Good Reads

Published on December 9, 2019        Author: 

 

 

As in previous years, EJIL’s Review Editor, Christian J. Tams, has invited EJIL board members and (associate) editors to offer short reflections on their favourite books of the year 2019. No strict rules apply — the posts are meant to introduce books that left an impression, irrespective of their genre. Today we have selections from Joseph Weiler. You can read all the posts in this series here.

 

It is the time of year once more when I publish my pick from some of the books that came my way since my last “Good Reads” listing. These are not book reviews in the classical and rigorous sense of the word, for which you should turn to our Book Review section. I do not attempt to analyze or critique, but rather to explain why the books appealed to me and why I think you, too, may find them not only well worth reading but enjoyable, good reads. 

Anthony Julius, Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England (OUP, 2010)

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Favourite Readings 2019 — Book Recommendations by EJIL Board Members

Published on December 6, 2019        Author: 

 

Each year, around 150,000-200,000 books are published in the UK alone. A steady and not-so-slow reader averaging one book per week will get through 52 per year. So we need to be selective, and in order to select well, or at least make informed choices, we need guidance and suggestions.  

Over the course of the next days, EJIL:Talk! will seek to provide such guidance: as in previous years, we‘ll publish a series of short posts in which some of the people behind EJIL offer their suggestions and tell you about their favourite readings of the year.

Needless to say, the recommendations reflect personal choices and a wide range of interests: expect international law to feature, but not to dominate — we‘ll have a good mix of life & law and fact & fiction, including Habermas and Afua Hirsch, but also Dr Seuss, Javier Marias and Leonard Cohen. As in previous years, 2019 does not necessarily stand for the year of publication: it simply means that these books impressed our writers during 2019.  I’ll hope you enjoy our suggestions — and if you do, make sure to go and buy the books from your local independent book store. 

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The Future of International Law in an Authoritarian World

Published on June 3, 2019        Author: 

In this short review essay, I would like to offer some thoughts on the future of international law in an increasingly authoritarian world. Even for a discipline which loves a crisis, these are perhaps challenging times. The liberal cosmopolitan project of global governance through international law and multilateral institutions has, at the very least, hit a bump in the road. There is a widespread sense that a change in direction is likely. It is a reasonable time to reflect on questions such as: is international law in trouble? How concerned should we be at attempts to revise the international system? And what might a more authoritarian version of international law look like?

In reflecting on the questions I’d like to offer my readings of three scholars I’ve recently found thought-provoking. These are personal reflections and interpretations, not an effort to capture every nuance of their work. Nonetheless, each has had an impact on my thinking.

  1. Shirley Scott, “The Decline of International Law as a Normative Ideal

In this piece, Scott contrasts her view of international law with what she considers the dangers in the turn to speaking about a “rules-based order”. Scott sees the project of international law as historically containing a commitment to several major principles.

First, the principle that law is politically neutral: a conception that law stands aside from politics, and creates a level playing field for state actors, to engage and to argue with each other. This principle includes the idea of formal sovereign equality.

Second, a commitment to peace through law: the idea that law contains within it the potential for objective dispute settlement, and that this is a contribution to world peace. Read the rest of this entry…

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To Reform the World: International Organizations and the Making of Modern States – A Reply to the Discussants

Published on January 22, 2019        Author: 

Earlier this month we hosted a discussion of Guy Fiti Sinclair’s book, To Reform the World: International Organizations and the Making of Modern States. Below is Guy’s reply to the discussants. We are grateful to all of the participants for their role in this discussion

I am extremely grateful for the sensitive and sympathetic comments on my book in the posts by Jan Klabbers, Megan Donaldson, Devika Hovell, and Edouard Fromageau. Together, they offer a rich set of reflections on the book’s themes, each informed by their distinctive scholarly interests and expertise. In reading them, I found myself nodding along, with very little disagreement on even the more critical points. What follows, then, is not an attempt to debate any particular issue, much less all of them, in the systematic manner they deserve – but rather an effort to engage with a few of the wide-ranging concerns raised by four scholars for whom I have the deepest respect, in the hope that doing so will help to advance the conversation and stimulate further reflection and research.

Several of the posts raise questions relating to perspective and methodology. The book’s particular focus emerged from an effort to answer a relatively narrow set of questions, albeit ones that have broader implications for how we understand international law and organizations. Seeking to understand how international organizations have been able to expand their powers informally beyond the terms of their constituent instruments, and the role of international law in making that expansion seem possible and legitimate, led me to look beyond the relatively restricted set of legal materials traditionally examined by international organizations lawyers. Examining a handful of overlapping episodes involving three organizations with very different purposes, structures, and histories, the book adopts a socio-legal methodology which makes it possible to explore the variable role of (international) law in the public discourse and practices of those organizations.

But what does this kind of analysis help us to see, what does it overlook, and what does it obscure? While not the central thrust of his post, Jan Klabbers rightly points out that, by concentrating on fairly well-known organizations – the International Labour Organizations (ILO), the United Nations (UN), and the World Bank – the book leaves open the question whether the same framework of analysis could be extended to other organizations which are less well-studied and may present more anomalous or harder cases, such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the International Olive Council, or the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Moreover, as Megan Donaldson wonderfully shows through a vignette by Shirley Hazzard, the book’s focus on the speeches, writings, and actions of senior international civil servants leaves unexplored the perspectives of lower-level officials in the same organizations. Read the rest of this entry…

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The Use of Administrative Analogies and the Making of the Modern International Organizations

Published on January 14, 2019        Author: 

I would like to comment on a significant part, albeit a rather small one contentwise, of Dr Sinclair’s very interesting book – To Reform the World: the use of administrative law analogies in relation with the making of modern international organizations. Before going further, we would need to agree on a definition of analogy. Popular culture may help in that regard. According to Britta Perry, a student at Greendale Community College in the TV Show Community (video available here), an analogy can be defined as “a thought with another thought’s hat on”. In her convincing de Beauvoiresque analogy between “weddings” and “little girls’ tea parties”, Britta however highlights three differences between them, while analogies are generally focusing on “accepted similarities between two systems” (P. Bartha, “Analogy and Analogical Reasoning”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, available here).

Legal analogy, for Chaïm Perelman and Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca, is not defined as an imperfect resemblance, but as an identity of relations within different domains (See C. Perelman & L. Olbrechts-Tyteca, La nouvelle rhétorique. Traité de l’argumentation, PUF, 1958, p. 500). Analogy then implies that a is to b like c is to d. The goal is to explain a relation that is unknown (a to b), called theme, with the help of a known relations (c to d), called phore. The theme states what one means or wishes to prove, while the phore states what one says so that it may better be expressed or proven. For example, One good piece of news does not guarantee happiness is like one swallow does not make a summer (O. Reboul, “The Figure and the Argument”, in M. Meyer (ed.), From Metaphysics to Rhetoric, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1989, pp. 175-176). The phore is generally more concrete, or at least more familiar, than the theme. It is the resemblance between the two relations which allows us to infer the fourth term from the three others. We prove b given a, c and d, since the relation between a and b resembles that between c and d. The point of the reasoning, in this example, is that “one has no right to generalize”.

We should also distinguish analogies from metaphors. The metaphor occurs when analogy is condensed through the omission of certain terms. It reduces the resemblance to an identity by evacuating the difference. One can say to reassure an old person anxious about death that it is only a kind of sleep. This metaphor implies an analogy : that death is to living like sleep is to waking (O. Reboul, “The Figure and the Argument”, op.cit., pp. 175-176).

I would like to focus on one particular specie of analogy, the one in which the phore (the known relation) is domestic law, also known as domestic analogies. Read the rest of this entry…

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