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2018 Favourite Readings: Values, Identity, and Growth in the Global Economy

Published on December 26, 2018        Author: 

Editor’s note: Continuing a tradition started by Isabel Feichtner a few years ago, EJIL’s Review Editor, Christian J. Tams, invited members of the EJIL board to offer short reflections on their favourite books of the year 2018. In the following days we will present some selections here on EJIL:Talk! They comprise a wide range of books, from (a few) doctrinal legal texts, to (many more) historical accounts and works of fiction. Unlike in many official book prize competitions, 2018 does not necessarily stand for the year of publication; rather, board members were asked to list books they read or re-read this year, and found inspiring or enjoyable. Today we give you Diane Desierto’s favourites.

Why do we have a global economy, what is it for, what comprises it, and to what ends and purposes do we regulate it?  Somewhat unconsciously, my favourite books for 2018 directly or indirectly related to these questions. Throughout 2018, I relished reading (or rereading, in some of these) Hersch Lauterpacht’s classic International Law and Human Rights (F.A. Praeger Press, 1950), followed by Louis Meuleman’s Metagovernance for Sustainability: A Framework for Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (Routledge, 2018); David Pilling’s The Growth Delusion: Wealth, Poverty, and the Well-Being of Nations (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018), Mariana Mazzucato’s The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy (Penguin Random House UK, 2018), and Francis Fukuyama’s Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2018).  These books proved illuminating this year in my ongoing thematic and granular search for answers to the above questions.

Hersch Lauterpacht’s International Law and Human Rights is an apt reminder of how modern international law, at its inception, fundamentally serves the ends and aims of human rights in free and just societies. Lauterpacht makes his argument in three parts – showing in The Rights of Man and the Law of Nations that the concept of international peace is inseparable from the vindication of human dignity through human rights; elaborating human rights provisions central to the UN Charter in Human Rights under the Charter of the United Nations; and concluding with a detailed set of recommendations (recall, this was long before the development of the major human rights treaties today) for the International Bill of the Rights of Man.  Read the rest of this entry…

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Call for Papers: European Journal of International Law – International Law and Democracy Revisited, The EJIL 30th Anniversary Symposium

Published on December 23, 2018        Author: 

EJIL was founded in 1989, coinciding with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the attendant excitement encapsulated by that well-known optimistic/hubristic End of History phraseology, with predictions of liberal democracy to become regnant in the world and a New International Legal Order to replace the old First World-Second World-Third World distinctions.

Thirty years later the state of democracy, whether liberal or social or any other variant, seems to be far from sanguine.

Here is but a partial list of the challenges to democracy in the contemporary world:

  • The advent of so-called ‘illiberal democracies’
  • The crisis and breakdown of trust within established democracies
  • The reality or otherwise of states with ‘formal democracy’ often reduced to little more than elections, more or less free
  • The accountability and rule of law concerns, famously termed GAL concerns, which transnational governance regimes raise as indispensable features of democracy
  • The persistent ‘democracy deficit’ or ‘political deficit’ of the European Union and similar Organizations
  • The emergence of the global ‘data economy’ with mega platforms calling into question basic assumptions about territory and jurisdiction and calling into question the ability of democratic regimes to reign in such platforms increasingly questioned
  • The impact of both financial markets and international monetary bodies on the internal margin of manoeuvre and democratic choices of economic management
  • Democracy and global inequality: The relationship between counter-democratic ideologies, legal reforms and political processes at the domestic and global levels and social and economic processes such as the shrinking middle class and the lasting ramifications of the 2008 economic crisis.

Read the rest of this entry…

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Favourite Readings 2018: Revisiting the Postwar Moment

Published on December 21, 2018        Author: 

Editor’s note: Continuing a tradition started by Isabel Feichtner a few years ago, EJIL’s Review Editor, Christian J. Tams, invited members of the EJIL board to offer short reflections on their favourite books of the year 2018. In the following days we will present some selections here on EJIL:Talk! They comprise a wide range of books, from (a few) doctrinal legal texts, to (many more) historical accounts and works of fiction. Unlike in many official book prize competitions, 2018 does not necessarily stand for the year of publication; rather, board members were asked to list books they read or re-read this year, and found inspiring or enjoyable. Today we bring you 2018 favourite reads from Doreen Lustig

In 2018, the international legal world as we know it has faced deep and significant challenges, including the attack on democracies and the rise of authoritarianism, the preference of both the American and Chinese governments for bilateralism over multilateralism or the destabilizing of global economic institutions. How and what does one read at a time like this? Most of the books I survey here revisit the history of the postwar moment and its hopes for a future that is now our present. It may not be surprising that in this moment of bewilderment we return to history and early beginnings, searching for answers. We look for parallels in the past. We look more closely at the key architects of international law and how their ideas shaped (or not) the legal reality over time. We examine whose ideas took prominence and why. We search for the roads not taken. This is by no means a comprehensive list for such an inquiry, but I hope that reading these books may offer some important clues in working with these questions.

Let me open with a book on the transition from the interwar era of minority rights to the postwar era. James Loeffler’s Rooted Cosmopolitans: Jews and Human Rights in the Twentieth Century (Yale University Press, 2018) examines the tension between Jewish lawyers’ great hopes for a postwar human rights order, one that would take seriously the plight and persecution of minority groups, and their limited influence on its content and design. Read the rest of this entry…

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Favourite Readings 2018: The Passage of Time

Published on December 19, 2018        Author: 

Editor’s note: Continuing a tradition started by Isabel Feichtner a few years ago, EJIL’s Review Editor, Christian J. Tams, invited members of the EJIL board to offer short reflections on their favourite books of the year 2018. In the following days we will present some selections here on EJIL:Talk! They comprise a wide range of books, from (a few) doctrinal legal texts, to (many more) historical accounts and works of fiction. Unlike in many official book prize competitions, 2018 does not necessarily stand for the year of publication; rather, board members were asked to list books they read or re-read this year, and found inspiring or enjoyable. Today we give you Guy Fiti Sinclair’s favourites.

None of my chosen books would be found in the ‘341’ (or even ‘340’) stacks in a Dewey Decimal classified library, or in the KCs in a Moys-organized library such as the one at my law school. This is not because I haven’t read any books in those stacks this year. To the contrary, it turns out, somewhat to my own surprise, that I’ve actually managed this year to work my way through a fair few international law books – and books about international law, to adopt a to adopt a useful distinction I have heard from Joseph Weiler more than once – and read parts of many more. Nor is it that I’m worried that if I start listing books by international lawyers, one or another colleague will feel offended that I didn’t mention theirs (although I must admit this has crossed my mind).

Rather, I have decided to highlight books that I have read this year which spoke most directly to my current interests (one might say obsessions). Like many people, I suspect, I have spent much of the past year oscillating between trying to understand our current perplexing moment and trying not to think about it. These books have helped, one way or the other.

Nitsan Chorev, Remaking U.S. Trade Politics: From Protectionism to Globalization (Cornell University Press, 2007)

Kristen Hopewell, Breaking the WTO: How Emerging Powers Disrupted the Neoliberal Project (Stanford University Press, 2016) Read the rest of this entry…

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Favourite Readings 2018: Discovering (new) classics, better late than never

Published on December 18, 2018        Author: 

Editor’s note: Continuing a tradition started by Isabel Feichtner a few years ago, EJIL’s Review Editor, Christian J. Tams, invited members of the EJIL board to offer short reflections on their favourite books of the year 2018. In the following days we will present some selections here on EJIL:Talk! They comprise a wide range of books, from (a few) doctrinal legal texts, to (many more) historical accounts and works of fiction. Unlike in many official book prize competitions, 2018 does not necessarily stand for the year of publication; rather, board members were asked to list books they read or re-read this year, and found inspiring or enjoyable. Today we have Sarah Nouwen’s choices.

Sometimes, writing is easier without reading. Skim-reading the most recent work on a topic, one may find sufficient disagreements to pick a fight with. But truly widely reading about a topic, going back several decades, if not centuries, makes one realise how many of one’s arguments have already been made, and much better. Ultimately, of course, it is such wide reading that allows one’s own work to mature. It is also an act of rebellion against the pressures of quantitative assessments of one’s work, and an inspiring source for the scholar’s primary job: to educate, first oneself, and then others.

So, in the spirit of better late than never, this year’s list includes some books that I should have read long ago.

Karen Knop’s Diversity and Self-Determination in International Law (2002)

I opened this book to develop a stronger grasp on the international law of self-determination. I closed it with an even broader understanding of everything that self-determination could mean, depending on who interprets it, and who gets to participate in the process of interpretation. Putting her finger on one of the paradoxes of self-determination, Knop shows that those most affected by self-determination are often excluded from the process of its legal interpretation. While this may be the case for many legal norms, it is paradoxical for self-determination, which is essentially concerned with people deciding for themselves.

But the book’s significance goes far beyond self-determination. I’ll use it for teaching classes on interpretation: thought you knew what this text meant? Read Knop and you’ll be surprised in how many ways the same few lines can be understood, depending on one’s world view and what we consider coherent or incoherent.

Rita Kesselring, Bodies of Truth: Law, Memory, and Emancipation in Post-Apartheid South Africa (2017) Read the rest of this entry…

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Favourite Readings 2018: The Power of Words

Published on December 17, 2018        Author: 

Editor’s note: Continuing a tradition started by Isabel Feichtner a few years ago, EJIL’s Review Editor, Christian J. Tams, invited members of the EJIL board to offer short reflections on their favourite books of the year 2018. In the following days we will present some selections here on EJIL:Talk! They comprise a wide range of books, from (a few) doctrinal legal texts, to (many more) historical accounts and works of fiction. Unlike in many official book prize competitions, 2018 does not necessarily stand for the year of publication; rather, board members were asked to list books they read or re-read this year, and found inspiring or enjoyable. Today we have selections from Jan Klabbers.

Somehow, 2018 has been for me a year of epistemic concerns, of wondering about the social, emotional and above all political power of language and words and concepts. Many of my favourite readings of the year are related to the exercise of power, legal and otherwise, by epistemic means: the exercise of power through the ways in which we use our concepts, our words; through the ways we express our thoughts, and the ways in which these thoughts come to lead a life of their own, relatively independent even from the work we originally wanted those thoughts to do. This runs like a red thread through all the academic studies on this list, and even, in perhaps less obvious ways, through the non-academic works as well, characterized as these are by their distinct use of language.

Perhaps the most gratifying book I read during 2018 is written by Guy Fiti Sinclair, To Reform the World: International Organizations and the Making of Modern States (2017). I am not the only one who thinks the book is excellent: a jury of the European Society of International Law awarded it the Society’s ‘book of the year’ prize, so I am in good company. Read the rest of this entry…

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Favourite Readings 2018: Nine Good Reads and One Viewing

Published on December 14, 2018        Author: 

Editor’s note: Continuing a tradition started by Isabel Feichtner a few years ago, EJIL’s Review Editor, Christian J. Tams, invited members of the EJIL board to offer short reflections on their favourite books of the year 2018. In the following days we will present some selections here on EJIL:Talk! They comprise a wide range of books, from (a few) doctrinal legal texts, to (many more) historical accounts and works of fiction. Unlike in many official book prize competitions, 2018 does not necessarily stand for the year of publication; rather, board members were asked to list books they read or re-read this year, and found inspiring or enjoyable. We are starting off the small series with selections from our Editor-in-Chief,  Joesph Weiler.

For the first time I have managed to prepare my Good Reads to post on EJIL:Talk! well before Christmas. I publish my pick from some of the books that have come my way during the past year. 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 analyse or critique, but rather to explain why the books appealed to me and why I think you, too, may find them well worth reading.

Marcel Reich-Ranicki, The Author of Himself: The Life of Marcel Reich-Ranicki (Princeton University Press, 2001) 

My German readers will be shaking their head in some wonderment: Marcel Reich-Ranicki? Him again? An autobiography from 1999 of a person who died in 2013? Did he not speak enough about he, him and himself during his lifetime so as to last a few lifetimes? My non-German speakers will be shaking their heads with a different wonderment: Marcel Reich who?

But then, consider that when published this book was the no. 1 best-selling book in Germany for 52 weeks. Must be something there, no? Read the rest of this entry…

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New EJIL: Live! Interview with Frédéric Mégret

Published on December 13, 2018        Author: 

In this episode of EJIL: Live! the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal, Professor Joseph Weiler, speaks with Frédéric Mégret, Associate Professor and Dawson Scholar in the Faculty of Law at McGill University in Montreal, whose article “International Criminal Justice as a Peace Project”, appears in our 29:3 issue as part of a Symposium on “The Crime of Aggression before the International Criminal Court”.

Prof. Mégret argues in his article that the Kampala adoption of the crime of aggression needs to be understood as part of the long-term evolution of international criminal justice as a peace project. The conversation takes up the provocative proposition put forward in the article that the shift away from jus contra bellum considerations towards a primary focus on war crimes and crimes against humanity as the central theme of international criminal justice has diminished the urgency of preventing war itself. The interview was recorded at New York University.

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EJIL:Talk! Is 10 Years Old

Published on December 10, 2018        Author: 

Yesterday and today saw the marking of a couple of significant anniversaries in international law. 9 December was the 70th anniversary of the adoption, by the United Nations General Assembly of the Genocide Convention. Today is Human Rights Day and is the 70th anniversary of the adoption, also by the General Assembly, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).  We are at EJIL are also marking are own anniversaries. The Journal was founded in 1989 and will  have been published for 30 years in the New Year (see this call for papers). EJIL:Talk! is a decade old this week!

The blog was launched on 9 December 2008. Our first posts on that day (here and here) followed on from a special issue of EJIL marking the 60th anniversary of the UDHR and contained a, shall we say ‘spicy’, exchange on relationship between human rights and international economic law.  We followed up that same day with an editorial by EJIL’s Editor-in-Chief, Joseph Weiler, in which he also marked the UDHR and reflected on the crisis of the day in the European Union – the demise of the European ‘Constitution’ and the troubles then caused to entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon by the Irish vote of ‘No’ in a referendum. There were calls then for the Irish to be asked to vote again! My own first post on this blog was on 12 December and sticking with the human rights theme, I opened with a post on ‘The Application of Human Rights Treaties in Wartime’.

We will be celebrating the decade old existence of the blog properly in the New Year. For now, I would simply like to remind readers that when the blog started 10 years ago, it was a venture into the unknown. There were a number of blogs around but the combination of a leading journal (or even any journal) having its own blog and having the aim of making it a scholarly blog which would carry on the project of serious reflection on legal issues was rare, if not completely unknown. EJIL:Talk! was thus an experiment. 

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EJIL Call for Papers: International Law and Democracy Revisited – The EJIL 30th Anniversary Symposium

Published on November 17, 2018        Author: 

EJIL was founded in 1989, coinciding with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the attendant excitement encapsulated by that well-known optimistic/hubristic End of History phraseology, with predictions of liberal democracy to become regnant in the world and a New International Legal Order to replace the old First World-Second World-Third World distinctions.

Thirty years later the state of democracy, whether liberal or social or any other variant, seems to be far from sanguine.

Here is but a partial list of the challenges to democracy in the contemporary world:

  • The advent of so-called ‘illiberal democracies’
  • The crisis and breakdown of trust within established democracies
  • The reality or otherwise of states with ‘formal democracy’ often reduced to little more than elections, more or less free
  • The accountability and rule of law concerns, famously termed GAL concerns, which transnational governance regimes raise as indispensable features of democracy
  • The persistent ‘democracy deficit’ or ‘political deficit’ of the European Union and similar Organizations
  • The emergence of the global ‘data economy’ with mega platforms calling into question basic assumptions about territory and jurisdiction and calling into question the ability of democratic regimes to reign in such platforms increasingly questioned
  • The impact of both financial markets and international monetary bodies on the internal margin of manoeuvre and democratic choices of economic management
  • Democracy and global inequality: The relationship between counter-democratic ideologies, legal reforms and political processes at the domestic and global levels and social and economic processes such as the shrinking middle class and the lasting ramifications of the 2008 economic crisis.

Read the rest of this entry…

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