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.
As this post, which went out in our first week stated:
‘The decision to experiment with a blog – and an experiment it is – was decidedly not a bandwagon effect – they have it, so should we. It is the result of serious reflection of the Editorial Board, with our Scientific Advisory Board, on the evolving relationship between traditional and digital forms of scholarship and publishing.’
For me, 10 years of contributing to the blog seem to have flown by. As is often said with regard to the parenting of children, the days have been long but the years have been short! It seems hard to think now of the world before international law blogs, a world where one waited for many months, perhaps a year, before being able to read any commentary at all on the ‘latest’ international law development or ‘recent’ case. While we have tried to provide those timely commentaries on this blog our aim, as noted back in that opening week has also been to generate ‘short, incisive, even well-researched pieces which should simply be thought of as a different genre of writing, not unlike the difference between an article and a book.’ It has been something of a revelation to see how that has taken off and to see not only the demand for such pieces but also changes in the supply side. My co-editors and I receive several submissions to the blog practically every day. In the early days, the ‘editors’ wrote the lion share of posts, in addition to soliciting contributions from others and undertaking the day to day tasks of running the blog. Today, most of our time is spent, reviewing and approving submissions (rejecting many as we receive far more than we can publish) and working with authors to improve the posts.
When the EJIL Editorial and Scientific Advisory Boards decided to establish the blog, it was our hope that the blog and the journal would complement each other. We think that has proved to be the case.
I would like to express my thanks and appreciation to EJIL Boards and to the members over the years for the support they have given to the blog. Particular thanks to the Editor-in-Chief, Joseph Weiler, whose support and wise counsel have been abundant and unstinting. He was enthusiastic about the experiment right from the beginning and devoted the time and resources to ensure that it happened and was successful. I would also like to thank those who have served with me as editors of the blog over the years – Nehal Bhuta, Iain Scobbie, Marko Milanovic and Diane Desierto, all members of the EJIL Boards. That opening post stated that: “Our plan is to allow the members of our Scientific Advisory Board to host the blog on a rotating basis, with Dapo Akande serving as our inaugural guest editor.” I think the idea was that we would rotate every 6 weeks or thereabouts!
Marko has been on board from the very beginning, and has made a tremendous contribution to whatever success the blog has achieved. He started out first as a ‘guest blogger’ and then as editor. I invited him in the first week of the blog and wrote that he ‘will be a guest blogger over the coming weeks’. Thankfully, he is still here! To mark the 60th anniversary of the Genocide Convention, his first three posts, in December 2008, (here, here and here) were devoted to an examination of a number of issues relating to the Genocide Convention. He and I have been joined more recently by Diane who has brought to the blog significant expertise in areas where we had hitherto been lacking and great energy.
As the blog has flourished we have brought on a number of Associate Editors to help with the day to day running of the blog. We are indebted to past associate editors – Sadie Blanchard and Geraldo Vidigal – as well as to our current group of Helen McDermott, Mary Guest and Gail Lythgoe for their fantastic service to the blog. It has been a particular pleasure for me to see the development of the careers of those involved in the blog over the years. It was never clear that spending considerable time on a blog was going to be something that would generate rewards in terms of academic (or other) career progression. It was going to have to be a labour of love. For that reason, looking back, it is immensely pleasing to see a number of people associated with the blog progress from doctoral student or post-doctoral researcher to established academic or to successful careers in government and the private sector.
Many thanks also to all those who have contributed pieces to the blog. Our most significant thanks though are to our readers over the past decade!