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This issue opens with a Foreword by the late Karen Knop. In 2020, the EJIL Editors-in-Chief invited Professor Knop to write an EJIL Foreword, an annual feature in the Journal designed to give a distinguished author the space to explore the ‘state of the field’ in a specific area of international law. Professor Karen Knop, holder of the Cecil A. Wright Chair at the University of Toronto, was such a distinguished author. She wrote ground-breaking books and articles on self-determination, feminism and international law, cities in international law and foreign relations law. In EJIL, she published ‘Eunomia is a Woman: Philip Allott and Feminism’ and ‘Lorimer’s Private Citizens of the World’. She was a great teacher and enabler of others’ work. 

Karen enthusiastically accepted our invitation to write the 2024 Foreword, indicating that she would write on ‘populism, empire and the rise of foreign relations law/implications for international law’.

In September 2022, Karen suddenly died.

Karen did not have the chance to finish the Foreword that she had planned to write for EJIL, but she had written another Foreword: ‘Looking at Portraits’ is her Foreword to the collection edited by Immi Tallgren, Portraits of Women in International Law: New Names and Forgotten Faces? (2023). Acting fully in accordance with her theoretical commitments, Karen was a strong supporter of Tallgren’s project, thoroughly and constructively engaging with the draft chapters. After consultation with Karen’s husband, friends, Immi Tallgren and the publisher, Oxford University Press, we therefore thought it fitting to share that Foreword, her final Foreword, with EJIL readers.

In this issue’s Articles section, Luiza Leão Soares Pereira and Fabio Costa Morosini propose that international law textbooks can be used to map out the discipline and the profession. Looking at Brazilian textbooks, they argue that these works reveal both the particular sensibilities of their authors and the discipline’s structural biases. Next, Artur Simonyan focuses on the invisible college of post-Soviet Eurasian international lawyers. Simonyan examines how Russia’s historical influence in the former Soviet space affects these lawyers’ engagement with the field and with current events, including the war in Ukraine. Closing the Articles section, Andrew Lang invites international lawyers to revisit late 20th-century neo-liberal global economic governance. Lang argues that technologies of reflexivity offer a better account than their programmatic counterparts, as well as a better reading of the contemporary post-neo-liberal age.

The issue continues with an EJIL: Debate! Emanuel Castellarin replies to Joris Larik’s article on the United Kingdom’s trade continuity agreements, which appeared in issue 34(4). Castellarin cautions against labelling the UK’s trade continuity programme as a success for both the UK and the EU. Only future trade agreements that were not first negotiated by the EU can show the UK’s true negotiating power, Castellarin argues.

Roaming Charges in this issue presents a theme of universal relevance: bereavement.

The issue’s Critical Review of Jurisprudence rubric features two articles. Fleur van Leeuwen presents a feminist critique of the case law of the European Court of Human Rights on home births. Van Leeuwen argues that the Court endorses a medicalized view of childbirth and she highlights the Court’s blindspots and androcentric assumptions. The second article, by Ben Czapnik, asks whether WTO members are required to be consistent when taking measures necessary to protect public morals. Czapnik shows the shortcomings of the Appellate Body’s holdings in Seal Products and suggests the introduction of consistency testing in WTO dispute settlement.

The journal’s ESIL Corner returns in this volume with Jean d’Aspremont and Federica Cristani’s impressions of the 18th annual conference of the European Society of International Law, which was held in Aix-en-Provence in September 2023. The theme of the conference was ‘Is International Law Fair?’ D’Aspremont reflects on what it means for international lawyers to ask this question in 2023. He notes that the discussions at the annual conference oscillated between the ‘quaintness’ of the question and feelings of revolt that it is even asked in the face of international law’s complicity with so much unfairness. For her part, Federica Cristani looks back on discussions on fairness in the International Economic Law Interest Group. Cristani concludes that it is for international economic lawyers to make the impressionistic nature of the concept of fairness more concrete and solid.

The Last Page presents a poem from Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali collection, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913.

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