In This Issue – Reviews

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Our Review section features one essay and five regular reviews. Heike Krieger’s essay discusses Don Herzog’s Sovereignty RIP, a forceful call to ‘bury’ a so-called ‘zombie concept’. Krieger finds the work engaging, but suggests that Herzog, largely drawing on Anglo-American practice, fails to recognize the ambiguities and ambivalences of sovereignty. In her view, sovereignty is best characterized as a Grundbegriff (in the sense of Reinhart Koselleck), whose ‘past meanings and future expectation are neither fixed in their interpretation nor linear in their historical development’. To illustrate its openness, Krieger presents two ‘alternative stories’ of sovereignty, one reflecting its emancipatory potential, the other revisiting attempts to ‘legalize’ and thereby curtail it. At the end, Harry Potter makes a surprise appearance.

The first of our regular reviews continues with the sovereignty theme: Jason Beckett finds much to agree with in Constitution-Making Under UN Auspices, Vijayashri Sripati’s critical account of ‘fostering dependency in sovereign lands’, which has ‘impos[ed] the Western Liberal Constitution … on under-developed states’. We move on to investment law, another set of rules that is considered by many to ‘foster dependency in sovereign lands’: Taylor St. John follows Nicolás Perrone on a journey into the 1950s when a group of norm entrepreneurs ‘imagined’ the future law of investment protection with lasting effects – but suggests that today’s investment law has evolved rather more than Perrone admits. 

The remainder of our review section offer diverse perspectives on international adjudication. Miriam Bak McKenna enjoyed reading Burri and Trinidad’s The International Court of Justice and Decolonisation, a detailed and instructive engagement with the recent Chagos advisory opinion. However, she wonders whether perusing the mostly traditional contributions allows one to really see ‘the legal forest for the doctrinal trees’. Jörg Kammerhofer reviews Sondre Torp Helmersen’s The Application of Teachings by the International Court of Justice, a detailed study of the ICJ’s reliance on scholarly work, and uses his review to raise fundamental questions about the limits of empirical research based on citation practices. Finally, empirical research also shapes Judging at the Interface: Deference to State Decision-Making Authority in International Adjudication by Esmé Shirlow, based on the coding of over 1700 decisions and opinions. Callum Musto notes the complexity of Shirlow’s ‘taxonomy of deferential reasoning’, but finds her attempt to ‘to inductively build an account of deference’s manifestations in practice’ to be ‘largely successful’. Enjoy reading!  

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