In This Issue – Reviews

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The Review Section of this issue features one review essay and five regular reviews. We begin with Jean d’Aspremont’s essay on Anne Orford’s International Law and the Politics of History, a wide-ranging discussion that situates Orford’s critique of contextualism and empiricism in scholarly accounts of international law and its history. D’Aspremont finds Orford’s critique ‘uncontestable’, but at the same time suggests that empiricism and contextualism are ‘entrenched’ in international legal scholarship, perhaps indeed ‘inescapable’ – and that even Orford could not quite escape them.

The five regular reviews take us into five fields of our ever-broadening discipline. Two of them explore interfaces with history and IR scholarship. Jade Roberts is very impressed with Mira Siegelberg’s Statelessness: A Modern History, which could ‘help reframe the “problem” of statelessness as a problem of citizenship, governance and inequality’. Jan Klabbers enjoyed reading Jens Steffek’s International Organization as Technocratic Utopia, an account focused on ‘writings about international organization’ that ‘explore[s] how people have been thinking about international organizations as vehicles of expert governance’ and that speaks to international lawyers and IR scholars.

Where Steffek offers a macro-perspective focused on ideas, Gavin Sullivan’s interest is with the concrete practice of international organizations ‘in action’. Alexandra Hofer reviews his Law of the List, which illustrates how ‘global security techniques’ (such as the Security Council’s listing of terror suspects) ‘create and shape our world’. Hofer’s review highlights how, even where it purports to constrain them, ‘the law adjusts to [these practices]’ and eventually ‘gives way to counterterrorism policies’ – a sobering account of a landmark piece of global security governance.

Finally, this issue features reviews of works in French and German (of which I wish we had more— please get in touch if you have suggestions for reviews!).

Paolo Palchetti discusses Hadi Azari’s monograph on counterclaims before the International Court of Justice (La demande reconventionnelle devant la Cour internationale de Justice): a detailed account of the Court’s rules and practice, and, as such, eminently useful. However, as it is written from a relatively ‘narrow perspective’ it offers, according to Palchetti, little insight on ‘the dynamics governing the Court’s activity’. We conclude the Review section with Ingo Venzke’s discussion of Die postkoloniale Konstellation: Natürliche Ressourcen und das Völkerrecht der Moderne by Sigrid Boysen, a critical rereading of attempts to govern access to natural resources. Venzke is impressed with Boysen’s account, not least because it is written in ‘a lucid and unencumbered style’. (No clichés, but how often have you read this about German legal monographs?). As we prepare to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stockholm Declaration, Boysen’s sceptical take on international environmental law bears reflection: in Venzke’s words, international environmental law ‘has taken over patterns of resource exploitation that existed during colonial rule and, to the present day, continue to subject environmental problems to the logic of the market’. 

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