Re-Theorizing International Organizations Law: A Call for Reconsiderations, Hidden Gems, and New Perspectives

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The symposium on “Theorizing International Organizations Law” in issue 31:2 of the European Journal of International Law seeks to excavate the intellectual history of this important sub-discipline of public international law. As noted in the introduction to the symposium, that history has, until relatively recently, been dominated by men. The writings of figures such as Rosalyn Higgins or Felice Morgenstern – both of whom are discussed briefly in the symposium introduction – have been commonly considered outside the ‘mainstream’ of international organizations law or otherwise received little close engagement. Other, less well known, women also made important contributions to international organizations law in the early years of the field, but the fact remains that they were less widely cited than the men and therefore less influential on the development of the field, for all the usual structural reasons. Similarly, there are many other important scholars of international organizations law, including from the global South, who deserve renewed attention and analysis.

With all this in mind, we are delighted to announce a follow-up symposium that aims to bring to light a greater diversity of voices and theoretical perspectives in international organizations law. We are grateful to the Editors-in-Chief of the Journal for their strong encouragement of this initiative.

In this EJIL call for papers, we invite manuscripts that engage critically with the contributions of scholars and practitioners of international organizations law other than those considered in the symposium in issue 31:2. This may well include scholars whose works, though well-known to international organizations law scholars, may be due reconsideration from a new vantage point. Here one thinks immediately of Higgins, but also individuals like Nagendra Singh, Mohammed Bedjaoui, Ibrahim Shihata, and C. F. Amerasinghe. Even more so, it is our hope that digging deeper into the intellectual history of the field may uncover thinkers who offered valuable insights in their own time, but whose contributions are now largely forgotten or considered outside the mainstream of international organizations law. Here we think again of Morgenstern as well as Suzanne Bastid, Ingrid Detter, Grigory Tunkin, Finn Seyersted, or C. H. Alexandrowicz. And there are likely many others, from a great variety of backgrounds and experiences. This call for papers is a quest for such ‘hidden gems’ and ‘paths not taken’.

To broaden the scope of the proposed symposium further, we also welcome contributions that move beyond intellectual history to take up and build upon some aspect of the thought or practice of a particular figure or group of figures, past or present, to develop original ideas that may help to renew the field of international organizations law or push it into new directions. Furthermore, we would be open to articles that offer a synthetic analysis or novel theoretical (re)construction of the field from vantage-points that are systematically under-represented in the literature. Along similar lines, it would be wonderful to see scholarship that considered the emergence of particular regional genealogies of international organizations law, such as in an African context. 

In short, we are hoping to redress the obvious blind spots and biases of the symposium in issue 31:2 with another collection that may provide fresh opportunities to re-think the field of international organizations law from a variety of angles.

Abstracts, accompanied by a recent CV in pdf format, are to be sent to EJIL’s Managing Editor at managingeditor {at} ejil(.)org [OR anny.bremner {at} eui(.)eu] by 2 November 2020. International lawyers from practice and academia as well as scholars from related disciplines are invited to send an abstract of 500 words. Abstracts should not only set out the prospective papers for inclusion in the symposium; they should also concisely formulate the questions addressed as well as the method and materials employed in the proposed research.

Draft papers of those abstracts selected by us as symposium editors will be expected by 1 June 2021. Final drafts will be expected by 1 December 2021

For further questions about the call for papers, please contact one of us at the following addresses:

Devika Hovell:               D.C.Hovell {at}

Jan Klabbers:                 jan.klabbers {at} helsinki(.)fi

Guy Fiti Sinclair:            guy.sinclair {at}


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