IGILTP Agora – 15th ESIL Annual Conference

On the occasion of the 15th ESIL Annual Conference the IGILTP held a very engaging Agora on spatio-temporal dimensions of sovereignty in international law. The panel chaired by Ekaterina Yahyaoui Krivenko (The Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland Galway) brought together three presentations each critically reflecting on the concept of sovereignty using a spatio-temporal lens. So Yeon Kim, a PhD candidate from the University of Cambridge talked about Difference in the Concept of Sovereignty in Spatial Dimension: Reflecting the Legal Approach to the East Asian Territorial Disputes. Professor Christopher R. Rossi from the University of Iowa presented on the following topic: Rethinking International Law and Remoteness: Topophilia, Resource Extraction, and the History of International Law in the Americas (Atacama Desert). The final presentation by Professor Valentina Vadi of Lancaster University addressed Spatio-Temporal Dimensions of Indigenous Sovereignty in International Law. All members of the Co-ordinating Committee of the IGILTP are grateful to speakers for their engagement with this topic and for making this Agora successful.


First ECTPIL & TRICI-Law Conference

The first conference launching the ESIL-IGITLP European Conference Series on the Theory and Philosophy of International Law (ECTPIL) was held 24–25 May 2019 at the University of Groningen

The ESIL Interest Group on International Legal Theory and Philosophy and the ERC-funded TRICI-Law project co-organised a conference on ‘The Theory and Philosophy of Customary International Law (CIL) and its Interpretation’. The conference brought together over one hundred scholars to discuss a plethora of issues including the paradox of CIL, inductive and deductive methodology, the interpretability of CIL, relevance of hermeneutics, fiction, phenomenology and logic in interpretation, Schrödinger’s custom – dead and alive at the same time, and dimensions of temporality, among other relevant topics, with keynote delivered by H.E. Judge Pangalangan of the ICC.

Podcasts and videos of the presentations will be released in the upcoming months.


IGILTP Conference photo

Call for Papers: The Theory and Philosophy of Customary International Law and its Interpretation

On 24–25 May 2019 the ESIL Interest Group on International Legal Theory and Philosophy, in co-operation with the TRICI-Law project at the University of Groningen, NL, will hold the first instalment of the European Conference Series on the Theory and Philosophy of International Law. The topic to be discussed is:


The Theory and Philosophy of Customary International Law and its Interpretation


The full call for papers for this conference can be viewed here. We are, as always, looking for a wide range of voices and takes on this topic from all corners of international legal scholarship and practice – both established and early career scholars, practitioners and ‘stakeholders’ – representing a wide range of views, including critical and main-stream, ‘conservative’ and ‘progressive’.


The deadline for responses to trici-law@rug.nl is Thursday, 15 November 2018.


IGILTP Agora Panel at 2018 ESIL Conference

14th Annual Conference of the European Society of International Law


Agora Panel 11: Transcendent Principles and Pluralism in International Law: the Complex, the Simple, and the Universal


(Convened by the ESIL Interest Group on International Legal Theory and Philosophy)

We are delighted to inform members that the IGILTP will convene Agora Panel 11 on Transcendent Principles and Pluralism in International Law at the 14th Annual Conference of the European Society of International Law. This Agora will take place on Friday 14 September 2018 from 13:30 to 15:00.


The Agora will facilitate dialogue and exploration of counter-positions between theoretical and philosophical approaches on transcendent principles, on their impact on pluralism in international law, and on alternative formulations that recognise but challenge the sway of the universal. With an excellent line up of speakers below, we invite you to join us for what promises to be a stimulating panel.


Chair – Ozlem Ulgen

Ozlem is Reader in International Law and Ethics at Birmingham City University. She has written on cosmopolitan ethics in warfare, Kantian ethics and human dignity, and the law and ethics of autonomous weapons. She has a forthcoming publication with Routledge, The Law and Ethics of Autonomous Weapons: A Cosmopolitan Perspective.She is involved in drafting legal and ethical rules governing lethal autonomous weapons at the UN Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems, and sits on the IEEE Committee for Classical Ethics in Autonomous and Intelligent Systems, and Committee for Reframing Autonomous Weapons Systems.




  • Carl Lewis(Tilburg University) – The Concept of the Universal Negotiating Human RightsCarl’s paper engages with three philosophical approaches to the concept of the universal: François Jullien’s differentiation between the universal, the uniform, and the common; Ernesto Laclau’s alternative operability of the universal; and Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative. Insights gained from these approaches may assist a re-reading of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in order to address the question of the universality of human rights norms.


  • Mark Retter(Lauterpacht Centre for International Law) – Human Rights After Virtue: Mediating Universal Rights and Moral PluralismMark’s paper considers Alasdair MacIntyre’s account of the common good and natural justice to develop an alternative understanding of human rights within the Thomist-Aristotelian tradition. This alternative understanding takes seriously the development of moral knowledge of universal human rights from within the particular conditions of diverse communities and traditions, and the responsiveness of that knowledge to those social conditions.


  • Evan Criddle(William and Mary Law School) – Mandatory MultilateralismEvan’s paperchallenges the conventional wisdom that multilateral cooperation is solely a matter of state discretion. States have obligations to settle disputes through multilateral processes, and to accord equitable consideration to the interests of other states in certain types of disputes. He argues that these requirements of “mandatory multilateralism” emanate from a constitutional norm of international law: the principle of sovereign equality. Mandatory multilateralism has important application to some of the most pressing international disputes.


  • Hirofumi Oguri(Kyushu University)Pacta Sunt Servanda as the Intersubjective but Universal Principle: Oppenheims Common Consent within the Family of NationsHirofumi’s paper explores Lassa Oppenheim’s theory of common consent as the basis of international law and emphasises how it does not assume international law is universal or that common consent is a universalising concept. He argues that the common consent theory was devised to ensure the “intersubjectivity” of international law: neither objective (totally independent from state consent), nor subjective (subject to the arbitrary will of states). Instead, international law has its basis in mutually regulated consent; common consent.


We look forward to seeing you in Manchester.


Call for Expressions of Interest



First European Conference on the Theory
and Philosophy of International Law

The ESIL Interest Group on International Legal Theory and Philosophy (IGITLP) cordially invites European scholarly institutions to express their interest in hosting and co-organising, together with IGILTP, the First European Conference on the Theory and Philosophy of International Law.

At this stage, IGILTP is only looking for an expression of interest in organising the conference. All details of the proposed conference, including date, format, selection of speakers and topic are subject of discussions between IGILTP’s Co-ordinating Committee and those expressing an interest in hosting the event. We nonetheless wish to propose a potential topic as basis for negotiations:

Unseen Fission? The Drifting-Apart of Theories
and Philosophies of International Law

Has the proliferation of theoretical (including philosophical) approaches to international law, the increasing specialisation of (legal-)theoretical research, together with a radicalisation of their argumentative foundations, silently killed any hope for a common theoretical discourse about international law? Have legal theorists become too legalistic to hear and be heard by philosophers? Have theoretical discourses become too theoretical – and black-letter lawyers too practice-oriented – for each to be able to speak to the other? These questions (and more like it) are the unseen heart and unsung story of theoretical research into international law in Europe and beyond; the conference will explore it. The event is designed to foster maximum inclusivity, both regarding the approaches studied as well as regarding the method(ologie)s used to study these phenomena.

Please submit expressions of interest to IGILTP’s chair, Jörg Kammerhofer (joerg.kammerhofer@jura-uni.freiburg.de), until Wednesday, 31 January 2018. Informal queries can be directed to the same address.

The ESIL IGILTP Co-ordinating Committee

Noora Johanna Arajärvi, Gleider I Hernández, Jörg Kammerhofer, John Morss, Ozlem Ulgen, Ekaterina Yahyaoui


The Call document can be dowloaded here IGILTP FECTPIL Call for Expressions of Interest (Final) 2017-10-12

Call for Papers

IVR German Section Conference 2018

27–29 September 2018, Freiburg, Germany
Hans Kelsen’s Pure Theory of Law: Conceptions and Misconceptions

The German Section of the International Association for the Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy, in collaboration with the Faculty of Law of the University of Freiburg, will hold its 2018 biennial conference in Freiburg. Up to 24 contributions to six panels will be selected by means of a call for papers.

Conference Theme
Hans Kelsen’s Pure Theory of Law provides a particular approach to law and normativity. It offers a grammar and a vocabulary that helps us identify some legal concepts and problems as essential and to dismiss others as alien to the main tasks of legal scholarship. Far more fundamentally, it also is and claims a theory of what legal scholarship is, can or should be. This approach to what it means to engage in scholarship is often implicit and seldom discussed in literature – this lack of sustained attention means that it is also one of the more problematic parts of the Pure Theory inviting critique and dissent.
The Pure Theory of Law has not lost its potential to spark interest and controversy in the more than one hundred years since Kelsen first expounded it. However, it also still generates, as it always has, a fair amount of perplexity but also of misinterpretation. The international scholarly community has long discussed and continues to discuss some writings and some notions, yet large tracts of his work and many strands of argument are relatively unknown. In addition, while Kelsen’s own writings are frequently read and discussed, this is not the case for other members of the Vienna School of Jurisprudence. The conference wants to broaden the debate on the Pure Theory between legal cultures by also including some of its lesser discussed aspects.
The conference thus attempts to bridge legal-cultural, linguistic and professional divides and will explore the relevance of the Pure Theory’s arguments today. It will go beyond the exegesis of Kelsen’s oeuvre and aims at open conversations about the merits and flaws of the Pure Theory of Law in confrontation and communication with fundamentally diverging views. Which of its conceptions are still helpful today, which of its misconceptions – or misconceptions about it – are to be avoided?

The organisers invite the submission of abstracts for six panels. Abstracts applying the Pure Theory’s ideas to particular areas of black-letter law, reflecting on the problems faced by doctrinal scholarship and practitioners, are particularly encouraged, for example:
–  Private law: legal personality, subjects of law; subjective rights and the autonomy of the sub-jects of private law (Privatautonomie); the distinctions and connections between material and procedural law
–    Criminal law: exceptions/defences; causality and attribution
Public and international law: constitutional avoidance (verfassungskonforme Auslegung); multilevel constitutionalism; private and public law analogies in international law; general principles of law; cosmopolitan constitutionalism: international political theory and international legal theory.
The organisers also encourage submissions of other papers staying broadly within the conference theme. Potential topics for discussion include:
–  Philosophical foundations of the Pure Theory of Law: making the philosophical modus op-erandi plausible for jurists and legal theory inviting for philosophers; confronting the Pure Theory of Law’s implicit theory of legal scholarship (Rechtswissenschaftstheorie) with today’s philosophy of science; anti-essentialism and the Pure Theory’s criticism of legal dualisms
–  The normative access to the world: about the possibility of norms; the Pure Theory of Law’s concept of normativity confronted with alternative candidates; norms as reasons for action?; law and practical reason; the concept of ‘positive law’
The structure and dynamic operation of the legal order (Stufenbau): theoretical bases and other conceptions of legal ordering; empowerment norms; the unity of the legal system; So-cial Systems Theory as new Pure Theory of Law?; factuality in norm-creation; gaps in the law; conflict of norms; derogation; logic in law; the problem of erroneous decisions; Fehlerkalkül; tacit alternative clause; defeasibility; Rechtskraft
The Pure Theory of Law’s theory of interpretation and modern approaches: corpus linguistics; linguistic philosophy; hermeneutics
Judge-made law: conceptualising law creation by legal officials; precedential authority
The sound of silence? Topics which the Pure Theory does not (or cannot) address
Kelsen’s Schüler and the next generations of Kelsen scholars

Invited Speakers
– John Gardner (Oxford): Keynote Address
– Robert Alexy (Kiel), Stanley L Paulson (St Louis, MO/Kiel): The Philosophical Foundations of the Pure Theory of Law
– Christoph Kletzer (London), Lena Foljanty (Frankfurt): The Structure of the Legal Order
– Alexander Somek (Vienna), DA Jeremy Telman (Toledo, IN): Entanglements and Trans-Culturality (‘Lost in Translation’)

Selection Procedure
Those interested in participating should submit an abstract, in English or German, of 800 words maximum, summarising the ideas they propose to develop for presentation. Successful appli-cants will be expected to deliver a talk of no more than fifteen minutes. Each of the six panels will include a general discussion of the papers of approximately 45 minutes. Papers that have been accepted for publication elsewhere are in principle eligible for consideration, provided that they will not appear in print before the conference. The organisers have secured funding to cov-er a significant part of the travel and accommodation costs for all speakers. However, partici-pants will have to bear a small portion of costs themselves.
Abstract submissions should be sent to ivrtagung2018@jura.uni-freiburg.de by 20 October 2017, together with the applicant’s contact details, a short curriculum vitae and an indication whether they intend to present the paper in English or German. Questions regarding this call for papers may be directed to the same address.

Workshop Democracy and Participation v Global Public Goods and Commons

On 6 September 2017 The Interest Group in International Legal Theory and Philosophy will hold a workshop on the occasion of the ESIL Annual Conference in Naples.

The pursuit of general interest through global public goods and global commons using traditional international law mechanisms poses multiple challenges. These challenges cannot be addressed adequately without taking into consideration what could be called the ‘democratic participation gap’ in international law and global governance, more broadly. Many potentially affected stakeholders are absent or under-represented in decision-making processes about the definition and provision of global public goods and global commons. How does international law and modern international law scholarship address this challenge? Taking into account international law’s own uneasiness with democracy, the urgency of reflecting on this issue becomes even more evident. This workshop brings together scholars providing different but complementary insights into these democratic and participatory challenges.

The workshop will take place from 11am to 1pm. The speakers are:

Eva Kassoti, Integrating Democratic and Participatory Principles in the Definition of Global Public Goods: International Lawyers and Existential Angst

Samuel Cogolati, International Law to Save the Commons? The Protection of Commons through Participatory Rights in Development

Aravind Ganesh, Unilateral Jurisdiction to Provide Global Public Goods: A Republican Theory

The workshop is organised by Ekaterina Yahyaoui and Claudio Corradetti

More information about the 2017 ESIL conference is available here.