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.


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