Tag Archives: International Law

The South of International Law

Intensive Workshop
Thursday 8 & Friday 9 July 2010, Melbourne Law School
Call for Participation
Due 22 April

How might a concept of the ‘South’ be understood in terms of a pattern of (international) legal relations? 

‘The South’ is commonly understood as a political rather than a purely geographical  designation, broadly to indicate the ‘have-nots’ in a world riven with material  inequalities. The term is meant to overcome the hierarchical implications of other  designations, and attempts not to accept the epistemological privileges granted by  concepts such as ‘developing’ and ‘developed’.  

Critics of contemporary international legal orders  have pointed out that the grid of  international law has locked in a particular vision and distribution of political and  economic relations that perpetuates the history of  the colonisation of the South. It is  from here that many of the North-South and South-South debates gain their legal  focus. In these accounts the South emerges as a domain in constant need of  recuperation of and by the laws, politics, economies, and cultures of the North. At the  same time South-South relations have emerged in resistance and relation to the  dynamics of North-South relations.

However, if this rendering of accounts of imperial and post-colonial law is let rest a  while, there are other patterns of law that can be  understood to shape the South.  These laws, articulated for example, in terms of indigenous jurisprudences or the  commons, pattern the South according to different cosmologies, laws of relationship,  responsibilities, and protocols of engagement. Respond to these laws – as many  contemporary debates that link the places, peoples, and histories of the South do -  and a different patterning of legal relations emerge.   

The workshop invites consideration of the many ways in which the South is patterned  by indigenous, national, international and other laws – some providing parallel  accounts of law(s) of the South, others that intersect and conflict. The aim of this  workshop is to develop the repertoires of thinking  through the laws that position the  South in the domains of international laws.

Themes might include:

  • The South as a ‘lawful’ rather than lawless place,  engaging questions of plural legalities and intersections of laws
  • The South as a political-legal entity
  • The South as an object of International law and administration
  • Alternative traditions of ‘international’ legality

Specific debates addressed might include:

  • Trade, development
  • Security
  • Environment
  • North-South Justice
  • Transnational (and private) engagements of laws
  • Indigenous jurisprudence and formulations of the international

The Workshop

The symposium is designed to take advantage of the  visit to Melbourne of three
outstanding scholars:

Dr Fleur Johns (University of Sydney), Dr Catriona Drewe (SOAS, London); and Professor Ruth Buchanan (Osgoode Hall, Toronto)
Ruth, Catriona and Fleur research, teach and write  in areas including international law, development, legal theory, human rights, globalisation and self determination.  Each works from a perspective interested in questions of global justice and critical thinking.  The workshop is being organised by four Melbourne scholars with complementary  interests; Luis Eslava, Shaun McVeigh, Sundhya Pahuja and Gerry Simpson.

Applications to participate:

Everyone is welcome to apply to participate, though we particularly encourage  papers from advanced graduate students, young scholars and junior members of  faculty. There are three ways to participate: 

1. Paper Presentation (6)
Three sessions will be held as intensive engagements with each other’s work.  In  each session, there will be a presentation by one of our guests and 2 papers  selected from applicants’ papers.  The chair and our guest scholars will read the  papers in advance. The authors will each present the paper orally for around 20  minutes.  The Chair will offer a short commentary on each before opening the floor to  discussion.  If you are selected to present, you will need to provide a written draft of your paper
two weeks before the workshop.   

2. Reading Group Discussant (3)
We will also include a reading group at the workshop for which the text will be distributed shortly. One of the organisers will lead the discussion.  All workshop participants are strongly  encouraged to do the reading beforehand, but we also seek three discussants to  engage closely with the text and to be key participants in the discussion. 

3. Non-Presenting Participant (15-20)
The whole workshop will be held in plenary.  Places will be limited to 35 participants.

Because we wish to build an ongoing discussion, we  envisage that everyone will attend the whole conference and will come prepared  to participate in the reading group.  

Fees / Conference Support

There is no charge for those selected to participate in the workshop, but you must be  registered to attend.  Dinners are not included. We have no travel funding, but if you  wish to attend but need accommodation, please get in touch with us and we will try to  assist you however we can (such as finding you a place to stay). 

How to Apply

Everyone: send an email with the subject line:  South Of International Law  to leslava@unimelb.edu.au by 22 April with your:

  • Name
  • Institutional Affiliation

And if relevant:

  • Position
  • Course and stage of study 
  • Citation of one or two representative publications

Reading Group Discussants

The above, plus… an indication that you would like to be a Reading  Group discussant in your email.

Paper Presentation

The above, plus…

  • a short abstract (max 500 words) of your paper; and
  • some information about whether it is part of a larger project.  

If you would like to be considered to be a reading group discussant in the alternative, please say so.

Deadline for applications:  22 April 2010

Notifications by 3 May whether you have been selected. Papers will be selected by the Melbourne organisers.