CfP: The Fifth International Four Societies Conference, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

1-2 July 2014

The international law societies of Australia and New Zealand, Canada, Japan and the United States of America (the “Four Societies”) have held four conferences bringing together early career scholars around a theme, generally leading to an edited conference volume. The underlying goal of this initiative is to foster a scholarly network between individuals associated with the four sponsoring societies. The first cycle of the Four Societies Project saw events hosted by the Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law (ANZSIL) at University of Wellington in 2006, the Canadian Council on International Law held at Edmonton in 2008, the Japanese Society of International Law held on Awajishima Island in 2010, and the American Society of International Law held at Berkeley Law School in 2012 ANZSIL will host the Fifth International Four Societies Conference at the Australian National University on 1-2 July 2014, on the theme of Experts, Networks and International Law. The Steering Committee for the Fifth Conference now invites paper proposals from members of the Four Societies.

The Theme: Experts, Networks and International Law

A decade ago, in her book A New World Order, Anne-Marie Slaughter presented a novel answer to the question of how best to govern the world. Slaughter argued that global governance already existed, but that it was not to be found where most people expected to find it. She focused particularly on the emergence of ‘government networks’ as a ‘key feature of world order in the twenty-first century’ (1). Slaughter argued that it was necessary ‘to stop imagining the international system’ as a system of unitary states, and to start thinking about the ways in which states had become ‘disaggregated’ (5-6). The state could best be understood as the sum of its aggregate parts (legislatures, regulators, judiciaries), with those parts increasingly having the capacity (and at times the imperative) to interact with their foreign counterparts in order to address issues of common concern. For Slaughter, the emergence of a ‘world of government networks’ was not just an ‘underappreciated’ fact of international life (1), but also offered ‘a more effective and potentially more just world order’ than either ‘what we have today’ or ‘a world government in which a set a global institutions perched above nation-states enforced global rules’ (7). Government networks, operating alongside international institutions, could often provide a more efficient and just way of ordering a globalized world: more efficient, because management of transnational problems (such as pandemics, natural disasters, or terrorism) required flexibility and an ability to harmonize and coordinate government responses between counterpart national officials; more just, because the decentralized and dispersed nature of networks, when guided by principles such as deliberative equality, legitimate difference, positive comity and subsidiarity, were able to exercise power without a centralized coercive authority (30). Slaughter concluded that ‘(g)lobal governance through government networks is good public policy for the world’ – a ‘world order self-consciously created out of horizontal and vertical government networks could … create a genuine global rule of law without centralized global institutions’ (261).

This conference will reflect upon how the vision of a new world order based upon networked, disaggregated state institutions has held up over the past ten years. How has this ideal of global governance fared in the face of world events since 2004 (such as the Global Financial Crisis and the Arab Spring), or the perceived failure to achieve consensus on core policy questions relating to pressing global issues such as climate change, agricultural liberalisation, international criminal prosecution, the responsibility to protect, or financial market reform? Does international law today in fact operate through diffused networks? Have (and how have) domestic courts lived up to their promise in enforcing a new transnational legal system? What do empirical studies of networks reveal about their effectiveness as mechanisms of decision-making and governance? Do network principles of ‘harmonisation’ and ‘convergence’ work in ‘hard’ issue areas (such as security, scarcity, and global redistribution)? How does power operate within and between transnational networks? Is strengthening governance by experts across fields such as policing, counter-terrorism, environmental protection, human rights promotion, food safety, public health, financial regulation, international criminal prosecution, investment liberalisation, and security sector reform equally desirable and effective? What is the power of networks and norm entrepreneurs in setting global policy agendas, and how much control do global policy-makers really have over the implementation of those agendas? Do networks complement or compete with traditional institutions of global governance, and how do these dynamics vary in different institutional and substantive settings? Should international lawyers support the development of global governance through government networks, or should they take a more critical approach to the rise of networked governance?

The 2014 Four Societies conference provides an opportunity for exploring these and related aspects of the broad theme of experts, networks and international law. We encourage proposals from both theoretical and practical perspectives, and from all areas of international law. We welcome applications from those who are interested in working within the discipline of international law, as well as those taking an interdisciplinary approach to the theme.

Submission of Proposals and the Process of Selection

Applications to take part in the conference should include a paper description not exceeding 300 words and the applicant’s curriculum vitae. Papers should cover work that has not been published. The Four Societies intend to publish the papers in an edited collection with a leading international publisher. Submissions should be sent by e-mail to the Society of which the applicant is a member; applicants who are members of more than one of the Societies should make a submission to only one Society. The deadline for submission of proposals is February 1, 2014. Submissions should be made to the following individuals:

ANZSIL: Professor Anne Orford
ASIL: Ms Elizabeth Andersen
CCIL: Professor Joanna Harrington
JSIL: Professor Akio Morita

Each sponsoring society will select four papers, subject to the review and approval of the Steering Committee comprised of members from the Four Societies. Preference will be given to papers by those who are in the early stages of their careers. The selected participants will be notified in March 2014. Each participant will submit a full paper to the organizers by 1 June 2014 for distribution to the other participants. Transportation to the venue will be subject to arrangement between each sponsoring organisation and its conference participants (and may include the seeking of internal university support or use of an existing grant). Lodging and meals at the venue during the conference will be provided by ANZSIL. The working language of the Conference will be English.

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