ASIL Signature Topics


Applications are now open for proposals to be considered for the 2020-2022 Signature Topic.
The Signature Topics Initiative was launched in 2018 to focus the Society’s resources, talent, and expertise on particular areas of international law of pressing concern to the members. The first two topics addressed "Atrocity Prevention: The Role of International Law and Justice" and "Beyond National Jurisdiction: Human Activities in the Oceans, Polar Regions, Cyberspace and Outer Space." Each of these two topics will come to a conclusion in 2020.

The Society’s Program Committee invites members to propose ideas for a new signature topic. They may address any international law topic, in any field, so long as it conforms to the Society’s non-advocacy policy.

Activities furthering discussion, research, and scholarship on the selected topics will be coordinated with the Program Committee, AJIL Board of Editors, Interest Group co-chairs, cooperating organizations, and other partners as relevant. Such activities might include reports with recommendations, articles, and symposia, including the American Journal of International Law, AJIL Unbound, or ASIL Insights; public education panels; podcasts and webinars; roundtables; co-sponsored events; Annual and Midyear Meeting sessions; and other activities that might be proposed.

ASIL members interested in proposing a topic for consideration should complete the form (click on the “Signature Topic Submission” header) and attach their proposal, which should be drafted in compliance with the “Signature Topics Proposal Instructions” (PDF download). The deadline for submissions is December 16, 2019. Questions about submissions for review can be directed to




Please limit your proposal summary to 250 words.

Please attach full proposal here. PDF or Word documents only.

A proposal for a signature topic should, if possible, address cross-cutting issues that are of interest to multiple constituencies within ASIL. Co-authored proposals are welcome. Proposals should be no more than 2,000 words in length. Such proposals should address some or all of the following elements:

  1. Importance: Indicate why this topic is of such significance today to the field of international law that the Society should focus a wide range of ASIL programs on it as a signature topic.
  2. Value Added: Explain how ASIL could provide “value added” by contributing to public understanding of the issues in a non-partisan manner.
  3. Existing ASIL Programs: Identify existing ASIL entities that could be encouraged to pursue work on this topic. For example, indicate interest groups that might wish to organize events related to the topic. Identify potential linkages with the annual or midyear meetings.
  4. Existing ASIL Publications: Suggest sub-topics that could be the focus of one or more of ASIL’s publications (such as a symposium in AJIL or AJIL Unbound or an ASIL Insights article).
  5. Future ASIL Programs: Discuss whether it might be advisable to create a new programmatic entity, such as: a task force (short-term, likely leading to a report with recommendations); a study panel (longer-term, potentially leading to a book-length project); or roundtable (bringing together different constituencies for focused discussions). To the extent feasible, for any new initiative that may involve significant costs, provide a rough estimate of expected costs and identify potential sources of funds to support the initiative.
  6. Online Delivery: ASIL has become increasingly active in providing delivery of content online. Indicate the issues/sub-topics that might be appropriate for online video (webinar) or audio (podcast) delivery on this topic.
  7. Persons who Might Participate: Identify specific individuals, including ASIL members, people outside the United States, government officials, or others, who could potentially participate in work on this topic.
  8. Organizations that Might Participate: Identify organizations with whom ASIL could potentially collaborate in working on the topic. Such organizations might include other non-profit organizations, inter-governmental organizations, international law or other societies from outside the United States, ASIL academic partners or law firm partners, or donor organizations who might contribute funds to support work on the topic.
  9. Prior Work on the Topic: Identify recently published books, articles, studies, or other materials that have made important contributions related to the topic.