Does International Law Make the World More Equal?

The Society's 114th Annual Meeting—and first Virtual Annual Meeting—took place June 25–26, 2020. The 2020 Annual Meeting theme, "The Promise of International Law," was an opportunity to reflect on the successes and failures of international law, while reaffirming our commitment to achieving its promise of a more just and peaceful world.
Does international law reduce global inequality or contribute to it? This session explores the compatibility of some of the world’s most prominent international organizations and legal regimes with three Sustainable Development Goals: SDG 5 (Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls) and SDG 10 (Reduce inequality within and among countries), and SDG 16 (Promote peaceful and inclusive societies, access to justice, and accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels). Panelists will be invited to comment on whether international legal rules and organizations address or hinder these goals across three dimensions. The first dimension explores institutional design and inequality: what institutional features, such as substantive rights, advance SDG 5, SDG 10, and SDG 16? The second dimension explores participation and inequality: how does the process of creating, modifying, and evaluating these institutions advance or undermine these same SDGs? The final dimension evaluates the practice of these institutions and inequality: does the actual operation of these institutions today advance the three identified SDG goals? By exploring inequality across these three dimensions, panelists and audience members are able to diagnose the particular institutional shortcomings that may compromise the ability of international law to achieve its promise of making the world more equal.

Kimberly Brown, The Carter Center (Moderator)
Catherine Gibson, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
Fatema Sumar, Oxfam America
Chantal Thomas, Cornell University Law School

(Speaker organizations are shown as of June 2020)