International Law and Theories of Global Justice

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.

Sponsored by the World Justice Project--Organized by the International Legal Theory Interest Group

International law informs, and is informed by, concerns for global justice. Yet the two fields that engage most with prescribing the normative structure of the world order – international law and the philosophy of global justice – have tended to work on parallel tracks. Many international lawyers, with their professional, methodological commitment to formal sources, regard considerations of substantive (and not merely procedural) justice as ultra vires for much of their work. Philosophers of global justice, in turn, tend to explore the moral commitments of international actors without grappling with the complexities of international legal doctrine. In recent years, however, both disciplines have begun to engage with one another more, as reflected in works such as Carmody et al, Global Justice and International Economic Law (CUP, 2012); Ratner, The Thin Justice of International Law (OUP, 2015); Haque, Law and Morality at War (OUP, 2017); and Linarelli et al, The Misery of International Law (OUP, 2018). The time is ripe, therefore, for an interdisciplinary conversation to take stock of the relationship between international law and theories of global justice. This panel will seek to inform and enlighten Annual Meeting attendees about these new interdisciplinary developments and, in particular, the role of global justice discourse for practicing and academic international lawyers. The proposed format would ask two international lawyers and two philosophers with diverse perspectives to address international law’s relationship to global justice. How should international lawyers see their roles in terms of advancing different notions of global justice? Are certain types of international lawyering more or less amenable to using law as an instrument of global justice? How does the international lawyer’s role as practical problem-solver allow for her or him to take into account considerations of justice?

David Luban, Georgetown University Law Center
Carmen E Pavel, King’s College London
Steven Ratner, University of Michigan Law School (Moderator)
Jiewuh Song, Seoul National University
James Graham Stewart, Allard Law School, University of British Columbia
(Speaker organizations are shown as of June 2020)