Current Developments

Can we detect paradigmatic shifts when we see them?

Observations from an interdisciplinary workshop on norm and value changes

There certainly is no shortage of supposedly common wisdoms in academia on the futility of interdisciplinary work, not all of them as witty as MacIntyres’ observation that it “seems impossible to be truly bi-lingual in scientific terminology and methodology”. At the same time, there are questions that no single discipline can answer. The Workshop “Decline or Transformation? Norm change and values in international law” convened by Andrea Liese (international relations) …

READ MORE →

Ranganathan Book SymposiumSymposium

Ranganathan Book Symposium: Part 5

Response from the author

I am grateful to all participants of this symposium for their thoughtful and generous commentaries. The strange truth about book-writing, which I suppose all experienced hands know (and I discovered as a first-time author), is the void that follows once the manuscript is finished. The book then disappears into the publishing process, and gradually snakes on to the desks and reading lists of other scholars. The author might wait months …

READ MORE →

Ranganathan Book SymposiumSymposium

Ranganathan Book Symposium: Part 4

Lea Wisken: Putting legal concepts into political context

Surabhi Ranganathan’s book on strategically created treaty conflicts is a must-read for international lawyers and International Relations scholars interested in fragmentation and regulatory overlap. The choice of the subject-matter alone shows that Ranganathan puts legal concepts into political context. She outlines the inherent limits of international law which cannot prevent states from creating new treaties to undermine existing commitments. However, international law may constrain policy-makers by steering them towards legal …

READ MORE →

Ranganathan Book SymposiumSymposium

Ranganathan Book Symposium: Part 3

Jan Klabbers: Conflicts as Solutions

Some years ago, I published a slender book on the topic of treaty conflict. Zooming in on the treaty relations of member states of the EU, I found that international law had little to say about treaty conflicts involving different parties. If party A has incompatible treaty obligations with states B and C, then it just has to make a choice or, as a German scholar (and later EU judge) …

READ MORE →

Ranganathan Book SymposiumSymposium

Ranganathan Book Symposium: Part 2

Jasper Finke: Views of a Skeptical Formalist

Let me start with a confession: I am a formalist, at least to a certain extent, and a pragmatist, at least when it comes to treaty conflicts in international law – which is why Surabhi’s book „Strategically Created Treaty Conflicts and the Politics of International Law” was not an easy read for me. This assessment, however, reveals more about myself and how I (would) approach the topic than it does …

READ MORE →

Ranganathan Book SymposiumSymposium

Ranganathan Book Symposium: Part 1

James Crawford: Introducing “Strategically Created Treaty Conflicts and the Politics of International Law”

International legal scholarship tends to address the political substrate of international law in one of two extreme modes: either by not dealing with it at all and engaging only with the doctrinal surface; or by being entirely consumed with it and reducing doctrinal form to insignificance. In Dr Ranganathan’s chosen field of inquiry — treaty conflict — these modes involve either the fixed assumption that treaty conflicts are inadvertent by-products …

READ MORE →

Ranganathan Book SymposiumSymposium

Strategically Created Treaty Conflicts

A Book Symposium

For the next few days the Völkerrechtsblog is pleased to host an online symposium of Surabhi Ranganthan’s recently published book “Strategically Created Treaty Conflicts and the Politics of International Law” (CUP 2014). Surabhi Ranganthan is a University Lecturer in International Law at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge. The book will be discussed by Jasper Finke (Hamburg), Jan Klabbers (Helsinki & Rotterdam) and Lea Wisken …

READ MORE →

SymposiumThe Promises of International Law and Society

Should we call a lawyer?

Towards a conceptualisation of norm conflicts for International Relations

In this post, I argue that traditional legal conceptualisations of norm conflicts do not capture the phenomenon that International Relations (IR) scholars are interested in. I propose an alternative definition, which links norm conflicts to political contestation. The number of international treaties registered with the UN approximates 50.000. What are the odds of all these treaties being consistent? Infinitesimally small, one might think. As a result, even IR scholars – traditionally …

READ MORE →