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Cynical International Law

Ceiling of the Human Rights Council; photo by the United States Mission Geneva via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Cynicism and its relation to international law is a question that has so far not comprehensively been studied. Cynicism has been used in a cursory fashion by international lawyers, e.g. when denouncing the invocation of legal justifications by certain actors as ‘cynical’. Others have applied the concept to international lawyers and their attitude towards their own profession. But the concept of cynicism might also be applied to international law itself: Could it be argued that international law, even more than other legal regimes, consciously makes promises that cannot be kept and therefore suffers from an inherent cynicism? And if it does, could the uncovering of such cynicism lead to constructive reforms?

These are only some of the possible angles through which the concept of cynicism might be applied to international law. On 6-7 September, the Working Group of Young Scholars in Public International Law (AjV) and the German Society of International Law will host a conference dedicated to these questions at Freie Universität Berlin. Völkerrechtsblog, a project founded by AjV members, is supporting this conference with a number of formats.

Voelkerrechtsblog hosts this Online Symposium with contributions by the conference’s panelists. The order of publication will mirror the conference’s panel structure.

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