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Jurisdiction – who speaks international law?

Looking behind the scenes of the conference


As it is the case with many productions, only a small fraction of the work is visible to the public. As organisers of next year’s international conference “Jurisdiction – who speaks international law?”, we brought our Call for Papers to plenty of screens of the international legal world and perhaps you already spotted our new Twitter and Instagram account. Yet behind the scenes so much more has been evolving and growing, which is why we would like you to joins us for a walk through our production set.

Meet the crew

The conference, which is set to take place in Bonn on 3 and 4 September 2021, is jointly organised by the Arbeitskreis junger Völkerrechtswissenschaftler*innen (AjV), an informal network of young international lawyers in the German speaking area, and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationales Recht (DGIR), which assembles established academics in international law. Based on this cooperation, one aim of the conference is to facilitate an exchange between young and more established scholars beyond national borders. The latter commenting on the work of the former is an essential component of this effort.

Many cities have been home to the biannual international conference, including Düsseldorf, Graz, Göttingen, Bochum, and, last year, Berlin. In 2021, the Institute for Public International Law of the University of Bonn will open its doors to members of the international legal community from all around the world. But just as the venues are changing, the organising teams do, too. Seven students, Ph.D. candidates, post-docs, research fellows and clerks, are forming the new team for this conference and are meeting digitally on a weekly basis to plan the event since May 2020.

Some extracts of the script

One of the first, or perhaps the first issue to tackle was the topic. Certain factors were of special influence during the debates. What was needed was a subject matter of academic relevance, capable of filling not only two days but also lecture halls, a topic to give meaning to the shared endeavour. One of the proposals gained our common interest: jurisdiction. A term so crucial, yet utterly ill-defined, and eagerly debated. Sharing a certain consciousness of international legal scholarship or a belief in what it can transcend into, we agreed to write our concept not only from a positivist point of view but aimed to include a range of schools of thought and disciplines. Similarly, we wanted to include and listen to commentators embodying a variety of perspectives, comprising numerous branches of international law, embracing different legal landscapes, stretching for instance from Germany to Singapore and Australia.

Become a part of the scene

What is missing, of course, are young scholars, who are eager to present their work before an audience with extensive expertise in international law. This, certainly, is not only an exceptional opportunity to receive feedback from some of the most renowned academics in their respective fields, but also a unique chance to meet and connect with young minds from around the globe, sharing similar interests and pursuing equally exciting careers. With the release of our Call for Papers in October this year, our audition series started, so to speak. We are receiving and we hope to continue to receive many abstracts as the deadline of 8 January 2021 is still some time ahead.

Once more, we would like to address and highlight our concept: With the conference, we want to embrace a variety of thoughts on international law. The access to the topic and the conference is designed as freely as possible, being open to novel approaches and those deemed classical. It is our position that only through a variety of perspectives a better understanding of jurisdiction can be achieved. The same counts for the various branches of international law. We hope to receive pieces on classical international law as well as on its specialised fields, ranging from international criminal law to internet governance, from private international law to regional law. Having said that, we not only welcome portrayals of jurisdiction from Germany or Europe, but from any State or continent. Everyone is welcome to become a part of the scene. We especially want to encourage applications from women and minorities.

It goes without saying that any act requires its form. Your abstract should not only offer a concrete research question but also possible, though not final, answers. While footnotes are not required to make claims, they are very welcome as they indicate your line of thought. Likewise, tables of contents and reading lists are not obligatory but accepted. In either scenario, we are looking for innovative depictions rather than imitations, presenting the main argument in a structured and consistent manner. We would also like to point out that helpful guidelines can be found with another production designer, Junge Tagung Öffentliches Recht, and as they are unfortunately only available in German, we are more than happy to answer your questions via email and create a bilingual FAQ too, so that everyone has the possibility to stay informed beyond this visit.

Coming soon

Reaching the end of our tour, we would like to offer a small sneak preview. As the conference is planned to take place in person, it may be difficult for everyone to join in. That is why we are working on an online symposium generously hosted by Völkerrechtsblog, delivering the presented pieces in a shortened version as blog posts. This again will be an excellent occasion for young scholars to present their work to a wider audience. With plenty to offer, we hope to have you with us in Bonn in 2021. We are looking forward to hearing and reading from you – and seeing you, this time not behind the scenes but in the spotlight.




Julian A. Hettihewa

Julian A. Hettihewa is a research assistant and doctoral candidate at the Institute for Public International Law, University of Bonn. Julian is also a visiting student at the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing, University of Oxford, and editor at Völkerrechtsblog.

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