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Symposium: Feminist Critiques of International Courts


In the upcoming days, we are very glad to host a symposium on feminist critiques of international courts. Where to begin when introducing this topic? There is much to say about the particular role of (international) courts for international law, and equally much about the role of feminist perspectives for international law. Courts are not just institutions, in which a decision is rendered about the interpretation of law in a specific case. They are also institutions, in which law is developed to an important extent, and this is particularly true in the case of international courts. No question that this comes with a particular attention to the composition of an international court: How can we think about international courts’ and their procedures from a feminist perspective? How does a feminist critique of the law and of legal decisions correspond to critiques of gender representation on international benches? Feminist approaches to international law, in turn, have occupied a central place in critical legal scholarship for at least the last two decades (of course I am thinking here of the seminal article by Hilary Charlesworth, Christine Chinkin, and Shelley Wright). From the outset, feminist critiques were also pluralist critiques in a more general sense, questioning and challenging supposedly neutral principles and procedures. And clearly, feminist critiques represent not one singular perspective but a broad range of approaches.

The symposium starts off with an interview with Nienke Grossman, who has done amazing research about women’s representation on international court benches, and will provide an overview about the differences between courts, the overall situation of women’s representation, and central normative questions arising therefrom. Moreover, the symposium will include contributions by Valérie Suhr, with a focus on the International Criminal Court, as well as by Troy Lavers and Loveday Hodson, regarding the Feminist Judgments Project. We encourage interested readers to contribute with comments, and look forward to an engaging discussion.


Cite as: Dana Schmalz, “Symposium: Feminist Critiques of International Courts”, Völkerrechtsblog, 17 April 2017, doi: 10.17176/20170417-174128.

Dana Schmalz

Dana Schmalz is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, she holds a scholarship from the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation. Her work centers on refugee and migration law, human rights, and legal philosophy. In her current research project, she is exploring how population growth has been an object of international legal activities.

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