Narratives of International Law

Activity: Organizing, contributing or attending an eventOrganizing or contributing to an eventAcademic


International law is, in both scholarship and practice, a largely doctrinal exercise in which legal norms and texts are drafted, discussed, debated, challenged and reconsidered along the lines of a few ground rules governing their sources and interpretation. At the same time, a growing body of scholarship has emerged which attempts to uncover the wider context in which this exercise happens, in the form of critical approaches to international law. Critical scholars have tackled the societal context in which international law is practiced – the legacy of colonialism, the patriarchy, and other structural inequalities. They have drawn attention to the importance of historical analysis, the individual biases derived from the background of the scholar and/or practitioner, where they were trained, their identities and their allegiances. They have even deconstructed the methods of practicing international law themselves, unearthing logical challenges inherent in the doctrine.

As a result of all of this, the illusion of international law as a unified and possibly universal legal system has been shattered, as it has become clear that there are many narratives of what international law is, where it has come from, what its purpose is and where it is supposed to lead. Is international law an outdated, eurocentric collection of rules that has entrenched established interests and stands in the way of societal progress? Or is it rather a vehicle for that progress, a way for actors from around the world to work together and achieve important aims such as the attainment of peace and justice? Is it an inherently flawed regulatory system which only serves for lack of something better? Or can this system slowly but steadily be transformed into what its proponents have always aspired for it to become?

To explore these and related questions, the Maastricht University Study Group for Critical Approaches to International Law is hosting an online workshop featuring presentations from academics and students from across the globe. There will be three panels, each featuring a series of short presentations followed by a panel discussion with the possibility for audience members to pose questions.
Period20 May 2021
Event typeWorkshop
LocationMaastricht, NetherlandsShow on map