Call for Proposals: Narratives of International Law



Event Date: 


Location name: 



Maastricht University Study Group for Critical Approaches to International Law


Narratives of International Law 

Students and Academics Workshop 

Convened by the 

Maastricht University Study Group for Critical Approaches to International Law Zoom, 20 May 2021 

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 Is international law an outdated, eurocentric collection of rules that has entrenched established interests and stands in the way of societal progress?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 invites abstracts for a workshop on Narratives of International Law. The aim of the workshop is to explore the meaning of international law to a diversity of actors and its purpose in the twenty-first century. Paper proposals of no more than 500 words can be submitted to the e-mail addresses below. Successful applicants will be invited to present their proposal for 15 minutes at an online event on 20 May 2021. The deadline for submission of proposals is 25 April 2021

The event targets both academics as well as students. Early career scholars are invited to apply in particular. 

Examples of topics which can be discussed include: 

▪ Postcolonial and TWAIL approaches to international law; 

▪ Feminist and gender based approaches to international law; 

▪ Critical approaches to human rights; 

▪ Critical approaches to the sources of international law; 

▪ Critical approaches in the teaching of international law; 

▪ The role of various actors in constructing narratives of international law, such as academics, judges, activists and/or institutions; 

▪ Critical approaches and the turn to history in international law. 

For more information, please contact either 

▪ Sarah (Sally) Thin (she/her; or  

▪ Wim Muller (he/him;