Call for Papers: International Law Without International Courts: Looking to History and Considering the Future



Event Date: 

12/16/21 to 12/17/21

Location name: 

Washington, DC


International Courts and Tribunals Interest Group of the American Society of International Law (ASIL/ICTIG)


International Law Without International Courts: 

Looking to History and Considering the Future 

Concept: On March 26, 2021, in a speech to the American Society of International Law,  Judge Abdulqawi Yusuf of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) reflected on the establishment  of the Permanent Court of International Justice. Judge Yusuf closed this portion of his remarks  by stating, “there can be no international law without a court to apply it.”  

This event seeks to probe that assertion. From Hugo Grotius’ work in the 1600s through  the early 20th century, there were no international courts. Enforcement of nascent international  law during this period took a variety of forms, ranging from mediation and arbitration to armed  conflict. Some of these models may hold useful lessons for current developments in  international law and disputes; others were the very reason that permanent international courts  were deemed by some to be necessary, including at the Hague Peace Conferences and within  the Advisory Committee of Jurists.  

The expansion of international law in the 20th century coincided with the proliferation of  international courts across subject matters and regions. Some of these have been active, while  others saw little or no activity. States continue to resolve disputes, relying on international law  and legal claims, in a variety of manners outside of the formal international court systems.  Several international judicial bodies are now undergoing reform. Some states are withdrawing  from treaties with ICJ clauses (or avoiding them in new treaties), and the WTO Appellate Body  has been suspended. Simultaneously, States are considering expanding the range of  international courts, including proposals for judicialization of investor-state disputes.  

As we think about the resolution of disputes under international law, we should consider how international courts contribute to international law in the 21st century, and how the  enforcement and development of international law might look in their absence. In this  examination we should appreciate the considerable contribution of international courts to the interpretation, application, and development of international law. We should likewise examine  whether, how, and why alternate forms of interstate dispute resolution remain relevant to the  interpretation, application, and development of international law, being mindful of the concerns  not only of States but of peoples and individuals in the international legal system. We might  consider whether Judge Yusuf’s statement remains more true in certain areas of international  law than in others.  

Request for Submissions: The International Courts and Tribunals Interest Group of  the American Society of International Law (ASIL/ICTIG) invites the submission of abstracts on  the above concept, including but not limited to works focusing on legal history (including but not  limited to international law disputes and mechanisms that predate the establishment of  international courts); the current role of international courts in the resolution of interstate  disputes and the interpretation, application, and development of international law; international 

courts in the context of international relations; and the continuing role of non-judicial dispute  settlement and enforcement of international law. We seek papers addressing the ways that  international courts have impacted international law and international relations, and ways in  which international law has, might have, and could still, develop in their absence. 

Abstracts must not exceed 500 words. Abstracts must be received by Monday,  September 27

Authors selected for participation will be invited to attend a conference on Thursday,  December 16 and Friday, December 17, 2021, in Washington D.C. to discuss their papers  (location TBD), COVID-19 restrictions permitting. Drafts of the selected articles must be  submitted by Wednesday, December 1 for dissemination to conference participants. Although  it is preferred to participate in person, arrangements will be made for some authors to attend by  videoconference. Travel costs and accommodation must be incurred by participants. 

Selected submissions may thereafter be proposed for publication in an edited volume  and/or special journal issue.  

Please submit abstracts to


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