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Research Areas

International Law and Global Challenges
Organised by Petra Minnerop

We are very pleased to be involved in several projects on this theme, many of which are running in the build up to COP26.

  • An international conference on “Challenges to a Sustainable Recovery: International Law, Climate Change and Public Health” on 15th/16th September 2021
    (link to the conference registration page).

    This multi-disciplinary conference will bring together experts from international law, climate science and epidemiology, to discuss some of the complex linkages between air pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss and human health, assessing if international law is equipped to support a sustainable recovery from the current pandemic in a way which will achieve the climate goal of the Paris Agreement.

    The University is co-hosting with the Centre of International Law, National University of Singapore and the World Commission on Environmental Law/IUCN a series of preparatory lectures in the build up to COP26.  

  • Road to COP26/CMA 3 | Lecture Series

The international research advisory board (IRAB)  provides needs-based and research-led capacity building for partner countries in the Global South on the basis of trans-disciplinary research and academic partnerships. 

All lectures in relation to COP26 will be hosted on the dedicated You Tube Channel 

Law and Governance in the Anthropocene
Organised by Cameron Harrington and Olivia Woolley

In May 2019, the Anthropocene Working Group of the International Committee on Stratigraphy voted in favour of formalising the Anthropocene as a unit within the Geological Time Scale in view of extensive human alteration of the Earth. ‘Anthropocene’ is also used in several academic disciplines as a noun or adjective to signify that humans have become a force of change at the planetary scale. For those concerned with law, governance, and international relations, the reality of human-driven planetary-wide change to the environmental conditions of the Holocene raises questions about the adequacy and durability of established modes of thinking and practice. How, if at all, does the Anthropocene challenge assumptions on which they are founded? Can they, or should they, evolve to match the pace of anthropogenic changes in the fabric of the planet? What are the consequences?

The purpose of the invitation-only, two-day workshop is to enable interaction between scholars who examine the ramifications of the Anthropocene for global governance and international law in their research. We aim to foster dialogue on future research directions for Anthropocene scholarship in international law and global governance and on research which builds on this scholarship by developing practical responses to ways in which the Anthropocene undermines the adequacy of existing governance arrangements and related laws for meeting the challenges which it presents.

Comparative International Law
Organised by Robert Schütze and Mathias Siems (European University Institute)

The idea that there is not one but many conceptions of international law and that there may even be many distinct international legal orders has a long pedigree.

During the long nineteenth century, we thus see the gradual consolidation of a “European” international law as well as the beginnings of a (Latin) American conception of international law; and for much of the twentieth century, a distinct socialist approach to international law has competed with that of the Western (capitalist) world. For a long time, the world and international law were indeed “deeply divided”; yet with the decline of the “Second Word” (and despite a rise in “Third World” approaches to international law), this plurality of international law conceptions appears to have been overshadowed by post-1989 claims of universalism.

In today’s conceptual world, the combination of international and comparative law has therefore increasingly come to “sound like an oxymoron”. And yet remnants of the previously intimate relationship can still be found aplenty today. What, then, are the relationships between international and comparative law?

Organised by the Global Policy Institute (Durham) in cooperation with the European University Institute (Florence), this two-half-day workshop will explore some older and newer relationships between the disciplines of international and comparative law. Apart from revisiting the idea of regional approaches or “ideologies” of international law, we will also examine the “comparativist” idea of legal transplants within international across both a “vertical” and “horizontal” dimension. A vertical “transfer” may here take place from the national law(s) to the international legal order(s) and such transfers will thereby often involve private and public law analogies. Horizontal comparisons, by contrast, may take place through diachronic comparisons through time in which a particular “epoch” of international law is compared with another; or, they can be done across different branches of contemporary international law.

Brexit - Past, Present and Future
Organised by Uta Staiger (UCL) and Robert Schütze

The process of the UK withdrawing from the European Union is proving very complex. It also shines a light on the constitutional and political ramifications of a member state separating from a union of this kind – be it for the role of parliaments, devolved administrations, or the courts. The exact nature of the UK’s future outside the Union, as well as its relationship with it as a third country, remain subject to detailed discussion and heated speculation as the Brexit negotiations continue.

In the light of this momentous political process, the Global Policy Institute (Durham) and the European Institute (UCL), invited a number of internationally recognised authors from political science, history and law to contribute to a Special Issue of “Global Policy” which will be dedicated to a multidisciplinary analysis of the past, present and future of Brexit.