Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Taking note

Bits 'n' pieces from the AALS/ASIL conference, "What Is Wrong with the Way We Teach and Write International Law," just opened in Vancouver:
In the morning, calls to imagine international law -- to "reconceive," as Jeremy Waldron put it, "an international ordering as a single embracing legal order," and to "engage again with the natural law tradition" that enables a "clear-headed sense of the important ot positive law as means for human ordering." Why do so? To resist realist and pragmatist counterapproaches. Sanjay Reddy spoke of the imagining of "possible worlds," and Colin Dayan challenged human rights jurists to recognize the complexity -- and treacherous malleability -- of terms like "humanity," as they exercise "legal imagination" and "moral imagination."
In the afternoon, calls to change what's taught in international law. Reminding that more than 1 billion people in the world live on under $1 a day, Edith Brown Weiss urged attention to how poverty affects the world and the world's law. She and Balakrishnan Rajagopal called for greater use of information technology to bridge rich-poor/North-South divides. But Rajagopal told a cautionary tale, making clear that many points in his critique had been made by Onuma Yasuaki 26 years ago.
Capping the day, works in progress. The 3 excellent presentations I heard -- Peggy McGuinness on norm portals, Karen E. Bravo (our own Nanny of the Windward Maroons) on the old trans-Atlantic slave trade and contemporary human trafficking, and Patrick Keenan on globalization in a world where some investors, like China, threaten to break the human rights paradigm -- reflected what's right in our discipline.

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