Monday, September 8, 2008

Socio-Legal Methods in International Law

Last week, I hosted a Workshop on Socio-Legal Methods in International Law at the University of Pittsburgh Law School. The workshop was intended as a sally into the ongoing debate about the use of empirical methods to assess international law, claiming a place for qualitative methods (interviews, surveys, participant observation, and the like) as empirical research and exploring the contribution of this sort of interdisciplinary work to our understanding of international law in practice.
Building from panels and roundtable discussions sponsored by the International Human Rights Collaborative Research Network at the last two Law and Society Association annual meetings, this workshop brought together legal scholars, legal anthropologists, and others to discuss the role of socio-legal research methodologies and theoretical frameworks in studying international law. Participants included Intlawgrrl Rebecca Bratspies, IntLawGrrls guest bloggers Jenia Turner and Peggy McGuinness (also a cofounder of Opinio Juris blog), and other intlaw and intlaw-studying colleagues. For a full list of the participants and other information about the workshop, see the workshop webpage.
As described by the workshop's theme statement:

... Amongst legal scholars who study international law, attention has recently turned to empirical studies that attempt to demonstrate the real word effects (or lack thereof) of international law. With this increase in empirical work legal scholars are debating the relative efficacy of various quantitative and qualitative methodologies in developing empirical descriptions of international law practice. At the same time, there has been an upsurge in the interest in international law, and particularly in international human rights, amongs legal anthropologists.
Against this backdrop, this workshop will explore the role of socio-legal methodologies in describing and defining the contours of international law. It brings together legal anthropologists, legal scholars, and others studying international law from various disciplinary perspectives to discuss their research international law and their use of various methodologies and theoretical frameworks. The participants include specialists in international human rights law, international criminal law, international environmental law, and other areas. The methodological questions to be addressed are cross-cutting, concerning the role of methodology in shaping our understanding of international law and the challenges international law creates for socio-legal methodologies.

1 comment:

Diane Marie Amann said...

See too Peggy's post on this workshop, at