We've written before about the Four Societies Conference, a biennial gathering of the American Society of International Law, the Australia and New Zealand Society of International Law, the Canadian Council on International Law, and the Japanese Society of International Law designed to bring together younger scholars who present papers on a common theme.
Yours truly reported on serving as a commentator at the 2008 program in Edmonton, Canada, and IntLawGrrls contributor Anna Spain wrote of her participation in the 2010 conference in Awaji, Japan.
Sponsoring societies now are seeking papers proposals for the Fourth Four Societies Conference, to be held September 27 to 29, 2012, at the Claremont Resort in Berkeley, California.
This year's theme is International Law and Disasters. Organizers write:
Few aspects of the future are certain. Yet, it is certain that catastrophes, attended by widespread suffering, are a part of our collective future. No one will be surprised to wake tomorrow to learn of an earthquake, an accident at a nuclear power plant, or the desperate plight of persons fleeing chaos. Data indicate that a significant natural disaster occurs on average once a week. Every three weeks, there is a disaster that exceeds the response capacities of the country most affected. Damages inflicted by disasters kill one million people each decade and leave millions more homeless. Economic damages from natural disasters have tripled in the last thirty years. All of these statistics tend to increase with a growing population and it is argued by many that climate change will increase the intensity of some types of disasters.Organizers invite proposals for unpublished papers that, through historical, institutional, political or other perspective, aim to help fill this scholarly gap. They intend to publish the papers in "a balanced volume illuminating and progressively advancing the global collective response to this pressing issue."
Curiously, however, the international legal order addressing this certain future is, in comparison to other far less certain areas of international affairs, both relatively undeveloped in practice and unexamined in the academic legal literature. Efforts from the bottom up by groups of States develop haphazardly. Driven today by one disaster, tomorrow by another, the ad hoc incoherence of legal and institutional response mirrors the fortuity of the catastrophes humanity encounters. The resulting fragmented ad hoc array of responses leaves many holes in the collective effort and often leads assistance amidst an emergency to be as likely a matter of luck as of planning. Simultaneously, the efforts from the top down by international organizations and their member States to comprehensively confront this challenge easily spin into ever-broader discussions, sweeping in so many initiatives and efforts that the sheer weight of the agenda seems to impede progress. Similarly, the scholarly attention to catastrophes, with notable exceptions, is diffuse.
Proposals of no more than 500 words should be e-mailed to the organizer representing the society of which the submitter is affiliated, as follows: for ASIL, Professor David D. Caron at firstname.lastname@example.org; for ANZSIL, Professor Andrew Byrnes at Andrew.Byrnes@unsw.edu.au; for CCIL, Professor Craig Forsece at craig.forcese@uOttawa.ca; and for JSIL, Professor Yuji Iwasawa email@example.com. Deadline for submissions is April 1, 2012.
The full call for papers is here.