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49th Annual Conference of the

Canadian Council on International Law

Originally planned for October 29-30, 2020
Now a series of virtual events this Fall.
International Law in 2020: Fit for Purpose?

The conference organizing committee is pleased to announce its plans for an exciting series of virtual events starting in September 2020 and will include:

 • A series of individual webinars from September to November;
• Two half-days of conference on October 29th (afternoon) and 30th (morning)
•  An international law career panel for students on Oct 30th (afternoon)

The topics will explore current international law issues related to the pandemic, as well as many other challenges faced by our community under the theme: International Law in 2020: Fit for Purpose?


Amongst others, these will include discussions of human rights during a pandemic, the Nevsun Supreme Court of Canada decision, TWAIL perspectives on the purposes of international law, comparative perspectives on the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, WTO and ISDS reform as well as how international legal systems are dealing with climate change.

Keynote speakers for the October 29-30 days and registration information will be announced soon.

Theme:  International Law in 2020: Fit for Purpose?


In a world facing ever-changing challenges, many look to international law for answers. Still there are those who believe that international law and the institutions that operate within it are unable to meet these challenges. The year 2020 gives us an opportunity to reflect upon the purpose(s) of international law, to critically examine whether international law is equipped to meet those objectives and look into the future for sustainable solutions


Important challenges permeate many areas of international law and call for common or coordinated responses from the international community. The issues are vast and varied: climate change regulation and the difficulties in implementing change, trade wars and attacks on multilateral trade institutions, actions that undermine mutual defense and collective security, set backs in dealing with nuclear proliferation, threats to human rights and indigenous rights, new technologies (including artificial intelligence) and their disruptive effects, issues of efficacy and legitimacy of international dispute settlement, amongst others.


The Canadian Council on International Law (CCIL) invites international law scholars, decision and policy-makers, practitioners, and students of international law at its 49th Annual Meeting in 2020 to reflect upon whether international law is ‘fit for purpose’. Some questions participants may wish to reflect on globally or concerning any area of international law, include:


  • Which aspects of the current system are fit for purpose? And which are not?

  • How is international law adapting to meet the needs of our global community? How can international law be made more agile, while maintaining its resiliency? How to avoid paralysis?

  • How might the role of various players within the world order change or evolve in order to achieve varied objectives?

  • How would changes to international law’s institutions or architecture help successfully meet the challenges of our time?

  • Are States paying more or less attention to their international obligations today than in the past? Do we expect international law to do too much?


We look forward to seeing such questions addressed from a variety of perspectives.