The 50th Annual Conference of the Canadian Council on International Law
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October 20-22, 2021 (Virtual Conference)

Theme:  Getting International Law Back on Track?

The past decade has been a challenging one for international law. Major powers have shown an unexpected appetite for territorial expansion and have intensified their hostility to international dispute resolution. Populist upheavals have led many governments to turn inward and neglect their international obligations on issues ranging from refugees to the climate. The coronavirus pandemic and ever-deepening economic and strategic rivalries have called the durability of the international economic order into question, as the desire for self-reliance and concerns about national security are increasingly given priority over the benefits of international integration. And the international community has yet again proved unable to protect people from unspeakable suffering, whether it has come in the form of indiscriminate attacks, starvation, or mass internment.

International law as a discipline has also faced calls for renewal from different voices: indigenous peoples, NGOs, and other subnational and nonstate entities are increasingly shaping developments in international law. Social movements that have been calling out gender, racial, and other forms of discrimination in our societies have also cast a bright light on the hierarchies and biases of the international legal profession itself.

 

If the 2020s are to provide an opportunity to get international law back on track, we need to learn the lessons of the past decade. Should we be trying to recover our bearings in order to pursue previously charted goals? Or have we been irreversibly thrown off course, such that we need to plot an entirely new path? The 2021 Annual Conference of the Canadian Council on International Law will provide a forum for a frank and inclusive debate of these questions as they play out in the various areas of public and private international law.

 

At its 50th Annual Meeting in 2021, the Canadian Council on International Law (CCIL) invites policymakers, practitioners, academics, and students of international law to reflect on whether and how to get international law back on track. Some questions that the participants could address include:

  • Have shifts – political, social, economic, or otherwise – derailed the development of international law in lasting ways?

  • Does international law’s structure help or hinder its ability to adapt? How might the structure of international law adjust to achieve its goals?

  • Should international law’s institutional infrastructure be re-designed to account for new voices and to address today’s social challenges?

  • What subjects participate in making and changing international law? Should international law’s accommodate new subjects?

  • Can innovations at the regional or bilateral level, or action by cities, subnational governments and industry, advance international law?

 

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