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Contextualizing Social Justice in International and Transnational Law Workshop

An international Research Workshop held at Windsor Law launched an extensive research dialogue on social justice in international and transnational law on August 7-8, 2016. The workshop, convened through a Call for Papers,is a first step in the research initiative,Contextualizing Social Justice in Transnational and International Law, organized by Windsor Law’s Transnational Law and Justice Network and Janelle M. Diller, its Paul Martin Sr. Professor of International Affairs and Law. The Canadian Council of International Law, British Institute of International and Comparative Law, and the Manchester Journal of International Economic Law co-sponsored the event in which international legal scholars assembled together from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America and North America.

The Workshop provided a wide-ranging set of contributions to the research-based inquiry into the meaning of social justice and its implications for the processes, rules, and institutions that develop and apply international and transnational law. Participants explored the theory and evolution of social justice as a meta-principle and its use as a tool to assess legal theory and practice of international and transnational law in various trans-border political, economic, social, cultural and legal contexts. A robust debate was held on social justice concepts in the context of rights, responsibilities, and roles of States and non-state actors. Panelists offered different views on the capacity of law to contribute to a just global legal order, hegemonic biases in the law, and reformist and transformative legal models.

The workshop papers spanned diverse international law sub-disciplines, including trade, financial, and investment law, development cooperation,human rights and refugee law, and procedural aspects of trans-border dispute resolution. Legal contexts for assessing the implications of social justice to such fields included post-conflict justice, war reparations, trade with developing countries, community responses to trans-border corporate misconduct, norm creation intransnational governance, and international legal recognition of private actor responsibility to help build a society structured for everyone to exercise human dignity.

Interactive discussion across the workshop’s four panels focused on: 1) (re)constructing society, values and justice in transnational governance, 2) advancing global economic fairness by redefining normative obligations and processes, 3) exposing structural bias in pursuit of transnational justice, and 4) redressing cross-border injustice through transformative and alternative legal models. Cross-cutting addressesexplored the issues of defining social justice beyond the State, and universalizing social justice through contextualization.

Access to the published workshop papers will be coordinated by the Transnational Law and Justice Network. The TLJN initiative is also organizing a panel on Social justice, international law, and crisis: Building coherent solutions at the upcoming annual CCIL conference.

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