Fairness is not an unidimensional concept. The same word may have different meanings or scopes depending on what region of the world we are in. Fairness can serve to elucidate important issues pertaining to the universality of legal concepts as well as to the evolution of international law and international society. The theme of the 18th Annual Conference of the ESIL, Is International Law Fair ?, also raises questions as to the values inherent in international law. Are the norms that constitute international law always inspired by ideas of justice and equity ? How does one define justice, fairness and equity ? Who has the legitimacy to assess international law’s fairness ? And according to which criteria ? Is the fairness of international law to be gauged based on its objectives, its contents, its consequences or the legal process ? Should international law be fair ? Can it even be ? What lessons can be learned from past and current international crises such as the war in Ukraine, the COVID-19 pandemic, or inequality vis-à-vis the harmful consequences of climate change ?
Asking if international law is fair also means questioning the way research in/on international law is conducted and published. The emergence of feminist approaches or the rise in the nineties of the Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) renewed the theoretical reflection on fairness, equity and justice in/of international law. But how influential are contemporary theories in international law relating to the ‘epistemologies of the South’ (Sousa Santos) ?
To address these fundamental questions raised by the fairness of international law, the conference will consist of 6 fora panels and twelve agorae. Agora speakers are selected on the basis of paper proposals submitted in response to the call for papers.