Date: 12 & 13 October 2012

Venue: International Institute of Social Studies (ISS-EUR), The Hague









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CONFERENCE The Politics of Justice:
From a human rights revolution to global justice?
9th Annual Conference From Peace to Justice of
The Hague Academic Coalition
Copyright Pepijn v/d Linden -

More than twenty years ago, Martti Koskenniemi (1990) published a ground-breaking article in the inaugural issue of the European Journal of International Law, entitled ‘The Politics of International Law’. Koskenniemi critiqued the liberal, normative tendency that set the rule of law above a serious engagement with politics. Cautioning against an over-reliance on legal certainty, Koskenniemi anticipated that lawyers would be obliged to venture into other disciplines, including politics, sociology and economics.

Indeed, in the twenty years that passed since Koskenniemi’s article was published, substantial developments have taken place both in law and in practice. Global governance expanded, among others through the development of international norms and institutions relevant to human rights. Michael Ignatieff (1999) referred to those developments as a (human) ‘rights revolution’, with juridical, advocacy and enforcement dimensions. However, the efforts to universalize human rights have limits if they are not consistent with the political interests of powerful states. In addition it could be argued that the human rights revolution of the 20th century has been overtaken by far greater challenges of securing global justice. These challenges include the inability of international institutions to anticipate or adequately respond to the global economic crisis, stagnated peacemaking efforts that have so far resisted legal interventions, United Nations institutions that are in great need of reform, efforts to address poverty on a global scale and even global climate change. The implications of all of this for lawyers and legal institutions urgently need further analysis. This should also compel all who are engaged with the law to heed Koskenniemi’s early warning that we engage with other sources of knowledge, particularly in addressing global issues, which are often highly contested.

The conference formed part of the 60th Anniversary of the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) of Erasmus University Rotterdam:

Please click here for the programme



We are proud of the fact that the conference attracted a very large number of students, lawyers, judges, ambassadors and representatives of civil society.

Several participants tweeted about the event (#HAC12). Furthermore, the widely read Dutch lawyers’ magazine Mr. published an article about the contents of the first day of the conference. The original text of the article is available here. We provide a translation in English here.

The first day, the afternoon of Friday 12 October, formed the opening of the conference. After welcome words of the Rector of ISS, Prof. Leo de Haan and the Chair of HAC, Dr. Sam Muller, followed by an introduction to the conference theme by Dr. Jeff Handmaker, Prof. Martti Koskenniemi held the keynote speech, addressing the relationship between international law, politics and global justice.

On the second day, Saturday 13 October, 19 papers were presented in 6 plenary and parallel sessions, with ample room for debate. The presenters of the papers were academics and practitioners from all over the world. The sessions were co-organized by HAC member institutes.

The aim is to publish a high-level academic book based on the paper presentations, speeches and debates.

For a photo impression, please click here.  

Friday 12 & Saturday 13 October

Summary in the Newsletter of the School of Human Rights Research, by Marjolein Schaap

Short video with impressions of the Conference and interviews, by Samuli Sinisalo

Saturday 13 October

Report 'Defining Global Justice' by Nathanael Ali

Report 'Globalization and the Politics of Criminal Justice' by Dov Jacobs

Report 'Global Justice and Judicial Enforcement' by Anabela Alves

Report 'Global Justice and Plural Legal Regimes' by Andreas Funk

Report 'Global Justice and R2P' by Jurjen van Dijk

Report 'Global Justice - Challenges in Translation' by Nathanael Ali 

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