15 mai 2017

OUVRAGE : W. Werner, M. de Hoon, A. Galán (eds.), The Law of International Lawyers: Reading Martti Koskenniemi

Wouter WERNER, Marieke de HOON, Alexis GALÁN

‘Words are politics. When vocabularies change, things that previously could not be said, are now spoken by everyone; while what yesterday seemed obvious, can no longer be said at all. With a change of vocabularies, new speakers become authoritative’. A few years ago, this is how Koskenniemi introduced his readers to an incisive critique of multi- disciplinary scholarship. Koskenniemi’s emphasis on the political nature of words served a specific purpose, to warn international lawyers against the siren song of objectivity and neutrality that can be found in some schools in international relations today. However, the insight that speak- ing a language is a political act through which worlds are created or foreclosed transcends the specific context of current debates on multi- disciplinarity. For one, it also applies to the words of Martti Koskenniemi himself. 

For decades, Martti Koskenniemi has not just been an influential writer in international law; together with a handful of other scholars he has been nothing less than a game changer. After the publication of From Apology to Utopia, it became possible to speak of international law’s indeterminacy in ways that did not exist before. Another game-changing act was performed with The Gentle Civilizer of Nations. The book transformed the self-image of the discipline, pointing at the nineteenth century, elitist-cosmopolitan roots of the profession and giving rise to a large number of studies dedicated to the history of international law as a professional and colonial enterprise. A third game-changing move occurred when Koskenniemi turned his attention to the problem of functional differentiation, expert rule and managerialism in international law. In a relatively short period of time, the politics of fragmentation, the perils of managerialism and the pitfalls of instrumentalism moved centre stage in debates on international law. With, at the time of the publication of this volume, a new upcoming book, it is likely that the world of international law will be redirected again, this time towards a study of the close connections between sovereignty and property, international and domestic law as well as law between the fields of law, politics, diplomacy and morality. Also the method chosen for the new book is likely to set an agenda for future research: a study of how, since the late middle ages up to the 1870s, individual jurists, theologians, philosophers, politicians and political scientists have used vocabularies of law to advance particular projects. 

And indeed, with a change of vocabulary, new speakers became authoritative. While critical legal scholarship used to be a marginal enterprise in international law, it is now pretty much established as one of the ways in which international law can be studied. An illustration of the growing ‘mainstreaming’ of critical perspectives is the publication of a widely used textbook that adopts Koskenniemi’s critical approach as a starting point. Another indication is the slight unease within critical legal circles about their own success, which has spurred renewed reflections on the relation between power and critique. However, it is not just the critical stream that has become authoritative; it is also (and even more) specific per- sons that came to enjoy authority to speak. By now, Martti Koskenniemi has been established as an authority in international law, as evidenced by countless invitations to act as keynote speaker, his role in the United Nations, special issues being dedicated to his work and numerous references to his work in academic publications, almost as if an article on international law is incomplete without the invocation of the voice from Helsinki.

(Extract of the Introduction)

Wouter Werner, Marieke de Hoon, Alexis Galán
, Introduction: The Law of International Lawyers
1. Gregor Noll, What Moves Law? Martti Koskenniemi and Transcendence in International Law 
2. David Dyzenhaus, Formalism, Realism and the Politics of Indeterminacy 
3. Nigel D. White, Settling Disputes: a Matter of Politics and Law 
4. Jaye Ellis, Form Meets Function: the Culture of Formalism and International Environmental Regimes 
5. Eric A. Posner, Martti Koskenniemi on Human Rights: an Empirical Perspective 
6. Jutta Brunnée, Stephen J. Toope, The Rule of Law in an Agnostic World: the Prohibition on the Use of Force and Humanitarian Exceptions 
7. Nikolas M. Rajkovic , The Space between Us: Law, Teleology and the New Orientalism of Counterdisciplinarity 
8. Sahib Singh, The Critic(-al Subject) 
9. Friedrich Kratochwil, Practising Law: Spoudaios, Professional, Expert or ‘Macher’? Reflections on the Changing Nature of an Occupation 
10. Frédéric Mégret, Thinking about What International Humanitarian Lawyers ‘Do’: an Examination of the Laws of War as a Field of Professional Practice 
11. Anne Orford, International Law and the Limits of History 
12. Andrew Lang, Susan Marks, Even the Dead Will Not Be Safe: International Law and the Struggle over Tradition 
13. Samuel Moyn, Martti Koskenniemi and the Historiography of International Law in the Age of the War on Terror 
14. Liliana Oobregón, Martti Koskenniemi’s Critique of Eurocentrism in International Law
Martti Koskenniemi, Epilogue: to Enable and Enchant: on the Power of Law

Wouter WERNER, Marieke de HOON, Alexis GALÁN (eds.), The Law of International Lawyers: Reading Martti Koskenniemi, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2017 (424 pp.)

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