Professor Tom Ginsburg will deliver the Hersch Lauterpacht Memorial Lecture at the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law on March 12-14, 2019.
The Hersch Lauterpacht Memorial Lecture is an annual three-part lecture series given in Cambridge to commemorate the unique contribution to the development of international law of Sir Hersch Lauterpacht. These lectures are given annually by a person of eminence in the field of international law.
All lectures are held at the Lauterpacht Centre at 6 pm in Cambridge.
Lecture One: Democracies and International Law
In this lecture, I seek to explore whether and how democracies behave differently than non-democracies in their use of international legal instruments. Understanding this relationship requires returning to some of the foundational assumptions of the literature, especially those associated with liberal theory. Scholars in the 1990s argued that international law among liberal states was qualitatively different from that among illiberal states. This is, as I argue, an empirical question, and the first lecture will go about testing whether liberal states are indeed more likely to cooperate using legal mechanisms. I show that international law in our era is largely produced by and utilized by democratic states, but I go on to argue that liberal theory did not provide a complete theoretical account. Instead I draw on the theory of public goods to develop an explanation for international legal institutions.
Lecture Two: International Law and Democratic Backsliding
We live in an era of democratic erosion, in which the number of democracies has been declining and even long-established democracies are coping with systemic challenges from populism and institutional decay. What, if anything, can international law do about this? This lecture surveys the role of regional institutions in Africa, Latin America and Europe in confronting threats to democracy. The evidence to date is mixed, and we should be modest in our expectations. Nevertheless, I argue that international law can play a more robust role through richer normative frameworks which are emerging.
Lecture Three: Authoritarian International Law?
In the final lecture, I ask what international law will look like if current trends continue. In an era dominated by authoritarian and not democratic regimes, what role will international law play? To be sure, we do not want to blindly project forward from current trends, and it is possible that democratic systems will prove resilient. But the rise of authoritarian China, with its own increasingly resilient legal system, along with a newly assertive Russian regime, suggests that the question of authoritarian international law is worth exploring. This inquiry involves examining the international mechanisms established and utilized by these states. As I shall argue, the role of international law in a world dominated by authoritarian regimes will in some ways resemble its role in the earlier Westphalian era.
Q&A and sandwich lunch at 12:30 pm.