Karen J. Alter writes about the Trials and Tribulations of Prosecuting Heads of State: the ICC and Kenyatta

See my post today on the Monkey Cage


The Kenyatta decision differs from the decision to suspend the investigation of Sudan’s Bashir (see: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/14/omar-al-bashir-celebrates-icc-decision-to-halt-darfur-investigation).  My intuition is that Bensouda  responding to the reality that her cases cannot proceed.  An alternative understanding, however, would be that this is a response to African pressure. Thoughts anyone about this question?


The Judicialization of International Relations- an open call workshop

The journal International Organization and Northwestern University’s Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies invite applications for a workshop to be held June 12-13, 2015.

Karen Alter and Erik Voeten, with the support of IO’s editorial board, will convene this workshop. Interested participants should submit a proposal of no more than 500 words by December 1, 2014 to judicializationconference@gmail.com.

We especially welcome the following types of proposals:

• Studies that examine whether states, international institutions, firms or other nonstate actors act differently in the shadow of adjudication

• Studies comparing politics in non-judicialized to judicialized contexts

• Studies of the impact of judicialization across countries, regions or issue areas

• Studies that analyze whether and when adjudicators are becoming consequential creators of international law

• Examinations of the potential counter-responses to the increased authority of judicial institutions. For example, how and when do state actors successfully seek to influence adjudicators or otherwise reduce their jurisdiction or authority?

• Analyses of whether international law differentially influences states depending on how much authority domestic judicial bodies have to utilize international law.

• Inquiries into the larger theoretical implications of the emergence of these judicial actors.

• Studies that provide generalizable insight into the practices, processes, politics and decision-making of adjudicatory bodies that have an international or transnational jurisdiction.

For more information, see: http://www.cics.northwestern.edu/groups/ioil/2015Workshop.html

Are female law scholars representing themselves well?

Shana Tabak’s announcement of the Pioneers of Women in the Law reminds us of the need to make sure that women are written into both the history and scholarship of the international law.

A year ago I wrote about a paper in circulation that documented a gender citation gap.  The study has been published, and it is generating a debate.  Recently, the Chronicle of Higher Education published an article noting the cultural tradition of women feeling uncomfortable citing their own work. The article reminds us of the need to cite our own work, and to pay attention to gender balance in our own citation practices.

In political science, the focus is also moving to Wikipedia. We have long known that Wikipedia, like many encyclopedias, tends to write out the contributions of women. Indeed the format of an internet based encyclopedia may even exacerbate the problem, since 90 percent of Wikipedia’s contributors are men.

I plan to study the representation of women political scientists on Wikipedia, comparing it to their representation in institutions like editorial boards and learned societies. My interest in this topic was piqued when I found a page that lists American Political scientists with Wikipedia pages.  Former presidents of APSA, winners of the most prestigious Woodrow Wilson Book Prize, and many other notable female scholars were not on the list.

Take a look at the Wikipedia list of international law scholars.  Maybe I missed some names, but I found 8 females on this list.

In addition to studying the female pioneers of international law, we need to counter the practices which continue to marginalize female voices. The question is not ‘if’ women’s contributions are written out. The real question is what are we going to do about this? The solution in a number of fields is for women scholars to organize and write more entries.  On the eve of ASILs conference (which I will unfortunately miss), it seems timely to put this issue on the agenda of IntLawGrrls.

iCourts Summer School for Doctoral and Post-Doctoral Students June 23-27, 2014

The Centre of Excellence for International Courts (iCourts) and PluriCourts – Centre for the Study of the Legitimate Roles of the Judiciary in the Global Order are hosting a summer school for PhD students and junior scholars titled “International Law: Courts and Context.” The week long program is designed for doctoral students and post-doctoral students engaged in the interdisciplinary study of one or more international courts. The program is led by renown senior faculty with deep experience studying international courts in various contexts. A significant part of the program is a focus on improving participant’s own projects.

Information and a brochure are available at: http://jura.ku.dk/icourts/calendar/phd-summer-school/

Doctoral and postdoctoral fellowships for young scholars interested in international courts

If you know of students or young scholars who want to pursue a Phd studying international courts, please refer them to the generously funded posts available at iCourts in Denmark  http://jura.ku.dk/icourts/news/icourts-phd-scholarships-nov2013/.  Students from any country may apply, but they must have a Masters Degree in hand before beginning the program.

Two 3-year postdoctoral fellowships are also now available at iCourts, the Centre of Excellence for International Courts, Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen. The fellowships are to be carried out as part of the interdisciplinary EuroChallenge Project in combination with the overall iCourts research agenda. The center is looking for projects which address the broader question of the changing role of the “European legal-political space in a new global order? The global challenge to European markets, human rights and constitutionalized democracy”. See further here and apply on-line http://www.ku.dk/english/available_positions/vip/.

The Gender Citation Gap

This is my first blog post ever!  I thought I would bring to the world of international law a debate that is occurring within international relations senior faculty women.  A recent very systematic study has documented a gender citation gap. The finding is that women are more likely to cite women, but combined with the reality that men’s articles are cited more than articles by female authors, and there are more men than women in international relations (and political science), it becomes for women hard to escape the systematic cumulative effects of bias. The authors find that controlling for many factors that may matter (paradigms, venues, subject matter, methodology), women’s articles should be cited 4.7 times more than they actually are cited.  With fewer controls, the finding is that single authored articles by women receive roughly 73% the citations of articles written by men or articles with a male coauthor.

If this happens in international relations, it likely also happens in international law. Indeed this is a replication study, investigating a finding that has appeared with respect to other disciplines.

The authors make a number of recommendations.  One recommendation is that women should do as men do– self cite–and that we should treat citation figures as a gender biased indicator.  Another recommendation is that this issue of gender citation should be monitored, with journals regularly reporting statistics involving gender in the article.  Larry Helfer brought to my attention that EJIL does this.

The senior IR faculty women are currently discussing how we may influence journals to pay attention to this issue.  If you want to comment on this issue, you might respond to Barb Walter’s puzzler where she notes that “you, yes you, can make a difference.”