A little over ten years ago, this blog was founded to give women scholars, lawyers, policymakers and others a voice on issues related to international law, policy and practice. The idea was, in part, to counteract the argument that “there are no women” out there with relevant expertise on a particular international law topic, through a page listing women by their expertise. (By the way, if you’d like to update your expertise, you can email email@example.com with “Expertise Update” in the subject line.)
Although progress has been made, the “manel,” and surprisingly, even the all-male or almost all-male conference, continue to live on. See this conference taking place this week at McGeorge Law School on the fascinating topic of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Nine men and zero women will be speaking, according to the website.
It is hard to believe that only men have something to say about this topic, which dominates the news cycle on a daily basis. If the organizers are looking to diversify, there are plenty of women they could contact with expertise in public international law, national security law, election law, and Russia. A quick look at the IntLawGrrls, LawFare, Opinio Juris, and the JustSecurity blogs is enough to find numerous women with relevant expertise. They could also check out a few law schools’ faculty profiles (e.g., nearby Stanford) and places like the Wilson Center.
The reason to eliminate “manels” is not that men and women bring different perspectives to Russian interference in the 2016 election, which is an open question. Rather, the point is that these events give participants a chance to share scholarship and contribute to cutting edge debates in real time. They result in greater prestige and name recognition for the participants. They grow networks and open doors for future collaboration and job opportunities. And, the presence of both sexes shows students and others in the audience that women also have something to say about these issues.
So what do we do about it? Marty Lederman recently called out a conference at the University of San Diego for having 14 men and one woman, on Twitter: “We academics (present company included) should stop treating this as acceptable/unremarkable.” UC Irvine Professor and UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression David Kaye ends his emails with a signature block that includes, “& I don’t sit on manels.” Their voices and their commitments are noteworthy and important. In Geneva, numerous chiefs of international organizations have pledged not to sit on panels without gender parity or to ask about gender parity before accepting an invitation, through the Geneva Gender Champions Initiative. In 2016, Champions intervened 42% of the time to request a change in the gender balance of a panel, resulting in changes 84% of the time.
Maybe it’s time we all had some hard conversations with our colleagues and asked them to refrain from sitting on such panels or attending such conferences going forward. Maybe we should stop forwarding announcements for conferences and panels with no women involved. Or maybe we should start featuring “manels” on IntLawGrrls. Thoughts?
March 1, 2018
The McGeorge Global Law Center asked me to put their comment into the blog, so that people could read it without having to scroll through the comments. I am reproducing it here, with some of my own thoughts below:
“We are organizing the conference and thank you for raising an important concern. Please understand that as of Thursday, February 22, when the announcement went out, we had invited more than ten women to speak at the conference. However, only one accepted the invitation, and she unfortunately had to withdraw for personal reasons. While we were distressed at failing to secure women speakers, we thought it necessary to publicize the conference at that time given that it was but a week away. We are nevertheless continuing to look for women speakers. We have since approached an additional number of women, and while almost all of them have conflicts, we believe that one invitee will be able to participate and are working with her to accommodate her schedule. We would also note that our resident election law expert, Dean Mary-Beth Moylan, has always been scheduled to moderate the election law panel. (The announcement only listed speakers and not the moderators or organizers.)
We are very troubled that people would assume we had not considered inviting women speakers, and wish to take the opportunity to clarify the record. We hope you will consider acknowledging the same in the text of your blog post as readers may not scroll down to read all the comments that follow.
With thanks, McGeorge Global Center”
I appreciate very much that McGeorge responded to this blog post and felt that it was important to clarify what their process was, and that they did, indeed, seek to include women. I wonder whether this was a fluke or whether it is a common phenomenon to invite 10 women and get only one who is available to participate (who unfortunately, dropped out in this particular case). Have others had similar experiences? Do men accept invitations to speak more frequently than women? If so, what explains that phenomenon?
I am also heartened that others have commented to this post or reached out to say that they are thinking about ways to ensure that women are included, like by asking organizers whether both sexes are present on the panel or at a conference. Another question this exchange has raised is, what happens if you did reach out to women, and none were available? What responsibilities, if any, do the organizers have in such a situation? What can they do to send the message to their students and conference attendees, or to the broader community, that the participation of women is important to them?
I hope we can continue to have this dialogue in an open and respectful way, whether on, or off-line.
Washington, DC, ASIL Annual Meeting – March 30-April 2, 2016
The International Courts and Tribunals Interest Groups of the American and European Societies of International Law are delighted to announce that their second joint meeting will take place in Washington, DC, during ASIL’s Annual Meeting. The exact date and time will be determined several weeks in advance of the Annual Meeting. Three members of the interest groups will be given the opportunity to present works-in-progress and receive feedback.
Call for papers
The works-in-progress session is dedicated to original and on-going research on the theme of “Regional Approaches to International Adjudication.” Members of either interest group, at any level of their careers, are invited to submit abstracts describing unpublished works on this topic. Relevant topics might include, but are not limited to, the following:
- To what extent do regional approaches to international adjudication exist? What characterizes these approaches?
- How and why might different geographical regions differ in their commitment to international adjudication as a method of dispute resolution, and in their willingness to submit to the jurisdiction of international courts? What is the significance of these differences for legitimacy and effectiveness?
- How and why might courts with similar subject matter jurisdiction differ in the development of procedures and substantive law? What is the significance of these differences for legitimacy and effectiveness?
- To what extent is dialogue among regional courts affecting adjudication or practices in these courts?
- To what extent do regional courts interact with international courts, and strive to follow their jurisprudence and coordinate their respective exercise of jurisdiction?
Three papers will be selected on the basis of the submitted abstracts. Abstracts must not exceed 500 words, and must be submitted to the following email addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. In addition to the abstract, each submission should contain:
- The author’s name and affiliation
- A short author’s CV
- Whether the author is an ESIL ICTIG member or an ASIL ICTIG member or both.
The deadline for the submission of the abstracts is February 1, 2016. Authors of selected papers will be notified by February 15, 2016. Authors of selected papers are requested to submit drafts of their works-in-progress by March 15, 2016.
The University of Baltimore School of Law’s Center on Applied Feminism is hosting its annual conference on Friday, March 4, 2016. The theme this year is fascinating: “Applied Feminism Today.”
Here’s a link to the conference website: http://www.law.ubalt.edu/centers/caf/Call-for-Papers-2016.cfm
I hope you will consider submitting an abstract to the Call for Papers, reproduced here:
This conference seeks to explore the current status of feminist legal theory. What impact has feminist legal theory had on law and social policy? What legal challenges are best suited to a feminist legal theory approach? How has feminist legal theory changed over time and where might it go in the future? We welcome proposals that consider these questions from a variety of substantive disciplines and perspectives. As always, the Center’s conference will serve as a forum for scholars, practitioners and activists to share ideas about applied feminism, focusing on the intersection of theory and practice to effectuate social change.
The conference will be open to the public and will feature a keynote speaker. Past keynote speakers have included Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, Dr. Maya Angelou, Gloria Steinem, Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Amy Klobuchar, NOW President Terry O’Neill and EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum.
To submit a paper proposal, please submit an abstract by Friday October 30, 2015 to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your abstract must contain your full contact information and professional affiliation, as well as an email, phone number, and mailing address. In the “Re” line, please state: CAF Conference 2016. Abstracts should be no longer than one page. We will notify presenters of selected papers in November. We anticipate there will be eight paper presenters during the conference. About half the presenter slots will be reserved for authors who commit to publishing in the annual symposium volume of the University of Baltimore Law Review. Thus, please indicate at the bottom of your abstract whether you are submitting (1) solely to present or (2) to present and publish in the symposium volume. Authors who are interested in publishing in the Law Review will be strongly considered for publication. For all presenters, working drafts of papers will be due no later than Feb. 26, 2016. Presenters are responsible for their own travel costs; the conference will provide a discounted hotel rate as well as meals. If you have further questions, please contact Prof. Michele Gilman at email@example.com.
You may have heard about the launch of the Gqual campaign to increase gender parity on international law bodies including international courts and tribunals, taking place at the UN on September 17. Here’s a link to the Facebook page if you’d like more information: https://www.facebook.com/GqualCampaign. The point of the campaign is to get states to nominate and vote for more women for these important positions. The campaign is timely and significant because women continue to lag far behind men in decision-making positions on these bodies. Did you know only one woman is serving on the 7 member benches of the WTO Appellate Body, the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights? And only one woman sits on the 21-member bench of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea? She also happens to be the only woman ever to serve on that court, in almost two decades.
I’ve just written a paper documenting the paucity of women judges on twelve international courts and tribunals in mid-2015 and historically, explaining why there are so few women being elected and proposing solutions. It’s forthcoming in the Virginia Journal of International Law. If you’d like a preview, please download it at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2472054. The article argues, in part, that a limited pool of qualified women is an unpersuasive explanation for the paucity of women on international court benches. Proponents of this view argue that women are found in lower numbers in the highest echelons of the legal profession domestically, and therefore, it’s not surprising that they serve in low numbers on prestigious international court benches.
But if the limited pool argument is right, wouldn’t we expect the pool to grow over time, as more women join the legal profession and advance within its ranks? Yet eight of the twelve courts surveyed had fewer women on the bench in mid-2015 than in previous years. Also, states with higher percentages of women lawyers would appoint them in greater numbers than states with fewer women lawyers. The data, however, appears to point to a different conclusion.
It is estimated that half of France’s lawyers are women, yet it has never had a female permanent judge on the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court, the International Criminal Tribunals for Yugoslavia or Rwanda, the European Court of Justice, the Law of the Sea Tribunal, the International Court of Justice, or the European Court of Human Rights, although French men have served on all of them. (One French woman served as an ad litem judge for the ICTY.) About half of the UK’s lawyers are women, yet no British woman has ever served on the European Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court, the European Court of Human Rights, or the Yugoslav tribunal, although British men have. The UK did nominate Rosalynn Higgins, though, as the first woman ever to serve on the International Court of Justice, in 1995. (Only three more women have been elected to the 15-member ICJ bench in the intervening 20 years.) Although Russian women consist of about half of that country’s lawyers, no Russian woman has ever served on the five international courts where its men have served. On the other hand, China, where women are estimated to hold 20% of legal degrees, has successfully elected Chinese women to the International Court of Justice and the World Trade Organization’s Appellate Body.
It’s also important to remember that there are not that many international judge positions out there. We are not talking about filling 10,000 judicial seats. On the twelve courts surveyed, there are 195 judicial slots available, and they turn over every few years, depending on the court. You don’t need a very large pool to fill these slots. And there must be more than one woman in a world of 7 billion people who is qualified to serve on ITLOS and the WTO’s Appellate Body, and in the entire populations of the states parties to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the ECOWAS Court.
Finally, there’s a problematic side effect to relying on the pool argument. The pool for international judges could itself be limited due to discrimination and exclusion at the domestic level. So using it to justify lower numbers of women at the international level simply replicates and exacerbates exclusion at the domestic one.
I hope you’ll check out Gqual in the days to come. It’s time for a change!
In case you will be in the Washington, D.C. area on Friday, April 24, from 3:30 to 5 pm, please consider coming to a panel on Best Practices in Judicial Selection Procedures for International Courts, at the American Society of International Law, 2223 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington DC 20008.
The panel, co-sponsored by the American Society of International Law’s International Courts and Tribunals Interest Group (ICTIG), the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), and the University of Baltimore School of Law, will explore and evaluate procedures developed by international courts and tribunals to select their members. Panelists will consider the impact of selection procedures on the merit, diversity, and independence of the judges selected. What steps can be taken to guarantee fair and transparent procedures? Do “best practices” exist in judicial selection across international courts? What hurdles exist to reforming existing selection procedures? How do selection procedures affect the legitimacy of these courts?
The panel will include former International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and DC Court of Appeals Judge Patricia Wald, CEJIL Executive Director Viviana Krsticevic, and Ambassador of Mexico to the Organization of American States Emilio Rabasa Gamboa. University of Baltimore Professor Nienke Grossman (ICTIG co-chair) will moderate. The panel will be followed by a brief reception.
This panel will also be streamed live at http://www.asil.org/live. If you plan on attending in person, please help us to plan accordingly by registering at http://www.asil.org/event/best-practices-selection-international-judges.
I hope to see you there!
The University of Baltimore School of Law’s Center on Applied Feminism seeks submissions for its Eighth Annual Feminist Legal Theory Conference. This year’s theme is “Applied Feminism and Work.” The conference will be held on March 5 and 6, 2015. For more information about the conference, please visit law.ubalt.edu/caf.
As the nation emerges from the recession, work and economic security are front and center in our national policy debates. Women earn less than men, and the new economic landscape impacts men and women differently. At the same time, women are questioning whether to Lean In or Lean Out, and what it means to “have it all.” The conference will build on these discussions. As always, the Center’s conference will serve as a forum for scholars, practitioners and activists to share ideas about applied feminism, focusing on the intersection of theory and practice to effectuate social change. The conference seeks papers that discuss this year’s theme through the lens of an intersectional approach to feminist legal theory, addressing not only the premise of seeking justice for all people on behalf of their gender but also the interlinked systems of oppression based on race, sexual orientation, gender identity, class, immigration status, disability, and geographical and historical context.
Papers might explore the following questions: What impact has feminist legal theory had on the workplace? How does work impact gender and vice versa? How might feminist legal theory respond to issues such as stalled immigration reform, economic inequality, pregnancy accommodation, the low-wage workforce, women’s access to economic opportunities, family-friendly work environments, paid sick and family leave, decline in unionization, and low minimum wage rates? What sort of support should society and law provide to ensure equal employment opportunities that provide for security for all? How do law and feminist legal theory conceptualize the role of the state and the private sector in relation to work? Are there rights to employment and what are their foundations? How will the recent Supreme Court Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Harris v. Quinn decisions impact economic opportunities for women? How will the new EEOC guidance on pregnancy accommodation and the Young v. UPS upcoming Supreme Court decision affect rights of female workers?
The conference will provide an opportunity for participants and audience members to exchange ideas about the current state of feminist legal theories. We hope to deepen our understandings of how feminist legal theory relates to work and to move new insights into practice. In addition, the conference is designed to provide presenters with the opportunity to gain feedback on their papers.
The conference will begin the afternoon of Thursday, March 5, 2015, with a workshop. This workshop will continue the annual tradition of involving all attendees as participants in an interactive discussion and reflection. On Friday, March 6, 2015, the conference will continue with a day of presentations regarding current scholarship and/or legal work that explores the application of feminist legal theory to issues involving health. The conference will be open to the public and will feature a keynote speaker. Past keynote speakers have included Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, Dr. Maya Angelou, Gloria Steinem, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Sheryl WuDunn, Senators Barbara Mikulski and Amy Klobuchar, and NOW President Terry O’Neill.
To submit a paper proposal, please submit an abstract by Friday, 5 p.m. on October 31, 2014, to firstname.lastname@example.org. It is essential that your abstract contain your full contact information, including an email, phone number, and mailing address where you can be reached. In the “Re” line, please state: CAF Conference 2015. Abstracts should be no longer than one page. Presenters of selected papers will be notified in mid-November. The conference organizers anticipate being able to have twelve paper presenters during the conference on Friday, March 6, 2015. About half the presenter slots will be reserved for authors who commit to publishing in the symposium volume of the University of Baltimore Law Review. Thus, please indicate at the bottom of your abstract whether you are submitting (1) solely to present or (2) to present and publish in the symposium volume. Authors who are interested in publishing in the Law Review will be strongly considered for publication. Regardless of whether or not you are publishing in the symposium volume, all working drafts of symposium-length or article-length papers will be due no later than February 13, 2015. Abstracts will be posted on the Center on Applied Feminism’s conference website to be shared with other participants and attendees. Presenters are responsible for their own travel costs; the conference will provide a discounted hotel rate, as well as meals.
If you have further questions, please contact Prof. Margaret Johnson at email@example.com.