An international seminar entitled “Interfaces between International and National Legal Orders: An International Rule of Law Perspective” was held on 14-15 March 2013 in Amsterdam. The seminar was organized by the Amsterdam Center for International Law (ACIL), where I am a researcher, and sponsored by the Hague Institute for the Internationalisation of Law (HiiL).
The seminar explored the evolving “interfaces” between international and national legal orders from the perspective of the international rule of law. The interfaces between international and national legal orders are the points where the actors, norms and procedures which form and maintain the two legal orders interact with one another. These interfaces have significantly evolved due to the extension of the subject matter of international law and its impact on domestic regulatory policies.
International legal scholarship has produced extensive studies to capture the inter-order interfaces primarily from the perspective of national rule of law. Much less recognized is the international perspective; namely, the impact of national law on the rule of law within the international legal order.
National Contestations & the International Rule of Law
The Seminar’s “international” angle was a response to the critical need to situate the national legal order, not merely as the venue for implementation, but as the agent for the critical revision of the international rule of law and of the universality of policies behind it.
In the Seminar, Veronika Fikfak (University of Cambridge) presented the “strong” and “weak” review techniques employed by domestic courts, whereby the courts delicately elicit dialogues and responses from international institutions. Domestic courts’ contestation and international courts’ responses have been incrementally formalized and methodized, as Birgit Peters (University of Bremen) demonstrated within the context of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Mateja Steinbrück Platiše (Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law) eloquently argued that the challenges raised by domestic courts to the immunities of international organizations have incrementally invited jurisprudential and political transitions on the part of international courts and organizations. The space for domestic reinterpretation and innovation was arguably preserved by international law, as Ingrid Wuerth (Vanderbilt University School of Law) highlighted within the context of the international law of jurisdictional immunities. “Judicial” contestations may need to be understood against broader political resistance against international law and institutions, as Prabhash Ranjan (National Law University) articulated with respect to the backlash against bilateral investment treaties (BITs).