The Theme of the Conference

State sovereignty, both one of the fundamental principles as well as an underpinning of public international law, faces numerous challenges that call into question its basic contours. In recent years we have witnessed an increasing number of territorial disputes in many corners of the world, including disputes over territorial and maritime boundaries: several are subject to third-party adjudication; others have sought resolution through secession and annexation, methods that have generated further discussion on recognition of States and issues pertaining to State succession. Failed States and States fragilized as a result of civil strife or protracted unrest also raise questions of recognition, immunity or succession. Of particular concern and therefore interest is the territorial impact of military action by (thus far) non-State actors, such as the DAESH/ISIS or insurgents, including minority ethnic groups.

However, as already apparent from the examples above, it is not only the territory of the State that is challenged in traditional or less traditional forms. The fundamental tenets of statehood, namely population and independence, also appear to be in a state of flux: territories are vanishing due to climate change; independence is heavily questioned in today’s globalized economic world. The Member States of the European Union have surrendered significant aspects of their economic sovereignty, including their budget-deciding powers to the international organization; and some of them have contracted out decision-making powers to international and European financial institutions and organs. Of particular interest is the matrix of bilateral and multilateral agreements, creating a veritable cornucopia of judicial or arbitral fora, to which the States entrust the resolution of investment and trade disputes, thus further challenging the traditional image of the sovereign State as the master of its own fate. Moreover, the so-called “backlash against globalization” may appear as a sequel to the recent sovereignty debate, affecting not only the United States but also Europe and other parts of the world.

The time is ripe to revisit sovereignty, a concept so broad and yet instrumental to the current structure of the international legal order. The aim of the Conference is to encourage a vigorous and fruitful exchange of ideas that will appeal to academics, researchers, students, and practitioners.

In keeping with ESIL tradition, the Conference will feature keynote speakers, a closing discussion round table, and six fora, exploring the normative, theoretical and practical aspects of sovereignty. In this vein, distinguished and leading scholars will decipher the primordial code of the Montevideo criteria of statehood, shed light on the various aspects of contestation of statehood, attempt to paint the picture of modern, diluted but yet effective, sovereignty of States in financial matters, examine whether the judicialization of international dispute resolution is today threatened by new and/or traditional sovereignty conceptions, address the conceptual problems posed by cyberspace, and discuss current events and future challenges that relate to State sovereignty.

In addition, twelve agorae will examine particular facets of sovereignty. Please note that panel proposals submitted by individuals will not be considered.