Joining Opinio Juris

by Kenneth Anderson

My thanks for Chris’ generous introduction, and I want to say how honored I am to join the team at Opinio Juris.  I have followed it closely from its first days, and have watched with admiration as it has grown into the amazing blog it is today.  The migration to the new format is just a part of that – and I missed all the heavy lifting on putting together the new site while arriving just in time for the benefits!  I value the folks here at Opinio Juris, and I value this blog’s readers.  I value the insights, breadth, depth, and learning at Opinio Juris, and the intelligent, civil tone it unflaggingly offers.  I am particularly impressed with the emphasis on books, discussion of substantive articles, special discussions such as the one with John Bellinger a while back.  I think the partnership with Oxford will serve the scholarly agenda of this blog well, and likewise the law review discussions.

My interests range pretty widely, and I treat "international law" as a broad category.  I hope to raise issues related to international development, for example, as well as international business, finance, and economics; my day job is teaching international economic law.  My primary interests are international business transactions and finance (rather than trade or arbitration), often applied to international development areas such as development finance, microfinance, and so on.  But I am also very interested in human rights, laws of war, terrorism and political violence, ethics of war and just war theory; I have been writing for a long time in these areas, going back to my days working for Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations and my student days with Henry Steiner’s human rights program at Harvard.  

In addition, I have a strong interest in questions of global governance, global civil society, and the social theory of the international political system and, in more specifically legal terms, nonprofit law and governance, especially of international NGOs.  More recently I have been trying to understand the ‘inside’ of the evolution of international legal scholarship, in relation to broader movements in the legal academy.  And let us not forget robot soldiers and the ethical and legal questions posed by the (slowly) developing technology of battlefield robotics!

It probably won’t take too long for people to notice that I am (roughly speaking) a conservative, in American terms and at least within academia, on many of these issues – a democratic sovereigntist is more accurate.  My skepticism about significant chunks of the international law program of liberal international global governance is more than just realist skepticism about ideals outstripping real world possibilities; I am interesting in defending and articulating a normative alternative based around democratic sovereigns.  In that regard, I hope to be able to engage productively with others on this blog, and with commentators, who have a different sense of the world.

In other parts of my scholarly life, I am a fellow with the Hoover Institution and a member of its task force on national security and law.  I am active on the editorial board of the Journal of Terrorism and Political Violence – a scholarly interest of mine that long predates 9-11, and goes back to the 1980s.  I am also returning to activity with the critical theory journal Telos.  In pro bono activities, I chair the board of a nonprofit development venture fund, the Media Development Loan Fund, that specializes in financial assistance independent media around the world.  I also chair the board of the US wing of the Rift Valley Institute, a nonprofit that deals with Sudan and other parts of the Rift Valley (not on account of my experience in Africa, which is zero, but as a lawyer in nonprofit law and governance issues).  I occasionally write for the Times Literary Supplement and some other reviews and publications – Pajamas Media, Weekly Standard, Wall Street Journal, New York Times Magazine, Financial Times, and the Revista de Libros (Madrid) – and I am very pleased to say that I have recently become political science editor for the Revista de Libros.

This is a wonderful blog, and I am proud to join it.  I will keep my personal blog, Kenneth Anderson’s Law of War and Just War Theory Blog, going for stuff that does not really fit here, as well as for announcing things that I am writing and publishing.  I look forward to engaging with all of you, and my thanks to everyone at Opinio Juris for inviting me aboard.

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