LSE Seeks International Law Replacement for Professor Christopher Greenwood

by Kenneth Anderson

As you probably know, the hugely distinguished Professor Christopher Greenwood of the LSE has joined the ICJ, thus occasioning the following job notice by the LSE (and many thanks to the great International Law Reports blog):

The Department of Law, a world-leading centre for research and teaching in legal studies and interdisciplinary approaches to law, seeks to appoint a new Professor of International Law, to fill the vacancy left by Professor Christopher Greenwood’s appointment to the International Court of Justice.

Applicants should have an outstanding international research reputation in public international law. The postholder will participate in teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate level and, in particular, contribute to the development of innovative postgraduate courses. In addition to research leadership, the successful applicant will be expected to take on administrative responsibilities in the Department and the School. This appointment will be from 1 September 2009, or as soon as possible thereafter.

For further information about the Department see http://www/ Informal enquiries about the post can be made to Professor Hugh Collins (h [dot] collins [at] lse [dot] ac [dot] uk).

Please see the instructions of how to apply, the notes for applicantsthe further particulars and the personal details form. If you cannot download the application pack, email HR [dot] Recruit [dot] Prof [at] lse [dot] ac [dot] uk or call 020 7955 6183, quoting reference 07/08/SA.

Closing Date for applications: 16 January 2009.

For a position at as high a level of seniority, prestige, etc., as you can imagine in the world of academic international law (I am crass enough to wonder about salary; what does this post pay approximately?) … what kind of senior person is the LSE actually seeking?  Methodologically, in particular?  

I guess what I wonder is … whether the LSE would indeed consider someone in the mold of the emerging law and economics paradigm of public international law in the American academy?  As we have seen in our book discussion of Mary Ellen O’Connell’s exceedingly interesting new book, a certain methodological tradition of international law idealism is not just, from the emerging American view, the continuing force of reaction but has new defenders.  Even so, The Power and Purpose of International Law is a reaction against something correctly perceived as the methodological newcomer, in the American academy, at least – I emphasize here that I mean methodology, not substantive politics.  I assume that a politically conservative practitioner of the new methodology such as Eric Posner would be ruled out on substantive political grounds.  My question is whether someone otherwise politically acceptable, but who was nonetheless a highly sophisticated practitioner of the new methodology – Andrew Guzman or Kal Raustiala, for example – would be considered in the realm of the possible for such a post.

Obviously what I’m really asking here is the receptivity, or not, of the LSE and institutions outside the United States to the movement of law and economics into public international law.  The striking thing to me about my UK and, generally, common law trained academic international lawyers is that they do not especially endorse methodological idealism – meaning by that, international law as an enterprise of morality; they tend, rather, to want to treat law as law.  I am puzzled by the job announcement, for example, referring to “interdisciplinary” approaches to law: I would have thought that apart from a kind of generalized, nonspecific, vaguely post-Marxist sociological approach to law, there is very little “interdisciplinary” work coming from the LSE; it is pretty dedicated to law as law.  (Maybe I just don’t see it and I welcome someone correcting me; and I do say that I am also skeptical of the American tendency of the past generation to heavily favor at the elite institutions PhDs in this or that – many of whom, on account of their lack of law practice or very brief exposure to it, are affectively alien in some fundamental way to the internal coherence of law as law.  I have very mixed feelings about this, obviously, especially as someone who came to academia after a career in practice and for whom consulting my sense of what it means to be a lawyer is crucial to what I do as an academic.)  My British law academic friends tend, in conversations with me at least, to be equally impatient with the international law always alterable by some moral conception approach as with the law and economics approach – impatient, that is, with that apparently irrepressible American tendency to take the grounds of interpretation and explanation from outside the field itself.  

But let me confess that although I have had many conversations like this over the years, my sense of that impatience comes mostly from conversations with the brilliant young Australian lawyer who has just joined the LSE faculty herself – and they were very lucky to get her – Anthea Roberts.  She does insist on taking law as law, not just as a practitioner but as an academic (and as Professor Greenwood did and does) and just doesn’t buy, for example, my exceedingly American approach of seeing it – meaning by ‘it’ academic law, not law as practice – in my case, not really as morality, not really as economics, but as religion: we international law scholars are the minor clerics: it is not that we aren’t intellectuals, it is, rather, that our intellectualism is confined by the necessity of always making reference to the existence of God: and even those of us who doubt His existence can still never get past having to argue about it.

But okay.  I don’t pretend to understand how the American scene is seen from abroad.  If someone understands this whole dynamic from the standpoint of UK institutions, other common law country academic law institutions, and non-US academic institutions generally, I would be delighted to hear about it.  I have been writing off and on, in blog posts that I would eventually like to turn into a discussion article on the intersection of politics and method in international law scholarship, on method, but I do not have a good sense of academic institutions outside the United States at least on these methodological issues.  (Heck, I’m not sure I have a good sense of this even at my own institution!)  Comments welcome. 

PS.  What do I mean here by ‘religious’?  This, in one sense, which received a slapdown from Michael Ignatieff in the NYRB and Foreign Affairs.  This, though, to be really exact.

One Response

  1. Not wishing to offend the “US Scene” but I’m sure LSE will go for another practitioner/academic rather than a international legal theorist. Due to the very introspective approach taken to international law in the US, it is my view, that the US “scene” creates strong international “Legal theorists”, “Comparative Legal Theorists” and obviously “economic legal theorists” – they also produce excellent lawyers who know how to deal with the “tip of the iceberg” – i.e. international law that filters it way into domestic courts but not academic practitioners of the hue of a Greenwood who know their way around strasborg, the hague (ICC/ICJ) even the ECJ – keep a solid hand on UK domestic international law entanglements while also acting in an advisory capacity for govt (the hard edge of international law – we take this quite seriously in  the UK). All of this suggests, at least to me that LSE will go for another of this british type practitioner/academic rather than a US styled theorist.

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