Call for Papers: Forces Without Borders

by Kevin Jon Heller

Our friends at the Cornell International Law Journal have asked me to post the following call for papers.  The conference looks great; I’m disappointed that it starts the last day of my summer teaching obligations.

The Cornell International Law Journal is pleased to announce its 2012 symposium, Forces Without Borders: Non-State Actors in a Changing Middle East, February 17th–18th, 2012 at Cornell Law School.  Non-state forces have driven many of the recent historic events in the Middle East and North Africa.  Our symposium will examine the legal status and significance of these forces in the context of the ongoing regional change, as well as pressing questions posed for the future of international law.

Professor Jordan Paust will deliver the keynote address.  He has published extensively on issues including the role of non-state actors in international law, jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, and war crimes liability for heads of state.  Professor Paust is the Mike and Teresa Baker Law Center Professor at the University of Houston Law Center.

Scholars are invited to submit proposals for presentations, and those selected will be asked to submit rough drafts of papers for circulation among presenters before the conference.  Selected works presented will be published in a symposium issue of the journal.  One page proposals are due October 5th, 2011, and those selected will be notified by October 20th, 2011.

International law is evolving to accommodate increasingly potent non-state actors.  Terrorist organizations are able to project substantial military power, while digital communication facilitates organization among protest groups.  The rising influence of non-state actors has enjoyed much academic attention in recent years, but the events of the Arab Spring focus fresh attention on this ongoing legal evolution.  Possible themes might include:

  • Ways in which technological developments have empowered women’s groups that were previously less influential in certain Middle Eastern cultures.
  • Whether journalists have played a larger role in the Arab Spring than previous large-scale political and cultural movements, and how the law can better protect members of the press.
  • Whether the law provides sufficient accountability for non-state actors such as NATO in situations like the conflict in Libya.
  • The appropriate role of international groups, such as UN entities, in legal transitions within countries in the region.
  • The role of multinational corporations and their duty to respect economic, social, and cultural human rights which may conflict with domestic regulations.
  • A comparative analysis between the influence of non-state actors in the Arab Spring and other, analagous moments of significant regional change.

In order to encourage unique approaches to the topic, scholars are encouraged to define non-state actors creatively, potentially including journalists, rebels, protesters, new media, security alliances, NGOs, or others.

Proposals should be E-mailed to Symposium Editor Annie Eisenberg at ame26 [at] cornell [dot] edu.  We look forward to hearing from you.


Andrew Orr, Editor-in-Chief

Annie Eisenberg, Symposium Editor

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