Many thanks to Opinio Juris – and to all of the Symposium participants – for a stimulating and informative discussion of the virtues and vices of international law and international relations (IL/IR) scholarship.
The Symposium highlights some of the ways that IL/IR research has enriched our understanding of the making, interpretation, and enforcement of international law. Larry Helfer’s post provides a superb summary of what IL/IR scholarship teaches about the design of international legal agreements, and in particular of flexibility provisions. In terms of interpretation, IL/IR scholarship has prompted a rediscovery of international courts by political scientists, who seek to explain patterns in international judicial behavior. Finally, as Jana von Stein notes, IL/IR research has produced both increasingly systematic data collection on IL compliance, as well as sophisticated understandings of the diverse causal mechanisms behind law’s compliance pull on states.
However, our project seeks not only to identify “lessons learned,” but also to identify IL/IR’s weaknesses, blind-spots, and potential for further development. The lively exchange between Richard Steinberg and Ian Hurd (see here, here, and here), as well as the thoughtful posts by Judge Joan Donoghue, Ed Swaine, Tim Meyer, and Ruti Teitel, suggest several ways that existing scholarship can be strengthened.
In this concluding post, we explore a different critique, namely that IL/IR scholarship is less interdisciplinary than its name implies, frequently consisting of a one-way application of IR as a discipline to IL as a subject.