The 4th Max Planck Masterclass in International Law took place at our Institute from 4 to 6 May 2015. This year, the Masterclass was held by Professor Emmanuelle Tourme Jouannet (Science Po, Paris) on the topic of “Repenser le droit international”. In order to feed the discussion, she offered some extracts from three of her writings including “What is a Fair International Society?” (Hart Publishing, 2013) and “The Liberal-Welfarist Law of Nations” (CUP, 2012). The Masterclass was attended by more than 50 persons, half of them stemming from the institute (staff and guest researchers), and brought together researchers from several institutions located both in and outside Europe (e.g. Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Mexico). During the three days of the Masterclass, all participants had the opportunity to exchange ideas with other specialists in international law and to learn from their views and experience in their respective fields.
On the first day, Emmanuelle Tourme Jouannet put her research in a broader context, also situating herself among other internationalists including Martti Koskenniemi (who held the 2014 Masterclass at our institute) and several trends in international legal scholarship (e.g. critical legal studies, TWAILs, the Frankfurt School, the ‘French mainstream’). She defended her choice to adopt constructive criticisms on international law and to develop a historical approach responding to specific needs that implies an understanding of the finalities pursued by the international legal order (that she identified as being both liberal and welfarist). In addition, Emmanuelle Tourme Jouannet conceptualised a theory of struggle in international law that avoids both a too ideological representation of international law and a denial of the game powers existing in the international legal order. She emphasised for example the facts that human rights are not universal in her view but culturally located, even though this does not change the fact that one of the most urging questions in international law according to her remains to determine how to use human rights as an emancipatory tool.
On the second day of the Masterclass, Emmanuelle Tourme Jouannet discussed her historical approach of international law in light of the finalities of this legal order and the methodologies of history of international law (for example, how to decouple/disentangle discourses and facts in order to demystify the history of international law) with the participants. Then, the discussion focused on key aspects of her notion of global justice that she tries to construct around the ideas of an international law of recognition and a new international development law.
On the third day, four participants were given the chance to present parts of their research connected with the topics discussed during the Masterclass. The last session was devoted to what Professor Tourme Jouannet called current challenges faced by international law in a time of great changes, though she argued that international law has been – through its history – constantly perceived by some as being in crisis. She concluded on the necessity to join legal struggles to achieve more equity and fairness.
In sum, the Masterclass was an opportunity to bring together young researchers of different backgrounds, to confront them with the writings of a confirmed scholar and, most importantly, to create a dialogue by enabling the participants to challenge the opinions of the “Master”. Both the participants and the invited Professor had thus a thorough discussion on key aspects of the discipline of international law and got a chance to learn from each other during this Masterclass.