International Law and the Practice of Legality: stability and change

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Professor Jutta Brunnée, University of Toronto, gives a talk for the seminar series on 6th May 2021. Drawing on the practice-turn in constructivism and in international relations (IR) theory more generally, I will argue that a particular approach to managing stability and change is inherent in, and indeed characteristic of, legality in international as in domestic law. The "interactional law" framework that I developed with Stephen Toope places particular emphasis on what we call the "practice of legality". This concept is central to understanding how law can both enable and constrain state actions, and why international law is a distinctive language of justification and contestation. In turn, the focus on stability and change is helpful because it directly confronts some of the persistent doubts and assumptions about international law, in particular in relation to international politics. Our work is animated by the intuition that the dominant views in IR and international law scholarship underestimate international law's capacity to mediate stability and change, in part because they focus on the surface of law (treaties, statutes and so on) and external factors (interests, enforcement). They neglect the deeper structure of what makes norms "law," and the distinctive practices that account for both its relative stability and its capacity for change. Jutta Brunnée is Dean, University Professor and James Marshall Tory Dean’s Chair, at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law. Her teaching and research interests are in the areas of Public International Law, International Environmental Law and International Legal Theory. She has published extensively in each of these areas. Her current research agenda explores the role of international legality and legal practices in mediating between stability and change in international law. Dean Brunnée is co-author of International Climate Change Law (OUP 2017), which was awarded the American Society of International Law’s 2018 Certificate of Merit “in a specialized area of international law” and was recently translated into Korean, and of Legitimacy and Legality in International Law: An Interactional Account (CUP 2010), which was awarded the American Society of International Law’s 2011 Certificate of Merit “for preeminent contribution to creative scholarship.” She was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2013, and Associate of the Institut de Droit International in 2017. In 2019, she delivered a course on “Procedure and Substance in International Environmental Law” at The Hague Academy of International Law, published in the Academy's Collected Courses / Recueil des Cours series (2020). In 2020, Dean Brunnée was appointed University Professor, the University of Toronto’s highest and most distinguished academic rank.

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