Szanowni Czytelnicy Bloga,
Jakiś czas temu jedna z naszych redakcyjnych koleżanek zastanawiała się w swoim poście nad przyczynami niewielkiego udziału naukowców z Europy Środkowo-Wschodniej w pracach European Society of International Law. Uważamy że to ważny temat, o którym należy dyskutować. Dzisiaj zamieszczamy tekst z ostatniego numeru ESIL Newsletter, w którym prof. André Nollkaemper stawia częściowo te same pytania. Zachęcamy do lektury i liczymy na Wasze komentarze. Jest to o tyle istotne, że ESIL wydaje się zdeterminowany by mocniej zaistnieć w naszej części Europy - Wasze komentarze mogą przełożyć się na konkretne działania.
How European is the European Society of International Law? Some Reflections on the Diversity of our Membership.
How European is the European Society of International Law? The Articles of Association state that ESIL is to support exchanges of ideas on matters of common interest to international lawyers in Europe and elsewhere. They also say that ESIL is to provide a forum for European-wide discussions, and to develop European perspectives in international law. But who is actually covered by these references to ‘European’?
A break-down of ESIL’s membership figures gives us a partial answer to this question. At the end of 2015, ESIL had 1,117 members. We have come a long way compared to the 367 members at the end of 2005, the year following the Society’s inauguration. There is remarkable diversity in the membership, and that allows us to assess how European the Society actually is.
A first point to note is that ESIL is not only a society for European international lawyers, as indeed indicated in its mission: ESIL aims to facilitate exchanges about international law in Europe and elsewhere. About 8% of our membership is now based in North America, higher than ever before. It is also good to see that we have representation throughout all the other continents (though sometimes limited in numbers): Latin America (e.g. Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina), Asia (e.g. Japan, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka), Africa (e.g. South Africa, Egypt) as well as a good number of members in Australia and New Zealand. There were 83 nationalities among the 2015 ESIL members, based in 67 countries. We should value and develop this worldwide cooperation. In the past year we did so by participating in the Annual Conferences of the Asian, African, Latin-American and American Societies of International Law.
If we turn to Europe and ask ourselves how European the Society is in terms of its European membership, an a pattern emerges that calls for reflection. More than half of the membership is concentrated in only five European states: Germany, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland. The high membership in these states is wonderful, and with the great international law traditions and universities in these countries, it is an exciting prospect to develop this further. But what are we to make of the fact that we have no members working in Bosnia and Herzegovina or Serbia, 1 in Croatia, 2 in Ukraine and Bulgaria, 4 in Slovenia and Estonia, 7 in Hungary, 8 in Romania and only 10 in Poland – even though several of these states have a great international law tradition?
These figures should lead us to reflect on who we are and who we want to be. The imbalance in membership between various countries may well stand for a more general bias when we use the word ‘European’. We say that international law was originally European international law – but which countries are really captured by that use of the term ‘European’? We speak of the European tradition in international law, and yet that too covers only particular states – a series published in the European Journal of International Law covered such names as Georges Scelle, Roberto Ago, Alfred Verdross, Hans Kelsen, Max Huber and Walther Schücking – great names, but surely not representative of all schools of thought throughout Europe. We say that European imperialism had a profound impact on international law, but again we are only speaking of a handful of states – Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Great Britain or France. Speaking of ‘European’ in such contexts is an act of generalization and of neglect – it glosses over those European international lawyers who are not part of it – and who perhaps do not wish to be part of it.
The many European international lawyers who are not members are a loss for the Society. Surely the ambitions to provide a forum for European-wide discussions and to develop European perspectives would be much better fulfilled if states such as Ukraine, Romania, Poland, Hungary, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina were part of it, particularly since many of the problems currently facing Europe are not taking place in Germany, the Netherlands or Switzerland. States in Southern and Eastern Europe are more directly affected by current issues like the refugee crisis and the tensions around Ukraine.
This pattern of membership raises the question of why this is so. The question is not easily answered, and any answer is somewhat speculative. One factor may be the cost of membership and the cost of attendance at ESIL events. ESIL does not yet have- as some other international societies do- a differentiated fee structure, apparently on the basis of the assumption that the ability to pay is similar throughout Europe – an assumption that is debatable. Another and probably more important factor may be the perception that ESIL is really an organization run by professionals working in a handful of European countries, meeting in only a handful of places, and pursuing an agenda that is of interest to some, but not to all, European countries.
I believe that we should address these points seriously. As to the first point, at its next meeting in April 2016, the Board will look again at the membership fee structure and the possibility of providing scholarships for participation in ESIL events. As to the second point, we should be more integrative in our agenda (and consider whether the questions that we ask and the events we support are the most relevant ones from a wider European perspective). We also should seek to extend ESIL’s presence in Eastern and Southern Europe.
ESIL’s current plans already go some way towards implementing such an agenda. Our next research forum and annual conferences will be held in Istanbul, Riga and then Naples. Furthermore, the draft programme for the annual conference in Riga includes a relatively larger number of speakers from Eastern Europe than any previous event and some parts of the substantive agenda focus on issues specifically of concern for Eastern Europe.
The Board is presently considering a range of other initiatives to increase the interest, trust and participation of a much wider group of European international lawyers in the work of the Society. I welcome concrete suggestions from our membership to advance this agenda, and make the European Society more truly European.
The European Society of International Law (ESIL) is a dynamic network of researchers, scholars and practitioners in the field of international law. The Society’s goals are to encourage the study of international law, to foster inquiry, discussion and innovation in international law, and to promote a greater understanding of the role of international law in the world today. Membership is open to anyone with an interest in international law who wishes to contribute to the realization of these goals. There are no restrictions based on nationality or qualifications. The official languages of the Society are English and French.
ESIL needs your support in order to achieve its goals and to make a lasting contribution to international law scholarship and practice. For a full overview of the Society’s activities, visit its website at www.esil-sedi.eu. The website is regularly updated and is the central hub for the Society’s interaction with its membership. To join, please use the link on the home page of the website.