In this keynote address for the 2023 International Law Weekend conference of the American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA), I first address the dangers of the conference theme “beyond international law” at a time when challenges to international law and institutions increase and aim to constrain international law’s normative force. We have been here before. The world today recalls that of the interwar period, a time of growing economic insecurity and inequality that helped to catalyze the rise of authoritarian movements. During that period, Carl Schmitt was a leading legal theorist who eventually became a member of the Nazi party, but who also influenced the far left, as the right and left found a common enemy in the democratic Weimar Republic. In the United States, the legal realist movement arose with a different response to the economic and social challenges of that period. I foreground three interacting components of legal realism that will be central if we are to think beyond international law in an effective way today: Deweyan pragmatism, empiricism, and experimentalism. I apply them to transnational problems, noting how international law is part of broader transnational legal ordering processes. I show how this approach is critical for responding to transnational challenges, focusing particularly on climate change.
Scholarly Commons Citation
Shaffer, Gregory, "ABILA Keynote Address: Beyond International Law? A Dangerous Time" (2023). Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works. 2553.